With Towering Height and an 8-Foot Armspan, Wembanyama Is a Rookie to Watch

Tonight, the much-discussed new NBA player makes his season debut with the San Antonio Spurs.
NBA fans watch an LA Clippers game in Los Angeles.
NBA fans watch an LA Clippers game in Los Angeles.
Photo by Marius Christensen on Unsplash

As fall sports finish up and temperatures drop, winter sports have started to kick off, both in and out of school. That means basketball, and a new National Basketball Association season starting this week.

As it begins, lots of new stories and teams are emerging into the spotlight. Many notable players changed teams: Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Bradley Beal, to name a few. There have also been new rules and rule changes, including one regarding “flopping” – when a player exaggerates getting touched by another player in order to get a foul call

A new year also means a new draft class and new rookies. One in particular has emerged as a possible future superstar and force to be reckoned with: Victor Wembanyama. 

The San Antonio Spurs’ 19-year-old, from Chesnay-Rocquencourt in France, is arguably the most hyped prospect since Lebron James. According to the NBA, he has three million followers on Instagram, and was the 8th-most-viewed player on social media last season, with 350 million views across all platforms, despite not having played a minute in an NBA game.

This begs the question:  Why is Wembanyama so hyped?

Why the hype?

Victor Wembanyama has one of the most unique builds you will ever see, regardless of sport. He stands at 7 foot 4 inches and is 209 pounds. This makes him very versatile. His height enables him to protect near the rim.

And because he is so athletic and lightweight, he can even defend outside and block shots from the 3-point line.

Players might think they are open for a shot, but Wembanyama’s 8-foot wingspan allows him to close the widest of gaps.

This also makes him incredibly hard to guard, as his high release point means he can rise over anyone when shooting from the perimeter.

His high release point greatly increases the difficulty of covering him and contesting his shot. His build resembles Kevin Durant, the 6’11” superstar on the Phoenix Suns, who also has an unguardable shot thanks to his height and wingspan.

But height alone didn’t get Wembanya to the NBA. His hype is also because of his skill. Wembanya’s ability to dribble and shoot like a guard while having the height of an elite paint defender is unreal. 

As a passer, he is also effective. This skill has been on display in the French Pro A League, where – according to the statistics site Basketball Reference – he averaged 21.6 points, 3 blocks, 2.4 assists, and 10.4 rebounds per game, with a respectable 47% field goal percentage. It’s safe to say he has proven himself on a professional level.


Does Wembanyama have any downsides as a player? The most likely is the possibility of injury. Most giants of the NBA suffer major injuries throughout their careers, including reigning MVP Joel Embiid, All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, and Hall-Of-Famers Yao Ming and Bill Walton. 

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Doctor Brian Sutterer, M.D. dove into Wembanyama’s injury history and build, to see how they affect his overall chance of injury.

Sutterer found that no past injuries were very problematic, but that the player’s lightweight and tall frame makes him more vulnerable to injury, with all the pressure he puts on his legs. This also applies to his other limbs including arms and fingers, where he is at higher risk. 

Sutterer also raised another important factor: his play style. Wembanyama’s game involves cutting quickly and making dominant moves towards the basket, similar to a player like Derrick Rose. These quick cuts put a lot of pressure on his legs, making him more prone to injury. (Here is Rose tearing his ACL after a tough drive to the basket.)

Fortunately, unlike Rose, Wembanyama is not a ferocious slashing player who relies so heavily on pure athleticism and quickness. 

There is so much unknown about how Wembanyama will fare in the NBA. But he is off to a great start. In his preseason debut, the Spurs’ rookie had 21 points and nine rebounds and swatted one shot in limited time. 

His season debut will be tonight, against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. It will be exciting to see where Wembanyama goes from here.

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Braeden Daniels
Braeden Daniels, Contributor
Braeden, class of '25, likes studying computer science and English best, at Friends. He plays saxophone in the school's jazz and wind ensembles, and also plays baseball and volleyball. In his free time, he loves baking; watching the NBA, NFL, and MLB; and playing football with friends.
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