Former NBA star Richard Jefferson had high praise for soon-to-be NBA phenom, Victor Wembanyama, claiming he would be more worthy of the first overall pick than LeBron James if they were both entering the NBA Draft at the same time.
Wembanyama, who is just 18-years-old, will be eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft — precisely two decades on from James’s selection at No. 1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
‘If LeBron James at that exact moment showed up, Victor would go higher than him,’ Jefferson, a former teammate of James, said on Friday’s airing of NBA Today.
The Frenchman shocked the NBA world during two exhibition games this week vs. G League Ignite, his first appearances on American soil. Through two games, Wembanyama scored 73 points on 22-of-44, 15 rebounds, nine blocks and nine threes.
Victor Wembanyama is most of the hyped prospects since LeBron James and Zion Williamson
LeBron James was a phenomenon out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio
With Wembanyama’s stock at an all-time high, Jefferson made sure to keep the hype train rolling, reiterating that while immensely talented, James would be the secondary prospect. Though, Jefferson stopped short of anointing Wembanyama as the heir to James’s throne.
‘LeBron James, and all the things that we saw — and I’m not saying he’s going to be better than LeBron James — what I’m saying is right now, I remember LeBron James 20 years ago.
‘That player was six-foot-seven, this person is seven-[foot]-four. LeBron James would be number two if he has the exact same age in the exact same draft, LeBron James would be number two. That’s how crazy this kid is as a prospect.
The seven-foot-four Frenchman starred during two exhibition games vs. G League Ignite
Victor Wembanyama, who stands 7-foot-4, is pictured alongside teammate and former Boston Celtics point guard, Tremont Waters, who stands 5-foot-10
‘There had never been a more hyped player coming out of high school — until now. We’re all on this bad boy.’
While cynics may suggest Jefferson is simply creating hyperbole as a means of filling segments, Jefferson offers a rebuke.
‘People aren’t fully processing,’ he said. ‘There’s no way for us as basketball nerds to express what this is. You have never seen any player in the history of this planet, earth, be able to do what he can do at his size. We have never seen that and it’s mind-blowing.’
Victor Wembanyama #1 of Metropolitans 92 during practice on Monday in Las Vegas, NV.
Wembanyama alongside 6-foot-2 Scoot Henderson (right), the likely No. 2 overall draft pick
ESPN colleague Zach Lowe concurred that he too figures Wembanyama to be a better prospect than the 2003 iteration of James, who came to the NBA via St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, OH.
‘Height with this kind of handle and fluidity is unprecedented,’ Lowe said. ‘It’s crazy to say I think LeBron would be the number two pick in the draft and he might be the greatest player of all time.’
While his NBA future will be played out on June 22, 2023, at the NBA Draft, Jefferson does believe Wembanyama could one day possess a skillset like all-time great, and current Brooklyn Nets star, Kevin Durant.
‘If someone told you he could shoot like Kevin Durant, there’s not a basketball mind in the world that would be surprised given his form and the way he shoots the ball already.’
While his NBA future will be played out on June 22, 2023, Jefferson does believe he could one day possess skill set like all-time great, and current Brooklyn Nets star, Kevin Durant.
The French phenom has been likened to a unicorn for his almost mythical combination of size and skill, but LeBron James took the analogies a step further after seeing him in person on Tuesday.
‘He’s more like an alien,’ James said Wednesday after a preseason game in Las Vegas against the Phoenix Suns, a night after witnessing Wembanyama in nearby Henderson, Nevada.
‘Everybody goes on about this unicorn thing, everyone’s been a unicorn over the last few years,’ James said Wednesday, ‘but he’s more like an alien.’
The 18-year-old towers over fellow Frenchman and NBA DPOY, seven-foot-one, Rudy Gobert