Victor Wembanyama seems to be the consensus No. 1 pick on almost every NBA Mock Draft. How will he fit with the teams who could win the draft lottery?
Victor Wembanyama is a unique talent. A 7-foot-5 unicorn with elite shot-blocking potential who also handles the ball like a guard and can drain deep 3s off the dribble. We’re still months away from the NBA Draft lottery, let alone the actual NBA Draft, but things are already looking fairly clear.
Victor Wembanyama is the No. 1 pick in almost every mock draft
Usually projecting the top of the NBA Draft at this point in the season means assumptions about talent evaluation and guessing at which team could win the NBA Lottery. However, Victor Wembanyama seems to be removing at least one variable this year.
The multi-talented Frenchman is currently listed No. 1 in essentially every notable Mock Draft regardless of which team is projected at top. That includes ours, courtesy of Christopher Kline, as well as SBNation, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Tankathon, NBADraft.net, The Ringer and more.
If we assume he’s going No. 1, which seems like a safe assumption at this point, then the big question is who gets that pick in the lottery and how he could fit.
How would Victor Wembanyama fit on teams with the best odds of the No. 1 pick?
5. Orlando Magic — 10.5 odds of No. 1 pick
Technically, the Magic have better odds at the No. 1 pick than the Spurs because they also hold the Bulls’ first-round pick, an additional 3.0 percent chance of going No. 1. They also probably have the most unusual fit for Wembanyama. Orlando has two solid frontcourt building blocks for the future in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. They also have a pair of complementary centers in Wendell Carter Jr. and Bol Bol, the latter of whom is sort of a middle-class version of Wembanyama, a similarly unique package of skills and physical attributes.
Wembanyama is talented enough that he’s worth reworking your rebuilding plans and if that means trading Bol or Carter Jr. down the road, that’s still a very good problem for the Magic to have. But they’re also a team that could scaffold his development, not having to throw him into the fire right away, letting him come off the bench initially and picking up offensive and defensive responsibilities as he’s ready for them. Among these five teams, the Magic would probably need the least from Wembanyama as a rookie.
4. San Antonio Spurs — 12.5 odds of No. 1 pick
Perhaps more than any other team on this list, the Spurs are in a position to put Wembanyama front and center and build around him as a centerpiece. They have talented young players like Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones to help support his development and share the offensive load. But they also have a clear slate to let him take as much offensive responsibility as he’s ready for and really shape their systems at both ends to his growing strengths. The Spurs are the team that would likely rely the most on Wembanyama as a rookie, where he’d have the most opportunity to freelance and expand his game.
3. Charlotte Hornets — 14.0 odds of No. 1 pick
The feel-good Hornets have disintegrated rather quickly. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mason Plumlee will likely be gone next season and the Hornets have already been shopping Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. All that is to say, landing Wembanyama and putting him next to LaMelo Ball gives the Hornets a pretty defined path forward.
Ball is a gifted passer and willingly shares the ball. He also plays a somewhat chaotic and creative style that thrives on tempo and transition. Ball could be an excellent partner for Wembanyama, helping create easy offensive opportunities for him. But he’d also likely require the most compensation on Wembanyama’s part of any of these teams, requiring him to fit into the way Ball prefers to play, rather than the other way around.
2. Detroit Pistons — 14.0 odds of No. 1 pick
The Pistons may offer the most intriguing fit around Wembanyama, the most variability in how things could work. They have two high-upside ball-handlers in Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey who help lighten his offensive load, not to mention Bojan Bogdanovic who seems increasingly likely to still be around. They also have Jalen Duren, another young center with immense defensive potential. More than any other team here, you could see the Pistons using Wembanyama in different ways, allowing him to experiment with structure and support.
1. Houston Rockets — 14.0 odds of No. 1 pick
The Rockets have as much interesting young talent as any other team on this list and no one that clearly overlaps with Wembanyama — on paper he can fit neatly with Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. at both ends of the floor. They have talented young shot creators like Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, and players with versatile role-playing potential like Tari Eason, Usman Garuba and Kenyon Martin Jr. They also appear to have the least figured out in terms of what kind of team they want to be and how they want to use their talent to create a coherent offensive and defensive system.
The bottom line is, in any situation Victor Wembanyama is going to have talented young teammates to develop alongside and plenty of opportunities to shine. It all will come down to how each team needs to use him early in his career and how quickly they need him to become a star.
Check out The Step Back for more news, analysis, opinion and unique basketball coverage. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our daily email newsletter, The Whiteboard.