2023 NBA Tanking Race Tracker For Victor Wembanyama & Scoot Henderson
Mark Strotman | 12 mins
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The NBA betting “race” for the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and the right to draft French uber-prospect Victor Wembanyama continues to heat up. The 7-foot-2, do-it-all teenager is averaging 23.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in nine games for the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92.
He’s done nothing to shake his reputation as a lock for the top spot in next June’s draft, while consensus No. 2 pick point guard Scoot Henderson has also looked the part for the G-League Ignite.
With two blue-chip prospects waiting in the wings to join the Association, we’ll be keeping tabs all year on the teams with the highest NBA futures odds of securing the top two spots in the draft.
There continues to be early-season surprises (Sacramento, Indiana, and Washington all would be in the postseason if it started today) but some of the expected young groups are struggling, tumbling to the bottom of the NBA standings (and to the top of the lottery odds).
Here’s a look at where things stand as we hit December:
Who Will Win NBA Tanking Race For 2023 Draft No. 1 Pick?
Orlando Magic (5-17): 14%
Perhaps no team has dealt with the sheer volume of injuries like Orlando through six weeks. They’ve played 22 games, and players like Wendell Carter (7 games missed), Cole Anthony (17), Jalen Suggs (8), Paolo Banchero (7), and Gary Harris (16) have all missed time. The result? This team is stuck in the mud with a bottom-6 offense and defense.
The silver lining? Banchero is running away with Rookie of the Year (-500 at BetMGM) ➜ and Bol Bol (13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks) is finally blossoming. Still, Orlando has lost seven straight and eight of nine. They’re going nowhere fast in the standings.
Houston Rockets (5-16): 14%
A 1-9 start did them no favors, but the Rockets have been better of late with a 4-7 record since we last checked in. The reason? An offense that has flirted with being league average over that span. We continue to like the individual pieces (Jalen Green leads all sophomores in points and Alperen Sengun is fourth, while Jabari Smith leads rookies in rebounds) but there just isn’t enough depth or veteran leadership (sorry, Eric Gordon) to allow them to compete for 48 minutes each night. They’ll be mainstays here into April.
Detroit Pistons (6-18): 14%
A bad start in the win column became an awful start on the injury report when budding star Cade Cunningham reportedly suffered a stress fracture in his shin on Nov. 9. If he remains out indefinitely, the Pistons are in even more trouble than they were to begin with: Detroit is 3-9 since he went out and were 3-15 without him a year ago. The Pistons will be near the top of this list when we check in next month, too.
San Antonio Spurs (6-16): 12.5%
Remember that 5-2 start? The Spurs have dropped 14 of 15 games thanks to a defense allowing 118.1 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark in the history of the league. Yeah, not great. They’ve already allowed opponents to score 134, 143, 132, 130, and 143 points against them in regulation this season.
They may have unearthed something in Devin Vassell, but he’s not nearly enough to cover up the blemishes on this roster. This team knows how to tank with the best of them, and we expect to see them plummet as the season goes on.
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Charlotte Hornets (6-15): 10.5%
LaMelo Ball is the lone bright spot in Charlotte, and he’s been limited to three games (Charlotte is 1-2 in them) because of lingering ankle injuries. So it’s fitting that Charlotte has plummeted after a fool’s gold 3-3 start. Without Ball’s 20.1 points and 7.6 assists per game, Charlotte has the NBA’s worst offense by a full 2 points per 100 possessions—that’s the difference between 29 and 23.
They have actually won two of three, but the schedule gets rough in December—they’ll be here in January, too.
LA Lakers (8-12): 9%
Don’t look now but the Lakers have won six of eight games. Granted, those wins were pretty easy NBA picks in games against San Antonio (three times), Brooklyn, Detroit, and Portland—but they’ll take wins any way they can get them. We always knew Los Angeles was better than their early-season record, and this is likely the last time we see them down here.
Oklahoma City Thunder (9-13): 7.5%
It wouldn’t be a tanking/Victor Wembanyama article without mentioning the Oklahoma City Thunder, who started the year 4-3 but have since tailed off, losing 10 of 16 to fall into this race. Remember, they’re already without rookie Chet Holmgren, and we expect plenty of “injuries” down the stretch so GM Sam Presti can maximize his chances of pairing Holmgren with Wembanyama. It took a month for OKC to get here, but we think they’re here to stay.
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2023 NBA Tanking FAQ
Who Will Win The NBA Tanking Race For The No. 1 Overall Draft Pick In 2023?
The Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons all currently have a 14% chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick for the 2023 NBA Draft. That's according to the latest win totals for each of the teams.
When Is The 2023 NBA Draft?
The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22, 2023. The venue is yet to be confirmed.
Who Is The Favorite To Be Drafted No. 1 Overall In The 2023 Draft?
The current favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft is French teenager Victor Wembanyama. The 18-year-old is a professional basketball player for Metropolitans 92 of the LNB Pro A in France. The top US prospect is point guard Scoot Henderson, who plays for NBA G League Ignite of the NBA G League.
Is Tanking Allowed In The NBA?
No, the NBA does not allow franchises to intentionally field non-competitive teams. However, it appears some teams do attempt to increase their chances at a higher pick by resting players later in the season and by holding players out through "injury".