The San Antonio Spurs win the NBA draft lottery and have the opportunity to pick Victor Wembanyama


Victor Wembanyama is now starting his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs after they won the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night and finished No. 1 overall.

Spurs were one of the three teams with the best chance of becoming No. 1 with 14%, which they will almost certainly capitalize on against Wembanyama. The 1.9m tall French 19-year-old is one of the most heralded talents in NBA history and is expected to make an immediate impact on the league.

Immediately after the lottery results, an excited Wembanyama, surrounded by family and friends in France, told ESPN that he “loves Texas.”

“I had been there before. I’m really happy,” he said. “I can’t wait to meet the fans and the team. I hope to be there in June.”

Victor Wembanyama
Metropolitan92’s Victor Wembanyama in action during the LNB Pro A Betclic Elite basketball match between Boulogne-Levallois and Paris Basket at Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan in Paris, France on May 16, 2023.

Christian Liewig – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s the third time Spurs have won the lottery, and on both previous occasions they’ve made decisions that have paid off for decades. They picked David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997, and those choices were instrumental in turning the Spurs into a team that won five NBA titles under coach Gregg Popovich.

“I’m so excited,” said Spurs chief executive Peter J. Holt.

Charlotte is second, Portland third and Houston fourth.

“He’s an incredible young man,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN during the draft lottery broadcast. “He’s 19 years old and I didn’t pull out a ruler or meter stick or whatever they use in France but he seemed quite 7-4 to me. … He clearly seems to be a generational talent.”

The Spurs are 22-60 this season, the second-worst tally in the NBA. Popovich and Spurs have had incredible successes with international players in the past – most notably Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, owner of the French team Wembanyama played for last season.

Wembanyama ended his regular season early Tuesday at Boulogne-Levallois in France’s top professional league. His 22-point tally was good enough to secure the league’s scoring title. It was just after 2am on Wednesday in Paris when the lottery results were announced and Wembanyama was gathered with family and friends for a celebration.

They finally know where his NBA journey will begin.

“I think the team that has first pick won’t do anything wrong,” said Vincent Collet, Wembanayama’s coach in France and also coach of the France national team – for whom Wembanyama is expected to play at the World Cup this summer and at next summer’s the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Detroit had the worst record in the NBA and was one of the top three teams with the best odds of winning. The Pistons ended up dropping to fifth place, the worst of their possible finishes.

The rest of the lottery order: Orlando finishes sixth, Indiana seventh, Washington eighth, Utah ninth, Dallas tenth, Orlando (from Chicago as part of a previous swap) eleventh, Oklahoma City twelfth, Toronto 12th and New Orleans 12th.

Wembanyama is completing his third professional season in France and has been the unanimous first choice for months. He has the size of a center, the shooting feel of a winger and the passing ability of a point guard.

Due to his game schedule in France, he did not enter the lottery. But many of the other top contenders — G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, twin brothers Amen and Ausar Thompson of the Overtime Elite program — were in the room to catch the lottery results announcement and get a better idea where they might go to start their NBA career.

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