NBA draft promises impactful, difficult choices

Harrison Simon, Staff Reporter

Cecilia Hammond

This Wednesday, Nov. 18, the NBA Draft will hold its first ever virtual draft in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft, usually held in June, comes on the heels of the NBA’s plans to start the 2020-21 season on December 22, with teams playing 72 games each (as opposed to the traditional 82) and the playoffs running through the end of July.

  The Minnesota Timberwolves hold this year’s dubious distinction of having the first overall selection despite finishing with the league’s third-worst record. The Golden State Warriors, who finished worst in the league last year, got bumped down to the number two spot, with the perennial bottom-feeding Charlotte Hornets picking third.

   Last year, the number one pick was a no-brainer: New Orleans Pelicans fans and executives rejoiced in having the honor (and luck of some ping-pong balls) to grab superstar Zion Williamson. This year, however, the first pick is up for debate. Let’s run through some of the candidates.

LaMelo Ball: PG, USA

  Ah, LaMelo Ball. It only seemed a matter of time before the youngest of the three Ball brothers would enter the league after LaMelo took the Internet by storm in high school. After some conflicts of interest between the Ball family and hometown school UCLA, LaMelo decided to forgo college and take his talents overseas to New Zealand, where in one season with the Illawarra Hawks, he averaged 17.0 points and 6.8 assists per game. Ball is a player of immense talent and court vision, that’s undeniable. But he has had issues in the past with his attitude and mentality, much like his older brother and current Pelicans’ guard Lonzo Ball did. It was also concerning to see LaMelo only shoot 25% from three-point range in his season abroad, as he uses his long-range ability to bring defenders close up top before driving past them into the lane. Ball seems like the best bet to hear his name called first on Wednesday, but the T-Wolves could go another way.

James Weisman: C, Memphis

  Coming into his freshman year at Memphis University, Wiseman seemed primed to go number one in this year’s draft, but that was before a less than ideal season under coach Penny Hardaway. Wiseman only played in 12 games before being suspended by the NCAA for receiving “recruiting inducements” prior to coming to Memphis. After the suspension was upheld, Wiseman chose to leave school and declare early for the draft. Wiseman is a unique hybrid of the old-school and modern day center, utilizing both his size and athleticism to make his presence felt on both ends of the court. Though not a three-point center like many of today’s big men, Wiseman can still make an impact on any game, and he would fit well in a Golden State system that boasts great ball movement and phenomenal shooting but lacks a true big man presence. Wiseman can fill that void.

Anthony Edwards: SG, Georgia

  Edwards looked NBA-ready right out of the gates at Georgia. In his lone season with the Bulldogs, the Atlanta native averaged 19.1 points-per-game, adding on 5.2 rebounds-per-game as well. Edwards’ explosiveness is right up there with anyone in this year’s draft class, and his ability to find the rim is truly thrilling to watch. While he has a decent chance of going first or second, he could fall to Charlotte at number three, something owner Michael Jordan and the rest of the Hornets’ front office have to be excited about. With the right development, Edwards could blossom into a superstar.

    

  After the first three selections, there is still a plethora of talent left on the board. Many pundits are already sold on next year’s draft class being one of the most loaded in recent memory, but they shouldn’t overlook these first round selections. Other top-ten picks include Dayton forward Obi Toppin (projected to go to the Chicago Bulls 4th overall), Israeli forward Deni Avdija (projected 5th to the Cavaliers) and French guard Kilian Hayes (projected 8th to the Knicks). A quick note about Avdija: the number one small forward in this year’s class, Advija would be the first-ever Israeli-born lottery pick and just the sixth-ever player from his country to play in the NBA.

  Fans should also keep an eye on the mid-to-late first round, as guards Cole Anthony, Tre Jones and Cassius Winston all starred at powerhouse NCAA programs (North Carolina, Duke and Michigan State, respectively) and could make an immediate impact on any team.