After a wild NBA postseason, the 2020 NBA Draft finally happened Wednesday night. Star college players like Anthony Edwards and Obi Toppin found their names called, while international sensations LaMelo Ball and Deni Avdija found their new homes. Let’s take a look at the top picks of this year’s class.
No. 1 Pick: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Analysis: The presumed top prospect in a relatively weaker draft class, Anthony Edwards averaged nearly 20 points per game as a freshman at Georgia. He did this amidst modest efficiency (40.2/29.4/77.2) while leading his team to a 16-16 record. He has the build and is a much better fit with D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns than any other player in the class.
P.S. Not a great idea to have an interview the day of the draft and say “I’m still not really into [basketball]”.
No. 2 Pick: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Analysis: The Golden State Warriors needed an infusion of young talent to an aging roster, and got exactly that with Memphis big man James Wiseman. Wiseman physically looks the part, at an athletic 7’1 and an NBA-ready 240 pounds. In the meantime, he’ll be an athletic rim runner who scores easy dunks and blocks his fair share of shots on the other end.
The question is whether he will put together his immense physical gifts and defensive potential and become anything more than a DeAndre Jordan-type.
No. 3 Pick: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Analysis: The highest ceiling in the draft belongs to the most unorthodox player. Already an incredible playmaker with great natural instincts for the game, Ball has the potential to be a dynamic two-way player.
He should be one of the best passers in the league from the get-go, but without top-end athleticism, he might struggle with scoring due to his inconsistent shooting form, which is another whole article altogether.
Coaching and effort may define his early years and most likely his career. The Hornets need a cornerstone, and Ball could easily meet that threshold.
Bonus: Will we finally get that Jordan-Lavar Ball game we’ve been waiting for?
No. 4 Pick: Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
Analysis: The youngest player in the draft, Patrick Williams, could end up being the best player from the class. He has the NBA body at 6’8 225 lbs. and has a good feel for the game. But with modest production at Flordia State ( 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds), the pick carries some risk. Best case scenario, Williams develops into a versatile forward with good shotmaking and great defense.
The Bulls, like the Hornets, are lacking franchise cornerstones. Williams is no guarantee, but he’s well worth the pick.
No. 5 Pick: Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
Analysis: The best perimeter defender in the draft, Okoro fills a need in Cleveland, who has had one of the worst defenses in recent years. He has the build and athleticism to guard 1 through 4, and has a path to stardom similar to Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard, should his jump shot ever come around. And that’s a big “if,” given he shot 28.6 percent from three, and 67.2 percent at the line. His defense will translate, giving him a higher floor than some of his classmates.
No. 6 Pick: Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
Analysis: A versatile big man who projects to be a switchy-defender while scoring easy dunks in transition with Trae Young. Okongwu has shades of early Bam Adebayo in his game, although he doesn’t quite have the same athletic prowess. Still, a great pick for the Hawks.
No. 7 Pick: Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
Analysis: A technically strong guard who lacks upper-tier athleticism, Hayes still has a high ceiling if his shooting continues to improve. For now, he will be fun running some pick and rolls with Blake Griffin, but it may be a few seasons before it’s clear what Detroit got with this pick.
No. 8 Pick: Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
Analysis: As the reigning AP Naismith Player of the year, there will be no stoppin’ Obi Toppin! At least offensively speaking. Toppin possesses extraordinary athleticism which translates into a lot of fun basketball and powerful dunks. If the hints of a three-point shot reign true, he could be a focal point on an offense. On the downside, he already is 22, doesn’t play defense, and is going to basketball hell, the Knicks.
No. 9 Pick: Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards
Analysis: A winner everywhere he’s played, Avdija is one of the safer picks in the draft. A toolbox full of good, not great skills, and a questionable jump shot hurt his stock. With John Wall back in the mix, a non-shooting wing isn’t a great fit for the Wizards, but his playmaking and diverse skillset should lead to a successful career, even if it’s never that of a star.
No. 10 Pick: Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns
Analysis: Smith is a good player. He has a good build, a nice three-point shot, and great athleticism. But on a team already with DeAndre Ayton at the center, the 6’10 forward might be limited to a bench role, which isn’t ideal when better fits were still on the board, such as the next player.
No. 11 Pick: Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs
Analysis: The San Antonio Spurs hit the jackpot here at pick 11, landing Vassell, who comes into the league as a classic 3-D wing. He projects to be an excellent team defender from the get-go and possesses a reliable (if unorthodox) jump shot, which bodes well for a team heavy on guards and non-shooters.
No. 12 Pick: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Analysis: One of my favorite players in the draft, Haliburton is an incredible playmaker who, while lacking the burst or overall athleticism, still has borderline star potential due to his extremely high I.Q. and ability to make the game easier for his teammates. Pairing him with De’Aaron Fox gives the Kings their backcourt of the future, especially with Buddy Hield’s future with the team in question.
No. 13 Pick: Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
Analysis: An explosive playmaker, Lewis will fit right in with Zion Williamson and the Pelicans, who played at the fourth highest pace last season. He immediately enters the league as one of the fastest end-to-end players and projects as a three-level-scorer. Some time to bulk up (he checks in at a light 165lbs) and polish his skills would do well, but the fit is there.
No. 14 Pick: Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics
Analysis: Shooters shoot, and Nesmith is definitely a shooter, shooting 52.2 percent from range on 8.2 attempts per night through 14 games last season. The Celtics have Jayson Tatum and a good supporting cast, so a specialist like Nesmith who will deepen the bench is a good find here for the runner-up of the Eastern Conference.
Watch out for these high profile rookies and more this NBA season, which will kick off its 72-game season on Dec 22, 2020.