NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers: Spurs and Victor Wembanyama hit it big, Pistons drop, Knicks miss out
CHICAGO — After months of speculation and multiple teams making strategic moves for a chance to land Victor Wembanyama, the wait is over and it's the San Antonio Spurs who received the No. 1 overall pick for the 2023 NBA Draft, which takes place June 22. The pingpong balls fell in favor of a few teams and left audible gasps in the room when a few other teams shifted in the draft order.
This is a very talented draft class, particularly toward the top of the draft, but a few teams walked away Tuesday night a little less than thrilled with their results while others were celebrating.
Yahoo Sports breaks down the winners and losers of the NBA Draft Lottery.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs entered the draft lottery with a 14% chance to land the right to draft Wembanyama after finishing with the third-worst record in the NBA. Once it was announced that the Charlotte Hornets would receive the second pick, leaving San Antonio with the No. 1 overall selection, members of the organization present in the room began to cheer, knowing they would be drafting the best prospect since LeBron James. Wembanyama was visibly excited to be heading to San Antonio as he watched with family and friends from France where he's currently finishing his season with the Metropolitans 92 in the Betclic Élite League.
THE SPURS HIT THE JACKPOT‼️
San Antonio secures the top pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. They'll likely make Victor Wembanyama their 3rd No. 1 overall pick in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/Y1fupIjN2c
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 17, 2023
This is the third time in franchise history the Spurs have landed the No. 1 overall pick, and they've had huge success with the past players they've drafted at the top. First, it was David Robinson in 1987 and then they drafted Tim Duncan 10 years later. Both players brought success and longevity to the organization, and all five of the franchise's NBA championships were won with either Robinson or Duncan.
Gregg Popovich started his head-coaching career with Robinson and will likely end his Hall of Fame career with Wembanyama. The 7-foot-4 center will be joining a young core group of Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones and Jeremy Sochan — all 23 years old or younger. Wembanyama has lived up to all the hype leading up to his career in the NBA and currently leads all players in points (21.6) rebounds (10.5) and blocks (3.1) in his current league.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers moved up two spots after finishing with the fifth-worst record in the NBA this past season and are at an interesting spot at No. 3. If they keep the pick, they would be in position to take whomever the Charlotte Hornets pass on, either Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson.
There are a lot of teams that could try to move up for either prospect, and Portland has the flexibility to either keep the pick and add an elite prospect in Miller or Henderson, or trade it for a bigger star player to pair alongside Damian Lillard.
Landing inside the top three presents many positive options for the Trail Blazers. They can't go wrong with adding either Miller or Henderson alongside Lillard, Anfernee Simons and last year's lottery pick, Shaedon Sharpe.
The Mavericks were penalized for violating the player resting policy in an elimination game and fined $750,000 at the end of the season. The strategy was to stay inside the top 10 of the NBA Draft and secure their pick instead of letting it go to the New York Knicks as a part of the Kristaps Porziņģis trade.
If the Mavericks decide to keep their pick and want to add some playmaking and defensive versatility to the team, there are several guards late in the lottery who will be available like Gradey Dick, Anthony Black, Jordan Hawkins, Nick Smith Jr., Keyonte George, Cason Wallace and Jalen Hood-Schifino.
But with the pressure to improve immediately around Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving being a free agent, moving the pick for veteran help could also be an option.
It's hard not to imagine what Wembanyama could have added to this young, talented Pistons squad, and to have that not only taken away but be so far from the consolation prize inside the top three is a huge blow for the Pistons. After finishing with the second-worst record this past season, Detroit has the No. 5 pick and it will be interesting to see if it adds a perimeter player like Ausar Thompson or Cam Whitmore, or a forward such as Jarace Walker or Taylor Hendricks.
Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, will be returning after sitting out the majority of the 2022-23 season with a left shin injury and undergoing surgery. The Pistons likely won't be adding a franchise-changing player next season, and there are many options with the fifth pick that will determine picks in the back half of the lottery.
Similar to the Pistons, the Rockets entered the draft lottery with expectations they would end up in the top three. Houston is a mess and trying to rebuild after finishing with losing records the past three seasons. The Rockets have a ton of youth with Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr., but no true star to turn the franchise around.
The Rockets have the option at No. 4 to draft Overtime Elite guards Amen Thompson or Ausar Thompson and try to make some moves in the offseason, but it's a very different scenario than what they entered the week expecting.
New York Knicks
The Mavericks keeping their top-10 protected pick is the Knicks' loss. New York made strategic trades in the 2022 NBA Draft when they traded the 11th pick, along with Kemba Walker and four second-round picks, and got three future first-round picks in return. The Mavs' selection was a potential pick from the Porziņģis trade, and no one saw the Mavericks tanking after adding Irving to Luka Dončić and a solid rotation.
After the Knicks failed to make it out of the Eastern Conference second round, they were looking to add another player to get over the hump. Missing out on a lottery pick in a loaded draft class (after foregoing a lottery pick last year) is a blow for the Knicks' fan base and franchise.