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World Basketball Needs To Get Ready For What France Is Going To Bring

Les Bleus

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
 HENDERSON, NEVADA - OCTOBER 06: Victor Wembanyama #1 of Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 blocks a shot by Efe Abogidi #10 of G League Ignite during the fourth quarter of their exhibition game at The Dollar Loan Center on October 06, 2022 in Henderson, Nevada. The Metropolitans 92 beat the Ignite 112-106. 
Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

That might seem like a bold headline. But is it?

Well look at it this way: For a few years, France will be able to offer Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama, and that’s going to change things.

Most American know of the 7-1 Gobert. He’s a tremendous defender in the NBA. Now with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gobert is a three-time NBA Defensive Player Of The Year.

Wembanyama, now just 17, is the presumed first pick in everyone’s year and yes, he’s tank-worthy. He’s also a shotblocker and can really shoot too. He’s also got ballhandling skills. Think of Chet Holmgren as the prototype and Wembanyama as version 2.0. In basketball, the buzz about this guy is like the buzz about Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor, aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Patrick Ewing.

He’s going to be terrific, and scoring against the French is about to get nearly impossible.

France also has Evan Fournier, who is another NBA player.

Where they will run into trouble - where everyone runs into trouble other than the US and, for a time, Spain and Argentina - is depth.

Speaking of Spain, they beat France in the 2022 EuroBasket finals recently, which is no surprise (Wembanyama did not play in this event). Spain has been very good for a long time and they have successfully rebuilt their team. This group still has Rudy Fernandez, who is 37 now, and former NC State star Lorenzo Brown, now 32. Otherwise, everyone else is between 20 and 29. Most of the familiar names are gone.

France cannot yet summon that level of consistent excellence. But they do have two of the best shot blockers in the world and basketball is growing in the country by leaps and bounds. If they can surround Gobert and Wembanyama with significant talent, they can play with anyone.

And that means the Americans as well.