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#pounditMonday, April 22, 2024

Infamous NBA draft bust shares advice for Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama holds the ball

Oct 4, 2022; Henderson, NV, USA; Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 forward Victor Wembanyama (1) shoots from the free-throw line against NBA G League Ignite center Eric Mika (12) during the third quarter at The Dollar Loan Center. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama is getting some advice this week from perhaps the single biggest whiff ever from the No. 1 overall spot.

Ex-NBA big man Greg Oden, now the director of basketball operations for Butler University, spoke in an interview this week with Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star. In the interview, Oden shared advice for the French center phenom Wembanyama, having been in his shoes before.

“Still try to be a kid in some way,” Oden said. “That’s the only advice I would give him because it’s maturing you a lot quicker than you think and now you don’t want to do kid things because everybody knows who you are and you feel like you’ve got to be more mature.

“Try to find a little bit of you,” Oden continued. “Because throughout this process, it’s going to be about basketball and what you can do for so many more people other than yourself.”

At just 18 years old, the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama is already being christened as the greatest amateur prospect since LeBron James (especially after Wembanyama’s dynamic performance at a recent showcase in the U.S.). Oden, now 34, had similarly lofty expectations coming out of high school before leading Ohio State to a national title game berth and going with the No. 1 pick to the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft. You can read more on Oden’s journey in the full interview with Hunsinger Benbow here.

Unfortunately for Oden, he only lasted for three seasons in the NBA and will forever be known as one of the greatest draft busts ever. It also does not help that multi-time NBA champion and MVP Kevin Durant was drafted with the very next pick. But unlike other big man busts such as Kwame Brown and Hasheem Thabeet who were felled by their ineffective play, it was injuries that derailed Oden’s NBA career.

Those same concerns are only natural for a player like Wembanyama who is already so tall at such a young age (four inches taller than Oden ever was). On the bright side though, Wembanyama at least seems to be uniquely fit and agile for his size. But perhaps he could still use some advice from Oden on how to fit on planes as well.

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