As practically all NBA fans know, the league is bracing for the arrival of superstar prospect Victor Wembanyama in next year’s NBA draft.
Wembanyama, an 18-year-old French national who is 7-foot-2 and can seemingly do it all on the court, has already been penciled in as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
In fact, there seems to be a belief that an unusually high number of teams will attempt to tank this season in order to improve their chances of landing the top pick in the draft lottery.
To get a feel for how special of a talent Wembanyama seems to be, The Athletic’s David Aldridge recently asked some people around the NBA to list the players that they wouldn’t be willing to trade to land Wembanyama.
Not even Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James made the list of a Western Conference executive. In fact, the only players the executive listed were Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid.
It seems age is the primary reason why James was not considered untouchable in the hypothetical scenario.
“Who wouldn’t I trade?” the executive began. “You have Durant. You have Giannis. I can’t put (James) in that conversation, just because of his age. Curry. Jokić. And Embiid. I would say organizationally, you have to have that conversation. I’m not saying I would do it. But I think those five push that question.”
In truth, at this point in James’ career, it would be a shock to some fans if any team at the top of the draft would want to trade for him. Though James is still an incredible player, there is not much time left to build a roster around him. He’ll be 38 years old in just a couple of months.
When it comes to Wembanyama, the potential to build a winning team around his combination of size and skill has to be incredibly enticing to executives and coaches across the league.
Still, that is not to say that James is not just as talented as the rest of the players that the NBA executive listed. The veteran proved that age is just a number in the Lakers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Though the Lakers lost by double digits in the contest, James looked incredible. He dropped 31 points and added 14 rebounds and eight assists. He shot 48.0 percent from the field and 30.0 percent from deep.
The Lakers are 0-1 on the season. They’ll face the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night before playing the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. Surely, James and company will look to get wins in both of those games to shake off the rust and get the 2022-23 campaign off on the right foot.
As for the many teams desperate to add Wembanyama in the draft next year, they will surely look to start out the 2022-23 season with some losses.