What are the Spurs’ chances of following Wembanyama with another No. 1 overall pick?

Spurs finished 2023-24 with the NBA’s fifth-worst record. How will their second 22-60 finish in a row translate in the draft lottery?

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama drops back to defend after hitting a basket against the Denver Nuggets during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski, Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – In May 2023, the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery after being tied with two other franchises for the best odds to earn the rights to the No. 1 overall draft pick.

One year later, the silver and black replicated the same 22-60 record they ended 2022-23 with — which is now good for a 10.5% chance to win back-to-back lotteries. The Spurs’ chances are in a good position to land a top-five pick, at worst, ahead of this summer’s draft.

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San Antonio could also receive a second pick in the lottery after receiving a first-round selection from Toronto at the 2023 NBA trade deadline for former Spurs center Jakob Poeltl.

Whether or not that top-six protected pick is sent to San Antonio depends on whether the 25-57 Raptors land in the top six in the lottery or not.

Keep your eyes on the drawing of ping-pong balls for the top four picks on lottery night. How the lottery order shakes out will determine Toronto’s fate (9% odds to receive the top overall pick) — either leaping into a higher pick or a team behind them could push the Raptors out.

While drafting No. 1 this year is very different than drafting No. 1 last year, attaining the top pick could give the front office rare flexibility only two NBA teams (Houston Rockets in 1983-84; Orlando Magic in 1992-93) have ever had before.

As we knew then and have been assured now, the Spurs won the ultimate jackpot by winning the opportunity to draft the French “alien.” So, this time around, the goal is to build around Wembanyama.

Wembanyama is in the running to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award and has made a strong argument for NBA Defensive Player of the Year. However, the Wembanyama-led Spurs still have a lot to accomplish this offseason if they want his success to convert to the winning column.

The position San Antonio will likely be focused on elevating this offseason is at point guard. The Spurs’ coaching staff made many attempts at filling this void this season, in the era of “position-less basketball.” Still, a shortfall at the position remains.

The best available point guard in this year’s draft is Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham (6′3″, 176 pounds). Dillingham wrapped up his freshman season with the Wildcats where he primarily came off the bench and still averaged 15.2 points and 3.9 assists in 23 minutes per game. The Hickory, North Carolina, native is an obvious fit for the Spurs who need proficient guard play and someone who can run the offense.

Other top point guards available in the draft are Nikola Topic from Serbia, UConn’s Stephon Castle, Isaiah Collier from USC, Jared McCain out of Duke, and Kentucky’s D.J. Wagner.

There is no clear-cut top prospect currently, but Alexandre Sarr (PF/C, Perth Wildcats) out of France makes a strong case for the first overall selection. Sarr is 7-foot-1 and, at 18 years old, has the highest upside defensively.

Sarr is one of a handful of French prospects valued high in this year’s draft, including Zaccharie Risacher and Tidjane Salaun. Risacher (SG/SF, JL Bourg-en-Bresse) is a proven scorer, making 43.8% of his long-range shots as a 6-foot-8 wing.

Wembanyana was asked on The Ringer podcast if he knew anything about the French prospects.

“What — of course,” Wembanyama said with a smile. “These are all guys I’ve known for years.”

Wembanyama’s rise has played a part in French ballplayers getting serious looks from the NBA.

“I think the system is catching up on all of the talent we have in France,” Wembanyama told The Ringer Podcast host Kevin O’Connor. “We have an incredible pool of players — physically, but also real basketball players.”

Both Wembanyama and fellow French big Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves are the top favorites to win this year’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 12 in Chicago followed by the 2024 NBA Draft on June 26-27.

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About the Author

Mary Rominger is KSAT 12 Sports' first full-time female sports anchor and reporter. She came to San Antonio from Mankato, Minn., where she worked as a weekend sports anchor at KEYC News Now. She has a journalism degree from Iowa State University and grew up in Southern California. Mary enjoys golfing, sports and finding new spots around town.

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