Victor Wembanyama, a seven-foot-three, 19-year-old Frenchman, is one of the most anticipated basketball prospects ever, and the NBA finally knows which team has the right to draft him.
The 14 teams that failed to make the playoffs this year, one being the Toronto Raptors, all technically had a chance at landing the number one overall pick, but unfortunately for Raps fans, the odds weren't looking good.
The most likely scenario was that they’d win the right to the 13th overall pick, which is exactly what happened. Fans were hoping for a repeat of the 2021 draft, when Toronto unexpectedly jumped from the seventh to the fourth spot, where they selected the next season’s Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barns.
But this year, the odds won out, and the San Antonio Spurs – tied for the highest chance of landing the first pick – won the Wembanyama sweepstakes.
HOW THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY WORKS
As has always been the case, the worst teams from the previous season have the best odds of getting a high draft position, however dating back to the 2019 draft, the three worst teams now all have the same odds of getting the number one pick.
The Spurs, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets each had a 14 per cent chance of getting the number one pick, and a 52 per cent chance of picking in the top four.
The odds then gradually got worse for each of the remaining 11 teams based on their respective regular season records.
The Raptors, who finished the season 41-41, were the 13th-worst team in the league this year, and the best among all lottery teams except for the New Orleans Pelicans, who finished the season with one more win.
The lottery gives each team a chance at getting a top four pick, and once those four teams have been selected, the remaining 10 teams are simply assigned a pick based on their regular season record – the team with the worst remaining record receiving the highest remaining pick.
Victor Wembanyama is possibly the most sought after NBA draft prospect ever. Not since 2003, when teenage phenom LeBron James was set to enter the league, has an NBA draft garnered this much attention and hype – and for good reason.
Wembanyama is a seven-feet, three-inch-tall 19-year-old from France who has the ball handling and shooting skills typical of prospects a foot shorter than him.
The league has always been full of seven-footers, but very few have ever been as skilled as Wembanyama already is.
Most are lumbering big men without the ability to shoot from the perimeter or dribble without having the ball stripped from them, whereas Wembanyama routinely pulls up from three-point range, essentially an un-guardable shot when you consider his height, and when teams attempt to put taller defenders on him, he has the ability to dribble around them and get to the rim, where his length allows him to finish easily.
But what excites scouts just as much is his ability to impact the game defensively. His height, massive wingspan, and timing make him perhaps the best shot-blocking prospect ever, and his foot-speed allows him to keep up with opposing perimeter players.
And what sets Wembanyama apart is not just his play on the court, but also his preparation and desire to succeed as a generational talent. He has personal trainers who track his sleep patterns, insisting he gets at least 10 hours per night.
His trainers are also aware that tall, mobile prospects like Wembanyama often have their careers cut short due to injuries, so they’ve spent years working on specific stretches and exercises to strengthen the parts of his body that will be under the most stress – mainly his toes.
Wembanyama seems determined to live up to the lofty expectations that have been placed on him, and if he can, he’s expected to be a player who produces effortless offense like Kevin Durant, but can anchor a defense like Kevin Garnett – if he was almost half a foot taller.
RAPTORS’ ODDS AT NUMBER ONE
The Raptors had the second-worst odds of all lottery teams at landing the number one overall pick, at one per cent. If somehow the Raptors had won the lottery, they would have been the team with the worst odds to ever do so.
Although no NBA team has ever won the lottery with one per cent odds, three teams have won it with less than a two per cent chance.
In 1993, the Orlando Magic had just a 1.52 per cent chance of getting the number one pick, but won the lottery, even after winning the right to draft Shaquille O’Neal with the first overall pick the previous year.
In 2008, the Chicago Bulls had just a 1.7 per cent chance at the number one pick, but won the lottery and selected home town hero and future MVP Derrick Rose.
And most recently, in 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers got the number one pick, selecting Canadian all star Andrew Wiggins, despite having just a 1.7 per cent chance of getting it. The Cavs also got lucky in 2011, winning the number one pick and the right to draft Kyrie Irving with less than a 3 per cent chance.
LUCKY NUMBER 13
As was expected, the Raptors won the right to the 13th overall pick.
The last three picks at 13 haven’t exactly turned out to be stars, but the careers of Jalen Duren, Canadian Chris Duarte and Kira Lewis Jr. are just getting started.
And although most 13th picks turn out to be role players, some of the best players in the game today – and in league history – were selected there.
Star guards Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Zach Lavine and Tyler Herro were all selected 13th overall.
As were Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant, the third and fourth leading regular season scorers in NBA history, respectively.
The last time the Raptors had the 13th pick, they selected Ed Davis out of the University of North Carolina. In three seasons with Toronto, he averaged 7.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.