Retired Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson indicated that if circumstances put a young LeBron James in the same NBA draft with top draft prospect Victor Wembanyama, James would be taken second.
Jefferson spoke on ESPN’s “NBA Today” and followed up (at the 7:25 mark) Zach Lowe’s statement by saying Wembanyama is the best prospect since James by offering his own hearty endorsement of the young player.
“If LeBron James, at that exact moment showed up, Victor would go higher than him,” Jefferson said. “LeBron James and all the things that we saw, and I’m not saying he’s going to be better than LeBron James. What I am saying is right now, I remember LeBron James, 20 years ago. That player was 6-foot-7. This person is 7-4. LeBron James would be number two if he was the exact same age, coming in the exact same draft, LeBron James would be number two. That’s how crazy this kid is as a prospect.”
Jefferson also referenced Wembanyama’s potential, citing the combination of talents that the young player already possesses. These include his height, a high release point, jump shot elevation, footwork and quickness.
Barring a major injury or catastrophic event, Wembanyama is expected to be the top overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, exactly 20 years after James earned that distinction.
Current NBA players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant have already offered their own thoughts about how impressed they were with the 18-year-old Wembanyama.
Wembanyama is currently playing for the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in the LNB Pro A league in France and took part in a game played in Las Vegas earlier this week, with James offering his opinion.
LeBron has high praise for Victor Wembanyama ⭐ pic.twitter.com/c4H2L75s1a
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 6, 2022
The talent that Wembanyama has has led to some concerns that weaker NBA teams may seek to “tank” this season in order to be in the best position to select the talented big man.
Such concerns are nothing new, considering that in 1984, then-Houston Rockets (as well as former Cleveland Cavaliers) head coach Bill Fitch was accused of tanking in order to select center Hakeem Olajuwon out of the University of Houston.
Fitch and the Rockets eventually did obtain that top pick and promptly took Olajuwon. Any concerns by the franchise about such ethics were likely erased when Olajuwon later led them to two consecutive NBA titles and earned election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Cavaliers’ motives were equally questioned when James was set to enter the 2003 NBA Draft. They ended up choosing James and were eventually rewarded with the 2016 NBA championship.
For now, NBA teams can only imagine having Wembanyama on their team. Even though his greatness isn’t guaranteed, it’s become evident that the rise to that lofty level won’t be a huge stretch for the prospect.