Tank Watch: After the trade deadline, which teams are in a favorable spot to land Victor Wembanyama?

Victor Vembanyama dominates the French Betclic Élite league, leading all players in points (22.2 per game), rebounds (9.5) and blocks (3.1). The 7-foot-4 center forward continues to improve aspects of his game that will make him an NBA threat in less than a year, and he showed off one of his most complete games in a recent victory over Dijon in which he helped his team. came out from behind and finished with 29 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.

Thanks to the off-season trade and during the trade deadline, several teams are currently in a good position to get Wembanyama in June. The NBA draft lottery will take place on May 16. All three bottom-performing teams have a 14 percent chance of adding Wembanyama to their franchise.

As the race to the bottom continues, approaching the All-Star break, Sportzshala Sports is looking at seven teams that could make it to Wembanyama and how the season is shaping up.

Victor Vembanyama of Metropolitans 92 takes a free throw against Dijon in Levallois-Perret, France on February 10, 2023.  (Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
Victor Huembanyama of the Metropolitans 92 scores a free kick against Dijon on Friday at the Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace. (Kathryn Steenkeste/Getty Images)

(Records for games on February 13; odds of getting first pick from tankaton.)

1. Houston Rockets

Current entry: 13-44

Chances of getting first choice: 14%

The Rockets were very active during the trade deadline and initially brought in four veteran players they didn’t really need, as well as two future second-round picks. The front office pulled out John Wall and Danny Green and bought out Justin Holiday’s contract; Frank Kaminsky spent his first minutes with the team in a loss to the 76ers on Monday.

Houston is in full rebuild mode with a promising young core of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr and Jabari Smith Jr. Green recently recorded his fourth career 40-point game in which he finished with 41 points in a loss to Sacramento earlier this month. The addition of Vembanyama to that group next season will give them the defensive versatility they lack and more length in the frontcourt alongside the 6ft 11in Alperen Sengan. The Rockets are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, but oddly enough, they are second in defensive rebounding, thanks to the length and athleticism of a young group of players. The Rockets have lost six games in a row and had a tough stretch in March, giving them a good shot at getting Wembanyama in four months.

2. San Antonio Spurs

Current entry: 14-44

Chances of getting first choice: 14%

The Spurs may not have the worst record in the NBA (yet), but they are currently the worst team in the league, having lost their last 13 games. Gregg Popovich’s team ranks last in points per game, total assists, field goals made, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage.

During the trade deadline, San Antonio waived Stanley Johnson and traded veterans Jacob Poeltle and Josh Richardson. In exchange, the Spurs received center Ham Birch, the Raptors’ 2024 first-round pick (top six protected), and their 2023/2024 second-round pick.

The Spurs currently do not have starting point guard Tre Jones, who left the last game against the Cavaliers with a foot injury, and Devin Vassell (knee) and Romeo Langford (thigh) have been out since January. This painful recovery season could be worth it if the ping pong balls fall in San Antonio’s favour.

3. Detroit Pistons

Current entry: 15-43

Chances of getting first choice: 14%

Pistons fans knew where this season was heading when it was announced in November that Cade Cunningham was out of the season with a calf injury that required surgery. During the trade deadline, Detroit traded forward Saddiq Bey and acquired center James Wiseman in a four-team deal that included the Hawks, Warriors, and Trail Blazers. Wiseman has dealt with various injuries since being selected as No. 2 in 2020, but he is still young and has potential as an elite rim guard.

Rookie Jaden Ivey is showing promise as a perennial scorer and playmaker in the league, leading all rookies in assists (249) and third in total points (821). A healthy Cunningham, returning next season and possibly adding Wembanyama to pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations, will give the Pistons the last part of a slow recovery process. Wembanyama currently only shoots 28% from three-point range, but his shooting mechanics and instincts are spot on, and given his 8-foot wingspan, his shot is nearly impossible to defend.

4. Charlotte Hornets

Current entry: 16-43

Chances of getting first choice: 12.5%

The Hornets finished last season with a winning record (43-39) for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The Hornets have taken two steps back this season: point guard LaMelo Ball started the year with an ankle injury, and no other player on offense or defense, with the exception of Ball and Terry Rozier, who leads the team in points, has shown much productivity. helping and stealing.

The Hornets had a positive evening on Feb. 13, with a victory over Hawks & Ball becoming the first player in franchise history to hit a 3-pointer in 47 consecutive games (and the number continues to rise). Ball is the youngest player in NBA history to play at least 35 consecutive games, and his 47-game streak represents the third longest active spell in the NBA behind Portland’s Damian Lillard and Golden State’s Steph Curry. After defeating the Hawks, Ball also became the fourth-youngest NBA player to record 30 points, 15 assists and five rebounds, joining Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Atlanta’s Trae Young, and Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox.

There are a lot of positives around the Hornets star player, but it hasn’t resulted in a win yet. Adding Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller, Amen or Ausar Thompson would be a step in the right direction as the Hornets continue to rebound and try to claim a spot in the Eastern Conference.

5. Orlando Magic

Current entry: 24-34

Chances of getting first choice: 10.5%

Wembanyama had 437-plus points and 64-plus blocks in the first 20 games to start the season; The last NBA player to record such numbers was Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. The Magic selected O’Neal with the No. 1 overall pick in 1992, and it worked out very well for the franchise as he made the playoffs for four straight seasons. and led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995.

The Magic selected Paolo Bankero 1 overall in last year’s draft and would like to add Wembanyama’s versatility in frontcourt defense along with Bankero. The former Duke forward is the favorite for Rookie of the Year and leads all rookies in points (1,020), minutes played (1,723) and field goals (333). The Magic is already a ton of length: Banchero is 6ft 10in, Bol Bol is 7ft 2in, Wendell Carter Jr is 6ft 10in, Franz Wagner is 6ft 10in and Moritz Wagner is 6ft 11in. It would be nice if Magic added Wembanyama to this group.

6. Indiana Pacers

Current entry: 25-34

Chances of getting first choice: 9%

Tyrese Halliburton and Bennedict Maturin are two young stars in the making and have huge potential as the Pacers’ elite backcourt duo. Halliburton was named an NBA All-Star for the first time, and Maturin was named to the NBA Rising Stars and is one of the top scoring rookies this year, averaging 17.2 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Since the new year, the Pacers have been in a slump, winning five of their last 22 games. The organization isn’t in full overhaul like some other teams, but it needs another season or two to put it all together. Sitting with a 9% chance of getting a generation type talent like Vembanyama is not bad either. Strange things happened on the night of the draft lottery.

7 New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers)

Current entry: 30-28

Chances of getting first choice: 7.5%

This is a unique draft pick for the Pelicans because it has nothing to do with how they finish this season. The choice is related to the trade of Anthony Davis and the Lakers. The worse the Lakers perform this season, the higher the Pelicans pick will be. LeBron James just passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time scoring leader, but the Lakers are still losing games, going 26-32 and third in the West behind the Rockets and Spurs.

The Lakers failed to add Kyrie Irving within the trade deadline and instead traded Russell Westbrook and acquired Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell. All five players have the potential to add value to a struggling Lakers team, but it may be too little and too late for the playoffs. James is still out with an ankle injury, and Davis has been on a limited-minutes since Feb. 4.

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was out of action for several weeks with an aggravated right hamstring injury; it seems he can’t stay healthy for four years in the league. Even with Williamson’s setback, this is a positive year for the Pelicans, who are likely to get a top draft pick in a very talented draft class.


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