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Audio dispatch from the Wemby City
The NBA Draft Lottery that will tell us Victor Wembanyama's new team is tonight in Chicago. Let's set the scene
CHICAGO — It was way back in October when LeBron James suggested that Victor Wembanyama just might be an alien.
It was around the same time that Holger Geschwindner, lifelong shooting coach for a player who revolutionized the power forward position named Dirk Nowitzki, told me when asked about Wembanyama: “This kid has the potential to change basketball again.”
It was also in October that the LA Clippers’ Nicolas Batum, likening his teenaged countryman to a mix of Rudy Gobert, Kristaps Porzingis and Giannis Antetokounmpo with his ability to protect the rim inside, play outside offensively and cover so much ground with his agility, declared to my podcast partner Chris Haynes: “I’m not saying he’s next for French basketball — he’s next for basketball.”
The he’s-got-next phase for the phenom generating all this hoopla is finally here. The draft lottery to determine Wembanyama’s NBA home is Tuesday night at 8 PM ET and we have prepared a special audio dispatch from the scene here at Lottery Central in the Windy-turned-Wemby City to properly get you ready.
Click the orange button for the auditory preview … and see right underneath it for the two standout Wembanyama reads in our archives:
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The Drawing Room
As covered in the audio dispatch, my application to be a draft lottery witness for Tuesday night’s long-awaited resolution to the Brick For Vic Sweepstakes was indeed approved by the league office.
So I will be one of a handful reporters who gets to watch the actual conducting of the lottery, which takes place roughly 45 minutes before the lottery broadcast airs.
Important clarification: The window between the actual lottery drawing and the results-bearing envelopes that reveal No. 1 on television might be slightly shorter than what I described in the audio piece above, which I ballparked at an hour to an hour and change. We’ll have to see if I overstated the estimate because, once again, I am a Drawing Room Rookie.
Media members like me who are invited to the Drawing Room can only bring “a pen/pencil and notebook,” per league instructions.
Here is the list of the 14 off-camera team reps who’ll be in the Drawing Room with me:
It will be 2:00 AM Wednesday in Paris when Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery broadcast begins on ESPN. Victor Wembanyama, for months a lock to go No. 1 overall, will not be in attendance in Chicago because his French League team Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 has a game Tuesday night against former Cal State Fullerton star Kyle Allman Jr. and Paris Basketball before proceeding to the playoffs.
No team has won the NBA lottery with longer odds than Orlando in 1993, when the Magic had only a 1.52% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick and won the right to select Chris Webber (whom they traded to Golden State for the rights to Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks). Chicago (Derrick Rose in 2008) and Cleveland (Anthony Bennett in 2014) have also won the lottery with less than a 2% chance of success (1.7% in both cases). See the graphic for this season's full 1-to-14 lottery odds breakdown:
For those of you who have already started thinking about the offseason, my pal Keith Smith projects the Houston Rockets to have a league-leading $57 million in salary-cap space this summer, followed by San Antonio ($45.7 million), Utah ($45.2 million) and Oklahoma City ($32.2 million). Smith also projects three teams (Orlando, Detroit and Indiana) to have between $22 million and $27 million in cap space.
The Lakers' 2-10 start is often cited as a prime example of how bad they were out of the gate, but don't forget that included an 0-5 launch ... with L.A.'s first win of the season coming at home on Oct. 30 against Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets.
LeBron James' teams are 10-1 lifetime once they reach the conference finals. Ten of those 11 series, mind you, occurred in the Eastern Conference. LeBron's first four seasons with the Lakers do include a championship run in 2019-20 but also a first-round exit in 2020-21 and two seasons out of the playoffs entirely.
James is shooting 26.3% from 3-point range in these playoffs, which represents his lowest figure since a 22.7% mark in 2014-15. But James' 6.7 3-point attempts per game this postseason is the second-highest figure of his career, behind only his 8.0 3-point attempts per game during a first-round loss to Phoenix in 2020-21.
Freshly minted MVP Joel Embiid’s scoring average decreased by 9.4 points per game from the regular season to the postseason, which is the largest single-season decline in league history (according to my fellow Substacker Justin Kubatko). The previous record was Moses Malone’s decline of 7.2 points per game in the 1982 playoffs with Houston.
The largest single-season scoring increase from the regular season to the playoffs, according to Kubatko, is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 8.3 points per game jump with the Lakers in 1977 … narrowly edging Steve Nash’s 8.3 points per game increase with Phoenix during the 2005 playoffs.
Philadelphia's elimination Sunday in Boston dropped Doc Rivers' career coaching record to 6-10 in Game 7s and 17-33 in closeout games. Rivers has dropped five consecutive Game 7s and last won one in 2015.
During last season's playoffs, in 22 games, Golden State's Jordan Poole shot nearly 51% from the field, nearly 40% from 3-point range and nearly 92% from the free throw line as he averaged 17.0 points in 27.5 minutes per game for the Warriors.
In this season's playoffs in 13 games, Poole's splits in the three main shooting categories sank precipitously as he slumped to just 10.3 points in 21.8 minutes per game. Next season is Year 1 of Poole's four-year, $123 million contract (plus incentives), which he signed in October.
Longtime Phoenix radio voice Al McCoy, who turned 90 on April 26, is retiring after an incredible 51 years as a Suns broadcaster. The club made three trips to the NBA Finals during McCoy's tenure but has still never won a championship. Enclosed is a video of McCoy's final radio signoff:
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