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How the race to bottom for projected 2023 NBA draft No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama is shaping up

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The Boston Celtics (20-5) are atop the Eastern Conference, while the Phoenix Suns (16-8) have one of the best record straight away within the Western Conference. This season there might be more eyes on what teams are the worst within the NBA with the loaded draft class entering the league in June, led by generational talent Victor Wembanyama.

It’s still an extended NBA season and many can occur, but whether it’s through a rebuild process with a young team, injuries or off-loading franchise talent this past summer, there are a handful of teams already in good position to land a 14% likelihood of getting the No. 1 pick on draft lottery night on May 16.

Because the race to the underside starts, Yahoo Sports takes a take a look at seven teams that might land Wembanyama next June and the way they began the season.

(Records through Dec. 5 games; odds to land No. 1 pick from Tankathon.)

How is the race for the 2023 NBA draft’s No. 1 pick and the best to pick Victor Wembanyama shaping up greater than 1 / 4 of the best way through the 2022-23 NBA season? (Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Current record: 5-20

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 14%

The Magic are in rebuild mode. They’d the No. 1 pick within the 2022 draft, picking former Duke forward Paolo Banchero. The 12 months before, they added point guard Jalen Suggs with the No. 5 pick and wing Franz Wagner at No. 8. They have not had a winning season since 2018-19.

The Magic won’t be winning numerous games, but they’re a fun team to look at with a starting lineup of 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, 6-11 Mo Wagner, 6-10 Banchero, 6-10 Franz Wagner and 6-4 Markelle Fultz. Possibly adding 7-4 Wembanyama to this young team can be a dream scenario. The dimensions and length can be unmatched within the Eastern Conference.

The Magic are 1-10 of their past 11 outings and currently have six players out with injuries: Suggs (ankle), Gary Harris (hamstring), Chuma Okeke (knee), Mo Bamba (back), Wendell Carter Jr. (foot) and Jonathan Isaac (knee).

Current record: 6-19

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 14%

The Pistons are rebuilding around 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham and added a talented guard to play alongside him within the backcourt with the No. 5 pick of the 2022 draft, Jaden Ivey. Unfortunately, Cunningham has been sidelined with a shin injury and should undergo surgery this season.

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“It’s as much as the medical group and to Cade and whatever is best for his health,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “I’m all for it. Whatever he decides to do, I’m 100% behind him.”

The Pistons are 3-7 up to now 10 games and won only three games in November. If Cunningham decides to have surgery and sit out the rest of the season, it could keep the Pistons in a very good spot to land Wembanyama. The Pistons have not advanced past the primary round of the playoffs because the 2007-08 season and have made the playoffs only twice up to now 10 years.

Current record: 6-18

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 14%

The Spurs made some offseason moves to be in good position to land Wembanyama. The organization went into rebuild mode when it traded All-Star guard Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks and added Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley, all just 19 years old, within the 2022 draft.

The young Spurs had a fiery begin to the season, going 5-2, but have since cooled off. San Antonio has won just one out of its past 12 games, and the injury-depleted Spurs are even without head coach Gregg Popovich, who’s recovering from a minor medical procedure. Sochan (quad), Wesley (knee), Doug McDermott (ankle), Romeo Langford (ankle), Jakob Poeltl (knee) and Josh Richardson (ankle) are all currently out for the Spurs.

The Spurs have all the time been often known as a corporation that does a terrific job developing young talent and having the Hall of Famer Popovich coach and guide Wembanyama as he enters the league can be definitely worth the painful season leading into the 2023 draft.

Current record: 7-17

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 11.5%

That is the Rockets’ third season rebuilding after trading Russell Westbrook in December 2020 and James Harden in January 2021. Unlike the Spurs and Thunder, who’re plagued with injuries, the Rockets have just one player sidelined, wing Jae’Sean Tate.

The Rockets have numerous young talent with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. leading the team in scoring. Houston lacks size and experience within the frontcourt with rookie Jabari Smith Jr. and second-year center Alperen Sengun. The Rockets would love so as to add Wembanyama to this young core next season, potentially turning across the franchise.

Current record: 7-17

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 11.5%

The Hornets are the dark horse within the race to the underside and are still without star point guard LaMelo Ball, who re-injured his ankle after stepping on a fan’s foot on Nov. 16. Gordon Hayward, who averaged 15.9 points and three.6 assists last season, can also be out indefinitely after sustaining a fractured shoulder.

Charlotte finished over .500 last season for the primary time since 2015-16 and gave the impression to be turning a corner. The Hornets began the season with a string of injuries and currently have five players sidelined: Ball (ankle), Hayward (shoulder), Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle), Mark Williams (ankle) and Cody Martin (knee).

Current record: 11-13

Odds to land No. 1 pick: 3.8%

General manager Sam Presti knew what he was doing when he executed 14 trades within the 2019-20 season and off-loaded star players, amassing 38 draft picks for the subsequent seven years. Previously two drafts, the Thunder have added Josh Giddey, Aleksej Pokusevski, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Chet Holmgren, Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams to construct around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort.

The Thunder were looking forward to turning a corner after winning a combined 46 games the previous two seasons, but bad news got here within the offseason when No. 2 pick Holmgren sustained a season-ending foot injury during a pro-am game in Seattle. OKC fans are forced to be patient yet one more 12 months within the hopes of landing one other talented prospect projected at the highest of the draft.

Wembanyama and Holmgren went head-to-head in July 2021 through the FIBA Under-19 World Cup. Homgren and Team USA got here out with the win, but Wembanyama was one of the best prospect on the court, ending with 22 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks. Adding Wembanyama within the frontcourt with 7-1 Holmgren and 7-foot Pokusevski can be the ultimate piece of a rebuild puzzle for the Thunder.

Honorable mention

Current record: 15-8

Odds to land No. 1 pick (via Lakers): 7.5%

The Pelicans are in a novel situation this season and it doesn’t matter what their record is or in the event that they make the playoffs. Pelicans fans might be more tuned in to the Los Angeles Lakers’ record heading into the draft with L.A.’s pick going to Recent Orleans, due to the Anthony Davis trade. The Lakers began the season as one in every of the worst teams within the league but have strung together a pleasant set of games, winning eight of 10. If the draft lottery were today, the Pelicans would have a 7.5% likelihood at landing Wembanyama, in accordance with Tankathon. The more games the Lakers lose, the closer the Pelicans are to adding a ridiculously expert Wembanyama alongside the 2019 No. 1 pick, Zion Williamson.

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