Victor Wembanyama winners? Spurs win NBA draft lottery to secure rights to No. 1 pick

Detroit Free Press

The NBA draft lottery, otherwise known informally as the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, has a winner.

The San Antonio Spurs, who entered Tuesday night’s lottery with a 14% chance of claiming the NBA draft’s top pick, will have the right to make the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NBA draft in June.

That means, barring a massive trade that would ship the pick elsewhere, Wembanyama will almost certainly be the franchise-altering pick after the Spurs finished last season with a 22-60 record, ranked last in the Western Conference.

But here is something else to consider: In the past 30 seasons, there are just three No. 1 overall picks — Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers, 2011), LeBron James (Cavaliers, 2003) and Tim Duncan (Spurs, 1997) — who have won a championship with the team that drafted them, and one of the players comes with a caveat.

James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 and returned to the Cavs after his four-year stint with the Heat, winning his title with the Cavaliers in his second stint in Cleveland.

This marks the Spurs’ third draft lottery win. They also picked first in 1997, when they selected Duncan, and in 1987, when they selected David Robinson. Both players are in the Basketball Hall of Fame and Duncan finished his career with five NBA championships. The Spurs never missed the playoffs during Duncan’s 19 seasons, but their 22-year playoff streak came to an end in 2020 and they have failed to reach the postseason since.

Now, they have another cornerstone to build around.

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The lottery took place in Chicago, prior to the start of the first game of the Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. It was conducted in a separate room just before ESPN’s draft lottery show. Select media, NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm Ernst & Young were in attendance in the room for the drawings.

The 2023 NBA draft will be held June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

What were the results of the NBA draft lottery for the 2023 NBA draft?

  1. San Antonio Spurs (14% chance of top pick)
  2. Charlotte Hornets (12.5%)
  3. Portland Trail Blazers (10.5%)
  4. Houston Rockets (14%)
  5. Detroit Pistons (14%)
  6. Orlando Magic (9%)
  7. Indiana Pacers (6.8%)
  8. Washington Wizards (6.7%)
  9. Utah Jazz (4.5%)
  10. Dallas Mavericks (3%)
  11. Orlando Magic (via Chicago) (1.8%)
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (1.7%)
  13. Toronto Raptors (1%)
  14. New Orleans Pelicans (0.5%)

Who is Victor Wembanyama, the presumptive No. 1 NBA draft pick?

France’s Victor Wembanyama is the clear-cut No. 1 pick and has been for some time. He’s 19 with an impressive skill set — a guard’s game in a big man’s body and a big man’s game in a 7-2 frame. He’s athletic, can handle the basketball, shoot it, pass and he possesses great footwork and shot-blocking ability. Think Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant — if Wembanyama maximizes his potential.

This season, Wembanyama is averaging 21.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 2.4 assists and is shooting 54.7% from the field. He will need to improve on his 29.2% 3-point shooting.

Wembanyama would be the first player from France drafted No. 1 overall.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years,” Lakers star LeBron James said in October. “Well, he’s more like an alien.”

How does the NBA draft lottery work?

According to the NBA, “Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a lottery machine. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Before the lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating lottery teams.

“All 14 balls are placed in the lottery machine and they are mixed for 20 seconds, and then the first ball is removed. The remaining balls are mixed in the lottery machine for another 10 seconds, and then the second ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the third ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the fourth ball is drawn. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the No. 1 pick. The same process is repeated with the same ping-pong balls and lottery machine for the second through fourth picks.”

The remaining lottery teams are slotted in order of their draft odds.

Contributing: Jace Evans

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