One of the favorite pastimes of basketball fans when the season of draft of the NBA is to find out who will be number one. Another, review the mistakes of the past. Michael Jordan (third in his class), Larry Bird (6th), Kobe Bryant (13th), Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th), Nikola Jokić (41st), Stephen Curry (7th) and Joel Embiid (3rd) were relegated by players who left much less footprint. Others, like LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal were Number one that marked the time. To the list of Number one Indisputable, it is taken for granted that Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, the great promise of the NBA, will join this year. And after the lottery this Tuesday, the team with priority to choose him are the San Antonio Spurs, who have already shown their enthusiasm.
Wembanyama is a prodigy of nature. At 19 years old and 2.21 meters tall, he can mark an era in his new team. In addition to height and wingspan (he can almost catch the rim without jumping), he has both shooting and passing skills. He needs to gain muscle and weight to increase his power, but the NBA coaches will surely take care of it, as they did in their day with Pau Gasol and have done with so many others.
The French player was born on January 4, 2004 in Le Chesnay, on the outskirts of Paris, the son of an athlete of Congolese origin and a basketball player and coach, 1.98 and 1.91 meters tall, respectively. His genetics played his cards and although as a child he liked soccer and judo, he was destined to succeed in basketball. He started playing for Nanterre. At 14 years old and 2.10 meters tall, he was invited by Barcelona to play in the ACB Mini Cup, but he only spent a week dressing as a blaugrana. Years later he assured that he declined to stay at Barça for various reasons, but the main one was that he felt that the coaches did not dare to correct him and make him improve.
Even if the club has won the first election in the lottery, the draft as such it will not take place until June 22, after the end of the season. Last year the favorites were not so clear, but the selection of Paolo Banchero as number one by the Orlando Magic ahead of Chet Holmgrem and Jabari Smith caused some surprise. Banchero has delivered and has been the rookie of the year, even though Orlando has been left out of the postseason.
This year, however, more than a draw to see who picks first, it was a draw to see who would get Wembanyama, who is considered the biggest promise since LeBron James, number one in 2003. It was so clear that ESPN, that broadcast the event, he immediately connected to interview the Frenchman live in Paris, where he was following the draw, and ask him what he thought of his new team. The Frenchman has been delighted.
“My heart beats. I have everyone I love here around me. It is a very special moment that I will remember for the rest of my life”, she has declared. Asked what he will bring to the Spurs, he replied: “A team player. I’m going to do my best to win as many games as I can. I want to win a ring as soon as possible, so be prepared”. And he has said goodbye: “I love Texas. I have been there before. I am very, very happy and I am really looking forward to meeting the fans and the team that I am about to join ”, he replied assuming that he will be the first chosen.
The San Antonio Spurs were, together with the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets, the three teams with the most ballots in the lottery: a 14% probability each. This Tuesday, the PSG star, Kylian Mbappé, has approached the small Levallois pavilion, on the outskirts of Paris, to watch Wembanyama’s last regular league game with Metropolitans 92, his current team. Mbappé has been asked which team he would like his compatriot and the footballer to join He has answered that he would like to be selected by Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, with which the also Frenchman Tony Parker won four championship rings.
Parker himself praised Wembanyama a few years ago: “Victor is a unique player in the world, he is the best young talent in French basketball in the last 20 years”, he stated when introducing him as a center for Asvel Villeurbanne when he was 17 years old. In recent months, the accolades have been joined by current NBA stars. “He is an alien. No one has ever seen someone that tall and that fluid and graceful on the track,” LeBron James said. “We have to prepare for this guy,” warned Giannis Antetokounmpo. “He’s a video game player,” Stephen Curry noted.
The Spurs have been the worst team in the Western Conference this season along with the Houston Rockets, with just 22 wins and 60 losses. Keldon Johnson, 23, is their leading scorer, followed by Devin Vassell, 22. He’s going to have a young and talented team, but it remains to be seen if he makes the leap hand in hand with the new signing. It will be hard to match the influence former Spurs number one Tim Duncan had on the team, who led the team to five NBA championship titles.
The result of the draw, held in Chicago, has been announced in a special program during prime time, but it has been carried out with all possible secrecy in a locked room an hour before. In that room were representatives of the teams, NBA officials, observers and some journalists who could not leave it or communicate with the outside until the results were made public in a reverse account. The Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and Detroit Pistons round out the top five picks. Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson sound for the first places.
He draft it is a system established to balance the competition in the long term. The weaker teams have priority. Previously, teams chose in reverse order of their position in the table: only the first bottom pick in each conference was drawn. The problem is that the teams let themselves win to sink in the classification and have preference, a maneuver known as tanking. In 1984 the system was reformed to reinforce the chance component, so that losing a position did not guarantee moving up one position in the election order, especially in the first elections of the draft. It has been tweaked numerous times.
In 2017, the current lottery system was established, applied since 2019, which accentuates randomness. The 14 teams that have been left out of the playoffs. The new system evens out the odds so that the bottom three teams in the regular season standings each have a 14% chance of winning the top pick in the lottery. The fourth from the bottom has 12.5% options; the fifth, 10.5%; the sixth, 9%; seventh, 7.5%… In the structure prior to 2019, the first seed had a 25% chance of winning the lottery; the second, 19.9% and the third, 15.6%. The ballots of the rest are distributed according to the positions in the classification.
Despite the changes, the temptation for some teams is still too strong and letting them win to have more chances continues to happen. The NBA imposed a fine of 750,000 dollars (about 675,000 euros) a month ago on the Dallas Mavericks for letting them win against the Chicago Bulls in the game on April 7. The US professional basketball championship noted that the fine for Luka Dončić’s team was “for conduct detrimental to the league.”
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