Post-lottery revelation shows how cruel basketball gods were to Blazers

Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) /

So, so, so close. The Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery with the fifth-best odds – a 10.5 percent chance – and landing the No. 1 overall selection. The Blazers climbed into the top four, then into the top three, and although it’s not the worst outcome Portland could’ve had, the run stopped there, just two picks shy of French super prospect Victor Wembanyama.

So, so, so close. To pour salt in the wounds (because why not at this point), Blazers fans discovered following the lottery just how close they really were to bringing Wemby to Rip City.

Like one-number-on-one-ball close.

The basketball gods were cruel to the Blazers

Damian Lillard’s loyalty and Brandon Roy’s previous lottery luck weren’t enough to land the 2023 draft’s top selection. Portland had about 98 percent of the good fortune it needed, but it wasn’t quite enough, as explained by Ben Golliver of The Washington Post:

To make a complicated lottery process sound a little less complicated, there are 14 ping pong balls bouncing around in a machine. A representative picks one ball at a time, creating a four-number combination. The team assigned that combination wins the lottery and the No. 1 pick.

The numbers 14, 5, and 8 had been drawn, so 11 balls remained in the machine with the Trail Blazers still in the running for Wembanyama – they just needed the final ball to say “3.”

It said “2,” and Portland missed by a single number on the fourth and final ball.

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It doesn’t matter now – general manager Joe Cronin has franchise-altering decisions to make, one way or another. But he was close to having them all made for him. So close.