2020 NBA Draft Takeaways
The 2020 NBA Draft, like the rest of the world, adapted to the limitations of the pandemic. Draftees weren’t able to walk across the stage to shake hands with Adam Silver. They had to tune in via video with their families at their side as they sat nervously on the couch to learn their NBA fate. On the flip side, with no March Madness or even a complete regular season, teams were operating on the least amount of information ever heading into a draft. It was a relatively quiet draft night, but there were a few signature moments that defined the event.
2020 NBA Draft
The Top Picks Came With Reasonable Doubts
Prior to the evening, this draft was pegged as low-ceiling, but high floor. There were tons of guys who looked like they could be role players on championship teams, but even the cream of the crop prospects came with enough flaws drum up long-term concerns. Anthony Edwards was taken first overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, followed by James Wiseman to the Golden State Warriors, and LaMelo Ball to the Charlotte Hornets. The order that they would go was up in the air, but the consensus top three stayed there.
Anthony Edwards has a chance to be devastating in the pros given his strength, athleticism, and scoring prowess. The 6’5 shooting guard’s speed and power when driving to the rim is reminiscent of LeBron James. The question regarding Edwards is, does he have the motivation to rise to the top of his field? Or will his career mirror what the world has seen from Andrew Wiggins? Talent without hard work driven by a true love for the game won’t take him far. It certainly won’t fulfill the expectations of a number one pick.
James Wiseman is an ideal, muscular, rim-running big man. He’ll feast next to Stephen Curry assuming he stays with the Warriors. While he does have solid shooting mechanics, he needs to expand his range to be consistent from the middle and respected from three. There’s tons of room for improvement, though on a more veteran team like the Warriors he won’t need to do as much. His big man skill-set could provide a much-needed boost, especially if he can be useful defensively against the West’s top bigs like Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic.
LaMelo Ball is clearly a wiz in facilitation, but his shooting is shaky and his defense is nowhere near competent by NBA standards. He also needs to make more than just highlight reel passes. Ball’s decision-making needs to develop so he can be a consistent playmaker. That’ll come with experience, and in Charlotte, he’ll get all the reps he needs. Now, all we have to do is hope the Lavar Ball vs. Michael Jordan one-on-one comes to fruition.
The Sixers Draft Day Statement
It hasn’t even been a month since Daryl Morey accepted the job as GM of the Philadelphia 76ers. That didn’t stop him from making a statement over the course of Draft Day. He drafted a potential steal in Tyrese Maxey, got rid of Al Horford and Josh Richardson, then acquired greatly needed shooting in Seth Curry and Danny Green via trade. Tyrese Maxey thrives this year, he’ll join Matisse Thybulle as another recent steal by Philly’s front office. Plus, the shooting and playoff experience that Curry and Green bring should create even more space for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to operate.
While collecting shooters and shedding unneeded players were some of the best moves Morey could’ve made, questions still remain about how deep the Sixers can go with Simmons and Embiid both needing the paint to thrive. Embiid can make threes, but he needs to be free in the paint to dominate. When the playoffs roll around, Simmons is either in the dunker’s spot or at the arc with his defender sagging way off him. Will Simmons finally start shooting regularly, or find enough ways to be effective without threes in a series? It makes one wonder if Morey is just getting started with the trade market.
The Bulls, Knicks, and Suns Made Lottery Surprises
The Chicago Bulls made the first surprise of the night by drafting a guy who didn’t start on his own team with the fourth overall pick. Draft experts expected Patrick Williams to fall somewhere closer to ten. Williams didn’t start because his game is still raw, but the potential lingers. He can create his own shot and fill a variety of roles thanks to his off-ball movement, ability to guard most positions, rebounding, and gifted passing. There’s potential for him to bring wing versatility similar to what Jimmy Butler brought the Bulls, but with more size.
Several picks later, the New York Knicks raised some eyebrows by picking big man Obi Toppin at number eight over a proven playmaker like Tyrese Haliburton. Knicks Power Forward jokes have been given life once again. Toppin is a rim-running, shot-blocking, dunk machine, similar to what Mitchell Robinson already provides. What must’ve played a role in swaying the Knicks was Toppin’s enthusiasm for the organization, given his New York roots. If Toppin pans out, then it’s a heartwarming tale of New York inspiration. If things don’t work out, the Knicks may be kicking themselves for not drafting a playmaking guard like Haliburton.
Lastly, the Phoenix Suns picked up the eyebrow-raising baton by going with Jalen Smith at number ten. Just like last year, Phoenix took a prospect a fair amount earlier than expected in a position they didn’t really need. They already have a number one overall pick at Deandre Ayton at the center spot, though Smith is a little more coordinated with his handling and shooting. It begs the question of whether the Suns just went for the best available player – or if they have another trade up their sleeve. Regardless, their future is still bright with Chris Paul in tow.
Pistons Draft Day Activity
New Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver was wheeling and dealing similar to Daryl Morey. Weaver made a splash by selecting Killian Hayes with the number seven overall pick, regarded by some as the best overall player in the draft. Hayes is a mature point guard who has already played three years professionally in Germany, and he already has a knack for defense. Then, Weaver took Isaiah Stewart, who has potential as a great modern small-ball center. To cap things off, the Pistons traded Luke Kennard to the Los Angeles Clippers in a three-team trade that netted the Pistons the number 19 pick. They opted to go with Saddiq Bey, a player who possesses the ever-coveted three-and-D skillset.
Though Detroit isn’t expected to make much noise next season, they were one of the busier teams on draft night. Weaver’s willingness to deal a Pistons fan-favorite like Kennard signals a changing of the guard with this front-office. The 2020 NBA Draft may just be Weaver’s start.
Overall, the 2020 NBA Draft didn’t shape up to be league-shattering. There weren’t any wild trades involving the top two picks belonging to the Warriors and Wolves. While there was no blockbuster tonight, anything could be in play before tipoff on December 22nd.
Solid players found their way onto other solid teams. Players like Devin Vassell, Precious Achiuwa, Malachi Flynn, and R.J. Hampton landed with competitive organizations like the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, and Denver Nuggets respectively. If teams can manage to find them playing time, they’ll bring an additional element of versatility to future playoff battles.