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Victor Wembanyama truly is a perfect prospect

As the draft approaches, inevitably some doubts about whether Wembanyama is worth the hype will appear, but so far he’s checked all the boxes.

NBA: G League-Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans at Ignite Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Soon the NBA Finals will kick off and the league will find a new champion. After that, the entire focus of fans and media will switch to the draft and Victor Wembanyama. Like all hyped consensus top picks before, inevitably analysts and fans will try to find holes in his game.

The temptation to overthink whether all the praise heaped at the French prospect is warranted will be high. The NBA did a good job of marketing Wemby but a lot of people will go off highlights, and if YouTube videos could make Thon Maker look like the next Kevin Durant, who’s to say that all those impressive clips of the French giant are not just cherry-picked to create a narrative that isn’t substantiated by facts? Inevitably someone with a big platform will say someone else should go first overall or that he’s overrated. It’s going to happen.

In most drafts, some general skepticism about prospects is useful, but fortunately for Spurs fans, this one is different. Not only is Wembanyama the consensus top pick but his case as a potential superstar is as airtight as it could be. The hype is deserved because Wembanyama is as close to a sure thing as there is.

The easiest way to start to figure out why the French big man is such a great prospect is to look at the stats. In the past teams have gambled on players both international and domestic that didn’t have a track record of production. Sometimes those gambles paid off and sometimes they backfired, so if Wembanyama was struggling to make a mark in the decent but not elite French league, it would be understandable to be a little worried. That’s not the case, though. Wemby averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, over two assists and three blocks during the regular season and has put very similar numbers in the playoffs. He’s done that against grown men with long professional careers. Before that, he was really good at the junior level for France and recently he was a part of the European World Cup qualifiers with the senior team, getting good numbers.

Stats aren’t everything, of course. The eye test is important, especially when it comes to figuring out if a player makes an impact on defense and helps his team win. Fortunately, it’s easy to see why Wembanyama is held in such high regard under that lens as well. A 7’5” behemoth with a gigantic wingspan is hard to miss, so it doesn’t take much to notice how he affects games. His mobility is impressive for someone his size and his rim protection ability is a huge plus already. He might struggle a little to adjust to the NBA level on that end, but the tools are clearly there. He’s also someone who can thrive without having the ball in his hands at all times on offense, as he can play off others as a finisher around the rim and occasionally as a floor spacer or pick-and-pop threat. More importantly, he’s the star of a modest team in the first year of getting high minutes and is one game away from making the finals.

The unprecedented physical tools, production, and team success are there, but there have been players who have ticked all those boxes and failed because of attitude or character issues. Again, Wembanyama doesn’t seem to have those concerns attached to him. He’s taken the scrutiny about him well, performing in the bright lights in televised matchups against Scoot Henderson, and has been confident without sounding arrogant about the fact that he’ll undoubtedly go first overall. He initially regretted leaving an ASVEL team that was set to compete in the Euroleague for the Mets but as time passed he grew closer to his teammates and is clearly passionate about winning to the point of taking a leadership role in the locker room. A lot of players would have decided to sit out the playoffs after it became clear that they were going to be the top pick, but Wembanyama is still out there trying to win games.

It’s just incredibly hard to find anything to temper expectations for Wembanyama as a prospect because he simply doesn’t have any serious flaws. Even the injury concerns that are common on players his size have been assuaged somewhat by learning that he’s aware of his potential fragility and looking to address it already. He’s also been fortunate to land on a team that needed a savior but is not in any established timeline. Had he landed with, say, the Trail Blazers, he might have had to play heavy minutes and push himself immediately to help Damian Lillard, but he can take his time in San Antonio. The Spurs have also traditionally been extremely careful when it comes to injury risks and have made it a point to rest players, so it would be shocking to see them force the young big man into more minutes than he can handle. It’s a perfect match.

As the focus of media and fans alike slowly shifts to the draft, Wembanyama will find himself under an even bigger magnifying glass than he’s been so far. His game, body and mind will be scrutinized in hopes of finding a fatal flaw that everyone else missed, but it doesn’t seem that there will be anything there.

Fortune plays a huge part in how the NBA careers of even the most gifted players turn out, so predicting too far into the future of Wembanyama’s journey as a Spur seems unwise. As a prospect, though, he’s as good as advertised. It will be important to remember that if the hot takes start flying once the draft gets closer.