4th of July Collection | Now Available at the Barstool StoreSHOP HERE

Advertisement

"Lay Bricks for Vic" Should Be The NBA's New Tanking Catchphrase, Because Victor Wembanyama Is That Fucking Good

Romain Biard. Getty Images.

I was thisclose to "Suck Dick for Vic" but went a little less vulgar in the end. Slant-rhyming anything with the last name Wembanyama is borderline impossible. If you know a good lyricist or poet who can be more deft with this, we can workshop it. For now, "Lay Bricks for Vic" is what we're rolling with.

To look THIS FAR ahead to the 2023 NBA Draft when this year's iteration literally just ended last night is audacious. As an NFL Draft guru, I loathe putting out a mock draft for the next year ~362 days out, because SO MUCH can change. There are many more players on a football field than a basketball court, though. It can take a while for elite talent to develop, more so in football than basketball, in my opinion. Look no further than my guy Joe Burrow. For instance, you don't see teenage quarterbacks a la Arch Manning getting hyped as a No. 1 overall pick. Partially because it's against the rules. Partially because, well, football is a whole different thing.

Whereas in the NBA, you can say, "Oh that dude is gonna be the No. 1 pick next year" and unless he gets injured or falls on his face with some shocking, unforeseen regression, chances are you'll be right. Or you can at least narrow it down to two or three guys more often than not. 

France's Victor Wembanyama, I dare say, is probably the most can't-miss first overall pick since…I don't know…LeBron James in 2003? You hear shit about "GENERATIONAL TALENT" all the time. Such an overused label. When it comes to Wembanyama, we're literally talking about a once-in-two-decades type of prospect. Shooting range, crazy handles, playmaking ability, and off-the-charts shot-blocking thanks to a 7-foot-2 frame (some places he's listed as tall as 7-4) with a 7-8 wingspan. A human Matrix glitch.

Plenty to drool over in this highlight package alone. What makes me laugh in disbelief the most is how Wembanyama's Go-Go-Gadget Arms allow him to dunk in the most unexpected situations. You'll be thinking like, "Oh he's just gonna try to go up for a putback or craftily lay that in around the rim — …oh. Oh. He fucking DUNKED that. WHAT."

You might look at Wembanyama's raw numbers and conclude that he's nowhere near deserving of the hype he's received from the scouting community. Only 16.6 minutes a game, with averages of 7 points (42.7/31.0/68.5 shooting splits), 4.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.8 blocks? 

Here's the thing. Luka Doncic went through three seasons of similarly sparse playing time on Real Madrid before coming on stronger in his final season with the club. Still, he was shooting 30.9% from beyond the arc that year and averaged 14.5 points, so not exactly lighting the world on fire. Luka then went to the NBA, had an impressive rookie campaign, and ascended to superstar status in Year 2. 

In an appearance on JJ Redick's podcast, Luka gave valuable insight into the international landscape, particularly why it's much harder to score tons of points overseas and put up big numbers. Two main factors: The floor dimensions aren't as big, which creates more crowding and less spacing. There also isn't a defensive three-second rule, so if you're a rim protector, you can camp out underneath the basket, which makes driving much more of a challenge.

Advertisement

While an argument can be made that Wembanyama's blocked shot numbers are inflated by that latter difference between international hoops and the NBA, when you watch his reel of mind-boggling plays, he doesn't really rely on that as a crutch. The young man is so damn long and dynamic that pitching a tent in the paint would be selling himself and his team short. He's mature enough to realize this — and is surrounded by greatness and ideal mentors on his current French club team, ASVEL Basket.

Current NBA veteran Nicolas Batum is the director of ASVEL's basketball operations. Even wilder, the team's owner and president is none other than San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker. As far back as last year, Batum was gassing up Wembanyama, via LookCharms.com:

He’s got the size, he’s got the intelligence, he’s got talent in his hands… You don’t see that every day. As I always say, it’s not normal for a 17 year old kid to do what he does. […] When we decided to bring him to ASVEL, it was really to explain to him the plan to put in place so that he would be in the best possible conditions to go to the NBA. But once again he is 17 years old, the goal is to prepare him and train him as much as possible so that he is ready. Whatever happens he will go to the NBA.

Just for fun, check out the size difference between Parker and Wembanyama when he first signed on last year, and not long after that, the nickname Batum came up with for the hardwood prodigy:

So yeah doubt Victor Wembanyama at your own risk. His defensive prowess brings to mind another elite French player in Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert. With Wembanyama's build, upside and freakish athletic ability, he has shades of Giannis (before his massive muscle mass gains) and Chet Holmgren to his game. I'm not quite ready to say "TALLER KEVIN DURANT" but fuck if it's not trending that way.

Last night, it was fun to imagine if the Oklahoma City Thunder, who'd just drafted Holmgren, tank again and position themselves to draft Wembanyama in 2023. The Thunder are loaded with draft assets and should be among the teams vying for Wembanyama's services. Selfishly, I want Wembanyama to OKC to come to fruition for the sheer chaos of it all. 

Advertisement

This is where it gets tricky, because you never quite know who's going to be ass in the NBA. WIth the lottery system in place, it's not as straightforward as the NFL, where worst record gets first pick. All three of the worst teams have a 14% chance at the No. 1 overall selection, and it goes down from there.

I'm praying Paolo Banchero works out well enough in Orlando so that the Magic can finally move forward. I really don't want Wembanyama going to that historic shit show. We've seen way too much young talent go there to wither away over the years.

Preferred destinations besides OKC among teams expected to suck next season begin with the Houston Rockets. You've got Jalen Green as a surefire backcourt cornerstone. Then you'd have Jabari Smith as a deluxe-sized wing with Wembanyama and Alperen Sengun rounding out the frontcourt. Next up is Detroit. With a core of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey on the perimeter, I'm intrigued by the fit of Wembanyama and the defensive upside he'd have next to fellow big man Jalen Duren.

If Damian Lillard can bear one more dreadful season in Portland, maybe the Trail Blazers can sink low enough to land Wembanyama. However, I don't know if Dame will be capable of letting that happen. Maybe if the Brooklyn Nets' latest drama results in Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant leaving, the silver lining could be that Wembanyama would potentially be on the way. Staying in New York, I don't think anyone knows WTF the Knicks are doing. One bad season instead of fringe East playoff contention may be worth it to get Wembanyama…I mean aren't the Knickerbockers due for the ping pong balls to finally bounce their way?

Then of course the perpetual dark horse with Tony Parker ties: The Spurs. It isn't in Gregg Popovich's DNA to tank. That said, San Antonio has been treading water for years. Popvich is coaching his balls off and barely keeping the team competitive. With all the success the Spurs have had dipping into the international pool over the years, it'd be fitting if a Parker-guided prospect found his way to one of the NBA's model organizations.

Oy, again, too many unknowns at this point. My vote from a pure basketball standpoint is for the Rockets, Thunder or Pistons. For Wembanyama's best chance at maximizing his ceiling, it's probably the Spurs. Maybe some other team will get blindly lucky. Adam Silver, do your worst to rig the lottery and the regular season. Let the Lay Bricks for Vic sweepstakes begin!!