Victor Wembanyama‘s refusal to sit ahead of next month’s NBA Draft has helped propel the projected first-overall pick’s club team to the LNB Pro A semifinals in France.
The 19-year-old recorded 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks as Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 beat Cholet, 81-69, in Game 3 of their first-round series. They will now face Wembanyama’s former team, ASVEL, in a best-of-five series.
That Wembanyama played well in a postseason game is hardly a surprise. The highly touted 7-foot-4 prospect averaged 21.6 points a game in the French league this season.
What is surprising is that Wembanyama is playing at all, rather than preserve his health for next month’s NBA Draft when he’s assured of being picked first overall by the San Antonio Spurs.
Former college players preparing for the NBA are done playing meaningful basketball, and are instead focused on private workouts ahead of the June draft combine.
Wembanyama reacts during Boulogne-Levallois’ win over Cholet in the French playoffs
Metropolitan 92’s French power forward Victor Wembanyama (R) talks with a Cholet player
NBA players are already taking notice of Wembanyama, who combines a center’s size with the speed and ball handling skills of a guard.
‘He’s like a [NBA] 2K created player, every point guard that wants to be seven foot. Cheat code type vibes,’ Stephen Curry told reporters of Wembanyama.
‘The league’s really in trouble when he comes in,’ Kevin Durant said.
He’s credited with a complete game, but the truth is he still needs to develop his outside shooting before he can say that.
Wembanyama made only 27.5 percent of his 3-point attempts this season while shooting 5.6 a game – a large sample size given the fact that he’s making less than a third of his shots from deep.
The good news is that Wembanyama made 82.8 percent of his free throws this season, which is a good indicator that he’s a natural shooter with the potential to make 3-pointers.
In any case, Wembanyama’s 56.1-percent clip inside the arc suggests he can be an efficient scorer at the next level, with or without a 3-point shot.
Metropolitan 92’s French Bilal Coulibaly is just 18, but is also likely to be taken in the first round
And Wembanyama isn’t the only Metropolitans 92 player on his way to the NBA.
Bilal Coulibaly, a 6-foot-6 wing with a 7-foot-1 wingspan has grown into a contributing role, and is expected to be taken in the first round next month.
‘He is by far the best wing defender of his generation in Europe and one of the best in this year’s class,’ wrote NBADraft.Net’s Stefanos Makris of Coulibaly. ‘Blessed with a great body and a good feel for the game, the French prospect has all the necessary tools to become an elite 3-and-D player, but it’s the potential that has shown in lower level as a secondary creator/Shot making wing that intrigues.
‘With that said, despite all the promise he has shown, Coulibaly is still an iffy Spot Up shooter for now, who has long ways to go as a secondary ball handler and creator.’