2003 vs. 2023: LeBron James, replaced by Victor Wembaniyama.

San Antonio – Victor Wembaniyama wasn’t even born in 2003 when LeBron James made his NBA debut as the most exciting teenager in NBA history.

So, naturally, expect the 19-year-old to pick the brains of his 38-year-old counterpart when they face off Wednesday against the league’s most heralded teenager, the Los Angeles Lakers (8 ET, NBA TV).

„[James] A lot of good advice, a lot of knowledge, maybe more knowledge than every player in this league,” Wembaniama said. „He’s an icon and definitely someone I can learn a few things from.”

By winning the early in-season tournament MVP, James surely understands that the 2023 No. 1 pick will face high expectations as a young, generational prospect and potential franchise savior.

Wembanyama and the Spurs enter the tournament on a franchise-record 17-game losing streak.

James, meanwhile, leads a veteran Lakers team looking to win its second title in five seasons. His availability for the second leg of Wednesday’s showdown is uncertain after Tuesday’s 127-125 loss at Dallas.

The Spurs host the Lakers again on Friday (7:30 ET, ESPN).


2003 vs. 2023: What Changed in the NBA

In 2003: NBA teams average 93.4 ppg.

In 2023: NBA teams have averaged 114.3 ppg so far.

Attribute the current scoring bonanza to some rule changes that restrict how teams can defend, not to mention the wide-open style teams now employ. Since 2014–15, the team’s scoring averages have increased in every season except two (2019–20 and 2020–21). The league’s current average of 114.3 is down slightly from last season (114.7).

In 2003: NBA teams average 5.2 3-pointers per game.

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In 2023: NBA teams average 12.6 3-pointers per game.

Feb 2016 Did you know the last time a team won a game without hitting a 3-pointer was on the 5th? Miami beat the Charlotte Hornets 98-95, missing all nine of its 3-point attempts.

James made 2.7 attempts from 3 as a freshman, and his current average of 5.6 marks his lowest in seven seasons. Vembanyama is already taking 5.1 treys per game.


2003 vs. 2023: Changes in Technology and Media

In 2003: Nokia is the best selling cell phone.

In 2023: Apple unveiled its iPhone 15, marking 16 years since the original model was released in 2007.

Email, pictures, calendars, and music on one device seemed like a novelty in James’ freshman year, and he basically took full advantage of it. This 2003 video WWE is all about him on Monday Night Raw. As the new season of Vembanayama rolls out, we’re not overwhelmed Can not Do it with mobile devices.

In 2003: MTV’s Total Demand Live (TRL) conquered pop culture. In June 2003, James (along with Magic Johnson) did Remarkable appearance In the success program.

In 2023: TikTok and social media have become the MTV of the century. From viral dances and other trends…

Now the league’s oldest player at 38, James is at the forefront of today’s culture, offering plenty. Viral moments He grew up before our eyes. Twenty-two games into his rookie season, Wembaniyama appears to be off to a good start. type of virustoo.


Preparing for the NBA spotlight as a teenager

Both Vembanyama and James made their debuts as rookies to sold-out arenas nearly 20 years apart, and it’s clear they entered those games well-prepared for the spotlight.

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As a 17-year-old, James played in his first high school game televised on ESPN in 13 years, scoring 31 points with 13 rebounds and six assists as the St. Vincent-St. Mary upset Oak Hill Academy, then ranked No. 1st Preparatory Team.

Wembaniyama, who first traveled a road blazed by James, burst onto the world’s radar at the age of 14 when he helped France’s JSF Nanterre U18 side finish as French league runners-up. The 19-year-old made his professional debut for Nanterre at the Euro Cup in 2019.

LeBron James has been surrounded by the media during his rookie season.

Victor Wembayama speaks to the media before his first game at Madison Square Garden.


3 numbers to know from LeBron’s first 20 games in 2003

  • Youngest player to score 40 runs

James dropped 41 points in a 107-104 win over the New Jersey Nets at age 19.

  • In 2003, he won Rookie of the Month honors every month

He and No. 3 pick Carmelo Anthony became the third and fourth rookies in NBA history to win Rookie of the Month honors each month, joining San Antonio legends David Robinson (1989-90) and Tim Duncan (1997-98). )

  • Slow start but epic finish

James started Cleveland 5-15, averaging 16.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in his first 20 games. He finished strong, joining Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only players to average more than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game as rookies.


3 numbers to know from Wembley’s first 20 games in 2023

  • A younger player Record 20/20 game
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It came a week ago in a 121-112 loss to Chicago, when Wembaniama replaced Dwight Howard as a youngster who had a 20-point, 20-rebound outing.

  • The first rookie in history…

Wembaniyama is one of four players since 1983-84 to reach 45 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and five steals in their first three career games, joining Evan Mobley, Lamar Odom and David Robinson. But he was the first to do so in less than 100 minutes of play (80).

  • Top five in five categories

The Frenchman ranks in the top five of five statistical categories among freshmen and leads his peers in three of them. He is tops in scoring (18.8 points per game), rebounds (10.6), steals (1.2) and blocks (2.8). His 2.8 blocks per game are second in the entire NBA.

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him here and find his archive Here And follow him Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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