Victor Wembanyama of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
A number of small-market teams are looking to tank this season for a chance at center Victor Wembenyama. If he is as good as advertised, wouldn’t the NBA rather have the Frenchmen on an up-and-coming established team like the Detroit Pistons?
Unlike this past year, there is no doubt who the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft will be. Victor Wembenyama, a 7-foot-2 native of France, is being hailed as a once in a generation talent.
Here is a bit from the scouting report on Wembenyama from Bleacher Report:
OK, so Wembenyama could instantly make a team legitimate, like LeBron James with Cleveland, Tim Duncan in San Antonio and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Milwaukee.
With the chance to turn around their fortunes quickly (and save the general manager and coaches jobs) and get the national spotlight turned on them (how many Pelicans games were jammed down our throat Zion Williamson’s rookie year?) some teams are in major tank mode this season.
As training camps are set to open in a month, some NBA teams are, let us just say, not trying all out to win a lot of games.
San Antonio, Utah, Houston and Indiana have traded away star players, Orlando and Oklahoma City were bad last year and did not exactly add veterans to make themselves better for the 2022-23 campaign.
(Also some bad luck is involved as the Magic lost Gary Harris and the Thunder with Chet Holmgren both being out for the season with injuries.)
There is a pool of 5-6 teams that are obviously trying to be one of the three teams with a 14-percent chance at the end of the season of getting the No. 1 pick in the draft.
All of these teams, except Houston, are in small markets. Their only chance they have of landing a superstar is through the draft.
The NBA has a cast of aging stars. No offense, but in 3-4 years, the careers of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Jimmy Butler will be pretty much over, or on the downside.
The league will need new stars to promote. With all the hype Victor Wembenyama will be bringing, to have him going to a small town could be counterproductive.
By next year’s draft, with all of its young talent, the Detroit Pistons would seem to be a perfect landing spot for Wembenyama. They have marketable players like Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey already, and Wembenyama would fit their timeline. The national TV networks, who now treat the Pistons like poison,
It is also a franchise with a national and international following. It is not New York or Los Angeles but Detroit Pistons is a brand fans recognize.
A little conspiracy theory here:
Could this be why the NBA gave Detroit such a tough early schedule. That way, if they have a bad record to start, they will not look to make a run for the playoffs?
The NBA office can not be as blatant as they were, reportedly, with the Knicks getting Patrick Ewing, back in 1985, but it would not be surprising if they did not prefer Wembenyama ending up in a bigger city with known names, and being on an instant contender.
The Detroit Pistons fit the bill perfectly for Victor Wembenyama.
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