Victor Wembanyama has only played in one Summer League game, but he is already getting some sky-high praise from The Logo.
In an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio over the weekend, basketball icon Jerry West said that San Antonio Spurs rookie Wembanyama reminds him of a particular contemporary of his — the late Bill Russell.
“He reminds me a little bit of a bigger Bill Russell with a big reach coming from everywhere, blindside,” said West of Wembanyama. “Any offensive player is going to have to really be cautious about where he is because he’s going to mess up some offenses, that’s for sure.”
West also praised the 19-year-old Wembanyama in the interview for his rare combination of “brain” and “ability.”
You can see the full clip below.
“He reminds me of a bigger Bill Russell."
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) July 8, 2023
It is awfully tough to compare Wembanyama – a 7-foot-4 gigantor who also shoots threes and scores off the dribble – to anybody from previous NBA generations. But West’s word carries extra weight given that he played against Russell first-hand in the 1960s (including in six NBA Finals matchups, all of which Russell won). West still keeps a very close eye on the game today as an executive board member for the LA Clippers.
Of course, even West will admit that Wembanyama has a very long way to go to get anywhere close to the zip code of Russell, arguably the NBA’s greatest defender of all-time and indisputably the NBA’s greatest winner of all-time. But Wembanyama at least has the physical tools as well as the right long-term mentorship to get him onto the path to success.