Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard wants some more respect on LeBron James’ name.
As arguably the best player to grace an NBA court, Lillard’s request seems a bit odd. But it’s regarding all the hype that the consensus first-overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, France’s Victor Wembanyama, is getting.
More specifically, some are believing that Wembanyama is a better prospect now than James was heading into the 2003 NBA Draft.
A debate about which prospect is best has been surrounding this year’s draft, with Wembanyama’s 7-foot-2-inch frame defying the usual skills of NBA big men as he can dribble and shoot like a guard.
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Lillard, though, thinks James’ hype was much bigger than Wembanyama’s.
“I was in 7th grade when they was Hyping bron on ESPN! Mf still at the top 20 years later…stop playing with dude bra…it’s getting outa pocket,” Lillard tweeted on Wednesday.
James was famously coined “The Chosen One” as his Sports Illustrated cover made its rounds globally. Playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School out of Akron, Ohio, James wowed scouts and fans alike with his ability to fly through the air for dunks, rebounds and blocks while scoring almost at will.
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James was the same age as Wembanyama is now, 19, when he entered the NBA and quickly made an impact for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He scored 20.9 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists over 79 games. It was his sophomore campaign, James was named to his first All-Star team and hasn’t missed one since.
On the other hand, Wembanyama is facing solid talent overseas in France’s LNB Pro A league, and he’s averaged 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game this season.
Despite all the debate, James had nothing but positive words for the French phenom.
“He’s more like an alien,” James said, adding that he’s “a generational talent.”
One GM in the league also mentioned that Wembanyama is a “7-foot-4 (sic) [Kevin] Durant who blocks shots.”
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No matter the case, Lillard is going to be seeing Wembanyama in the Western Conference next season after the San Antonio Spurs were awarded the first overall pick in the draft via the Draft Lottery, which was announced Tuesday night.