In the past, we have seen the two best prospects entering the NBA Draft dominate the collegiate ranks and often face off against one another.
Most recently, we saw a game that featured Paolo Banchero and the Duke Blue Devils facing off against Chet Holmgren and the Gonzaga Bulldogs on November 26th, 2021. The pair went first and second overall respectively in the 2022 NBA Draft. We’ve also seen the likes of Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the first and second overall picks from the 2017 NBA Draft, face off in PAC-12 competition when the Washington Huskies took on the UCLA Bruins on February 4th, 2017.
However, with the implementation of more and more alternative routes to the NBA, the frequency in which we see the presumptive first and second overall picks is declining. Prospects are dispersed across various different leagues, making it harder to see the best ones face off.
For the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft, it’s all but set in stone that the first overall pick will be Victor Wembanyama, and the second overall pick will be Scoot Henderson. The two come from very different basketball backgrounds. Wembanyama, the 7’4” french phenom, plays for the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 of the LNB Pro A, the highest tier-level of French Basketball. Henderson, the electric 6’2” guard from Marietta Georgia, plays for the NBA G-League Ignite, a developmental program located in Henderson Nevada.
Under normal circumstances, the two would have never crossed paths on the court until they arrived in the NBA. Fortunately, two exhibition matches have been organized for Tuesday, October 4th, and Thursday, October 6th.
Heading into these games, here is an overview as to how the two shape up as prospects.
Chet Holmgren vs. Victor Wembanyama from the U19 World Cup Final: pic.twitter.com/muQtJoGHwO
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 26, 2022
Victor Wembanyama has been projected to go first overall in the 2023 NBA Draft for the better part of the last three years. The epitome of a generational talent, Wembanyama is as unique as they come. Standing at 7’4” barefoot with an eight’ wingspan, a highly touted prospect with a physical profile like Wembanyama’s has never been seen before.
In contention to be the best defensive prospect ever, the 18-year-old uses his size, understanding of leverage, and reaction speed to be a menacing rim protector and blow up opportunities at the rim. In combination with his otherworldly rim protection, Wembanyama is very quick on his feet, which allows him to be elite at defending in space, a trait rare for big men especially at such an abnormal size.
"This has got to be the biggest game I've played in my life."
Victor Wembanyama understands the stage!
His Metropolitans 92 squad faces off against Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite at 10pm/et on ESPN2 and the new NBA App. pic.twitter.com/Cm0kBPJgSu
— NBA (@NBA) October 4, 2022
Offensively, Wembanyama has flashed rare abilities that would typically be seen out of a wing player. Wembanyama has displayed strong self creation and ball handling capabilities with the ability to have an extremely versatile shot diet, from three point range, mid range, and on the inside. In addition to the flashes of self creation, what makes Wembanyama so tantalizing is his ability to operate off the ball and be an effective lob threat and play finisher, which provides tremendous value for every NBA offense.
Victor Wembanyama is a generational prospect and we’ve known this for a while now. There’s some people doubting his overall skill-set but we’ve never seen someone 7’3-7’5 playing like this. Here’s 25 points vs a pro club and 3 blocks as well. This is a ridiculous performance pic.twitter.com/SpmWFS1Jbb
— Pistons Draft talk (@happypistonfan) September 1, 2022
Victor Wembanyama’s historic body type paired with his defensive capabilities and offensive creation is why he is on the short list of the greatest prospects the sport of basketball has ever seen.
Derrick Rose. Russell Westbrook. John Wall. Ja Morant.
What do they all share in common?
They’re all hyper athletic, advantage creating point guards who are nearly unstoppable at attacking the rim.
Scoot Henderson is next in line to be the next great player from this archetype.
Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite provides perspective on what tonight's matchup with Victor Wembanyama and the Metropolitans 92 means for the growth of the game! 🏀 pic.twitter.com/oFniQCH896
— NBA (@NBA) October 4, 2022
Henderson, a 6’2” point guard, blends general speed with power and control when approaching the rim. This allows him to be one of the best guard finishing prospects we’ve ever seen as he is capable of absorbing contact and finishing over elite rim protectors with finesse. In addition, the clearest pathway to becoming a high level offensive engine in the NBA is by pressuring the rim, as it forces more defensive rotations and exploitations than any other action on offense.
Shades of the great Russell Westbrook the way he can get into a 2nd gear when getting downhill (paired with insane deliveries). https://t.co/LkOktZsdGL
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) August 4, 2022
Henderson is elite in this regard and as a result, he is able to force defenses into a bind as a result of his scoring threat when he approaches the rim and is able to create an abundance of open shots for his teammates. Not to mention, he has a variety of passing angles, enabling him to exploit holes in the defense that wouldn’t be taken advantage of otherwise. Getting to the rim at such a high rate also results in NBA players getting to the free throw line at a high rate, as they are often fouled in their pursuit to score at the basket. With this being the foundation of Henderson’s game, it makes his scoring upside that much more intriguing, as free throws are the most efficient shot in basketball and Henderson can have a high level of productivity from that area.
In most other draft classes, Scoot Henderson would be the consensus first overall pick. Victor Wembanyama has acknowledged the fact himself.
Presumed No. 1 2023 draft pick Victor Wembanyama on presumed No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson: "He’s really a great player. If I was never born, I think he would deserve the first spot.”
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) October 3, 2022