Victor Wembanyama 'trying to win a ring ASAP' after Spurs win lottery

French center Victor Wembanyama (R) is expected to be the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, which will be held June 22 in New York. Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE
French center Victor Wembanyama (R) is expected to be the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, which will be held June 22 in New York. Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE

May 17 (UPI) -- Victor Wembanyama is "trying to win a ring as soon as possible" with the San Antonio Spurs, who won the 2023 NBA Draft lottery and are expected to make him the No. 1 pick, the French center said.

The Spurs claimed the right to make the top pick -- in what was dubbed the Wembanyama sweepstakes -- Tuesday night. The 2023 NBA Draft will be June 22 in New York.


"They are getting a team player," Wembanyama said on ESPN's lottery broadcast, when asked about joining the Spurs. "I'm going to win as many games as I can. I'm trying to win a ring ASAP. So be ready."

Wembanyama, 19, is an extremely versatile 7-foot-3 center/forward from Le Chesnay, France. The towering phenom, known for a soft touch and sticky handling, averaged 21.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.5 assists per game this season for Metropolitans 92 of Betclic Elite, the top-tier men's professional league in France.


"It's an incredible night," Spurs general manager Brian Wright said on the broadcast. "I'm incredibly happy for the fans, the entire organization, the community and city of San Antonio.

"It just means so much. Any time you have a chance to make a No. 1 pick, you get to add to your foundation and core. As we all know, this is a special draft. I can't tell you how excited we are."

Wright called Wembanyama a "unicorn" and an "alien."

"He's unlike anything we've ever seen," Wright said. "The crazy part about it is that he is just crashing the surface. He is incredibly intelligent, incredibly motivated [and] obviously uniquely skilled.

"We are just excited about all the things he brings to the organization, on the court and beyond the court. He is a special talent and we can't wait to get to work."

The Spurs, who finished 22-60 this season, missed the playoffs for the fourth-consecutive year. They last made the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, when they selected Hall of Fame center/forward Tim Duncan.

The Spurs went 22-62 in 1996-97, earning the right to pick Duncan. They were 59-23 two seasons before that draft.


Fellow Hall of Fame big man David Robinson -- the No. 1 pick in 1987 -- was one of several players injured during the 1996-97 campaign, which led to the Spurs' poor record and acquisition of Duncan.

Coach Gregg Popovich, who took over the Spurs in 1996, went on to lead the franchise to five titles from 1999 through 2014. Popovich's Spurs went to the postseason every year from 1997-98 through 2018-19.

The Spurs, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets entered the night with matchup 14% odds of landing the top pick. The order of the first 14 picks was determined by assigning 14 teams an assortment of four-digit number combinations and drawing balls out one-by-one -- with mixing in between selections -- to match those assigned combinations.

The Charlotte Hornets (12.5%) and Portland Trail Blazers (10.5%) also entered the night inside the Top 5 for odds to land the top pick.

The Hornets landed the No. 2 pick. The Blazers earned the No. 3 selection. The Rockets will make the No. 4 pick. The Pistons slipped out of the Top 4 and will make the No. 5 selection.

The Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and New Orleans Pelicans will make the next nine respective picks, based on their 2022-23 records.


Pick Nos. 15 to 30 were determined based on reverse order of regular-season records.

Alabama's Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson of the G League, Central Florida's Taylor Hendricks and twins Ausar and Amen Thompson of Overtime Elite join Wembanyama as the other top prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft class.

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