Minnesota Timberwolves take Georgia’s Anthony Edwards with No. 1 pick in NBA draft:
Edwards, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard from Atlanta who spent his lone collegiate season at Georgia, joins a young Timberwolves core led by star center Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. Edwards averaged 19.1 points per game and was the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year.
“I’m just blessed beyond measure to be in this situation,” Edwards said on ESPN shortly after being selected.
Edwards, Wiseman and Ball were all, at different times, projected to be the top pick in the draft. Edwards, however, was the best positional fit for Minnesota — Wiseman shares the same position as Towns and Ball shares the same position as Russell — and had emerged as the likely top pick in the days leading up to Wednesday’s draft.
Warriors draft James Wiseman with No. 2 pick
Wiseman, who stands 7’1 and is 19 years old, played just three games at Memphis this year before NCAA ruled him ineligible due to money that he received to help him move. In those three games, Wiseman averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game, while shooting 76.9% from the field.
He was considered the consensus top player in the class when he went to Memphis, but his lack of time playing against collegiate competition turned him into something of an unknown ahead of the draft.
The pros and cons of Wiseman’s game are clear. He’s an outstanding athlete, with incredible height, strength, and leaping ability. He’s a tremendous rim-runner, with an amazing array of skills around the rim.
2020 NBA Draft grade: Hornets select LaMelo Ball with No. 3 overall pick
The Charlotte Hornets have selected LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. The pick is the culmination of a years-long odyssey to get Ball, brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, into the NBA. Ball played for two different high schools in the United States, Chino Hills and Spire Academy, as well as two foreign teams, BC Prienai in Lithuania and the Illawarra Hawks in Australia, on one of the most unconventional paths to the NBA any top prospects has ever taken.
As unorthodox as his upbringing might have been, nothing could scare teams off of his prodigious talent. Ball, a 6-7 point guard, is one of the best passers ever to enter the NBA Draft. He shares his brother’s gift for showmanship in transition, but pairs it with a far more functional arsenal of half-court passes that should make him an effective pick-and-roll ball-handler from the moment he steps on an NBA floor.
Ball’s passing is the main attraction, but his upside as a scorer is what made him a top pick. He is a gifted ball-handler, and at his size, he should be able to attack the basket effectively, and while his shooting form is as funky as his brother’s, he projects as at least a passable long-range marksman. That size offers an enormous upside for a guard defensively. That hasn’t translated on the floor quite yet, and his shot-selection needs work, but Ball’s raw talent made him a clear top pick in this class.
2020 NBA Draft: Bulls select Patrick Williams with No. 4 overall pick
The Chicago Bulls have selected Patrick Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Williams was one of the biggest risers of the NBA Draft process. Initially pegged as far and away the second-best Florida State prospect behind teammate Devin Vassell, Williams has been gaining ground on draft boards for months. This selection is proof of just how much he has impressed the league since the collegiate season ended.
Williams, a 6-8 forward with a 6-11 wingspan, is one of this draft’s best athletes. He has all of the tools needed to become a top defender, especially in an NBA increasingly dependent on versatility and switching. That size and athleticism should serve him very well in transition and as a driver. The bulk of his points early on should come at the basket, but he has upside as a ball-handler and creator.
What held Williams back early on was his production in college. Williams did not start at Florida State, and averaged only 9.2 points per game. His efficiency was somewhat pedestrian, and at least the moment, he doesn’t project as a particularly strong shooter. His 29-to-50 assist-to-turnover ratio is a glaring red flag. Williams is a project, and many bench players who have been selected this highly, like Marvin Williams and Dion Waiters, never realized their potential. This pick is based on the expectation that Williams will be an exception, and his raw talent suggests that is a serious possibility.
2020 NBA Draft grade: Cavaliers select Isaac Okoro with No. 5 overall pick
The Cleveland Cavaliers have selected Isaac Okoro with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Okoro, a top prospect from Atlanta, eschewed college basketball’s traditional powers to play for Bruce Pearl at Auburn. In his lone season as a Tiger, Okoro earned Second Team All-SEC honors and made the SEC All-Defensive Team. Now, he’s turned his excellent freshman season into a top selection in the NBA Draft.
Okoro’s defense is his calling card. At 6-6 with a 6-9 wingspan, he should be able to guard multiple positions, and that athleticism will serve him well on the offensive end of the floor as well, where his passing and finishing ability stand out for a player of his size. That is a rare combination of skills that fits well in the modern game, but the biggest question about Okoro’s future is perhaps the single most important skill in the current NBA.
Okoro shot only 28.6 percent from behind the arc last season. College numbers aren’t always indicative of future success, but he also made only 67.2 percent of his free-throws, suggesting that his shooting issues run deeper than just range. It takes a truly special defender to survive without a jump shot in 2020. Maybe Okoro can be that defender, but more likely, his path to sustained success will necessitate improvement on that front. He doesn’t have to be Ray Allen, but he can’t be Tony Allen either.
In Cleveland, he joins a roster sorely in need of his specific skill set. The Cavaliers had the NBA’s worst defense last season, and their guards aren’t exactly known for their playmaking. After investing two straight lottery picks on the backcourt and with Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Larry Nance left up front, the Cavs needed a defensive-minded wing. Now, they have one.
2020 NBA Draft: Onyeka Okongwu Drafted 6th. Overall By Atlanta Hawks
USC forward Onyeka Okongwu was selected sixth overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft Wednesday.
For the second consecutive NBA Draft, USC has had a player taken in the first round (Kevin Porter Jr., 2019). Okongwu is also the highest drafted player since O.J. Mayo was selected third in the 2008 NBA Draft.
“Onyeka has worked extremely hard for this moment and the entire USC men’s basketball program is excited for him,” said USC men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield. “He is a very talented basketball player with a tireless work ethic and is going to be a huge addition to the winning culture of the Hawks. We are thankful for Onyeka’s winning contributions to our program and can’t wait to watch his success in the NBA.”
Okongwu averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks during the 2019-20 season for the Trojans and was named to the 2020 USBWA District IX first team, the 2020 All-Pac-12 first team and Pac-12 All-Freshman team. He had 76 blocks which are a USC freshman record. Among freshmen nationally, he finished first in field goal percentage (61.6), second in total blocks (76) and blocks per game (2.71), third in offensive rebounds per game (3.29), tied for sixth in double doubles (11), tied for seventh in rebounds per game (8.6) and eighth in points per game (16.2). He was the only player in the country to average 20 points, 10 rebounds 1.5 steals and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes played during the 2019-20 season.
In his one season at USC, the 6-9, 245-pound forward produced one of the finest freshman seasons in school history. He was a tough rebounder and defender and was a key component to USC’s attack on both defense and offense, while leading the Trojans to a 22-9 record. Okongwu is the USC all-time freshman leader in blocks (76) and field goal percentage (61.6 percent) and ranks in the top 5 in rebounds (2nd, 242), points (4th, 454), free throws made (5th, 103) and field goals made (5th, 103).
2020 NBA Draft: Killian Hayes, taken 7th overall by the Detroit Pistons
Point guard Killian Hayes, who is among the most talented international prospects, was selected seventh overall by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA draft on Wednesday night.
Born in Lakeland, Florida, and raised in France, Hayes has spent most of his life in Europe. While he is in Orlando, Florida, at his family home for the draft, he played two years with Cholet in the French League and another in Germany with Ratiopharm Ulm in the Basketball Bundesliga. He turned professional when he was 16 and played some shooting guard.
“I am probably more of an international player,” he told Forbes. “I spent 18 years of my life in Europe, especially in France. So I would consider me international.”
2020 NBA Draft: Knicks select Obi Toppin with No. 8 overall pick
The New York Knicks have selected Obi Toppin with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Toppin, the consensus National Player of the Year after a stellar season at Dayton, is one of the lottery’s more unorthodox prospects. He didn’t play for a blue-blood collegiate program, and at 22-years-old, will be among the oldest players selected in this class. But his production at Dayton speaks for itself, and unlike many previous college stars to flameout as professionals, at least some of Toppin’s game should translate well to the NBA.
Toppin is going to be an excellent pick-and-roll finisher even as a rookie thanks to his elite leaping ability and craft near the basket. That alone makes him a valuable offensive player. His chance at stardom relies on the rest of his promising offensive game. Toppin made 39 percent of his 3-pointers last season at Dayton. He handles the ball well for a big man, and while his size could be a limitation in the post against centers, he should thrive against mismatches off of switches. He’s drawn comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire for a reason. Toppin has a chance to be the very best offensive player in this class.
He’ll have to be in order to make up for his defensive shortcomings, though. Toppin is too small to play center and not nearly quick enough to function as a modern power forward on defense. He doesn’t move well laterally, he’s often in the wrong place schematically and is a fairly underwhelming rebounder. Toppin’s future relies on finding a way to at least play average defense. With his offensive upside, that’s all he needs.
2020 NBA Draft grade: Wizards select Deni Avdija with No. 9 overall pick
The Washington Wizards have selected Deni Avdija with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Avdija is now just the fourth Israeli-born player to reach the NBA, joining Omri Casspi, Gal Mekel and T.J. Leaf, and with this selection, he is easily the most highly-touted prospect from that group. Avdija spent the past two seasons with Maccabi Tel-Aviv, a Euroleague power, and while his individual numbers were underwhelming, the European model of deeper rotations and an added emphasis on veterans limited his upside abroad. In the NBA, he projects as a starter, and that will come with far more playing time.
Avdija is a jack-of-all-trades sort of prospect. He handles the ball well for his size, should survive defensively, can score from all over the floor and has a decent 3-point shot. Wings without true holes in their game are a rarity that is cherished in the modern, forward-heavy NBA. Avdija projects as the sort of prospect that should be able to contribute on just about any roster.
But as a jack-of-all-trades, Avdija is a master of none. He isn’t a point guard-caliber ball-handler or passer, nor is he an elite shooter or defender. Avdija’s path to stardom will involve finding a signature skill. His exact function on an NBA team is not yet clear, but his versatility will allow him to at least contribute from the moment he steps on the floor.
That immediate contribution will be important for a Washington team that wants to get back into the playoffs next season. The Wizards won’t need him to be a primary creator with Bradley Beal and John Wall in place, but his secondary creation and defense should be important. Nobody expected Avdija to fall this far, but the Wizards got a gift in the form of one of the best wings in this draft class.
2020 NBA Draft: Suns select Jalen Smith with No. 10 overall pick
The NBA Draft already had one big surprise in the top 10 when the Chicago Bulls selected Florida State’s Patrick Williams No. 4 overall. Now, it has a second. The Phoenix Suns have selected Maryland big man Jalen Smith with the No. 10 pick.
Smith projects as a strong offensive player in the NBA. He’s a strong athlete who averaged 15.5 points per game last season, and in shooting 36.8 percent on 3-pointers, there is optimism that he will be able to develop into a legitimate stretch big man. His defense, however, has been a major problem. He has a long way to go on that end of the floor.
The choice is surprising on several levels. First of all, the Suns have DeAndre Ayton as their center of the future. He was the No. 1 overall pick two years ago and has largely lived up to the billing. Second, the Suns chose to operate as an above-the-cap team this offseason specifically to retain their rights to two other big men: Aron Baynes and Dario Saric. Where Smith fits into that group, no matter who is still there, remains to be seen.