Victor Wembanyama gets a rock star welcome in Newark ahead of NBA Draft

2023 NBA Draft is Thursday, June 22; first round is at 7 p.m. live on KSAT 12

Boulogne-Levallois' Victor Wembanyama dunks during the Elite basketball match Boulogne-Levallois against Paris at the Palais de Sports Marcel Cerdan stadium in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Wembanyam is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Thibault Camus, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – This year’s top NBA prospect Victor Wembanyama is now in America. He landed at Newark International Airport outside New York on Monday and was swamped by fans.

It’s not his first trip to the United States for basketball, but it will be his most important one to date because he’s heading to Brooklyn for the 2023 NBA Draft, where he’s expected to be selected No. 1 overall by the San Antonio Spurs.

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Back on May 16 at the NBA Draft Lottery, the Spurs defied the odds and won the first overall pick for the third time in franchise history. In 1987, they won the lottery and drafted David Robinson. In 1997, they won the lotto again and selected Tim Duncan, forever changing the Spurs franchise.

After missing the playoffs, the last four seasons, the Spurs want to get back to their winning ways and chase their sixth NBA Championship.

Many expect Wemby to be the player to help them do that. The Spurs are being tight-lipped about who they plan to draft first overall, but Spurs General Manager Brian Wright did praise Wembanyama’s game.

“You’ve never really seen anything like that before,” Wright told KSAT 12 sports. “Size, agility, mobility, poise, leadership, his command of the game. Forget the highlight plays, there are tons of highlight plays whether it be a block, a dunk, or a step back 3, all those are special, but it’s the game within the game, the subtle things that you see. His attention to detail, and to be doing that so young in one of the best leagues in the world is just unique. And so, it’s, a once in a generation type of player with that type of ability, and it’s been fun to watch him grow and progress over the last few years.”

If Wemby goes first overall, then Wright and the Spurs will get to watch the young man grow and progress for years to come.

The Spurs also have picks 33 and 44 in the second round. They currently have 23 picks in the next five drafts, so Wright is armed with a lot of options.

The 2023 NBA Draft is Thursday, June 22. The first round will start at 7 p.m. CST, live on KSAT 12.

About the Author:

Larry Ramirez joined the KSAT 12 sports team in October 2004.