This article is part two of a two-part series on how lucking into Victor Wembanyama would impact the Portland Trail Blazers, now and in the future. See part one on how Wembanyama would change the 2023 offseason here.
Part one of this series broke down how landing French super prospect and likely No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama would alter the Blazers’ outlook in the short term. It also highlighted their offseason decisions, such as free agency and the 2023 NBA Draft.
Part two of this series is arguably more exciting, given Wembanyama’s potential and the Blazers’ young assets. It looks at how Wembanyama would fit with Portland in the future and how the organization could best construct an ideal roster around him after he’s developed for a few years.
Victor Wembanyama to play center?
Part one mentioned that Webanyama would slide in nicely at the power forward position for the upcoming 2023-24 season if the Blazers are fortunate enough to be in a position to select him.
The biggest reasons mentioned were Jerami Grant’s lack of rebounding (he would slide to the small forward position) and Webanyama’s 230-pound frame, which would be a liability at the center position.
However, down the road, Webanyama’s more natural position in the NBA is center, given that he is 7-foot-2 with an 8-foot wingspan. It might take a few years to reach the point where Webanyama has a strong enough frame; he’s still only 19 years old.
However, when he’s strong enough to play center, Wembanyama will be even more of a matchup nightmare on both sides of the ball.
The most significant aspect to get excited about is defense, where the Blazers have struggled. At the center position, Wembanyama is agile and long enough to switch onto smaller guards in pick-and-roll situations, or guards might avoid him entirely, opting to use the power forward as the screener forward instead.
That would significantly help the Blazers because players like Grant or Matisse Thybulle would switch on the guards rather than Jusuf Nurkic. In other words, Portland’s defense be much quicker, athletic, and versatile.
Typically, the center is the worst shooter, too, which means that Wembanyama could better roam around the paint as a help defender and rim protector. In addition, this will elevate his shot-blocking opportunities, where Wembanyama averaged 3.1 per game with Metropolitans 92.
Wembanyama can play center in certain matchups in his rookie season with his length and athleticism. But when he’s strong enough to play center consistently, he’s talented enough to be in contention for Defensive Player of the Year.