Few NBA prospects are guaranteed first-overall draft selections so far away from draft night, but that is certainly the case for 7’4″ phenom Victor Wembanyama.
The French big man, who has already drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant, is widely expected to go first-overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. Barring any major injuries or surprises, Wembanyama will likely be the greatest lock for first-overall since Zion Williamson.
With a wingspan of eight feet, greater than the NBA has ever seen, Wembanyama would immediately become the tallest and lengthiest player in the NBA.
Built like a shot-blocking center, Wembanyama has the skills of a forward, even flashing guard-like ball-handling ability. He is truly a phenom, a generational player that could prompt some of the most blatant tanking in NBA history by teams keen to draft him.
Let’s take a look at which teams have the best shot at the French sensation:
Notorious for their tanking in recent years, along with their collection of first-round draft picks, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still at least one year away from trying to win basketball games. Chet Holmgren‘s injury solidified this, as the 2022 second-overall pick will be out for the season.
Led by a young star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC does have some solid pieces to be an irritant in the Western Conference; however, with Shai set to miss time to start the year, and Wembanyama waiting to hear his named called first-overall, the OKC Thunder will be much more concerned with losses than wins this season.
After trading away both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Utah Jazz confirmed that they are indeed ready to rebuild. With a talent like Victor Wembanyama set to become available in next year’s draft, Utah could kickstart their rebuild with the best draft prospect in years.
Already trying to deal what’s left of their veteran pieces, the Utah Jazz are in a position to lose a lot of games this season. With even less young talent than a team like OKC, their path to the league’s worst record is looking pretty smooth.
San Antonio Spurs
Very unfamiliar with the bottom of the standings, the San Antonio Spurs and their fans may get very comfortable with losing this season. Dealing away their lone All-Star in Dejounte Murray, San Antonio signified their willingness to bottom-out and rebuild.
Similar to Utah, their lack of young talent is concerning for a team attempting a rebuild; however, it makes their path to the best lottery odds a smooth one.
With the nightly gauntlet that is the Western Conference awaiting the Spurs this season, losses will not be hard to come by. With Victor Wembanyama on the line, it seems likely the organization will have no problem with this.
Led by Jalen Green, the Houston Rockets do have a promising young star, but that did not lead to many wins last season, and will likely not lead to many more this season. The team has a nice collection of draft choices from the James Harden trade, but is still several years from a winning basketball team. Houston is positioned well to tank this year.
A duo of Jalen Green and Victor Wembanyama would be an exciting one, and the front office in Houston likely already has their sights set on making that happen. While they will need the ping pong balls to bounce their way, they have a clear path to the best odds.
The NBA has always been separated into tiers that include legitimate contenders, championship hopefuls/playoff locks, playoff contenders, and then the lottery teams.
With a prospect like Victor Wembanyama projected to go first overall in the 2023 draft, teams hovering around that grey area between a lottery team and a playoff contender would likely be better off bottoming out this year than sneaking into the play-in tournament.
This should make for some unprecedented tanking, which will be especially fun to watch at the end of the season.