Victor Wembanyama is Not Overrated, But He Is Overhyped
By Liam McKeone
Tuesday night, the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Draft lottery and therefore the right to draft Victor Wembanyama. Fans and members of the franchise were ecstatic about it, with good reason. Owner Peter J. Holt pounded the table and shouted in victory after deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the Charlotte Hornets' card at the No. 2 spot, ensuring San Antonio was at the top. This video of fans going absolutely bananas was only helped a little bit by the bar promising to pay everybody's tab if the Spurs got the top pick.
The joy is palatable and real. Thousands of San Antonio kids will have Wembanyama jerseys by October. I do not wish to dampen that enthusiasm. However ...
The Wembanyama hype has gotten way, way too big. I'm not saying the kid is going to be a bust. I don't think he's even overrated. What he *could* be is worthy of the sort of praise he's receiving -- a 7-foot-5 Kevin Durant, a 40 percent 3-point shooter who doesn't need to jump to dunk the ball, a player who takes the concept of a big with the handles of a guard to its logical extreme.
But have you been watching the coverage of him over the last two days?
Here's Adrian Wojnarowski calling him the greatest prospect in the history of team sports. That is an utterly outrageous statement.
I mean, come on, man. Wemby is an awesome prospect and very well could be the best the NBA has seen in decades. Certainly since LeBron James. I do not have any holes to poke in that argument. But to say what Woj did is to declare him the most perfect professional sports prospect to ever exist. I don't think he's that. Do you?
All of it is borne from the way we discuss sports nowadays, the constant desire to say the bigger and crazier thing in order to get the most attention. There is no such thing as too much exaggeration when you're on television. We can acknowledge that and still call it out when others force us to the levels of absurdity basketball discourse reached yesterday.
This time it was with Wembanyama as the catalyst. What will happen next time? Will we go round and round each draft season, declaring this guy to be the greatest prospect in professional sports history without a care for how the last guy did? Where does it end?
Wembanyama could be awesome. I hope he is awesome. We can all hope that without labeling the kid the greatest prospect of all-time. It sets a level of expectation literally impossible for him to reach. Does anyone think we'll ever have a player become the consensus GOAT? The sports talk industrial complex can't let that happen because it wouldn't survive.
That is why I put forth the idea that Wembanyama is not overrated -- he's as incredible as everybody says he is -- but he is, somehow, overhyped. His prospect status has reached mythological levels thanks in part to his otherworldly talents but more because of sports talk's innate desire to say something crazier than the previous guy. No mere mortal can deliver on that hype.