Houston Rockets, 2 other teams have best chance to win No. 1 pick during Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery

League experts expect Victor Wembanyama to be the first player off the board during the NBA Draft on June 22.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- By the end of Tuesday, will the Houston Rockets secure victory, or see some one else take it from them?

The victory in question is the right to select Victor Wembanyama first overall in this summer's NBA Draft. The 19-year-old, 7-foot-5-inch phenom is the coveted prize when ping-pong balls will be selected Tuesday for the NBA Draft Lottery.

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The Rockets, who finished tied for the second-worst record last season, share 14% odds to win the top pick of the draft, with the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons as the other teams with the best chance.

This draft lottery order, which will be announced during a live broadcast on ABC13 sister network ESPN, will be a pivotal one for the team's rebuild.

Houston won just 23% of its games since 2020 when James Harden was traded away from the team. The Rockets picked up young cornerstones Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, and Jalen Green since that time. But the true prize is French teen Wembanyama, who owner Tilman Fertitta wished for by name during an interview this past Galveston Mardi Gras season.

The Rockets can go no worse than the sixth pick in the draft.

Houston will be represented at the draft lottery by new head coach Ime Udoka.

The Rockets will also hold the Los Angeles Clippers' first-round pick in the upcoming draft. LA earned a playoff spot and will not factor into the lottery.

Why Wembanyama?

Wembanyama has been the presumptive favorite to be the No. 1 pick since he first emerged as a can't-miss prospect at the FIBA Under-16 European Championship in 2019, but has only widened the gap between him and the field since the start of the season.

He blew the doors off the basketball world last October with an incredible two-game performance in Las Vegas against G League Ignite, scoring 36 and 37 points, respectively, and showcasing his exceptional shot-making prowess, ability to create offense for himself and teammates, game-changing defensive presence and feel for the game, which indicates how seamlessly his game will translate to the NBA.

He's in the midst of an MVP-caliber campaign guiding his Metropolitans 92 team to the second-best record in France while leading the league in points, rebounds and blocks, something we've never seen from a 19-year-old at this level of competition. Perhaps most impressively, he hasn't missed a game all year, alleviating many concerns about how his 7-foot-5 frame will hold up long-term.

Wembanyama's mobility, length, instincts and anticipation skills will make him a formidable presence defensively from day one patrolling the paint and covering ground on the perimeter, while his versatile skill level inside and outside the arc gives him huge mismatch potential offensively. He still has considerable room to improve as his lanky frame evolves but has made significant improvement there as well. The work ethic, competitiveness and intelligence he shows on both ends of the floor, combined with his supernatural physical tools and talent, gives him a chance to become an MVP candidate and possibly one of the best players we've seen in this generation long-term.

Watch the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ESPN, and don't miss the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 22, on ABC13.

The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC13 and ESPN. ESPN's Jonathan Givony contributed to this report.