The Houston Rockets are currently on pace to hold the worst record in the NBA for the third straight season. At 13-45 at the All-Star break, it’s clear the Rockets won’t be competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year.
As such, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is clearly aware of where his team is headed, and he only seems to have one thing in mind: The 2023 NBA Draft.
If the season ends with the Rockets owning the worst record in the league, they would be among the three teams with the best chances for the first overall pick. Last season, though, they didn’t get it, as the Orlando Magic had their ping pong ball selected prior to the Rockets, who went one pick after them.
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In fact, the Rockets didn’t land the top pick in each of the last two seasons when they were the worst in the NBA.
But Fertitta is paying attention to draft prospects it seems, especially when it comes to one that experts say is the best in recent memory: France’s Victor Wembanyama.
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A recent interview with Houston’s KPRC caught Fertitta at Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday, and he revealed where his mindset lies with the Rockets.
“Thank God we’ve got 10 days off,” he said. “Pray for Victor!”
Wembanyama stands at 7-foot-2, 229 pounds and has handles and a jumpshot like a guard. At just 19 years old, evaluators believe he can be one of the best NBA players in the league the moment he touches the court, which is why he’s projected to go first overall.
Playing for the Metropolitans of France’s LNB Pro A league, Wembanyama is averaging 22.2 points per game with 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists as well as 3.1 blocks.
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But again, the NBA made it so that “tanking” wouldn’t fly within the league. Houston is a team that would clearly benefit from doing so at this point in the season because of their woeful record, but the three worst teams in the league each get a 14% chance of having their ball drawn for the No. 1 pick.
Still, Fertitta has hope that Wembanyama will be his to possibly turn the franchise’s performance around.
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The Rockets have just 24 games in the regular season left to play before the draft becomes their top priority in the offseason.