The NBA’s 2023-2024 campaign is off to a raucous start. A huge part of that excitement is the addition of Victor Wembanyama to the league. Touted as a once-in-a-lifetime talent, Wembanyama hasn’t disappointed in his first weeks as a San Antonio Spur. Averaging 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game, he’s someone you just have to pick your poison with. But as much as these numbers jump off the page, some feel that we’ve seen talent like this before.
Enter Shaquille O’Neal, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and four-time NBA champion. On the hit show Inside The NBA, Shaq pointed out that we have already seen a talent like Wembanyama in Bol Bol.
Bol Bol, who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns does have a game that is reminiscent of Wembanyama. They have similar builds as Bol stands at 7’2, a mere two inches shorter than Wembanyama. They both can handle the basketball with the best of them.
With career averages of 6.2 points per game and 3.8 rebounds, Bol’s numbers don’t currently hold a candle to Wembanyama’s. We’ve seen Bol have moments like Shaq has alluded to, but the consistency just hasn’t been there. Therein lays the justification for the lack of minutes afforded to him to produce on the court. Currently, Bol is playing behind a three-headed monster in Phoenix with Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, and Devin Booker. It’ll be tough for him to garner sixth-man-type minutes in that situation.
Some have made the argument that Bol hasn’t been given more shine due to his skin tone. They cite colorism as the issue and claim the NBA may find Wembanyama to be more marketable. I think that might be more of a case of low-hanging fruit to use that excuse. Now if these two players’ stats were more comparable, then I think that idea would have some legs. But it’s really clear here, at least thus far, who the superior player is.
So let’s not nitpick. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. We have the opportunity to enjoy quite possibly two generational talents in the early stages of their careers. And they’re two guys who are as uniquely talented as we’ve ever seen. As Stephen A. would say, they’re special! Complaining this early in the NBA season is akin to me splitting hairs. I want no part of that. The NBA is back, most players are healthy, and I will not complain.