May 26, 2024

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French NBA players see Victor Wimpanyama's ability to inspire - Andscape

French NBA players see Victor Wimpanyama’s ability to inspire – Andscape

CHICAGO — Tarek Abdelwahed made French basketball history by becoming the first native to be drafted into the NBA when selected by the Sacramento Kings in 1997. Since the former San Jose State star opened the door to the NBA for France, such as the 2007 NBA Finals He has qualified for MVP and four-time champion Tony Parker, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, and NBA champions Boris Diaw and Rony Turiaf, among many others.

The next French player expected to get his head in that door is Victor Wembanyama, a generational talent who is projected to be the #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. With Wembanyama watching from Paris, the San Antonio Spurs got the coveted opportunity to pick a prospect After taking first place in the general selection During the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday.

“It’s huge for France,” Joubert told Landscape. “Being a #1 recruit is cool, obviously. I know he doesn’t care about that. But for him it’s really about being the best basketball player he can be. For the country of France, there’s a lot to be proud of.”

Wimpanyama is seen as the most interesting prospect to enter the league since LeBron James in 2003. The Paris Metropolitans 92 center is 7-foot-5 with an 8-foot wingspan and a standing range of 9-7. He is athletic, has a variety of offensive skills, can shoot from 3-point range and has a fearsome ability to block shots.

“The interesting thing with him is that we’ve never seen a guy like him,” said New York Knicks guard Yvan Fournier, who, like Wimpanyama, is from the Paris suburbs. “So, we really don’t know how he’s going to translate to the NBA. We’ll all have to wait and see. But he’s going to have a great career.”

Wimpanyama was telling those close to him that he wanted to play for Tottenham. Parker became the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in San Antonio. Diaw, the 92’s head coach of the Metropolitans, won a title with the Spurs in 2014. The Spurs have been the best in the NBA at developing internationals like Parker, Diaw and Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

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“If Tottenham choose him, it will be a great place for him to develop his potential,” said Diaw.

Spurs general manager Brian Wright was so nervous about the draft lottery that he hadn’t eaten all day and nearly passed out when he got the news of Wimpanyama.

“We’ve had some great French players,” said Wright. “And what they meant for basketball in that country and, obviously, what Victor could mean for basketball in that country and basketball globally and around the world is exciting. But having that connection is great for our organization. I think it would be great for him to understand And adapt to what we do and just be part of the community faculty.”

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (left) with Metropolitans 92nd center Victor Wimpanyama (right) on Oct. 6, 2022, at The Dollar Loan Center in Las Vegas.

Garrett Elwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Wimpanyama has several NBA mentors with French ties, but none are closer to him in relationship and height than the 7-1 Joubert. Joubert told Andscape that he has spoken to Wimpanyama regularly since meeting him when he was 13 years old in France. Gobert and Wembanyama share an agent, Bouna Ndiaye and a Dallas-based trainer, Tim Martin.

Joubert attended one of two games as the 19-year-old dominated the G League Ignite in Henderson, Nevada, in October 2022. The reality of Wimpanyama’s height as he dwarfed Joubert by several inches was shown in the photos.

Given that Wimpanyama has been a professional player since 2019, Joubert believes he will be mature beyond his years when he comes to the NBA.

“My advice to him is just to have fun,” said Joubert. “Take care of himself. Take care of his body. But he’s probably one of the most professional 19-year-olds I’ve ever seen. He’s doing things that a lot of guys start when they’re in their 30s. It just goes to show how level of dedication he has. It’s not just based on his talent. He really wants to be the best he can be. I know it’s going to be great because he already has the right approach.”

If there’s a concern for Wembanyama in the NBA, it’s his extremely slender build.

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During the 2023 FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup, European Qualifier, 7-2, 261-pound Czech middleweight, Ondrej Palvin, backed Wimpanyama onto the block and easily flipped on him. However, an NBA scout told Andscape that Wembanyama has a frame that has the potential to gain the right muscular strength. Wimpanyama has been working with his tough coach while playing for the Metropolitans ’92 this season.

Joubert can relate to Wimpanyama’s need to gain strength, as he had the same problem when he entered the NBA 10 years ago.

“I knew I needed to get stronger than before,” said Joubert. “For him, he already knows that. We have a similar approach in terms of the work we put in our body and the understanding that playing in the NBA against a 7-footer, there’s a lot of work you need to put a lot of people on the field. It’s clear that the talent he has It’s something we haven’t seen before. I think it’s ready.”

Orlando Magic guard Mikael Petros (L) greets Charlotte Bobcats forward Boris Diaw (R) before the game on November 16, 2009, at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Most of the NBA players from France are proud to have African, Afro-Caribbean, or African ancestry.

His great-grandfather Wimbanyama was Congolese and had a height of over 7 feet. Diaw has Senegalese roots while the New York Knicks guard. The family of Yvan Fournier is of Algerian descent. Parker is the son of an African American from Chicago. Former NBA basketball player Mickaël Piétrus is originally from Guadeloupe, a Caribbean island that is part of France. Besides Joubert, Petrus noted that former NBA players Abdelouahed, Treve, Rodrigue Bobois, Mickael Gilabale and Jerome Moiseau are also French from the Caribbean.

“Because of France’s colonial history, France’s population is very diverse,” Petros said. “So you have all these kids from the second or third generation of families coming from different African countries like Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and other former French colonies. That’s an extra talent in the French basketball mix. Then you have the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, or French Guiana that Produced myself.So, France definitely benefits from that variety that comes with a certain kind [of] Players who fit what the NBA likes.

“Now you have Africa itself, which has unlimited talent in many sports including basketball. I believe with the efforts of the National Basketball Association in Africa, and the development of the Basketball Africa League in the NBA, it will allow for more and more talents From Africa to the NBA”.

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Said Abdelwahed: “Wimbanyama is a natural continuation of the African and Caribbean diaspora influence emerging from French basketball. Don’t let the French European basketball establishment fool you. The fact that these young brothers and sisters make the American adventure their own, whether in high school, college or the pros, is an example My main focus is on the Afro-distinction emerging from Europe. Wimpy is now the spear of this movement.”

Football has always been king in France and that doesn’t change. While Metropolitans 92 garnered more attention with Wimpanyama, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club starring soccer legends Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is revered in France in a way that the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees are in America. Fournier acknowledged that Wimpanyama might not be a household name in “soccer’s little country”.

There will be an opportunity for Wembanyama, however, to get closer to France as he is expected to play for his country at the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023.

And with Wimpanyama’s rise, Petros and Joubert believe more French kids will turn their attention to basketball.

“Getting the first selection will mean a lot to French basketball. First of all, it will be a great inspiration for all the young players here,” said Petros. “Besides, in a country where football is the theme, suddenly getting a top pick in the NBA draft would help to watch basketball alongside football. The impact would be massive, and the media here would love that story.”

“We paved the way for young people who come to ask themselves, ‘Why not me?'” said Jaubert. I have the opportunity to be one of the best if not the best player in the world. “We want the kids from France to be able to tell themselves that.”