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Saturday Sports: NBA draft and trades

MILES PARKS, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARKS: The NBA draft and the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. Same faces, new places - big-time trades across the league. Joining us now is Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Hi, Miles. How are you? Good morning.

PARKS: I'm doing great. So the NBA season is over, but this is the sport that never sleeps. The San Antonio Spurs selected first in the draft this week, and they chose Victor Wembanyama, so the 19-year-old, 7-foot-4 French phenom. And based on the coverage, I feel like you would think this guy is a mix between Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Do you buy all this hype?

BRYANT: Well, certainly physically, you have to believe it when you see it, because there's never been a player like this with this type of hype. Normally, when you're 7 foot 4, they're expecting you to be a low-block player, down underneath the basket like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or someone like that, that that's going to be your role. But Wembanyama is supposedly - when you look at the clips of him, he can shoot outside 3-pointers. He's got the agility of a Michael Jordan-level guard. He's got the size of a Kareem. However, he does look like he weighs about 125 pounds, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles the physicality of the NBA.

But there's never been a player like this. Normally when you're 7 foot 4 - it just hasn't translated. That sort of height in a tall man's game - it doesn't translate because your height is negated by your lack of athleticism. We've seen it with Shawn Bradley, who was 7 foot 6. We've seen it with even Ralph Sampson at 7'4 back in the 1980s. Normally when you start to get over that 7'1, 7'2 size, you become less of a player simply because you're too big, if that makes sense. But Wembanyama looks like so far he's got the entire package. And in today's game where the expectation is to be able to - no matter how tall you are, to be able to shoot from 25 feet but also be able to get to the basket in three steps like he can do, he looks like he's going to be something special. And good to see him in San Antonio as well, a city that has been used to having a championship team that's been down for a while.

PARKS: Right. Well, I - there's a clip that sticks in my mind where there's one clip online of him shooting a three, and then he takes two steps. The rebound comes off, and he dunks it.

BRYANT: And he - exactly.

PARKS: And so I feel like being able to do both of those things is pretty emblematic. So the other thing that happened this week is a number of trades went down. Can you walk us through the one involving the Golden State Warriors? They picked up Chris Paul, who is 38 years old but is considered, you know, one of the best point guards of his generation.

BRYANT: He's still one of the best point guards of all time, going to be 39 this year as well. And especially what happened in Golden State - We always say that devastating losses have devastating consequences. And we saw that in Boston, and we see it absolutely in San Francisco with the Golden State. And the devastating loss there was last year when, beginning of training camp, the defending champion Golden State Warriors had their power forward, Draymond Green, punch Jordan Poole in the face in - during a practice. And the team goes out later that year. They get knocked out of the playoffs by the Lakers. Steve Kerr, the head coach, pretty much comes out and says we were never the same after the punch. They were not really a great team this year, and it was really hard to see. And now you trade a 23-year-old for a 38-year-old, which tells you that those breaches had never really been healed over the course of the season.

PARKS: Is there any other trades that stuck out to you this week?

BRYANT: Well, once again, the devastating loss has the devastating consequences. And so the Boston Celtics, on the verge of playing for a championship again this year, lose to Miami. They trade Marcus Smart, and so that first core of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart - that's being broken up. Then obviously the deal sending Bradley Beal to Phoenix to play with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker - lots of changes, and the soap opera that is the NBA post - off-season is just beginning.

PARKS: Keeps us all on our toes. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media, thank you so much.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.