Milwaukee superstar's bold Wembanyama statement is a reality check

The praise for San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama continued when Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard expressed his expectations for the Rookie of the Year's next season.
Victor Wembanyama
Victor Wembanyama / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

Victor Wembanyama has had an interesting inaugural year in the United States. The moment he stepped off the jet that brought him to San Antonio, he was showered with praise as Spurs fans gathered to shower the number one overall draft pick with love. He was immediately swept up in a whirlwind of obligation and pressure, weighed down by the most losing that he's ever experienced in his career while in the throws of the best competition in the world.

One of the best parts about Wembanyama is his self-awareness, though. He is in tune with what is expected of him and understands why people are enamored by his ability. Regardless of the immense responsibility granted by his extreme ability, he remains focused on his self-set goals to be great. After winning Rookie of the Year unanimously, some of the best players in the league continue to acknowledge that greatness.

Lillard's comments come at the perfect time

When Anthony Edwards was exploding during the Denver Nuggets series, the media began fawning over Minnesota Timberwolves star guard Anthony Edwards. Many were crowning him the next face of the NBA because he reminds them of Michael Jordan. That talk has just started to quiet since the uber-athletic 22-year-old from Georgia is on the cusp of being swept by the Dallas Mavericks.

Undoubtedly, the 'who's the next face of the league' talk will resurface, but that can't be decided by vote or discussion. It's an organic development based on popularity and undeniable greatness. Those players—guys like Michael Jordan and LeBron James—reach audiences outside of basketball fans.

Victor Wembanyama is the most obvious candidate to reach this level of notoriety. This may be a biased point of view, but it's an easily defendable argument based on the French center's unique combination of size and skill, then elevated by his historic rookie season; that's just the beginning. His marketability is another major factor, especially when you consider how important it is to the NBA to be a global sport.

Keeping it to basketball, Vic's early exit apparently makes it easy for some to forget what they just witnessed on the hardwood in San Antonio. It was kind of Damian Lillard to remind them that the Alien is here. It's not like the Bucks point guard is the only one who has sizable expectations for Wembanyama's sophomore year, but when a player of his caliber makes such statements, they hold weight.

Victor has the drive and the intangibles to take center stage quicker than they realize. But his most underrated attribute is his attitude. Wembanyama is looking to snatch souls like Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat. He said as much when he made his intentions clear when he was handing out thunderous posters during the season.

There's no need to kid yourself. Everyone knows who the next face of the league is. It will naturally take shape over the next few seasons, but if Damian Lillard is right, a new type of dominance begins in October.

To be candid, there is an odd resistance to a foreign-born player being the next feature attraction that needs to be relinquished. It's just weird.