While we’ll have a separate look at this past NBA Draft as a whole, it’s probably a pretty logical idea to highlight some of the best-of-the-best-of-the-best (contextually speaking!) players from this new class that will be garnering major minutes in their respective rotations for the upcoming 2023-24 Season. Also, the Victor Wembanyama name-drops for the almighty SEO Gods also makes this subject-matter easy to talk about. AGGREGRATE ME BRO. And speaking of which, if you thought “Wemby-Watch!” was absurd last season, wait until this basketball year when he actually gets to play professionally! However, this kinda makes our jobs as content-entrepreneurs (or how I like to refer to myself: content-philanthropist) a bit easier. I mean, what can you say about Wemby that hasn’t already been said about a tall crane following down on a skyscraper? Tall, destructive and attention-grabbing. The crane actually collapsing like it’s WWII really brings the French part out too… and the joke itself is worthy enough to lose the two-to-three French-speaking readers that I estimate we have. (I don’t know how to estimate, if you were wondering.)
Anyways, the point being, we already know the hype and I believe most of us have probably seen a few highlights, though even if you haven’t, just look below. It’s pretty much just a giraffe in its natural habitat, but with a basketball and handles. It’s true, this is analysis.
But hey, you want some more analysis? Since I’m fresh out of geopolitical and zoo-animal metaphors, I think the most intriguing parts of Wemby’s outlook falls into a couple of categories, and all of them are fantasy relevant. First, we’ll look at his role, both out of the gate and where he might be towards the of the season. We’ll take a look at his playstyle too, and how this might affect his potential, growth, and production. And lastly, we’ll take a look at his overall value, both this year and in Dynasty formats, and also have some peer comparisons and commentary…
So, in terms of role, at first glance this might be an easy one to gauge. Dude is tall (7’4″) and already has intrinsic defensive value with great shot-blocking abilities, so obviously he’ll be at the five and sometimes the four-position depending. But it’s always easy to forget a few other factors that might create ripples, and a lot of that is tied into Wemby’s playmaking and ball-handling abilities. It was pretty obvious that the Spurs Summer League rotation and strategy was to somewhat protect and limit Wemby on offense by running him as a hybrid wing, generally holding at the hash or top of the arc. Very rarely would he settle in the post or paint, relying more on his perimeter play, not just as a popper or relay passer, but as an actual playmaker and shot creator. This type of positioning and stretch-ability will probably continue throughout the season too. Don’t forget that the Spurs are still perhaps a year or two away from seriously ring-chasing (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs were in the play-ins conversation at some point this year) and while I don’t want to spend too much time waxing poetic on big-man health and some of the frustrating and career-affecting injuries these types of bodies can take, I believe it only to be obvious that the entire franchise will be looking to both maximize and protect their best player asset since Kawhi Leonard (which is questionable example, but whatever). And because of this, his numbers could be all over the place. Not a terrible thing, just a thing to be aware of.
And this awareness might help us understand his ultimate fantasy value this year. I might help too! (Maybe.) While Fantasy Basketball isn’t as robust as other fantasy sports in terms of consensus projections and data dissemination, there is still some value to be gleaned from this exercise. The gleaning! Let’s say, we take his final year stats for the Metropolitans 92 in France’s top-tier league as a starting reference point. As their youngest MVP ever, he averaged 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists along with 3 blocks with 2.6 turnovers while shooting 47/27/83. As of now, there is a small consensus NBA projection for Wemby, and it goes something like 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.9 assists per game. If that’s the case, these are Tim Duncan rookie numbers for what it’s worth, where he went 20/10 with 2.5 blocks during the 1997-98 season. Not bad! But let’s be real about our expectations; playing time, team performance and health will all be factors that affect the top-end of his production and I think something a bit more responsible, say 15 points and 7 rebounds may bit a bit more responsible to forecast. And if that’s the case, that might land him squarely in the sixth through eighth or even ninth rounds depending on how you feel about his shot-blocking ability, which is already above-average and will most likely be elite at some point. (To give a loose example, the difference in fantasy points between 2.5 and 2.0 blocks per game was roughly two rounds.)
But will Wemby even still be on the board around then? Maybe not, I’ve already seen early drafts where he’s gone as high as the third and fourth round… I wouldn’t call it crazy, but the production needed to support that value might be a fool’s errand. And I don’t mean to be a Debbie-downer, mostly because my name isn’t Debbie. While I’m highlighting the caveats where I can, it’s true, Wemby is a generational talent that just needs some luck with health and a great program to grow into. With Popovich and the Spurs, he has one of those in spades. And of course, health will always be the elephant in the room. (We should switch to a smaller animal, honestly, who has a room large enough to fit one?) There is also some prestige in holding this player on your fantasy team, that part is real whether we admit it or not. And in terms of dynasty leagues, the analysis is simple, you would want him like you would want any one of LeBron, Steph or even KAT/JJJ/KP their rookie-years and beyond. (Though, the three-set of big-men are interesting comps in of themselves…)
Ultimately, my general inclination is to just act as witness this year. I don’t think I’ll ever be in a position to draft Wemby where I think he should be drafted, and even if I loosened it up a little with my strategy, the third and fourth round still seem a bit too rich for my liking. I’ll have a bit more on this in a future post, but as a bit of a spoiler, my draft strategy has been to just grab Chet Holmgren instead. And I don’t mean for the Wemby spotlight to change into the Chet show, but I like him as a direct response to those of you who are like me, a dude who would love to have Wemby but just can’t have him under my own terms.
Therefore, I’ve become a dude who loves and would love to have Wemby, but instead will love having Chet, who might do many of the things Wemby can do and better (this year at least) but at better value.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell.