Spurs’ Popovich: Victor Wembanyama Shouldn’t Be Compared to LeBron, Kobe, Duncan

Spurs’ Popovich: Victor Wembanyama Shouldn’t Be Compared to LeBron, Kobe, Duncan
Adam WellsJune 24, 2023

French basketball player Victor Wembanyama demonstrates his skills following a news conference introducing the Spurs 2023 Draft Class, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on June 24, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich isn’t feeding into the comparisons between Victor Wembanyama and other high-profile players when they entered the NBA.

Speaking to reporters about the 19-year-old, Popovich said he’s “not LeBron or Tim [Duncan] or Kobe [Bryant] or anybody else, he’s Victor and that’s who we want him to be.”

HoopsHype @hoopshype

Gregg Popovich: “He’s not LeBron or Tim or Kobe or anybody else, he’s Victor and that’s who we want him to be.” pic.twitter.com/DorLG4rRJo

Leading up to the draft, the hype around Wembanyama’s arrival in the NBA was often compared to James back in 2003.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski took things even further by calling Wembanyama “maybe the greatest prospect in the history of team sports” on the night of the draft lottery.

ESPN @espn

“This is the most highly-anticipated player to ever enter the NBA. … Maybe the greatest prospect in the history of team sports.”

@wojespn on Victor Wembanyama 😳 (via NBA Today) pic.twitter.com/LNuOG2RdHR

Bryant was the No. 13 overall pick in what is generally considered the best draft in NBA history in 1996. He went from being the final lottery selection to one of the best players in league history.

Other notable draftees from the 1996 class include Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Stephon Marbury, Antoine Walker, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Peja Stojaković and Jermaine O’Neal.

Comparisons to Duncan are going to be inevitable because he was the No. 1 overall pick the last time San Antonio won the lottery in 1997. He won five NBA titles, three Finals MVPs and two regular-season MVPs over the course of his 19 seasons with the Spurs.

Wembanyama has done an excellent job of downplaying the hype to this point. He’s going to be under a microscope like few players his age ever have been, but Popovich is a perfect coach to help him tune out the noise as he embarks on his NBA career.

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