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The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

Hot Take: Wemby is Overrated

In-Class Essay from an AP Language and Composition Student

     Like almost all teenagers during the summer of 2020, I was bored out of my mind. I was in the midst of a pandemic, stuck at home, and outside was no better—the feels-like temperature on my phone saying it was 99 degrees. 

I would surf my phone for hours looking for anything that would allow me to at least temporarily escape the perpetual boredom; in mid-July, it finally happened. On Instagram, I saw a post by ESPN, probably the one-hundredth of theirs I had seen that day—except this was different. 

The first thing that caught my eye was the all-caps caption, which said, “7’ 2” TEENAGER BEATS NBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR IN 1V1!” I couldn’t believe it, so I watched the whole two-minute video in awe while this egregiously lanky kid drained shot after shot without even touching the rim. After dominating 21-10 against French defensive master Rudy Gobert, the former DPOY, Gobert was embarrassed. Like the other 20 million basketball fans who watched this 16-year-old in adoration, my jaw dropped lower every second. I’ll never forget the top comment in the comment section: “Remember the name Victor Wembanyama.” 

Sure enough, the now nineteen-year-old was the first overall pick, started on an NBA team as a teenager, and has become a global icon. Between the hype, sky-high predictions for his future, and fans drawing comparisons between Wembanyama and LeBron, I thought he was going to be the best center of all time. I thought he was going to be the best player of all time.

Before we delve into “Wemby’s” career, it’s important to give some context to his journey. Born to a 6’5” mom and 6’3” dad, everyone knew he was going to be tall, but not seven feet four inches tall. In the coming years, Wembanyama grew at an unprecedented pace; by 10, he was 6’ 0”; by fourteen, he was 6’10”; and by 18, he was 7’3.5”. Throughout these teenage years, Wembanyama first struggled. His 10-plus-inch wingspan and awkward running didn’t benefit him at such a young age, and it took until he was about 13 to start coming into his own frame.

But, when he did, there was no stopping him. It seemed like every day he would do something that people his size simply shouldn’t and couldn’t do. As he got better, the hype around him got more and more widespread. As people started learning more about him, Wemby finally got the opportunity of a lifetime: a 1v1 against fellow French seven-footer Rudy Gobert. With him being sixteen years old, no one in the world thought he even stood a chance. Here was a  kid most of us only heard about going against an NBA All-Star; what could go wrong? 

Well, to my shock and millions of others watching, Wemby dismissed Gobert 21-10; it wasn’t even close. This is the moment I was put on notice that he was the greatest prospect of all time. We were all put on notice. From this filmed 1v1, Wemby had gone viral and his hype was so prevalent that it paved the path for his NBA career. In just two years, Wemby’s hype acted like a rocket ship as it blasted him out of the U18 circuit  to the first overall NBA draft pick by the San Antonio Spurs. With a three-second motion of his pen, Wembanyama made him and his family $30 million a year. Wembanyama had blasted out of the stratosphere, and he was ready to burst out of our galaxy. He was poised to be the greatest of all time. 

     And yet, halfway through the season, that’s not how it’s played out at all. I no longer think he’ll be the best center of all time. I no longer think he will be the greatest NBA player of all time. Through roughly 40 games, Wembanyama has averaged about 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks per game. While 3 blocks per game is, by any measure, elite in basketball, he’s 7’4, so it’s expected. Averaging three assists, however, is just ok. Averaging eight rebounds per game is good but not great. And even averaging nineteen points is good, but not quite great. With formerly comparable rookies like Jordan and Lebron averaging 25 points per game, Wemby’s 19 is by no means special. In fact, he may not even win Rookie of the Year. 

     But it’s not even his fault.  It’s the media’s. For most players, 19 points is exceptional— but not for Wembanyama. For most players, 8 rebounds is exceptional— but not for Wembanyama. Even 3 assists is good for most players— but not for Wembanyama. Unfortunately, like many exceptional young athletes, Wemby fell victim to the media portraying him as the second coming of Shaq. Nowadays, when all of us basketball fans see his stats, all we will think is: what happened to the same sixteen-year-old who was beating NBA All-Stars in 1v1s? 

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