Everyone’s well-aware that the tank is on for the unanimously projected first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft, 7’5 Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, which is actually getting intense by the day.
As the latest top-tier ‘unicorn’ talent in the basketball world, the 19-year-old has captivated the interest of fans and NBA teams. He’s been the number one-rated prospect for about a year now, so that tells you a lot how big the hype is – all are well-deserved, of course, given the kid’s unique skillset.
Though seven-foot prospects with such style and mobility have been present for some time, like Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Porzingis, and dare I say… Thon Maker, ‘Wemby’ is quite possibly the most complete while still a teenager, hence the enormous interest. Simply put, he’s a giant that’s been raised to move and play like a swingman, and he’s effective whichever way.
The question now is who is going to win the tankfest and end up with this out-of-this-world hooper? The draft lottery is still more than two months away, but it’s shaping up closely to what can be expected, so let’s check it out:
As per NBA lottery rules, the three teams with the worst record at the end of the recently concluded regular season will have same percentage of getting the first overall pick: 14%. Currently, that three is consisted of the Houston Rockets (13-49), Detroit Pistons (15-48), and San Antonio Spurs (16-47).
Where is Wembanyama best-suited, and why is it the Spurs?
Yep. I think it’s that clear. It’s the Spurs over everyone else.
Wherever Wemby goes, he has a good chance of contributing well right away. He can play almost all positions and he has the skills and instincts that will allow him to make his presence felt, both offensively and defensively.
But, of course, fits will differ and that may affect his overall progression. The Rockets, for one, are currently dysfunctional across the board. There’s a rift between the roster and its head coach, Stephen Silas.
These was just in February:
Then, there’s this heated argument between Jalen Green and Jabari Smith early in the season, which could’ve been avoided if they weren’t short in veteran presence. Eric Gordon alone couldn’t be that guy, and besides, he’s been traded:
The Pistons, meanwhile, are fine… I guess. Yes, they have an emerging core in Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Isiah Stewart, and Jalen Duren, while also having a good front office and a vibe that’s unlike the Rockets locker room. However, he and Duren might hinder each other’s development, and don’t forget that they just recently acquired another young big man: James Wiseman. In the end, it’s still not better than what the Spurs offer.
The Spurs have everything
For starters, the Spurs have living legend and future Hall-of-Fame coach Gregg Popovich, whose resume in San Antonio includes five NBA championships, 1,000-plus regular season wins, the development of HOFers Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, who’ll likely follow suit, and Kawhi, Leonard, as well as other countless players.
The front office is among the best as well, as evident in finding steals in Ginobili, Parker, George Hill, Derrick White, and Dejounte Murray, among others, using late-round picks – getting Leonard at no. 15 in the 2011 was great too. Such eye in drafting helps ensure that Wemby will be surrounded by solid talent. Note that the team has five first-round picks (some are lightly protected) in the next couple of years.
Then, there’s the group he’ll join. It’s arguably one of the most intriguing young cores in the league. Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell are both two-way wings with consistently developing games, particularly on the offensive side – both were putting up over 20 points per game prior to Vassell’s injury.
Same thing with point guard Tre Jones, who’s improving his facilitating and shooting abilities, not to mention his quickness on the ball. Jeremy Sochan, meanwhile, is so versatile that he can turn into either a two-way tweener forward or the defensive facilitator, a la Draymond Green.
Who knows? Maybe Malaki Branham can also officially join in the promising core? The 19-year-old rookie guard was given extra minutes this February and made the most out of it. In a nine-game stretch, he posted 18.7 points on 51.9% shooting, including 41.2% from three in 5.7 attempts per game.
Crossing my fingers
For all we know, Wemby will end up as the biggest bust of all time, but for now, while he has the tools, upside, and all that, one can’t help but wish he goes to the most favourable destination, which, based on things stated above, are the San Antonio Spurs.
I got my fingers crossed and I’m not even a Spurs fan.