Adam Silver warns NBA teams tanking for Victor Wembanyama

The NBA regular season hasn’t even started and the debate on teams tanking for Victor Wembanyama has already begun. Commissioner Adam Silver issued a warning on Thursday, however.

“I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially through our lottery, they can get him, so they should all still compete very hard next season,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi, where he was on hand for a Hawks-Bucks preseason game.

Given the 18-year-old’s two performances this week, it’s easy to see why GMs around the league are drooling over the generational 7-foot-4 talent from France.

On Wednesday, Wembanyama put up 37 points to go with five blocks and four rebounds for France’s Metropolitans 92 in a highly-anticipated matchup against the G League Unite and their star point guard Scoot Henderson, who had 28 points, nine assists and two steals to lead the Ignite to a 122-115 win. In Thursday’s rematch, Wembanyama racked up 36 points in 37 minutes on 11 of 24 shooting (including 2 of 7 from 3) with 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks to lead Metropolitans 92 to a 112-106 victory.

Shareef ONeal #8 of the G League Ignite plays defense on Victor Wembanyama #1 of Metropolitans 92
The prospect of nabbing Victor Wembanyama has already raised the prospect of NBA teams tanking.
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Henderson, meanwhile, left the game just 5 minutes in after colliding with Wembanyama and did not return.

Wembanyama and Henderson are projected to be the first two picks, respectively, in the 2023 NBA Draft. They did little to change that opinion in their exhibitions.

Especially Wembanyama, who, despite being one of the tallest players on the planet is one of the game’s most fluid with point guard skills and an outside-in game that is already well-suited for the NBA.

On one play Thursday, he came off a screen and stepped back to drill a three-pointer from 30 feet. On another, he made pulled up and hit a fadeaway three in the right corner.

Other times he brought the ball up the court and despite being rail thin proved an intimidating presence down low with postering dunks.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron James said on Wednesday after the Lakers preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Added Steph Curry: “He’s like a ‘2K create a player.”

A photo of the French phenom standing taller than Timberwolves 7-foot-1 star Rudy Gobert after Thursday’s game went viral.

Wembanyama, for his part, seemed humbled by the high praise.

“It’s obviously an honor to see such great people talk like this about me, but it really doesn’t change anything,” he told reporters. “The thing is I didn’t do anything yet. I didn’t play a game in the NBA yet. I wasn’t drafted. So I gotta stay focused to reach my goals.”

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