Strength rankings Victor Wimpanyama lottery, after Donovan Mitchell trade

The Utah Jazz trade with Donovan Mitchell on Thursday entered a new squad for the Victor Wimpanyama lottery, so it’s time to reconsider which teams could swoop in for the 7-foot-3 Frenchman this season.

Wembanyama is a generational prospect, somewhere between LeBron James and Zion Williamson – with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s skill set – and anytime one of them is on the horizon, non-NBA contenders will stop at nothing to finish with one of the three. Worst records in the league and securing 14% shot on it. Mysterious hamstrings, weird fourth-quarter lineups, late-season absences, undecided starters, it’s all on the table when franchise-altering talent looms.

And the recruiting class is not falling significantly behind Wimpanyama. Scoot Henderson impressed him as a 17-year-old goalkeeper at G League Ignite last season, which is hardly his consolation prize. Thompson’s 6-foot-7 twins Amen and Asor, who now play in the OTE League in overtime, are fourth.

So, where will they play in 2023? Let’s rank the eight most likely teams from bad to worst.

LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne’s Victor Wimpanyama during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Oscar Gonzalez/NoorPhoto via Getty Images)

8. New York Knicks

  • Ball WizardsGalen Bronson • Derek Rose • Emmanuel Quikley

  • wings: RJ Barrett • Julius Randle • Evan Fournier • Cam Reddish • Quentin Grimes • Obi Toppin

  • grown ups: Mitchell Robinson • Isaiah Hartenstein • Jericho Sims

New York’s failed pursuit of Mitchell leaves them lacking a true star once again. Adding Jalen Bronson $104 million to a team that won 37 games last season should make the Knicks a championship contender, but it won’t be easy to build chemistry with players whose deals have been rumored all summer, and that’s after Julius Randle’s clash with fans this season Past. Coach Tom Tibodo’s hard-line approach has a history of being thin, and it wouldn’t take much for the Knicks to fall.

7. Washington Wizards

  • Ball WizardsMonty Morris • Dillon Wright • Will Barton

  • wingsBradley Beal • Denny Avdega • Cory Kispert • Kyle Kuzma • Roy Hatchimura • Johnny Davis

  • grown upsKristaps Porsingis • Daniel Gavford • Taj Gibson

Bradley Beal is the best player on any of the terrible teams this season, but that hasn’t stopped the Wizards winning 25-35 games over the past four years, and who’s to say he’ll be in the team by the end of the season? Washington will give it a shot with Beal and Kristaps Porzingis as a centerpiece for a team with a .500 cap in the very competitive Eastern Conference, and they’ve made some decent additions over the holiday season, but relying on a healthy Porzingis hasn’t worked for a few years either.

6. Orlando Magic

  • Ball Wizards: Cole Anthony • Galen Suggs • Markel Foltz

  • wings: Paulo Banchero • Franz Wagner • Terence Ross • Gary Harris • RJ Hampton • Choma Okeke

  • grown upsWendell Carter Jr. • Jonathan Isaac

Magic has a lot of young talent. It remains to be seen whether this talent can unite in a competitive team. The franchise has been so bad for so long, it’s hard to learn how to win all at once. A step forward might be an encouraging sign, especially if we learn early on that this year’s top draft pick, Paolo Panchero, is a well-meaning future superstar, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing if she gets another high draft. Choose to pair up with him on his ascent. Sophomore coach Jamal Mosley will encourage his team to compete from the jump, but once the fact of another lottery debut has settled, magic is bound to hit the brakes.

5. Indiana Pacers

  • Ball Wizards: Therese Halliburton • TJ McConnell • Andrew Nimbhardt

  • wings: Buddy Hield • Benedict Mathurin • Chris Duarte • Oshae Brissett • Aaron Nesmith • Terry Taylor

  • grown ups: Miles Turner, Jalen Smith, Daniel Theis

Pacers can fully embrace tank season if they complete the long-rumored trade between Buddy Hield and Myles Turner to the Los Angeles Lakers for draft picks. Otherwise, they might be a bit confused to finish with one of the three worst records in the NBA, especially if Therese Halliburton makes the jump and hits Benedict Mathurin as a rookie. Team owner Herb Simon hasn’t historically embraced tanks, but look at what they did for the Dallas Mavericks when current Indiana coach Rick Carlisle finally took out a season to get Luka Doncic.

4. Houston Rockets

  • Ball Wizards: Kevin Porter Jr. • Trey Burke • Ty Tay Washington

  • wings: Jalen Green • Jabari Smith • Jae’Sean Tate • Eric Gordon • Garrison Mathews • Tari Eason

  • grown upsAlperin Sengon • Boban Marjanovic • Marquis Cris

The Rockets have an exciting young core, led by Jalen Green, Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun, but none of them have proven themselves in the NBA, at least not yet. Eric Gordon, Boban Marjanovic, and Trey Burke are also no veteran judges on the Superior Achievement Team. Houston is probably two years and one piece away from making some noise, so why not pick up another lofty lottery pick in the meantime?

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Ball Wizards: Gilgeous Alexander Tea • Theo Malidon • Ty Jerome

  • wingsJosh Gedi • Loginitz Dort • Kenrich Williams • Triman • Galen Williams • Alexei Bukosevsky • Aaron Wiggins

  • grown ups: Darius Bazley • Go ahead Derek • Jaylene Williams

Thunder looked ready to compete this season, but injury to Chet Holmgren, who finished second overall, ended any outside chance they might have of pursuing a championship berth. That opens the door for Oklahoma City executive Sam Prieste to chase more pingpong balls in the lottery. Shay Gilgus Alexander and Josh Gedi are a solid foundation, but the Thunder have shown a willingness to shut down their best players in pursuit of losses, and there’s no reason not to throw in the towel again.

2. Utah Jazz

  • Ball Wizards: Mike Conley • Colin Sexton • Nickel Alexander Walker

  • wings: Jordan Clarkson • Malik Beasley • Bojan Bogdanovich • Taleen Horton Tucker • Stanley Johnson • Laurie Markanen

  • grown ups: Jared Vanderbilt • Walker Kessler • Udoka Azubuike

Jazz executive Danny Ainge made no attempt to secure a certified top-level talent when he replaced Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell with a pair of select packages. He wants to lose this season, and he will get his wish. Don’t be surprised if Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovich flip too, all in an effort to speed rebuilding with a generation talent we haven’t seen in Utah since the ’90s.

1. San Antonio Spurs

  • Ball Wizards: Trey Jones • Joshua Primo • Blake Wesley

  • wings: Keldon Johnson • Devin Vassell • Josh Richardson • Doug McDermott • Jeremy Sochan • Malaki Branham

  • grown ups: Jacob Boltle • Zach Collins • Georgie Deng

Spurs won 34 games last season and replaced their best player, Dejounte Murray, with recruiting choices over the summer, leaving 22-year-old Trey Jones, a former second-round player, to be the team’s presumptive baseball player. This is worrying. Keldon Johnson has shown flashes of massive potential, but he will have to go above and beyond for this team to win 25 games. Greg Popovich drove the San Antonio tank to the Tim Duncan lottery in his first year as a coach, and what an end to his career to present Wimpanyama.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach


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