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The Spurs Are The Victors In The Wembanyana Sweepstakes

This is going to be really, really interesting.

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 Metropolitan 92’s French power forward Victor Wembanyama tries to score during the French Elite basketball match between Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 and Paris basket ball at the Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan in Levallois-Perret, on the outskirts of Paris, on May 16, 2023.
Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

The draft lottery was Tuesday night, complete with the normal levels of hype and silliness. For Duke fans, former Blue Devil Mark Williams represented the Charlotte Hornets.

The lottery is always fun but this year had a different feel. Why? Because of Victor Wembanyama.

The 7-3 Frenchman is widely expected to be the best rookie since LeBron James and any other pick is going to be a disappointment, at least as of Thursday night, because everyone wants Wembanyama, which we’ll get back to in a minute.

In the end, it came down to San Antonio and Charlotte. Hornet fans were buzzing! (Sorry).

But in the end, Charlotte got the second pick and San Antonio got Wembanyama.

That means a couple of things.

When Williams was waiting, he must have thought about what it would be like to play with Wembanyama. Those guys could have changed the small ball paradigm that rules the NBA and you know LaMelo Ball would have loved having both of them to pass to.

Instead, former Blue Devil Tre Jones will be getting the ball to Wembanyama, which is also going to be fun.

For San Antonio, it’s a third strike of big man lottery lightning: the Spurs got David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan a decade later.

Everyone is excited about Wembanyama’s NBA prospects, but the truth is, no one really knows what to expect.

Obviously he’s immensely talented and skilled and there has never been someone who has his combination of offensive and defensive skills.


He is terribly thin still and some of the NBA’s hard men are going to try to break him in half. Secondly, he wouldn’t be the first big man to run into major injury problems. Ralph Sampson, Yao Ming and Arvydas Sabonis all had immense, limitless futures. But Sampson’s knee, Yao’s foot and for Sabonis, it was an Achilles tendon followed by many more.

Even this year, Chet Holmgren missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury (he’s expected to be back next season, fortunately).

There have already been some questions about Wembanyama’s feet.

But if he’s healthy and can bulk up - no guarantees there, given his body type - he should be great.

One more thing we wonder about with the Spurs winning the lottery: how will Wembanyama work out with Gregg Popovich?

Popovich is unquestionably a great coach, but even in the past Olympic Games, some of his players bristled at his style, feeling his approach was out of date. How’s he going to work with a cutting edge prodigy?

Our guess is that he’ll figure it out, but that could be a challenge. Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun to watch him test himself against the best the world has to offer. The age of the Unicorn is here.

Just as a small note: with George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers have the greatest collection of big men in NBA history. If Wembanyama turns out to be as great as people think he will be, the Spurs might rival LA.