- Wembanyama is set to make his NBA debut at 19 against the Mavs on Wednesday
- James, now with the Lakers, was an 18-year-old rookie with the Cavs in 2003
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San Antonio Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama is already a top-five NBA player and, at 7-foot-4, is somehow more skilled than LeBron James was at his age, according to esteemed experts Brian Windhorst, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Windhorst, an NBA reporter who’s covered the Lakers star since his rookie season with the Cavaliers in 2003, did not hesitate to rank the 19-year-old Frenchman’s skills ahead of the 18-year-old James’.
‘I know they’re very different players,’ Windhorst told his ESPN co-hosts ahead of Wembanyama’s NBA debut against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. ‘[Wembanyama’s] skill level is vastly advanced to where LeBron’s was at the same age.’
Pierce didn’t only compare Wembanyama to James, but to the entire NBA, declaring the first-overall pick to be among the league’s best five players.
‘He is right now, today, Wemby is one of the top-five skilled players in the NBA, right now,’ Pierce said on Garnett’s Showtime talk show.
San Antonio Spurs rookie Victory Wembanyama (left) is making his NBA debut at 19 – 20 years after an 18-year-old LeBron James (right) first arrived with the Cleveland Cavaliers
Pierce (left) and Garnett (right) won a title together in Boston and later teamed up in Brooklyn
ESPN’s Briand Windhorst has been covering LeBron James since his rookie season in 2003
Garnett hesitated to agree before Pierce, his longtime former teammate, reviewed Wembanyama’s preseason highlights.
‘He done show me the handle, he done show me the step back, he done show me the lob, the pick-and-roll threat – the pick-and-roll and the pick-and-pop threat – he done show me he can get the ball in traffic and dump over everybody,’ said the animated Pierce.
Garnett stressed that Wembanyama is still learning and hasn’t come close to realizing his potential.
‘He’s just playing,’ Garnett said. ‘He don’t even know what he’s doing yet.’
Victor Wembanyama, left, dunks next to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey
And to drive home his point, Garnett declared the Spurs ‘should make the playoffs’ because of Wembanyama’s overall ability.
‘He got it, and it ain’t some average s***,’ Garnett said.
Wembanyama is, arguably, the most hyped NBA prospect since James left his Akron, Ohio High School to enter the NBA Draft in 2003.
Over four preseason games, Wembanyama averaged 19.25 points in just 21 minutes of action per night.
What’s more, he recorded 19 rebounds and 11 blocks over that time, while committing just six personal fouls.