Victor Wembanyama will be the San Antonio Spurs’ newest superstar after earning the right to draft the French phenom with the No. 1 pick following the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery.
The lottery was down to the Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Hornets and Houston Rockets for the No. 1 pick. Houston would draw the short end of the stick and will pick fourth overall. Wembanyama, who had the cameras on him all night, glanced to the side before doing a celebratory fist pump.
It seems Wembanyama did not want to land in Houston — and former Rockets first-round draft choice Jabari Smith Jr. let it known on Twitter that he is taking notes after seeing the blatant disrespect toward a team in dire need of his services.
Heading into Tuesday night’s lottery event, the Spurs, Rockets and Detroit Pistons — who drew the No. 5 pick — all had the best odds (14%) to land the No. 1 overall pick. It was a real possibility that the 7-foot-2 superstar could have been a Rocket at the end of the day. As fate would have it, Wembanyama dodged landing on a team with one of the lowest win-percentage in the NBA over the past three seasons.
The NBA Draft Lottery has tortured the Houston Rockets
Since James Harden’s departure, the Rockets are 59-177. In both 2021 and 2022, Houston finished with the worst record in the league. with 17 wins and 20 wins, respectively. They missed out on the No. 1 pick in both seasons.
They would end up drafting Jalen Green (2021) and Jabari Smith (2022), but missed out on players Pistons star Cade Cunningham, 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero, and Chet Holmgren, who is expected to star in his role down low with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he returns from injury.
Now, the Rockets don’t get the opportunity to draft Wembanyama, former Alabama star Brandon Miller and G-League sensation Scoot Henderson. Instead, many mock drafts project Houston to select Amen or Ausar Thompson, two brothers from Overtime Elite, with the fourth pick.
Now that they’ve missed out on what many expect to be the cream of the crop of this year’s draft class, many expect Houston to be in a similar position next season. Even after getting skipped over for the top slot for three-straight years, the Rockets have still been able to put together a strong young core. That’s thanks to their five first-round draft picks in that same span.
They have two first-rounders this year as well and will draft No. 4 and No. 20 overall, respectively.