2023 NBA Draft: Five takeaways after two clashes between Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson in Las Vegas

The second of two head-to-head matchups this week with No. 1 prospect Victor Wembanyama and No. 2 prospect Scoot Henderson, the prices clear (as of now!) from 2023 NBA Draft class, fizzled Thursday afternoon with Henderson injured in the first half and not returning. But Wembanyama drew attention to the stretch in the last exhibition game between his Mets 92 team and the G League Ignite, scoring 36 points and providing a dazzling display in the process to solidify his position – in a way. . LeBron James could tell – as the most intriguing alien in next year’s draft class.

Wembanyama made seven 3s in the first showdown on Tuesday en route to a 37-point blowout and followed that up by nailing just two triples in his recall on Thursday, his second competition on American soil. But from start to finish, it was arguably an even more impressive performance than the first. The dreamy shake, the recoil, the crossfade, the swat-into-the-stands stuff — it had a bit of everything that worked. Wembanyana skillfully singled out his defenders in attack and affected almost everything that entered his space in defense. It was so dominating but looked so easy, the hyperbole is sure to reach deafening levels following (another) stunning throw. . . and it’s hard not to agree with most of them. He looks like the generational talent he’s long been billed for.

Henderson’s early injury on Thursday put a damper on what was undoubtedly a great week for him and Wembanyama, but he also did some serious damage on Tuesday and got off to a good start before bleeding out.

There will certainly be declarative statements made after what we have witnessed in recent days – some of which may very well turn out to be correct! — but I will reserve these statements for a later date. I do, however, have a few takeaways from what we’ve seen on the pitch this week (and what that could mean in the months to come). So let’s dive into five takeaways.

1. Henderson bled Thursday

G League Ignite picked up the win over Mets 92 on Tuesday and Henderson had nine assists and 28 points in that effort, but he was unable to try to replicate that performance like Wembanyama after injuring his knee at the start of the game. Henderson came out after playing just five minutes in total and came away with a rebound, an assist and a 0-for-2 shooting start.

The good news is that after the game, Henderson would have been listed as “day to day”. He has a bone bruise that’s not considered long-term persistent.

Henderson has done very well this week overall. His pace and control of Tuesday’s game was evident late in the contest and he was a huge reason why G League Ignite was able to win. He emphasized teammate involvement, effortlessly controlled the tempo, and played with such an edge and IQ that he knew precisely when his team needed him to take over.

2. Wembanyama defense ➡️ attack

Here’s an example of what Wembanyama’s mobility can add to a team dynamic. There are only a handful of players on planet Earth who could do something like him in this streak, hitting one end then sliding to the other to finish over the edge in transition.

He finished with four blocks, but perhaps more impressively, was a plus-26 (!) in the box score.

3. The stars weigh

If you are in the NBA or around the NBA this week, it’s been impossible to ignore the goodness that has come from Scoot and Wembanyama one-on-one. So when asked about their takes this week on Wembanyama in particular, the league stars shared some pretty in-depth thoughts.

First, there was this from LeBron: “Everybody’s been a unicorn for the past few years, but [Wembanyama] looks more like an alien.”

Then this, Thursday morning, from NBA commissioner Adam Silver: “Oh, my God. He certainly has all the attributes of a real game changer. … I know a lot of our NBA Teams are salivating at the thought that potentially, through our lottery, they could get it, so they should all be competing really hard next season.”

Then this from Stephen Curry: “He’s like a 2K player builder. Cheat code type vibes. He’s a solid player.”

Finally, there was this from another former MVP winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo: “He’s an amazing man. I believe in 2045 everyone will look like Victor. The way he can shoot the ball, the the way he can move, he’s extremely fast for his size, can block shots, he’s amazing. He’s blessed to be one of the best to ever play this game. We’ve never seen something like that before. We have to prepare for this kid, he’s going to be really good.”

4. The race for number 1

It’s been pretty clear for some time now that Wembanyama was considered consensus No. 1 over Henderson, but this week has cemented his status even further in that regard. Yes, Henderson is a big, big prize, but he’s in a class with good generational talent at the top ahead of him. It happens!

It’s not over either, just to be clear. Remember: the draft isn’t until next summer. And Wembanyama has dealt with nagging injuries in recent years, although nothing seems chronic or long term. It would have to be something catastrophic to knock Wembanyama off the top spot, but when LeBron and Giannis were asked about him this week, it’s worth noting that both in their answers made it clear they wanted him. a good health; the longevity of 7ft 4in unicorns seems like a total unknown. But right now it’s Wembanyama in his own level at the top, Henderson right behind him, and then everyone else.

5. Wembanyama Acrobatics

Just . . . look at this.


It’s laughable how good Wembanyama is. Body control, movement, skill, length, production: he verifies everything the boxes. Each of them.

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