The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery has been conducted, and the San Antonio Spurs have been chosen as the team that will pick first overall at the annual draft on Thursday, June 22.
And for the fifth-straight year since the Association’s switch to the more evenly-weighted lottery selection process, the league’s worst team did not end up rewarded for its dreadful regular season record with pick No. 1.
That’s right, Detroit’s horrific 17-65 record was swept under the rug as San Antonio proved victorious in being handed the right to select one of the most hyped prospects to enter the NBA since LeBron James.
Yes, Victor Wembanyama is that good.
The 7-foot-5 teenager is expected to quickly make the transition to the Spurs – much like that of former first overall centres Tim Duncan and David Robinson drafted by San Antonio. The French middle man is a generational talent fully capable of reversing a franchise’s fortunes. Did the Spurs luck out? Sure. But did they deserve some sort of centrepiece following another miserable season? Totally.
“I can’t really describe it. My heart’s just beating,” Wembanyama said in an interview with ESPN moments after the lottery was determined. “I’ve got everyone I love around me. It’s a really special moment that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
“I’m a team player. I’m going to make everything to win as many games as I can,” he said. “I’m trying to win a ring ASAP—so be ready.”
Nearly 38 years to the day that the New York Knicks won the NBA’s first ever Draft Lottery, to which they chose Patrick Ewing, the day has come and passed to which the league found out which city Wembanyama would soon be calling home.
But it also determined the draft order for the remaining clubs.
The Toronto Raptors did not manage to cash in on their one percent chance of moving up to first overall, nor were they successful in bouncing up into a Top-4 spot (4.7 percent chance). When all was said and done, Toronto walked away with the 13th overall selection, to which the team will have the chance to choose the next Kobe Bryant, Donovan Mitchell or Jalen Rose… or a boatload of other players previously chosen in the 13-spot.
Or, as some are suggesting, with the Portland Trail Blazers moving up to pick No. 3, the Raptors once again become a possible trading partner, should Portland be content with a 10-position slide down the draft order. Having previously talked about Pascal Siakam ($38 million) and OG Anunoby ($18 million) as possible pieces heading to Oregon, the Raptors and Trail Blazers could get something done that sees Toronto inherit the third pick, but it would take the moving of a significant piece (or two) of the puzzle to make it happen.
Players of note that could be available at the No. 3 spot would include Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson and Brandon Miller.
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Having recently traded away their 2024 first round pick in the Jakob Poeltl deal and all other second round picks until 2026, locking in a 2023 first round selection will be of utmost importance. Unless the team is picking Wembanyama at No. 1, the remaining options in the opening round really aren’t all that far apart.
Most are of the mindset that Kentucky guard Cason Wallace would be Toronto’s best option at 13. Jalen Hood-Schifino, Gradey Dick, Nick Smith Jr., Leonard Miller and Kobe Bufkin are also other options that may be in play come the time of the Raptors’ current pick.
With long-time point guard Fred VanVleet and third-year shooter Gary Trent Jr. both likely expected to hit the open market this summer, an emphasis on ball movement and shooting will certainly be a priority for general manager Bobby Webster come June 22.
Full 2023 NBA Draft Lottery Order:
- San Antonio Spurs
- Charlotte Hornets
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Houston Rockets
- Detroit Pistons
- Orlando Magic
- Indiana Pacers
- Washington Wizards
- Utah Jazz
- Dallas Mavericks
- Orlando Magic (from Bulls)
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Toronto Raptors
- New Orleans Pelicans