One of the biggest lotteries in the history of the NBA took place Tuesday night, with the San Antonio Spurs winning the much-anticipated Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

But now that we know where Wembanyama will land, what does that mean for the prospect, the team that landed the top pick and the rest of the draft?

Our experts tackle the Spurs’ newfound expectations, who should go No. 2 and the prospect outside the top three with the biggest upside.

MORE: 2023 NBA mock draft: Projecting all 58 picks post-lottery

1. True or false: The San Antonio Spurs are the best landing spot for Victor Wembanyama

Jonathan Givony: Without a doubt. Even though Wembanyama was saying all the right things prior to the draft lottery about how there “is no wrong team,” there were certainly teams who were more right than others in the mind of his camp. The reaction from their side was of utter jubilation as documented by Brian Windhorst from Paris. Wembanyama wanted to land somewhere where he can be the face of the franchise and have an offense built around his skill level, and he found exactly that on a Spurs team that is starved for star power and direction but has the infrastructure (including a sparkling new sports science center that’s about to be unveiled) and gravitas of a now-rejuvenated Hall of Fame head coach in Gregg Popovich. A huge sigh of relief was breathed, not only by Wembanyama’s camp but the NBA industry as a whole, as many rival executives pointed out that it was extremely important for the health of the league that Wembanyama land in a place where he can reach his full potential. The consensus around the basketball world today is that he found that in San Antonio.

Jeremy Woo: There’s a lot riding on Wembanyama’s success not only from the perspective of his new team, but really the future of the NBA as it pertains to Victor maximizing his abilities and becoming one of the faces of the league. San Antonio’s history developing not only star big men, but international talent in general, makes this an obviously strong match. And I personally think that maybe the most important factor in all of this was Wembanyama landing in a stable situation with a head coach who can match him intellectually and will coach him hard immediately. That’s Popovich. The Spurs have a young team without any big contracts on the books. They can also pair Wembanyama with another highly competitive and unique player in Jeremy Sochan (I imagine those two will get along great). You can cut this a bunch of different ways, but the whole situation feels pretty perfect to me.

Bobby Marks: It depends on what angle you take. True as related to his development under Popovich. False as the best roster fit. The Spurs’ two centers are Zach Collins and Khem Birch and it’s a priority to put a low post player who can defend and rebound alongside Wembanyama. I thought the best fit was Orlando. We can only imagine what a lineup of Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wembanyama and Wendell Carter Jr. would have looked like.

Jeff Borzello: In the short term, it’s hard to say there was a better landing spot from Wembanyama’s perspective. The Spurs are in the early stages of a rebuild, but there are a slew of intriguing young pieces and nobody on the roster that would even come close to blocking Wembanyama’s path to development. Sochan should complement him nicely in the frontcourt, while Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell are scorers on the wings. Then there’s point guard Tre Jones (if he sticks around), who gets his teammates the ball in the right spots and doesn’t turn it over. The biggest plus, of course, is the experience of Popovich and the stability he provides, and the fact that the franchise has proven it can develop legendary big men. That said, Popovich — or the head-coaching situation in general — is also the potential negative. What’s next for the Spurs once he retires? And will that impact Wembanyama in any way?

Kevin Pelton: Maybe. It’s worth acknowledging the lingering question in San Antonio: Who’s going to succeed Popovich, now the oldest head coach in NBA history? The Spurs brought back Brett Brown as an assistant last year, giving them someone else on the bench with head-coaching experience. But at 62, Brown would also be among the league’s oldest head coaches. Having seen Becky Hammon, Will Hardy and Ime Udoka head elsewhere and earn opportunities to run their own teams, San Antonio would be wise to keep younger Mitch Johnson and Darius Songaila as possible long-term options.

2. Will Wembanyama have the Spurs in the playoffs next season?



Victor Wembanyama to Spurs fans: ‘Be ready’

Victor Wembanyama shares his excitement about the outcome of the draft lottery and the possibility of joining the San Antonio Spurs.

Givony: That will depend on what the Spurs front office can surround him with this summer. In their current roster construction — no; they were the worst defense in the NBA last year and one of the worst 3-point shooting squads in the league the past few years. They’ll need to add playmaking and shooting to their backcourt in particular. I do think Victor will make a huge impact for them, though, especially defensively where he’s an absolute game-changer already with his length, mobility, instincts and anticipation skills. My guess is the Spurs will be cautious with the amount of games Victor plays next year anyway, which might make a run to the play-in game challenging. They will be very fun to watch though. The Sochan-Wembanyama combination seems like an ideal pairing in particular and they have a nice core of wings with Vassell, Johnson and Malaki Branham. They won’t be pushovers.

Woo: That’s ultimately up to the Spurs, and how aggressive they feel they need to be in stepping on the gas. There’s something to be said for being patient and picking in the lottery one more time to try to nab another high-profile prospect to accentuate their group. But they also have young talent at every position, and might be better served being patient and figuring out how everything fits. San Antonio has historically preferred to keep its own first-round picks, so it’s hard for me to see them doing anything rash via trade. To have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs, they’ll need to upgrade at point guard and center this summer, and they have the cap space to spend if they choose. But the smart money is probably on San Antonio slow-rolling this for one more season, particularly with the West as competitive as it has been of late.

Marks: The Wembanyama addition will accelerate their rebuild but it is hard to see the Spurs doubling their win total from last season. Remember the New Orleans Pelicans won 42 games and were the last play-in team out West. Of course that logic could change if the front office takes the unprecedented step of spending aggressively in free agency.

Borzello: The playoffs seem like a stretch. Even with Wembanyama, it’s still a very young team with few proven high-level NBA players — and very little experience on winning NBA teams. There’s promise throughout the roster, and there should be an incredible amount of optimism moving forward with the young core and the seemingly endless supply of draft picks over the next several seasons. While they should still inherently improve, the franchise should be patient with Wembanyama’s development in his first year and look to take a bigger step in 2024-25.

Pelton: No, and that definitely should not be the goal. The biggest danger for teams that land high lottery picks is feeling too much pressure to win immediately rather than building up slowly as a young prospect develops. With extra first-round picks coming from the Dejounte Murray trade, the Spurs shouldn’t feel they need another high lottery pick next year, but prioritizing additions that help in 2023-24 instead of years down the road would be a mistake.

3. Scoot Henderson started this draft cycle as the No. 2 prospect. Can he — or should he — still go No. 2 over Brandon Miller?

Givony: Charlotte is saying privately they are open to all possibilities. They’ll go through their process and this will take time to sort out. There are some complicating factors here, including a potential ownership change that might gain more steam now that the lottery is behind us. I don’t think the LaMelo Ball-Scoot pairing is any kind of nonstarter. LaMelo is a big guard who is far from ball-dominant and has turned himself into a very good shooter — career 38% for 3 in three seasons so far. Having another explosive creator who can break down a defense like Scoot could definitely work. They are already friendly off the court. With that said, most NBA people I’ve spoken with think Brandon Miller will be the pick at No. 2. Mitch Kupchak’s recent comments didn’t do anything to quell that. He was front and center for Brandon Miller’s 41-point explosion at South Carolina and knows that the Hornets are both starved for wing talent and were the second-worst shooting team in the NBA last year. If the draft were tonight, I’d bet on him being the pick.

Woo: I personally don’t view a Henderson-Ball pairing all that favorably: It’s hard enough to play two point guards together for winning stretches, much less very young point guards. There’s not quite enough separation between Henderson (who I do prefer in a vacuum) and Miller in my mind to advocate for Charlotte taking an unnecessary risk, and the latter is a pretty seamless fit with the Hornets. I wouldn’t rule anything out yet, particularly with the potential change in ownership coming, but I’d lean Miller at this point.

Marks: I don’t believe there’s a clear-cut favorite after Wembanyama. There’s an argument that Charlotte should not go Henderson with LaMelo Ball on the roster and likely to sign an extension in the offseason. However, what happens if the Hornets front office feels that there’s enough separation from Henderson and Miller as the best available player? Would the Hornets go guard or look at Miller, who fits better long term?

Borzello: I’d go with Miller at No. 2 over Henderson. Purely as a prospect, I like Miller more than Henderson, and when you factor in Ball’s presence in Charlotte, that solidifies Miller at No. 2. He struggled in the NCAA tournament, but has the size and shooting ability and showed the requisite consistency and motor during the regular season that some questioned when he entered college. Charlotte needs a wing and it needs shooting. Miller obviously fits both of those better than Henderson.

Pelton: My stats-based projections have Miller as the No. 2 prospect in this year’s draft ahead of Henderson. There’s certainly a strong possibility Henderson ends up the better of the two players, but I don’t think the Hornets potentially taking Miller should automatically be viewed as a case of prioritizing fit over best talent available.

4. The lottery prospect outside the projected top three who has the biggest upside is …

Jonathan Givony: Amen Thompson. From a physical standpoint, he might be the most gifted player in the draft — He measured 6-foot-7 in shoes in Chicago, 214 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, better dimensions than All-Star Jaylen Brown. He’s probably the most explosive athlete in this class. He’s big and long enough to guard power forwards, but he has the ballhandling ability, vision and creativity of a point guard. I’ve seen him practice several times and he’s going to blow people away with his sheer talent in a workout setting. I know he’s going to get long looks from Portland starting at No. 3, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Charlotte kicked the tires on him at No. 2. I actually love the fit of him and Jalen Green together in Houston. He could really spread his wings there and nothing he does would take away from the likes of Alperen Sengun or Jabari Smith.

Jeremy Woo: Amen Thompson, if we’re talking purely upside — his athletic ability and passing, pending major strides as a jump-shooter, set him apart from the pack. But my personal favorite prospect outside the top three is Anthony Black, who I view as higher-floor with an underrated ceiling as well. Black has exceptional feel and positional size and should be more ready-made to help an NBA team, and while imperfect, he’s further along as a shooter. I’d be thinking hard about him at No. 4.

Bobby Marks: Leonard Miller is not a household name and likely doesn’t even see his name called when the top 14 picks are selected June 22. However, after spending a year with the G League Ignite, Miller has improved his overall game. His weight has increased from 205 to 220 pounds and he has matured. He had six games of 20-plus points for the Ignite, including 33 against the College Park Skyhawks.

Borzello: Amen Thompson would be the easy answer given his physical tools and explosiveness, but looking deeper past the No. 4 prospect, my pick would be Black, slightly ahead of Cam Whitmore. Black showed a lot more during his lone season at Arkansas than we saw at the high school level, making strides as an outside shooter and guarding more effectively late in the season. His passing and feel for the game have few peers in this draft class. As an aside, I would take Jordan Hawkins as the highest-floor lottery prospect outside of the top three.

Pelton: Whitmore. His lone season at Villanova never really got on track after he missed the team’s first seven games because of thumb surgery. Still, Whitmore’s strong play in the 2021 Nike EYBL and his youth — he won’t turn 19 until after the draft and is nearly a year and a half younger than fellow one-and-done Miller — give him the long-term potential to develop into a star.



Spurs fans erupt in celebration after team gets top pick

Check out a group of Spurs fans celebrating the team receiving the top pick and the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama.

5. Fifteen years from now, rank these Spurs big men: Wembanyama, Tim Duncan and David Robinson

Givony: Victor is ahead of those two at the same stage in their careers, but he has a long way to go before we can put him ahead of either before he has played a single NBA game. A lot can happen in the next 15 years, but I absolutely expect Wembanyama to become one of the best players of this generation and someone who changes the way we think about basketball. I’m guessing the first thing he does when he gets to San Antonio is ask to meet with and work with both of those guys. He’s humble enough to know he has a lot to learn from guys like that.

Woo: Don’t bait me into this one! But consider that Victor will enter the NBA at age 19, whereas Duncan was a 21-year-old rookie and Robinson began his career at 24 after serving in the Navy. Also consider that both those guys made the All-Star team and vaulted the Spurs into the playoffs in their initial seasons. It’s certainly possible and not hyperbole to state that Wembanyama could wind up being one of the best players ever, but… this is probably where we should draw the line and let him show us something when he gets to San Antonio, first.

Marks: Wembanyama might have the individual statistics edge 15 years from now but I’m not going to anoint him over Duncan and Robinson. A big reason is the uncertainty that the current and future roster will have the championship pedigree the two Hall of Famers once had. There is, however, the blueprint in how this roster can build into a perennial playoff contender. Not only does San Antonio have the top pick this year but also 13 firsts in the next seven years, young players already on the roster and financial flexibility.

Borzello: I’m siding with everyone else in this discussion. Duncan is arguably a top 10 player in the history of the NBA and Robinson was a 10-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion. Wembanyama is a better prospect than both players, but saying he’s definitely going to be better than Duncan puts an incredible amount of pressure on him — and a very narrow range of outcomes for him to live up to or exceed expectations. His ceiling is certainly there, but he could be one of the best players of the next 15 years and still not surpass Duncan.

Pelton: As everyone has said, even if you believe Wembanyama is a better prospect than Duncan and Robinson at the same age — certainly true with Robinson, who averaged 7.4 PPG as a freshman at Navy before blossoming into a star, but less clear in Duncan’s case — both of those players maxed out their development and, most importantly, longevity. We can’t yet say whether Wembanyama will do the same.

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