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YouTube Gold: Wembanyana Rising

Game 1 was not so great. Game 2? Now we’re seeing what the fuss is about.

2023 NBA Summer League - San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 09: Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against Ibou Badji #41 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half of a 2023 NBA Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After his not-so-impressive debut in NBA Summer League play, some people slammed Victor Wembanyana, saying he was overrated.

Not Jerry West.

Although his comments came before that game, West is an authority on basketball like few others, and what he says has to be taken seriously. So what does he say about Wembanyama? Well...

“Just watching him play, it’s an easy game for him to play, very easy. Never looks like he’s really working, and if you watch really great players, they don’t look like they’re working hard, they’re always in the right place at the right time.

“But I think when he comes into the league...if you watch him defensively, he ruins games. He reminds me a little bit of a bigger Bill Russell with a big reach coming from everywhere, blindside. So...any offensive player is going to have to really be cautious about where he is, because he is going to mess up some offenses, that’s for sure.”

And in his second game, Wembanyama began to show what all the fuss is about. He hit for 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

What you’ll see here is, as West says, a guy to whom the game comes easy. He has range, he has timing, and he has incredible reach. Watch how comfortable his teammates are with him bringing the ball up: no one is back to help. They know he can do it.

What we will see very soon is that a lot of guys will start to shoot poorly just because they know he’s around. The guys he blocked here, especially on the perimeter, won’t forget it.

All the guy really needs is more muscle (he’s gotten knocked down a lot in his first two games) and experience. Another Russell? Maybe, maybe not. But he will be special. Actually, he already is.