NBA roundtable: Which lottery team disappointed and which is most likely to make the playoffs next season?


The 2023-24 regular season does not end until Sunday, but all of the playoff and Play-In Tournament spots have already been secured. A few of those 20 teams have locked in their seed, but most are preparing for a crucial three-day run-in to decide their postseason spot. 

The fate of the other 10 teams has long been decided. They will be heading to the lottery along with the eventual Play-In Tournament losers. Before we fully turn our attention to all things postseason, CBS Sports’ experts took some time to discuss the best and the worst from this season’s lottery group. 

Let’s start with the Spurs and Victor Wembanyama. The floor is yours to highlight your favorite highlight, stat or anything else you enjoyed from one of the best rookie seasons we’ve ever seen. 

Jack Maloney: The Shammgod into the spin move for a layup against the Grizzlies was the most recent one that sticks out, but I love any highlight where he shows off his handle. We knew he would dominate at the rim, and big men shooting 3-pointers isn’t that novel, but watching him break out dribbling combos like he’s Hot Sauce from the AND1 Mixtape Tour sort of breaks your brain. 

Johnny Flores: For me, it’s definitely the block against Chet Holmgren that stands out the most. For much of the season, the Rookie of the Year debate centered around these two athletes and Wembanyama with one swoop of his hand ended it right then and there. It capped off an intense matchup between the two teams, with San Antonio pulling away for a marquee victory at home over an upstart OKC squad. 

James Herbert: The best Wemby highlights make you laugh. For me, this has happened a lot with his passing. He’s thrown some nasty wraparound passes that wouldn’t be possible without an 8-foot wingspan, and he clearly loves touch passes and no-looks. It is crazy that he’s so good at pocket passes already.

But his silliest assist of the season has to be this midair, over-the-head save from late January:

In the short-term, which lottery team is most likely to make the playoffs next season? 

Maloney: This is very obviously the Grizzlies, who were only in the lottery this season through a strange confluence of events. None of the other teams in this group can match their top-three of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. As long as they stay even somewhat healthy next season they will be back in the playoffs. 

Flores: The Spurs, with a good offseason, have as good a chance as any to crack into the playoff picture next year. Yes, they would need to more than double their current win total to even sniff a Play-In Tournament spot, but the rapid ascendance of Wembanyama makes all things possible. The team has noticeably played better in the second half, and they have a treasure trove of picks that can make anything happen.

Herbert: It’s gotta be Memphis. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. both improved offensively this season, and in that brief stretch when they were healthy and sharing the floor with Ja Morant, the Grizzlies had a real three-headed monster. If the front office makes the right kind of tweaks in the offseason, next year’s iteration could be elite on both ends like the 2021-22 squad was, but with a much better halfcourt offense.

Which non-Spurs or Grizzlies lottery team do you think has the brightest long-term future

Maloney: I think I might lean towards the Rockets. I’m not sure I’m entirely sold on this late-season Jalen Green surge, but you can’t deny his talent, and Alperen Sengun had started to look like a potential franchise player prior to his injury. Add in the likes of Jabari Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Tari Eason and Cam Whitmore, and there’s a lot to be excited about in Houston. 

Flores: I’m in agreement with Jack, the Rockets have an extremely bright future. Landing Ime Udoka as their head coach was a massive get, and the team has some really nice pieces. Alperen Sengun has all the makings of a star, and it’s a shame that his injury has robbed what was a breakout campaign. Still, he’s only 21 years old, so the future will remain bright.

Herbert: The long-term bit makes this tricky. Part of me wants to pick Houston, mostly because I am imagining Amen Thompson with a jump shot, but I’ll go with Utah to mix it up. The Jazz’s roster isn’t far away from being competitive right now — remember when they had Kelly Olynyk and Simone Fontecchio? — and they still have tons of picks coming their way from the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades. I’m pretty bullish on Keyonte George, too. 

Which lottery team had the most disappointing season? 

Maloney: The Pistons. I mean, what a disaster. How do you take a step back after winning 17 games last season? Even acknowledging some of the injuries, there’s no reason they should have been this bad with some of the young talent on the roster. Beyond the losing streak and the (likely) last place finish, the most disappointing aspect of this season is that it felt like a waste of everyone’s time. 

Flores: We all knew the Wizards were going to be bad in 2023-24, but the team bordered on downright disrespectful to the very game of basketball. Take for example Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole teaming up for an alley-oop off the backboard down double digits. Or perhaps we can look toward Poole’s ever present greenlight. Either way, it’s a disappointing year that was filled with moments that erred on the side of ridiculousness

Herbert: The Nets have been such a bummer. After looking pretty decent for the first couple of months, they went into a tailspin, made a couple of trades, fired their coach and never found their footing. Ben Simmons only played 15 games. Mikal Bridges had too much on  his plate. And while they are a “lottery team” for the purposes of this question, they won’t even get a lottery pick out of all this. Big summer in Brooklyn.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league’s biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.



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