Seeing how the National Basketball Association (NBA) made enormous strides to finish it’s 2019-20 season with zero COVID-19 cases down in the bubble, it was no surprise that draft night would be a similar experience. This year’s draft, originally scheduled to be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in late June, was instead a virtually live streamed event in November conducted by commissioner Adam Silver.
The 2019 Draft included star-studded names like Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett. 2020’s draft pool looked a bit more underwhelming in comparison, with no true leader of the pack.
Despite rumored entertainment of trade offers for the No. 1 pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves wound up standing pat to select wing Anthony Edwards out of the University of Georgia. Only 19 years of age, Edwards displayed impressive finishing abilities around the basket. Edwards also displayed his elite court vision with his passes from the lane. The biggest question about Edwards’ game comes from his ability to shoot from outside the arc; he hasn’t shown any rhythmic consistency in his jumper and his stats back that up. With the Bulldogs, Edwards only hit 29 percent of his 3-pointers. Edwards will have to prove to opposing teams that he can be a threat from downtown to help All-Star Timberwolves Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to push the Wolves into the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
An unfortunate season for the Golden State Warriors left them with the worst record in the NBA at 15-50, netting them the No. 2 overall pick. With players Klay Thompson and then Steph Curry both enduring season-ending injuries, the noise in the Bay Area has finally dwindled. It was the Warriors’ chance to bounce back to championship contention with a high-upside talent. Lacking in size, the Warriors beefed up their frontcourt by selecting James Wiseman out of the University of Memphis. The Tigers’ center displayed elite rim-running abilities despite only playing three games before being suspended by the National College Athletic Association for violations. With Thompson’s Achilles tear that will keep him out for the upcoming 2020-21 season, many analysts have counted the Warriors out of playoff contention. This unfortunate circumstance may accelerate Wiseman’s development to help get Golden State back atop the league standings.
The No. 3 pick was a logical one for the Charlotte Hornets. Despite a non-traditional path to the NBA that included dropping out of high school to play overseas, many believe Lamelo Ball’s size and playmaking ability as a point guard give him the chance to be the best player in the draft.
The New York Knicks used the number eight pick of the draft to select forward Obi Toppin from the University of Dayton. The Brooklyn native had an emotional entry into the NBA, stating his tears of joy to be a result of appreciation and motivation to play for his hometown city. Toppin was regarded as one of the more exciting players in the draft, where his career with the Flyers included elite athleticism and high soaring dunks. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith referred to him as a skywalker, having the most amount of dunks in the NCAA this past season. Despite his elite athleticism, many analysts are skeptical to praise such an attribute from a 22-year-old. The extra three years of development should allow a young college player to use more physicality in a now seemingly one-and-done league.
For every player selected in the draft, their entry into the league stands out from those who came before them. With less than two months between the draft and the start of the new season, they have little time to uproot their lives and join their new franchise. They only have so many opportunities to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings both on and off the court. Luckily for us basketball fanatics, we’ll get to see just how much that affects their play when the season begins on Dec. 22.