After a victory over the Denver Nuggets, Spurs fans are likely going through a roller coaster of emotions. They saw a glimpse at what this young squad is capable of when it’s at full strength. A frisky, hard-nosed team with some real shot makers like Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson. Yet, the team obviously needs a superstar, which means winning games maybe shouldn’t be the priority down the stretch.
The 2023 NBA draft has been heralded as a two-star class, headlined by Victor Wembanyama, the French unicorn who can do it all at 7 foot 4, and Scoot Henderson, a point guard whose intangibles and burst rival that of the best guard prospects. Other players like Alabama’s 6’9” shooting guard Brandon Miller have entered the top-3 conversation with stellar play (and some off-the-court issues that will certainly be a part of draft storylines.) There are also other intriguing names like Amen and Ausar Thompson from the Overtime Elite, as well as Cam Whitmore and Jarace Walker, who could make for good to great NBA players.
Right now the Spurs have put themselves in a position to secure the best odds for the #1 pick, with the NBAs adjusted lottery odds. They currently have a 52% chance of picking in the top 4, and a 14% chance of getting #1. They share those with the Pistons and Rockets. San Antonio finds itself with two more wins than both Detroit and Houston, but with 5 less wins than the 4th worst Charlotte Hornets. There is a world where the Spurs and Hornets could flip, and the Silver and Black would find themselves with a 48.1% chance at the top-4 and 12.5% chance at number 1.
However, the Spurs face the 5th best strength of schedule in the last stretch of the season, playing teams like Milwaukee, Boston and Memphis. The Hornets have the 18th strongest schedule for their last 14-games, playing Cleveland and Dallas a combined 5 times, while also facing off against the likes of Houston, Toronto and Utah in their last handful of games.
A fun exercise is to run these odds through tankathon.com to see where the Spurs wind up. I put the odds through 10 times to get a small sample. The results were:
- 2nd overall pick (2 times)
- 3rd overall pick (1 time)
- 4th overall pick (1 time)
- 5th overall pick (3 times)
- 6th overall pick (2 times)
- 7th overall pick (1 time)
The Spurs range is somewhere from one to seven, and running these numbers can be a reality check. There is a real possibility that they end up with a pick in the four through seven range, rather than hitting the jackpot in the top 3. Either way, the Spurs have put themselves in a spot to have the best odds of getting into the top-3, and would need to go on a big winning streak, while the Hornets collapse to ruin that.
So enjoy the wins, because they are fun, and prepare yourself for even more emotional rollercoasters come lottery and draft night.