You can add Nikola Jokic to the list of players who have have been impressed by No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. After the Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night, Jokic was unreserved when asked what his first impressions were of the rookie phenom.
"I think he's 19 years old, he's not getting tired or getting scared," Jokic told reporters. "He's playing hard and he wants to be good. Like I said, I think he's playing hard, and he doesn't take it for granted. He's making mistakes, which is normal. I think the media around him doesn't help, but he's going to get used to it because the guy is 19 years old. He's going to change the game, 100%. He's already on that path, so for all of the guys just enjoy and watch the show and let the guy change the game."
Wembanyama -- who had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Jokic and the Nuggets -- has pretty much impressed everyone he's played against. He's gotten compliments from Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry talked about how much he alters the way you have to play, and now Jokic is talking about how he's going to change the game. That's significant praise from three of the league's top players who have all changed the game over their careers.
They're also all right in their assessment of the young Frenchman. Every night we see just how much Wembanyama impacts the game on both ends of the floor. His height automatically deters opponents from challenging him at the rim, it happened to Curry when he and the Warriors took on Wemby and the Spurs last week.
Just look at this play where Curry got Wembanyama on the switch:
After getting past Wemby to the rim, Curry still had the rookie trailing right behind him. Instead of Curry trying to go for the layup and possibly a foul, he gives it a second thought as Wemby's towering frame is right behind him. He passes it back out to the perimeter, and while Curry ended up sinking a 3-pointer, the fact that he had to rethink what he was going to do mid-play shows the impact Wembanyama's presence has on the floor.
That's significant impact for a player who is just 17 games into his NBA career. He's already making an impact on the defensive end, and on offense he's also shown ridiculous versatility. If he manages to become a consistent 3-point threat he'll be even more unstoppable on that end of the floor.
The combination of height and guard-like skill that Wembanyama possesses is unlike anything we've ever seen in the NBA. Though Jokic talked about the rookie changing the game in the future tense, we're already seeing him do it in real time. The craziest thing about it is this might be the worst he'll ever be in the NBA.