LeBron James called him an “alien” and now otherworldly NBA prospect Victor Wembanyama has learned where he will likely launch his NBA career.
The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA lottery on Wednesday and will have the first overall pick in this year’s draft, where they will take the French basketball prodigy who ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski described as “the most highly-anticipated player to ever enter” the league.
The reaction of Peter J. Holt, managing partner of the Spurs, said it all as he told ESPN: “I might faint” after learning the news.
Watch LIVE on ESPN on Foxtel or Kayo at 10am AEST. Stream here!
The Detroit Pistons (No.5 pick) had a 14 per cent chance of winning the lottery but instead dropped to the fifth overall pick in the worst-case scenario for the franchise.
The Dallas Mavericks (No.10 pick), on the other hand, were winners after being drawn 10th overall meaning, meaning they keep their pick that was top-10 protected.
Otherwise if it fell outside of the top 10 it would have been sent to the New York Knicks as Dallas still owes the Knicks a first-round draft pick as part of the 2019 trade for Kristaps Porzingis.
While the first overall pick was obviously the goal for all 14 teams in Wednesday’s lottery, the Charlotte Hornetsy (No.2 pick) and Portland Trail Blazers (No.3 pick) still have a chance to set themselves up for the future by drafting franchise cornerstones.
Scoot Henderson, a guard for the NBA G-League Ignite, and Alabama wing Brandon Miller are both projected as likely top-three picks and are certainly much more than consolation prizes.
It could have been an even bigger night for Portland though, who had a 10.5 per cent chance of winning the lottery and in reality were just one number away from doing just that.
According to The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver, the Spurs won the lottery with the ping pong ball combination of 14, 5, 8 and 2. The Blazers also had the combination of 14, 5 and 8 but their final number was 3.
The Houston Rockets and Pistons hold the fourth and fifth overall picks respectively, with the Thompson twins – Amen and Ausar – expected to be taken in that range.
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY RESULTS
No.1 pick: San Antonio Spurs
No.2 pick: Charlotte Hornets
No.3 pick: Portland Trail Blazers
No.4 pick: Houston Rockets
No.5 pick: Detroit Pistons
No.6 pick: Orlando Magic
No.7 pick: Indiana Pacers
No.8 pick: Washington Wizards
No.9 pick: Utah Jazz
No.10 pick: Dallas Mavericks
No.11 pick: Orlando Magic
No.12 pick: Oklahoma City Thunder
No.13 pick: Toronto Raptors
No.14 pick: New Orleans Pelicans
FULL GUIDE: The 14 ping-pong balls that’ll decide NBA titles — and the fate of a ‘once-in-a-millennium’ freak
HIS BEST FIT? 14 teams in running for Wemby … one ‘world-breaking’ possibility would terrify NBA
Heat through to Eastern Conference final | 01:16
In saying that, Wednesday’s draft lottery was always going to be about the 7-foot-4 French phenom Wembanyama. Why?
Well, one team president told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that drafting Wembanyama could add as much as $500 million ($A750m) to the value of a franchise.
Another president, meanwhile, told the NBA insider that the French sensation “will never play in an arena with an empty seat”.
“Put it this way. In one minute you could go from a franchise that is irrelevant and dead in the water to, if this hits the ceiling, set for 20 years,” added ESPN’s Zach Lowe on ‘NBA Today’ on Wednesday.
“In one minute that can happen.”
Wembanyama admitted last month he was still adjusting to the fact that his dream of playing in the NBA is soon to be a reality.
“It’s something crazy I’m not realizing yet,” Wembanyama told ESPN after declaring for the draft.
“I realized pretty young I wanted to play in the NBA but it becomes a reality more every day. I’m so lucky to have this dream within the reach of my hand.”
The teenager’s size — he stands a towering 7ft 4in (2.24m) — and smooth shooting touch have left long-time NBA watchers salivating at his potential.
Asked for his opinion on Wembanyama last October, LeBron James said the Frenchman’s skill-set made him less a “unicorn” and “more like an alien.”
“No one has ever seen someone as tall as he is and as fluid and as graceful as he is on the floor,” James said.
“He’s for sure a generational talent.”
VICTOR WEMBANYAMA 2022-23 STATS (PER GAME)
(Current as of May 16)
46.8 percent shooting
28.3 percent 3-point shooting
83.7 percent free throw shooting