The race for last place is heating up as the lottery-locked teams are vying for a small chance to land Victor Wembanyama at the 2023 NBA Draft. And while most bottom dwellers are content to phone it in during the last leg of their regular-season schedule, the San Antonio Spurs have started a two-game winning streak. So how does that impact their lottery odds?
So how does their recent turnaround impact their lottery odds? Before we dip into that topic, here's a quick refresher on how the draft lottery works.
Five things fans should know about the NBA Draft Lottery
1.) The 14 teams that miss the playoffs are in the lottery (or the team that owns their pick)
2.) The worse your regular-season record, the better your chances of winning the lottery.
3.) The three-worst teams each have a 14% chance of winning the first overall pick.
4.) Picks 1-4 are awarded based on a random drawing of numbered ping-pong balls.
5.) Picks 5-14 are dolled out in order of the worst remaining regular-season records.
Where are the Spurs in the Wembanyama sweepstakes?
After beating the Jazz and Pacers this week, San Antonio has improved to 28th place in the league standings. Despite logging their first consecutive victories since December, the Spurs are still tied with Houston and Detroit for the best lottery odds (14%).
The 27th-place Hornets are 3.5 games ahead of San Antonio, but there is a real possibility they could plunge to the bottom of the NBA. LaMelo Ball fractured his right ankle on Monday night, and the All-Star guard is out for the rest of the season.
Even if Charlotte sneaks ahead of the Silver and Black in the lottery order down the homestretch, fans shouldn't be too nervous. San Antonio would still have a 12.5% chance of securing the first overall pick and could do no worse than the eighth pick.
The Spurs faithful understandably wants Victor Wembanyama in the 2-1-0 next season. The French phenom is the most highly-touted draft prospect since LeBron James, and that type of cornerstone talent could propel San Antonio back into perennial playoff contention.
With that in mind, here are some facts to help relieve any lingering anxiety about the draft lottery. One, it is nearly mathematically impossible for San Antonio to catch up to the Magic, making them a lock for the bottom four. And two, the team with the worst record has never received the first pick since the NBA flattened the lottery odds in 2019.
PATFO will need luck to secure Wembanyama or generational consolation prize Scoot Henderson. But perhaps the basketball gods will reward them for tanking competitively rather than waiving the white flag and purposely losing as many games as possible.