May 16th is a date that NBA scouts, executives and coaches of the 14 teams that did not qualify for the 2023 NBA playoffs have long had circled on their calendars: the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery, also known as “Who wins the rights to Draft Victor Wembanyama” day.
This is arguably the most highly anticipated Draft Lottery in two decades. Like LeBron James in 2003, Wembanyama has been a prominent name in NBA conversations well before joining the NBA.
The 7-foot-4 phenom from France possesses the raw tools (height, wingspan, athleticism) and a versatile skillset (shot blocking, 3-point shooting, a strong handle, the ability to score all over the court) that make him unlike any prospect the NBA has ever seen, all at just 19 years old. That’s why Wembanyama and his French club Metropolitans 92 came to Las Vegas last June to face fellow lottery prospect Scoot Henderson and G League Ignite. That’s why his Mets 92 games have been streamed on the NBA App , so fans can get a glimpse of the future.
Before the ping pong balls settle the Draft Lottery on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPN), Wembanyama will be on the court for Mets 92 as they play their final regular season game against Paris (3 ET). The game will once again be available on the NBA App, serving as an appetizer for the Draft Lottery feast later that evening.
Mets 92 enters its regular-season finale with a record of 23-11, good for second place in the Betclic Élite Pro A league in France. Wembanyama enters Tuesday’s game as the league leader in points (21.6 ppg), rebounds (10.5 rpg) and blocks (3.1 bpg) while playing 32.8 minutes per game over 33 games.
Following June’s Las Vegas showcase, Wembanyama could have elected to stop playing professionally in France and instead work on improving his game to prepare himself for the move to the NBA. He chose to continue playing, and even on Tuesday, the day that he will learn which NBA city he will call home for the foreseeable future, his commitment to playing for Mets 92 has not wavered. And with Mets 92 set to play in the French league playoffs, Wembanyama will miss this week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Of course, you can do that when you are the consensus No. 1 pick and have been called a generational talent by scouts, executives and even a fellow prodigy in LeBron James. Bringing everything full circle, LeBron and the Lakers will follow the Draft Lottery with Game 1 of the West Finals in Denver.