While he’s already a lock for top pick in the NBA Draft, there’s a two week run coming up that promises the most in-depth look at what Victor Wembanyama offers at the next level
Think, if you would, of this Friday as the amuse-bouche. Victor Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 side play a home game against JDA Dijon in LNB Pro A. Then, things get really interesting for the mega prospect.
Wembanyama’s fêting is like nothing ever seen before with a European prospect. Every game of his is free to view around the world, both on the LNB’s own service and the NBA app. He’s not getting the ‘but what about the competition?’ comparisons that went with any Euro before him. Here is a physical marvel with extraordinary basketball talent that has been deemed the chosen one this summer. Only something beyond current imagination stands between him and the first overall selection this summer.
If he wanted to, he could safely hang up his kicks from competitive play this season and just work on conditioning until the draft. He’s not doing that and he won’t do that by the looks of things. Wembanyama wants to play as many competitive games as possible. He’s about to really get his wish
The cup runs
France being France it has two in-season cups. There’s the French Cup, the old Coup de France, and there’s the Leaders Cup, which is like the Copa del Rey in its selective format based on in-season form. This is what Wembanayama’s looking at in terms of potential schedule starting Wednesday 15 February.
15 February Coup de France last 16 at Monaco
17 February Leaders Cup quarter final vs Asvel
18 February Possible Leaders Cup semi final
19 February Possible Leaders Cup final
There is, obviously, a giant if there as only those first two games are guaranteed to happen. The former is against the lone team with a better league record than Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 side right now. Monaco feature Mike James, known outside this continent for his time with the Brooklyn Nets and in Europe as a phenomenal offensive force. Monaco made the playoffs of Euroleague last season and
That’s followed by the potential for three games in as many days in the Leaders Cup, all of which are being held in St Etienne. The one guaranteed match-up is against Asvel, the club backed by Tony Parker and where Wembanyama played last season. Asvel are the reigning and record holding 21 time French champions as well as a fixture in Euroleague.
Basically, Wembanyama goes up against the biggest two possible opponents he could face this season in elimination games in the space of three days. If he wins the second, he could end up playing four such games in five days. That’s intense.
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Let’s go the whole hog and assume Wembanyama’s team gets through that run all the way to the Leaders Cup final. That would give him a couple of days of rest before suiting up for the France national side in the final World Cup qualification window.
France has already punched its ticket to the finals but it still has two games to play. The first, against Czech Republic is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified friendly as Czechia is already eliminated from the competition. The second however is far tastier.
A Sunday clash against a Lithuania team which has also already qualified but always has a point to prove (especially against larger nations) looks splendid. This should be a tasty affair and one that gets a lot of eyes on Wembanyama despite the lack of real stakes. It’s a solid showcase scenario where he’ll be well tested with little on the court risk.
There are obvious ifs and buts as to how packed the schedule gets but players of the kind of size Wembanyama has will always have their durability under a microscope. If he can show good stamina and maintain performance across that run, it will stand to him. Plus, it might involve winning a championship which is always nice.