The 2020 NBA Draft
This year the NBA draft was held at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. It would be a very unique night for all the hopeful draftee’s, eager to fulfill their childhood dream of hearing their name called by the commissioner. In this year’s draft there were many names called that had already been known in many households. Names such as Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman have been in the conversation for the first overall pick for the entirety of this year. International superstar prospect, Denji Avdija, was also in those talks. However there were a few underrated players not yet known to the common NBA fan who hoped to put their game on notice.
As the night started the Minnesota Timberwolves had the first pick in the draft, and many mock drafts had them taking either Anthony Edwards or Lamelo Ball. When their time came the Timberwolves picked Anthony Edwards, a 6’5” shooting guard who has a knack for scoring the ball. In his first and only year at Georgia, he led all D-1 freshmen in scoring with 19 points per game. NBA scouts have compared him to the likes of James Harden when it comes to his scoring instinct. Although he was picked first, Edwards had made some very questionable remarks not usually heard from a top prospect. Edwards stated he “still was not really into basketball” as well as saying that if he were to be drafted by the NFL he would leave basketball. These statements are not something that a team would want to hear from such a promising player; nevertheless Edwards has the potential to become a valuable player on Minnesota’s team.
The Golden State Warriors are coming off their worst year since 2011 after winning three of the last five NBA championships and becoming a dynasty. Hoping for a rebound next season they decided to pick the 7’1”center James Wiseman with the second pick of the draft. In college Wiseman played only three games after withdrawing from the season due to ongoing investigation of his recruitment to the University of Memphis. Nonetheless, Wiseman should be able to have an automatic impact on defense and rebounding as well as giving the Warriors decent scoring on offense. Scoring will be needed knowing that their superstar shooting guard, Klay Thompson, will most likely be out for the 2020–21 season after suffering an achilles tear in his right leg.
Up next were the Charlotte Hornets and for the third pick they chose the 6’7” crafty point guard Lamelo Ball. After playing for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia and being drafted he joins his brother, Lonzo Ball, in the NBA. With his selection the Ball brothers become the first brother duo to be drafted in the top 5, respectfully being the second and third in their draft.
Following the selection of the top three, the rest of the top 10 were: Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams (Florida State Seminoles), Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro (Auburn Tigers), Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu (USC Trojans), Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes (France), New York Knicks: Obi Toppin (Dayton Flyers), Washington Wizards: Denji Avdija (Israel), and the Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith ( Maryland Terrapins). Many people were very surprised when the Bulls picked Patrick Williams, who won the ACC Sixth-Man of the Year last season while playing at Florida State. Williams gradually progressed up the draft board over the past few months which led to Chicago picking him. The Cleveland Cavaliers got one of the best, if not the best, perimeter defenders in the draft with Isaac Okoro, who will benefit their team greatly. The Hawks got a sturdy center in Onyeka Okongwu, who has the potential to become a Defensive Player of the Year. Also with this pick, he and Lamelo Ball became the first pair of high school teammates picked in the lottery. Killian Hayes is a smooth distributor from France that will be able to help Detroit spread the ball. He averaged six assists which is a good amount for an incoming rookie with the room to progress under a veteran like Derrick Rose. Obi Toppin got drafted by his hometown team, The New York Knicks. Toppin, who won the Wooden Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best college player, has the ability to become a highlight-reel for the Knicks. He is truly a high flyer who shot over 64 percent throughout his career at Dayton. In many mock drafts Denji Avdija was seen as the fourth overall pick but he ended up slipping all the way to the Washington Wizards with the ninth spot. As a big playmaking forward he can make an impact as a scorer and distributor. This will hopefully be able to give help to Washington’s extraordinary backcourt, John Wall and Bradley Beal. Jalen Smith for the Suns should add depth at center as well as give them a reliable rebounder and shot-blocker off the bench.
In the draft there were many heartfelt stories, along with learning about the trials and tribulations these players had to go through to get to this position in their life. There were a select few out of the many that gave off a plethora of emotion. Starting with the first overall pick, Anthony Edwards had to deal with losing his mom and grandma to cancer within eight months while he was in eighth grade. He wears the number five because both his mom and grandma died on the fifth of the month. When Edwards was drafted they were with him both in spirit and a mural painted for him.
Another story would be for the Hawks’ new center, Onyeka Okongwu, who lost his older brother in an accident. His brother, Nnamdi Okongwu, played on Chino Hills alongside the Ball brothers, Lonzo, Liangelo, and Lamelo. Sadly, when Nnamdi was 17-years-old he fell off his skateboard badly, and three days later he was pronounced dead; Onyeka was only 13-years-old. This upcoming season, Onyeka will wear number 17 in honor of his brother for the Atlanta Hawks.
The Wooden Award winner from the previous NCAA basketball season, Obi Toppin, thought he would never make the NBA. Coming out of high school, Toppin did not have any D-1 scholarships. However he proved the scouts wrong and played lights out for Dayton and put his name amongst college legends like Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor, better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
With the 12th pick of the draft the Sacramento Kings were able to pick up Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton played for Iowa State and averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists while also being awarded onto the All-Big 12 Second Team last season. This 6’5”guard should be a perfect combination with the Kings’ extremely fast point guard De'Aaron Fox, who will need someone to help with the playmaking on offense. Haliburton is proven to be a great passer, and he can hold his own on defense. Don’t be surprised if Haliburton contributes right away with his versatility for the Kings. The Oklahoma City Thunder could be seen as winners as well due to the humongous amount of draft picks they’ve obtained from last and now this year from trades. From now until 2026 the Thunder have Seventeen first round picks they can use to improve their roster and guarantee major talent in their foreseeable future. Another win has to go to the Orlando Magic who were able to take Cole Anthony with the 15th pick. Anthony played his one and only collegiate year at the University of North Carolina. During his time there he was a bonafide scorer averaging 18.5 points per game while dealing with injuries throughout the season. Injuries proved to be a problem along with efficiency but as long as he stays healthy he should make a good fit on that Orlando Magic team. His father, Gregg Anthony, played a successful 11 years in the NBA, so Cole should be prepared for the NBA life. Lastly, the Miami Heat were able to pick up Precious Achiuwa. Achiuwa, who played for the University of Memphis, won the AAC Player of the Year along with Freshman of the year. He was also the only D-1 player to Average a double-double. He should be able to complement Bam Adebayo well to make an exceptional frontcourt.
If you would like a more in depth description of the draft as well as the results of other teams picks, that information is available here: 2020 NBA Draft results: Picks 1-60, 2020 NBA Draft winners and losers