Victor Wembanyama’s talent has not typically been questioned. As the “best prospect since LeBron James,” whether he can play at the next level has not been a concern. The red flags have come from his 7-foot-4, 210 pound frame. The biggest question Wembanyama has faced is whether his body will hold up over the course of his NBA career.
A new video of Wemby showing the flexibility of a contortionist proves that he’s well aware of injury concerns.
How many 7-footers in the league can do the splits? Heck, how many professional athletes in general can show off this kind of flexibility? He looks more like a member of Danny Ocean’s heist team than an NBA athlete.
According to the UC Davis Sports Medicine, our joints require a full range of motion to maintain the health of cartilage and other structures within the joint. This is especially needed in weight bearing joints like the hips and knees. Muscles that aren’t flexible tire faster, which causes other muscle groups to work harder. Muscle fatigue and injury can hinder the ability to protect those joints. That’s why weak hamstrings and ACL injuries are so closely linked.
Put shortly, flexible athletes in general are healthier. Increased flexibility is a key way to avoid injury as well as enhance athletic performance. If Wemby and the Spurs training staff are worried about him getting banged up, a robust stretching program makes a lot of sense to deter that.
Perhaps this is what Wembanyama meant on draft night when he told the ESPN panel that he doesn’t want to just “bulk up.” Putting extra weight on his joints without care for the stress he may be putting on them by lacking flexibility seems counterintuitive to staying on the court.
This isn’t the first time Wembanyama’s workout routine has gone viral. Back in May, we saw him do a toe workout that left many fans baffled.
Because foot issues are common for players with large frames like Joel Embiid and Greg Oden, his team is focused on strengthening his feet. It may look weird to our eyes, but Wembanyama’s training is directly targeting his injury risks, and focused on keeping him healthy over the course of multiple NBA seasons.
On top of staying healthy, having strong feet and flexible hips/knees will make Wembanyama a better basketball player. His game is so focused on versatility and mobility on both ends. Being a fluid athlete is crucial to his style of play. Being flexible is only going to improve those base skills as he matures and adds more weight to his frame.
It’s hard not to get excited about Wembanyama. From his on the court talent, to his mentality off of it. Seeing him focus on injury prevention and core strength is a positive sign versus blindly adding muscle. All signs point to good vibes for the San Antonio Spurs next season.