The San Antonio Spurs won the 2023 NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday, giving them the first pick in June’s draft and the right to choose 19-year-old French star Victor Wenbanyama, the most anticipated French star since LeBron James. obtained.
Spurs chairman Peter J. Holt jumped up to celebrate when it became clear that the Spurs had secured the top pick. The draw took place in Chicago, and the draft order was revealed during the ESPN broadcast.
“I might pass out,” Holt said on air. “I’m so excited. There are so many people who love the city of San Antonio, our fans and the Spurs, so I’m very excited.”
The 2nd pick is the Charlotte Hornets, the 3rd pick is the Portland Trail Blazers, and the 4th pick is the Houston Rockets.
Wenbanyama told ESPN in an interview from France: I have loved ones and acquaintances around me. It was a truly special moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. ”
Wenbanyama is a 7-foot-3-inch center with an 8-foot wingspan who can handle the ball and shoot like a guard. He plays for the Metropolitans 92, a French professional league team, averaging 21.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. The NBA G League hosted his team in a two-game exhibition near Las Vegas in October, and the NBA aired some of his games. The hype about him rivals the hype surrounding James when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him #1 overall in 2003.
“You know, he’s clearly a generational talent,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN before the draw. “And as you know, there are many other examples in this league of generational talent who have lived up to expectations and failed to do so. But there’s no reason to believe he won’t. .”
Wenbanyama isn’t the only potential franchise-changing prospect in this year’s draft, scheduled for June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Scoot Henderson, a 19-year-old guard who played for G League Ignite and faced Wenbanyama in October’s exhibition, is widely expected to be the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Henderson averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 19 games for Ignite this season.
It will be the third time the Spurs have won the lottery. In 1997, he took Tim Duncan, one of the greatest big men in NBA history, with the No. 1 pick. A decade ago, he also drafted a big man named David Robinson, a 10-time All-Star. Both players are inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The draft order is decided by lottery, and the team with the worst regular season record has a higher probability of being selected as the first pick. The system has led the team to be accused of tanking for not prioritizing wins to secure a high draft pick. The three teams most likely (14%) to win the No. 1 pick this year were San Antonio, Houston and Detroit, who won the No. 5 pick. The other 11 teams in the draw had odds down from 13 percent for Charlotte to 0.5 percent for the New Orleans Pelicans.
In recent years, the NBA has introduced postseason play-in tournaments to determine the 7th and 8th seeds in each conference, trying to curb tanking by evening out the chances of the No. 1 pick among the worst three teams.
But with Wenbanyama’s entry into the NBA just around the corner, Silver told reporters in the fall, “Many of our NBA teams are salivating at the idea that we could possibly get him in our draw. I know, so we should all compete hard next time.” season. “
The NBA fined the Dallas Mavericks $750,000 last month for resting several players on the final day of the season even though the team still had a chance to play in a play-in tournament. They missed the playoffs, but won the 10th pick in the lottery. They had a 3% chance of being #1.
They weren’t as lucky as San Antonio.
Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is the longest-serving coach in the NBA. He took office in December 1996 and has since led the Spurs to five championships, most recently in 2014. But in recent years, the Spurs have been rebuilding and accumulating young talent. The team has not made the playoffs since 2019. They finished 22-60 this season, tying Houston for the worst record in the Western Conference. Wenbanyama could change that in no time.
“I’m trying to get the ring as soon as possible,” Wenbanyama told ESPN on Tuesday. “Then please prepare.”