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Former Spurs star Tony Parker has advice for the 18-year-old who's been dubbed a generational NBA prospect

Scott Davis   

Former Spurs star Tony Parker has advice for the 18-year-old who's been dubbed a generational NBA prospect
  • Victor Wembanyama is considered a generational star and the likely No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft.
  • Former NBA star Tony Parker told Insider it's important that the 18-year-old French big man manage expectations.

Few players have ever entered the NBA with heavier expectations than Victor Wembanyama.

Wembanyama, an 18-year-old professional French basketball player, has already been dubbed a generational prospect. At 7-foot-4, with an 8-foot wingspan, Wembanyama is a fluid athlete who handles the ball like a guard, shoots threes, finishes with power and grace near the basket, and protects the rim with astonishing ease on defense.

He's been called the most hyped and exciting prospect since LeBron James in 2002 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the late 1960s — lofty company.

With such big expectations comes great pressure, of course — if Wembanyama is anything less than great, some will be disappointed.

Speaking to Insider in October to promote his wine brands, former NBA All-Star Tony Parker — who knows Wembanyama well — said it's important that Wembanyama not fall victim to the hype.

"My advice to him is to make sure that he has his own expectations," Parker said. "Because it's impossible to please everybody. Everybody's gonna think like, 'Oh, you should play like this,' or, 'You should be Kevin Durant,' or, 'You should be this, you should be that.' Just be you and have your own expectations."

Parker, who was born in Belgium and raised in France, is admittedly a bit nervous about the huge expectations set for Wembanyama.

"I'm just always worried now because people [are] putting him so high, you know? ... Like, I know he says he's ready and, 'I'm ready to take on everything.' But people, when they put you so high like this and comparing him to LeBron and Michael Jordan, it's almost unfair, you know?"

Parker laughed, adding: "I'm like, wow, good luck with that. It's gonna be tough."

All that said, Parker is a big believer in Wembanyama's talent. Wembanyama spent the 2021 season with French Pro A team ASVEL, of which Parker is a co-owner and president.

However, Wembanyama was on Parker's radar for years before that. Parker told Insider that fellow French NBA player Nic Batum sent Parker a highlight video of Wembanyama when the big man was just 13 or 14 years old.

"[Batum] was like, 'Man, we need to follow him. He's gonna be the next big thing,'" Parker recalled.

Years later, Wembanyama was playing with Parker's team. However, an injury kept Wembanyama out of the playoffs, and he opted out of his contract that off-season.

Parker said that beyond managing expectations, health will be the biggest factor for the 18-year-old.

Wembanyama hasn't done anything to slow the hype train down. In October, Wembanyama's Metropolitans 92 team played the G League Ignite in an exhibition showcase. Though Wembanyama's team lost, he put up 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks, drawing rave reviews from scouts along the way.

He's continued putting up big numbers during the Metropolitans' season, recently scoring 36 points to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks in a December 2 win over Fos-sur-mer.

"He's super talented," Parker said. "I think he's gonna be special."

And should Wembanyama need any advice?

"He knows that he can call me any time," Parker said.

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