What would Wembanyama bring to the Blazers down the road?
Wembanyama will enter the league as an immediately elite defensive asset. He already has all the tools and physical traits to be a defensive force, whether blocking or contesting shots, securing rebounds, or switching out onto the perimeter.
Wembanyama can be Rudy Gobert on the defensive end as he puts on more size. Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Wembanyama is slightly taller than Gobert and more agile, making him better at switching and guarding quicker guards.
Before he was drafted, Gobert set the NBA Combine record with a 7-foot-8 wingspan (which was later broken). To reiterate, Wembanyama has an 8-foot wingspan.
He has all the traits to be the most valuable defensive player in the league. All that needs to be added is his frame and strength.
Another area Wembanyama will improve on that would make him even more difficult to guard is his 3-point shooting. Wembanyama only shot 28 percent from three this season with Metropolitans 92. However, he has good form and shot 84 percent from the free-throw line. So, there’s optimism that Wembanyama can improve from beyond the arc.
If he can become strong enough and a good enough shooter to become a two-way center that can stretch the floor, Wembanyama will make an even more significant impact on whatever team he ends up playing for.
If Wembanyama can shoot consistently from three, the Blazers could have a future starting lineup of all 3-point shooters, depending on their power forward spot.
Lillard, Simons, Sharpe, and Grant all shot at least 36 percent from three this season; this will be able to create ample space for Wembanyama, who has shown flashes of being capable of handling a go-to scorer role in the future – he’s challenging to guard with his length and ability to shoot over defenders, as well as his solid ball-handling and agility for his height.
Perhaps the Blazers could have their own version of a “death lineup” in Lillard, Simons, Sharpe, Grant, and Wembanyama. It’s worth experimenting with to see if Wembanyama could cover for everyone defensively.
Of course, that’s the intrigue of Wembanyama and what makes him the widely expected No. 1 overall pick. Wembanyama is a unicorn who can essentially play whatever position or style is asked of him. Because of his length, athleticism, and versatile skill set, teams could experiment with him in various ways, unlike any other player besides maybe Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If the Blazers are lucky enough to land the first overall pick tonight with their 10.5 percent chance, they would be in great shape for the future. Not only is Wembanyama a generational prospect, but he’s also a great fit. His strengths are precisely what this Blazers team has been missing.
As he continues to develop, Wembanyama could take the torch from Lillard as Portland’s franchise player and give Lillard his best shot at a ring.