NBA executive says he would take 19-year-old LeBron James over Victor Wembanyama

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

Despite the plaudits being directed toward Victor Wembanyama, one NBA executive indicated that he would take a 19-year-old LeBron James over the top NBA prospect.

Adam Finkelstein of 247 Sports offered his impressions of the 2023 NBA Draft Combine and pointed out the anonymous executive’s discounting of media comparisons of Wembanyama to James.

“I remember the first time I saw LeBron,” the executive said. “I came back and said, ‘Trade our whole team for him right now.’ I’d take that 19-year-old Lebron over this 19-year-old.”

Wembanyama’s skills are undeniable, with many projections pointing to him being a player who can immediately turn around a franchise. The chance to obtain his combination of skills led some observers to claim that teams would tank for the chance to draft him, a strategy that seemed to confuse the prospect.

In the end, Wembanyama’s likely destination was finally determined on Tuesday night. That was when the San Antonio Spurs won the right to take him in next month’s draft.

Much like the enthusiasm about Wembanyama, the anticipation over James also surrounded the NBA Draft Lottery 20 years ago. James had already been the focus of intense media attention for years, including making the cover of Sports Illustrated.

James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He eventually led the franchise to its first Eastern Conference title in 2007.

That central role continued until his controversial 2010 departure to play for the Miami Heat. With the Heat, James began an eight-year run of playing in the Finals and helped that team win NBA titles in 2012 and 2013.

Returning to Cleveland in 2014, he immediately transformed the Cavaliers into championship contenders. In his second year back with Cavaliers, he led the team to a historic comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals and collected his third Finals MVP award.

James moved on to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 and led them to the 2020 NBA title. He has since added to his amazing array of records, including setting the NBA’s all-time scoring mark earlier this year.

Having more than lived up to the hype, James has established himself as one of the greatest basketball players ever.

Trying to surpass that immense body of work is what lies ahead for Wembanyama. He certainly seems to possess the same vast potential that James had in 2003, but trying to match it will offer a stiff challenge.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.