From the height of his 2.21 meters, his 19 years and his wingspan of 2.43 meters, Victor Wembanyama is nothing ordinary. The gigantic French does neither in half measures nor in false modesty. “Ten days before knowing my future team”, tweeted the player of the Metropolitans of Boulogne-Levallois (Hauts-de-Seine), on May 6. Ten days have ped and the NBA “draft” lottery, which takes place on Tuesday, May 16 (at 2 a.m., Paris time) will prove the huge tricolor “prospect” right.
The most anticipated player by the great North American basketball league since LeBron James, exactly twenty years ago, the Frenchman is sure to be chosen in first position for the next “draft” – a sort of great scholarship for university players and foreigners not yet in the NBA. “I have no doubt: I will be the number one choice in the next draft”ured the French international, in mid-April, in an interview at the First Team site. And all observers agree.
System planned to rebalance the closed league that is the NBA by allowing the worst teams to “draw” the best prospects first – in order to ensure the competitiveness of the NBA, as well as its economic base -, the order of the draft is determined by lottery one month before the ceremony. On Tuesday, one of the 14 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs will take home the jackpot, and the order of the draft picks will be drawn between these donkey caps of the season.
Beyond the sporting interest of recovering the French “unicorn”, the stakes are also financial. Before the start of the current NBA season – whose conference finals begin on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, Paris time – the president of a team, who remained anonymous, ured ESPN that “drafting Victor Wembanyama could increase the value [d’une] $500 million deductible” (460 million euros). Quite a sum, when you know that, at the end of 2022, Forbes valued franchises from $7 billion (the Golden State Warriors) to $1.6 billion (the New Orleans Pelicans).
The French will land in the NBA having already conquered America. In the fall, his domination during the two exhibition matches played in Las Vegas by the Metropolitans against a team made up of other talents likely to be drafted convinced the ultimate refractories. “There is more hype around him than around LeBron James at the time of his draftargues a franchise recruiter, quoted by HoopsHype website. Because, if LeBron had seen some of his high school games being broadcast on ESPN, the general public had not really seen it. Wembanyama, we see it daily on Twitter, and the NBA has already broadcast its meetings [de championnat de France] on the NBA app. » No player had ever been entitled to such treatment before treading the floors of the big league.
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