Jerry West says Victor Wembanyama reminds him of a bigger Bill Russell

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West recently compared San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama to Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell.

“He reminds me a little bit of a bigger Bill Russell with a big reach,” West said. “Coming from everywhere, blind side – so any offensive player is going to have to be really cautious about where he is.”

That’s some tremendous praise for the No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 NBA Draft, as Russell is one of the greatest players in NBA history.

The Celtics legend won 11 NBA titles and five league MVPs during his playing career, and he was a dominant presence in the paint as a rebounder and defender.

Wembanyama, who has tremendous size and a massive wingspan, can really alter games from a shot-blocking perspective.

In his Summer League debut on Friday night, the Spurs rookie blocked five shots against the Charlotte Hornets. He didn’t shoot well, but he showcased that he can disrupt games on the defensive end of the floor.

The Spurs rookie has a very unique playstyle for someone his size, as he’s able to create for his teammates and step outside the arc and shoot the 3-point shot.

He had a nice sequence from defense to offense against Charlotte on Friday where he blocked a shot and then went coast to coast, finding an open teammate with a nice pass.

During the 2022-23 season, Wembanyama played for Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92. He appeared in 34 games, averaging 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.0 blocks per game while shooting 47.0 percent from the field.

He’s expected to make an immediate impact for the Spurs in the 2023-24 season, but there are likely going to be some growing pains as he transitions to the NBA game. The Spurs were one of the worst teams in the NBA last season, but they could take a major step forward if Wembanyama is a star as soon as he takes the floor in the regular season.

Either way, West seems to think that Wembanyama could be destined for greatness if he has any of Russell’s amazing defensive ability in him.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.