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Who Won or Lost The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery?

Few Surprises

The 2023 NBA draft order is set, allowing the basketball odds to finally start taking their actual shape. While the Conference Finals are still happening, the draft lottery tends to signal the start of the offseason for most teams.

Who Won or Lost The 2023 NBA Draft Lottery?
Keita Bates-Diop #31 of the San Antonio Spurs | Thearon w. henderson/getty images/afp

Watch the 2023 #NBADraft presented by State Farm on June 22nd at 8pm/et on ESPN!

— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2023

Unlike some other years, there was no team making an unsuspected jump, breaking into the top four picks to headline NBA news. Only the top five teams would be reorganized, with the San Antonio Spurs moving up two places to get the No.1 selection. The Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers also moved two spots to picks two and three.

However, the Detroit Pistons, who had the worst record in the regular season, would drop to pick fifth. That was a massive disappointment for a team banking on getting the No.1 pick. Other than that, picks 6-14 stayed consistent with the odds the teams originally had.

Some teams had a better lottery night than others, affecting their NBA predictions for the future. These are some teams that had just enough luck and others that didn’t have any.

Spurs Win Wembanyama Lottery

There is no hiding that Victor Wembanyama is everyone’s NBA picks to be the first player selected in the 2023 Draft. The 7-foot-3 French-born player is dominating the LNB Pro A (the French basketball league), averaging 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, and three blocks. He seems destined to be a star in the NBA, and the Spurs will be drafting him first overall.

Beyond the Spurs, just winning the lottery, it seemed like Wembanyama had his eyes set on San Antonio. The organization already has experience with French-born players, Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, having been crucial parts in some of the team’s title runs. To take it a step further, Diaw is the President of Basketball for Metropolitans 92, the team Wembanyama plays for right now.

It seemed like the stars were aligned for San Antonio and Gregg Popovich to get a new star power forward/center. He follows in the footsteps of greats like Tim Duncan and David Robinson, the Spurs’ only two previous first-overall picks.

However, the Spurs roster is still far from being able to have legit NBA playoff odds next season, but drafting Wembanyama is a step in the right direction.

Hornets And Trail Blazers Get Boost

Only two teams overshot their lottery odds, the Hornets and Trail Blazers. While both teams are technically winners on lottery night, they might have different perspectives.

The Hornets went from having the fourth-best odds to the second pick in the draft. While that is not a massive jump, in a draft where there is not an extreme amount of top-end talent, that could mean a lot. Charlotte will have the pseudo-first pick of the draft, with everyone knowing the Spurs will select Wembanyama.

If the Hornets wanted to add a wing, a position group they are lacking in, Brandon Miller is the best option. Miller could seamlessly fit alongside LaMelo Ball, the team’s franchise player. The other option for Charlotte is to draft another point guard in Scoot Henderson, which might not make sense. He would take the ball out of Ball’s hands, which could be an issue.

On the other hand, the Trail Blazers are in a predicament. While having the third pick, they can select whoever the Hornets don’t take. The issue will be if the Hornets select Miller. Portland wants to be a competitive team with solid NBA Finals odds, because it has Damian Lillard but the rest of the roster is lacking. With Lillard already on the team, if Henderson is the only option, drafting him does not make much sense. Miller is a much better fit, but the Hornets think the same thing.

That then leaves the Trail Blazers with an impossible decision. Select a new franchise point guard and trade Lillard, or try to move back in the draft and select a wing, such as one of the Thompson twins, who are a much better fit for this current roster. The other possible move is to trade the third pick for a star player who can help the Trail Blazers immediately. All are good options, but the front office will need to select a pathway for the future.

Rockets Plans Are Destroyed, And Pistons Stay Rebuilding

Even though the Pistons had the furthest slide on lottery night, dropping four places, it will not nearly have the same effect on the team as it will for the Rockets. The Pistons are still rebuilding and far from making any big-time free-agent moves. This roster is not ready to compete, primarily due to Cade Cunningham getting injured so often.

Cunningham is the franchise’s star, and Detroit will try to build around him. That means drafting a wing, with the Pistons having no depth at that position. With this new wing, the mix of the Cunningham and Jaden Ivey backcourt, with a bunch of centers, could eventually be a strong foundation for the future. Cam Whitmore could be the perfect fit at five, having the upside of a potential No.1 or 2 offensive option.

However, for the Rockets, not getting a top-three and sliding to the fourth pick was massive. So many rumors have them trying to make a big splash in free agency, and a big part of that plan was a new elite rookie being brought in to Houston. With virtually zero chance of the Rockets selecting Wembanyama, Miller, or Henderson, that messes with the whole free agency plan.

Still, either of the Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, could be a solid fit. They are both playmaking wings that offer a lot on the defensive end. While they are not the splash players the Rockets were hoping for, they are still solid.

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