Michael Douglas loves basketball. The Oscar winner is a Miami fan, mainly due to knowing Pat Riley, the president of the Heat. He’s been watching the NBA for decades.
He’s also been to a few French league games in recent weeks for a reason: Victor Vembanyama, the 7.3-foot (2.2-meter) French phenom who has captured the world’s attention.
“I’ve seen Victor twice in person, twice on television,” Douglas, who plays Benjamin Franklin near Paris, told The Associated Press. “I went specifically to see him play.”
As Douglas said in his famous role as Gordon Gekko: “I want to see where this goes.”
Same as everyone else. Eventually we will have the answer. On Tuesday, Chicago will host the Lottery Draft, an event in which 14 ping pong balls enter a tombola and the numbers of the first four balls are matched against a team.
The team that wins will get the first selection. Spoiler: They’ll use their pick on June 22nd to select Vembanayama.
“Pray for Victor,” Houston owner Tillman Fertitta told television station KPRC during Mardi Gras festivities in February, when the Rockets were in the middle of their atrocious season and with the team in the lottery slot.
Vembanayama said no. It was not necessary. Everyone knows who you mean.
Houston, San Antonio and Detroit have the best chances to take the French player -14% each.
Odds decrease as you move down the lottery line: Charlotte (12.5%), Portland (10.5%), Orlando (9%), Indiana (6.8%), Washington (6.7%), Utah (4.5%), Dallas (3%), Chicago (1.8%), Oklahoma City (1.7%), Toronto (1%), and New Orleans (0.5%).
“I’m alive, I have ears and I can watch TV and there’s a lottery. Yeah, I’ve thought about it,” admitted Spurs coach Greg Popovich on the final day of the season in April. “Duh, do you think I didn’t hear? Do you think I live in a phone booth?”
NBA rules prevent teams from publicly discussing players’ eligibility until they are announced in the draft. Keyword: publicly. For a few years now everyone has been talking to each other about Vembanyama, trying to describe a huge teenager who can shoot, pass, dribble and defend.
As well as many NBA players, even the biggest stars. LeBron James described him as “an alien” and Giannis Antetokounmpo – who said he enjoys knowing that Wambanyama considers him one of his favorite players – insisted the kid is sure to make an immediate impact.
“At the end of the day, as we know, even NBA players want to explain to him what it’s all about when there’s so much fuss about it,” said former star and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pau Gasol. he said. “They’re going to challenge him. But don’t great players rise to challenges? So I hope it goes on and continues to improve and shows why people are so excited.”
There are other players who are set in this draft and should strengthen any team: Brandon Miller (Alabama), twins Amen and Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite) and Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite). It was revealed Monday that Henderson will be mentored on and off the field by Stephen Curry, a four-time champion with the Golden State Warriors.