We have just a couple of months left in the NBA regular season, and the battles for playoff position in both conferences are as tight as they have been in recent memory. And while the race for the top promises to be a barn burner until the final games of the season, the race for the bottom is just as competitive.
The reward for receiving the number 1 overall pick in 2023 will be the rights to Victor Wembanyama, who some are touting as being the best basketball prospect ever. It is currently a four team race, all of them within 1.5 games of each other. The 5th worst team currently have 8.5 more wins than the rest of the bottom, finalizing the finalists as we come down the stretch.
Which teams are participating?
Which NBA Teams Are Tanking For Wembanyama?
San Antonio Spurs
It is odd to see Greg Popovich leading a losing group, but that is what the San Antonio Spurs find themselves as in 2023. They and the Rockets have been battling all season for contention for “Worst Team in the West” designation, as both of them have fewer than 15 wins at the time of writing. They’re currently on a 13-game losing streak.
Popovich chose a good time to go through his first tank in nearly two-and-a-half decades, as the thought of Wembanyama under the tutelage of one of the greatest of all time is a scary thought for other teams.
The other of the Terrible Texas Two, the Houston Rockets, currently have the fewest wins of any NBA team with 13. A stretch in late-November saw them win 6 of 10 games, and it looked like they might climb themselves out of the Race for Wembanyama, but they’ve only won three games since December 27th including a 13-game losing streak and a current five-game one. None of their five starters is over 22 years old, and probably be design.
The team on the list that was probably supposed to be better than they actually are, the Charlotte Hornets, have a shot of securing the first overall pick and the rights to Wembanyama. Off-court issues have certainly contributed to a deteriorating product on the court, and a rash of injuries to their depth chart haven’t helped at all. But another failed season may finally turn into the big prize in 2023 for Michael Jordan and company, who couldn’t possibly mess up this particular draft pick, could they?
It feels like the Pistons have been mainstays in the tanking game longer than any team other team at the current moment. All of that losing hasn’t exactly turned into the most fruitful of rewards, with Detroit having drafted guys like Killian Hayes, Luke Kennard, and Jaden Ivey with lottery picks in the past 6 years.
They’re at it again in 2022, and they could have the upper hand on the others due to their schedule down the stretch. 7 of the final 100 games of the season for the Pistons will be played away from Detroit, and many of them against teams that should be fighting to make the playoffs, including the Raptors, Thunder, Heat, and Bulls. They had the number 1 overall pick in 2021, and it could happen again for the Pistons two years later.