As Minnesota Timberwolves fans, we are no strangers to the NBA draft lottery.
The anguish that we have experienced as a fan base when it comes to those ping pong balls is unmatched. This year, however, we have the opportunity to be spectators to this cruel game within the game - which has only happened three times over the last 20 years. This year’s lottery is an important one as whoever wins will get to (most likely) select Victor Wembanyama. The 7-foot-5, do-it-all big man is one of the most impressive prospects in recent memory. During the regular season for Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in the French pro league, Wembanyama averaged 21.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while flashing superstar potential. Now, before we get too far into Wembanyama, lets discuss the draft and the lottery process as a whole.
The most anticipated NBA draft lottery since 2003 is upon us.@draftexpress and @JeremyWoo explore what's at stake in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes ➡️ https://t.co/hiMXCXi1U7 pic.twitter.com/f3N7l0nAln— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 15, 2023
If you are new to this process (which I know many of you are unfortunately not) here’s a quick rundown:
Basically, of the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs, they have a certain number of ping pong balls based on their win-loss record during the regular season. Each of the bottom three teams in the NBA have a 14.0% chance to win the lottery and therefore have the most ping pong balls in play. As the records get better, the number of ping pong balls goes down until you reach the New Orleans Pelicans who have a 0.5% chance to win the lottery. This is to discourage teams from ‘tanking’ and create more uncertainty of who can receive the number one draft pick.
This year, the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs had the worst three records in the league and therefore each have a 14.0% of receiving the No. 1 overall pick. The probabilities after this are based on record and go down in percentage as we move down the list. Here’s the full list, per Tankathon.
To illustrate this, I simulated the lottery on Tankathon to get a randomly generated lottery draft (which you can all do yourselves if you would want!). Overall, it is an exciting and nerve-wracking event that can impact the future of any team around the league. You can tune into this event tonight, May 16, at 7 PM CT on ESPN to see which team wins the Wembanyama sweepstakes.
With the lottery fast approaching the one question all basketball fans have had on their minds is: where will Wembanyama land? I would like to take this a step farther and talk about where I want him to land - from the perspective of a basketball fan as well as a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Favorite Spots for Victor Wembanyama
The first spot that I think would be a fun and good fit for Wembanyama is with the Indiana Pacers. When you take one of the best passers in the league in Tyrese Halliburton, a young spark plug in Bennedict Mathurin and another potential two-big look with Myles Turner I think there is enough interest to warrant putting them on this list. The fit works with Haliburton as the 1-5 pairing with him and Wembanyama would be electric to watch for years to come. I also think that it would be interesting how they attempt to work Turner next to Wembanyama in their own form of what the Timberwolves did last season. The other positive aspect to this is that it has little to no impact on the Wolves. The Pacers are a fringe playoff team in the east and it would not be as directly impactful as many of the Western Conference teams securing him would be.
Another spot where I think it would be intriguing for Wembanyama to go to would be the Detroit Pistons for a lot of similar reasons as the Indiana Pacers. It would be a great fit to watch Wembanyama with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey as those 1-5 pairings would be a great fit and very fun to watch. I also think it would be interesting to see his fit next to Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart, James Wiseman and Jalen Duren. It also again does not impact the Minnesota Timberwolves all that much because they are a lower level team in the Eastern Conference.
HM: Orlando Magic
Who wouldn’t want to see a lineup of Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Paulo Banchero and Wembanyama (and they could even go bigger)
Least Favorite Spots for Victor Wembanyama
A spot that I do not like for Wemby is with the Houston Rockets. Even with the rumors that they are looking to compete more this year, the roster is not built for him and they have shown dysfunction from top to bottom in that organization. From a strictly basketball perspective I have trouble seeing the projected No. 1 overall pick fitting well next to Alperen Şengün, Jalen Green, potentially James Harden, and others on the roster. It also would vault them well on their way to a solid rebuild which would hurt the Wolves in the Western Conference.
Another spot that I do not like for Wembanyama is with the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are in rebuild mode around Lauri Markkanen and while he would be a good piece next to him, it is hard to see how he fits next to Walker Kessler and even Kelly Olynyk. It also would not help to have him paired with Markkanen in the West for the coming years. I have to mention in this case as well something that fellow writer Leo Sun said in our Slack - somehow, some way, Minnesota would catch so much flak on twitter even though it was not even our pick that was traded. On the bright side, we would get to see Wemby at Target Center twice a season.
HM: Dallas Mavericks
I like the fit, but from pairing Wemby with Luka Dončić clears even the most ambitious projections for Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels.
The Wembanyama sweepstakes is one of the most intriguing and fun events of the summer when it comes to the NBA lottery. Everyone has their opinions on the best places for him to go and why they would want him to go there.
So, with that, where do you want to see him land?