How tall is Victor Wembanyama really? Google that question, and the answer processes and spits back quick and easy: 7-foot-2. Use your eyes, though, and it seems like it’s closer to 7-4 or 7-5 . . . or 7-6 are all very realistic figures.
Just take this picture below from two years ago as an example. Second player from left, Purdue big man Zach Edey, is 7-foot-4. Far right in the picture is Chet Holmgren, listed at the time at 7-foot and now with the Thunder listed at 7-1. Using your eyes you could talk yourself into Wembanyama being, what, 7-foot-6? Taller?
These days, nailing down exact height for NBA prospects is its own puzzle to solve. But the context clues — and the lip service — paid to this precise question is plenty relevant. Wembanyama is the clear frontrunner to go No. 1 overall in the 2023 draft. He is widely viewed as one of the best NBA prospects in a generation. So how tall is he?
ESPN’s Jonathon Givony reported in December that Wembanyma “recently” measured at 7-foot-4 barefoot with an 8-foot wingspan. Last month, though, Wembanyama added a bit of clarity on this front. Whether this is posturing or it’s precise is unclear, but does he have any real incentive to lie?
“So in France we measure in barefeet. I’m 7-foot-3 barefeet,” Wembanyama said on an ESPN broadcast. “I’ve never actually measured myself with shoes on, but it’s got to be like 7-4 or 7-5, I guess.”
That would make him the tallest player in the NBA. You can see now why teams are deploying the tanks to try and acquire a generationally-talented big man with guard skills like Wembanyama at all costs.
Wemby leads France to FIBA World Cup berth
With his Mets 92 team having a break in the schedule, Wembanyama this week put his superman cape on for a different team, the French National Team, in a pair of FIBA qualifiers. And superman was soaring.
Wembanyama on Friday scored 20 points and had nine rebounds in a win over Lithuania as he debuted with the senior French National Team. He kept that up on Monday by scoring 19 points and adding four rebounds and two blocks in a win over Bosnia, helping France to a FIBA World Cup berth.
Race to the Bottom
Each week, we’ll rank the seven teams likeliest to earn the coveted No. 1 slot on lottery night. These rankings will take current record, recent performance, upcoming schedule and injuries into account to subjectively rank the NBA‘s worst teams.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder: Indiana and Utah have already graduated from Wemby Watch, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is determined to drag Oklahoma City out of the bottom seven by himself if he has to. The numbers speak for themselves. Through 13 games, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31.5 points per game on the best efficiency and with the best defense of his career. For years, we’ve wondered if Gilgeous-Alexander was too good to lose. Injuries have organically allowed the Thunder to avoid answering that question. He’s answered it now. If he is healthy, the Thunder are not one of the seven worst teams in the league. At this point, we’re just waiting for an injury above them to give us a new bottom-feeder.
6. San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are back with a vengeance! San Antonio started the season 5-2 before a 43-point loss to the Raptors kicked off a five-game losing streak that snapped only when the Spurs ran into Milwaukee’s B-team. They proceeded to follow that victory up with a 37-point blowout loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Early-season records are deceptive. The Spurs had the same record as the Nets as of Tuesday, but held the NBA’s third-lowest net rating compared to Brooklyn’s No. 13 rank.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: The Spurs have the NBA’s No. 28 net rating. The Lakers are at No. 27. Fortunately for us, they’ll be able to settle the debate for the Western Conference’s second-worst team soon. The Lakers and Spurs play each other three times between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26. One of these teams is going to gain ground on the other in the very near future. Until then, the Lakers can take solace in their offense jumping from dead last with a bullet in their first five games (96.2 points per 100 possessions) to a respectable 14th since (111.3). The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but if the Lakers can string a few wins together in their , they might be able to convince their front office to trade their way out of Wemby Watch.
4. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball made his grand return to the Hornets last week, but despite a win over the Magic, he’s hardly impressed. He’s shooting 33.3 percent from the field in two games thus far, including a miserable 5-of-24 mark from deep. One All-Star isn’t enough to fix a team whose leading scorer is Terry Rozier. The Hornets would have the NBA’s worst-rated offense were it not for whatever is happening to the two Los Angeles teams. Assuming they get their houses in order, Charlotte could fall to dead last any day now.
3. Orlando Magic: We take a break from our regularly scheduled Wemby Watching to bring you a candidate for the greatest on-air graphic in NBA history courtesy of the geniuses over at Bally Sports Sun.
Have the Magic inadvertently leaked their roster-building philosophy to the rest of the league? It wouldn’t be the first time, as former general manager Rob Hennigan’s reign of terror ended in part due to a photograph shared by the agent of a player signing in Orlando that included a whiteboard filled with free agent and trade targets. If this is indeed Orlando’s philosophy, it’s worth noting that Victor Wembanyama probably isn’t a fit for the Magic. With a 16-letter name, Wembanyama would need to grow to over 19 feet in height in order to match the ratio of club leader Bol Bol. As we’ve covered, we aren’t quite sure how tall Wembanyama is yet… but it’s pretty safe to say he isn’t going to grow another 12 feet. If Orlando is dead set on matching short names with tall men, Wembanyama is likely headed elsewhere.
2. Detroit Pistons: Find someone who loves you the way Dwane Casey loves Killian Hayes. The former No. 7 overall pick is flirting with 30 percent from the field. He has the NBA’s second-lowest offensive wins-above-replacement score by FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR metric. Now in his third season, Hayes is averaging career lows in scoring and assists even on a per-minute basis. Yet Casey is consistently giving him 20 minutes per night. He’s started two games and reached double figures in points just three times. If Detroit winds up with Wemby, they’re going to need to build a statue for the failed lottery pick that helps them get him.
1. Houston Rockets: The Rockets are so bad that they’ve even started tanking against the spread. Houston entered Saturday’s game against New Orleans as 11-point underdogs at most books. Kevin Porter Jr. tied the game at 106 with 2:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. Somehow, the Rockets managed to lose not only the game, but the bet for their backers as they allowed a 13-0 run to close the game for the Pelicans. Would covering the spread have hurt them in any way? No. But an experienced loser like Houston knows the importance of practicing losing habits. Nobody is catching Houston. The Rockets are going to finish with the NBA’s worst record for the third consecutive season.
Loss of the Week
Since we might not have much time left with the Thunder, let’s send them off right with a classic “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory moment.” Last Wednesday, the Thunder had the then-10-1 Bucks against the ropes (albeit without their three best players… but still). Up 126-125 with 0.6 seconds left in overtime, they needed only a single stop to clinch the victory. Instead… well… this happens.
It’s a smart play call by Milwaukee. A lob is by far their best chance at a clean shot with so little time left, but as players can technically attempt jumpers so long as there are at least 0.4 seconds on the clock, the Thunder couldn’t defend for the lob exclusively. That is probably why the Thunder bothered to defend the inbounds pass rather than just sticking an extra body near the basket. Still, it was entirely too easy for Lopez to get there. All it took to get him a mismatch was a single back screen. That put Lu Dort on him, who had no choice but to foul with no other help at the rim. Even if the Thunder couldn’t defend the rim exclusively, they had to know that a lob was the likeliest play call here. There had to be some rotation ready to address this sort of action. There wasn’t. Dort fouled Lopez.
And Lopez missed the first attempt! Oklahoma City had hope! He hit the second to get the Bucks into a second overtime, but the Thunder folded from there. Milwaukee wound up winning 136-132. That game is the only thing keeping the Thunder from .500 right now. If they can clean up mistakes like that and stay healthy, they might not stay below .500 for much longer. The silver lining here is that we get to send them out of Wemby Watch with a bang.
Games of the Weak
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Pacers at Hornets: We mentioned the importance of the next few weeks for the Lakers, but the same is true for the Pacers. Indiana came into the season expecting to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. There’s still time to get there with a few timely trades, but if they rack up too many victories, inertia is going to carry them towards the play-in. Losing to bad teams is the quickest path towards an in-season rebuild.
Friday, Nov. 18: Pistons at Lakers: The Lakers have four days off before this game. If they can’t beat Detroit at home, we really need to start fitting Wemby for his Pelicans jersey.
Sunday, Nov. 20: Hornets at Wizards: We’re watching the Wizards very, very closely. They are above .500, but have a negative point-differential. Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis have been suspiciously healthy. We’re not buying this. The Wizards are due for some regression. Maybe not Wemby Watch-caliber regression, but they aren’t finishing in the top five in the East.