How Victor Wembanyama can give the Knicks a new star trade target

The 2022-23 NBA regular season hasn’t even started, yet several teams have likely already considered tanking for the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in June. The seven-foot-four forward took the NBA world by storm this past week with the two games that he played in Las Vegas.

At 18 years old, the belief is that Wembanyama will become one of the best players, if not the best player, to play in the NBA. LeBron James felt that referring to Wembanyama as a unicorn wasn’t enough, so instead, LeBron called him an alien.

Needless to say, there will be a lot at stake at the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. Remember the hype that surrounded Zion Williamson in 2019? It will be like that but multiplied by 10. Wembanyama is going to make one extremely lucky NBA team very happy.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, one NBA GM told ESPN that Wembanyama “will start a race to the bottom like we’ve never seen.” Per Tankathon, the projected top three order in the 2023 draft is as follows: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder. For Knicks fans, one of those teams should stand out more than the other.

Will the Thunder consider trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2022-23?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a name that’s popped up as a potential trade target for New York. Although Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti brushed off the possibility of SGA being traded, there’s no doubt that keeping the 24-year-old will hurt the Thunder’s chances of landing Victor Wembanyama.

Regardless of what Presti’s said or will say, he’s well aware of that. Oklahoma City will already be without Chet Holmgren in 2022-23, which should push Presti to embrace tanking for Wembanyama even more.

If Presti makes it known that the Thunder are willing to listen to offers for Gilgeous-Alexander, expect New York’s front office to pick up the phone. SGA isn’t at the same level as Donovan Mitchell, but unlike Mitchell, there shouldn’t be negative speculation about Gilgeous-Alexander’s (who is six-foot-six) fit next to Jalen Brunson.

The guard signed a five-year maximum rookie extension with OKC in August of 2021, so he isn’t set to become an unrestricted free agent until the 2027 offseason. If SGA were to be traded to New York, the front office wouldn’t have to worry about giving up a sizable return to only have him for a couple of years.

Given the undeniable fact that Victor Wembanyama is a generational talent, it should be expected that the Thunder will make Shai Gilgeous-Alexander available to be traded this season. The 2023 NBA trade deadline should be very, very interesting.