Sports Update: NBA Draft Recap, Winners and Losers of the Night (11/19/20) By: Stephen Biddix
The 2020 NBA Draft is finally in the books after a lengthy five-month delay due to the Coronavirus. The draft started out as projected with Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball going number one, two, and three. After that, however, the draft turned to madness. Patrick Williams was a shocking pick at number four, as he was not even a starter at Florida State, and Tyrese Haliburton fell all the way to Sacramento at number 12 after being projected to be a top-eight pick. After an action-packed draft, I will be breaking down the top 10 picks and the winners and losers, outside the top 10, for the night.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards SG
This is the pick the T-Wolves were expected to take as Edwards slides right into the shooting guard role giving Minnesota the possibility of a very dynamic backcourt between Edwards and D’Angelo Russell. This pick is no guarantee however as Wednesday morning Edwards made some questionable statements talking to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough about his love of the game. Statements like “to be honest I can’t watch basketball”, and when asked about when he got into basketball his answer of, “I’m still not really into it, I love basketball yeah it’s what I do” has raised a lot of red flags around the league. If the T-Wolves can unlock Edwards' passion for the game, this could be a great pick. If not, it could be another disappointing draft pick for Minnesota.
Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman C
James Wiseman is the perfect pick for Golden State. At 7' 1", Wiseman is the rim protector and rebounder Golden State is lacking. Along with his rebounding Wiseman can also comfortably hit a jumper as well and has the potential to stretch that out to the three-point line. With Klay Thompson suffering a torn achilles earlier, it was very likely Golden State could have impulsively drafted a guard but smartly stuck to their plan. With an aging Draymond Green, this is a great pick for now as well as the future.
Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball PG
LaMelo Ball is this biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this year’s draft and could be a superstar if developed correctly. This was a no brainer for Charlotte as LaMelo was by far the best available on the board and draws more attention to the Hornets than they’ve had in years. There is finally some real energy in this franchise after years of being in basketball purgatory. With his flashy playmaking ability and already massive national and international following, LaMelo will make Charlotte must-watch TV. By drafting LaMelo, Charlotte will be also able to push a high pace of play which Coach Borrego set as a goal for this upcoming season.
Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams SF
This is where the draft got interesting with the Bulls taking Patrick Williams with the 4th pick. Taking Williams at fourth overall is a bit of reach considering he did not start in college and was ranked outside the top 10 on most draft boards. Williams does not have much of a jump shot shooting only 32% from three-point range in his college career and the part of his game that needs the most improvement. Williams does have a great frame however at 6'8" and 225 lbs. With his ball-handling skills and raw athleticism, he can be an exciting rookie. He also has a lot of talent on the defensive side where he will most likely shine initially, while developing his offensive game.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro SF
After only drafting guards for the last three years, Cleveland finally acknowledged their talent gap at the forward position. This is not the forward projected to go here as Obi Toppin was the favorite but Okoro has a lot of raw athleticism that you cannot teach. Okoro is very explosive and great at driving to the rim but needs major work on his shot. Okoro shot 28% from the three-point line and 67% from the free-throw line. Okoro will have to rely on his defense and paint game while developing an NBA-ready shot.
Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu C
This was a very interesting pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Drafting a center with the 6th overall pick on the heels of trading for star center Clint Capela at last year’s trade deadline has caused a lot of confusion. In a league where shooting and a small ball is now king, Atlanta is looking to clog the paint with two big men. Okongwu, like Capela, will be a rim protector and defensive standout but Atlanta did not fix the gaping hole they have in the SG/SF position. Atlanta needed to find another ball-handling star to help Trae Young who had the fourth-highest usage percentage in the league last year.
Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes PG
This is a great pick for Detroit as they have had a revolving door at point guard since Chauncey Billups in the early 2000s. Killian Hayes has a great combination of ball-handling, shooting, and passing. Hayes does need to improve his athleticism to match the NBA style of basketball which is very different from Europe where Hayes is coming from. In addition, Hayes needs to improve his right-hand ability as he is extremely dependent on his left. If Hayes can build his athleticism and develop a right hand expect him to be an elite talent.
New York Knicks: Obi Toppin PF
Queue up P Diddy’s hit “I’m Coming Home” as Obi Toppin gets drafted by his hometown team. Toppin might be the most stable prospect of this draft. He does not have the highest ceiling but will have an immediate impact as soon as he touches the floor. Toppin is an explosive athlete who will bring lots of energy into a Knicks franchise that desperately needs it. He won the AP College Player of the Year this past season and a unanimous All-American. This was a steal for New York as Toppin was projected top five but slid all the way to eighth. This is a great start to the new Leon Rose-led Knicks regime.
Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija SF
This pick by Washington has great potential if he can translate his game to NBA style basketball. Avdija has been tearing up European leagues and was considered the best international player in this draft. Avdija is listed as a small forward but in today’s game could become a stretch four and provide great versatility. In a fast-paced offense with John Wall returning, Avdija will have no problem keeping up with his elite quickness at 6'9" and 225 lbs. Avdija will need to develop a consistent jump shot and hit the weight room but has great basketball IQ and should have an impact this season.
Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith C
Much like the Atlanta Hawks pick, Phoenix drafting another center does not make much sense. Phoenix already has DeAndre Ayton, a rising star in the league, who will be their starting center for quite a while. Jalen Smith has not ever played power forward or been versatile from the center position. Jalen Smith does have great defensive and offensive talent, it’s just the fit makes no sense and will not allow him to flourish. This pick will also clog the paint with two big centers and could negatively affect Devin Bookers elite driving abilities.
Winners of the Draft:
The 76ers had one of the best nights of any team last night even though they had only one pick. The 76ers were very active on the trade block and drastically improved their weakness of three-point shooting as well as clearing cap space for a possible James Harden trade. The first trade of the night the 76ers were involved in was trading Al Horford, Vasilije Micic, and two draft picks to Oklahoma City for Danny Green and Terrence Ferguson. This trade provided Philadelphia with one of the best sharpshooters in the league as well as clearing $20 million in cap space to pursue James Harden. The second trade of the night for Philadelphia was trading Josh Richardson and the 36th pick to Dallas for Seth Curry another sharpshooter. All in all, this draft night should be one that all 76er fans should be very happy with.
The Kings got perhaps the biggest steal of the draft in Tyrese Haliburton as he fell out of the top 10. Halliburton will compliment De’Aaron Fox very well and add another playmaker to the young Kings roster. Fox will be able to play off the ball more and will no longer have to be Sacramento’s whole offense.
For the third year in a row, Denver was able to snag a top prospect who free-fell through the draft. Two years ago Michael Porter, last year Bol Bol, and this year R.J. Hampton. R.J. Hampton has elite talent but struggled in his one season overseas in Australia. Hampton was a top-five talent just two years ago coming out of high school and Denver will look to develop him into the potential superstar he very well could turn into. Denver is very pleased with this pick and it should pay off.
Losers of the Draft:
Boston’s main goal of draft night was to put together a package of draft picks for a reliable starter but was not able to. Boston’s mass amount of draft picks is coming back to bite them as they no longer need rookies and young players on their team, but rather veterans. There just isn’t any more room on the roster for young unproven players. Look for the Celtics to try and trade their picks from last night for some solidified veterans.
Houston has had a rough week with their two stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden both wanting trades out of Houston. Houston should have traded at least one of them before the draft to provide them with some picks besides their singular second-rounder. Houston drafted Kenyon Martin Jr. who needs a lot of work with his shot and not an immediate impact player. Houston fans can expect a full-blown rebuild to start very soon.