Five months delayed and unavoidably reformatted by the ongoing pandemic, the NBA’s long-awaited 2020 draft is underway as the Minnesota Timberwolves have taken Georgia’s Anthony Edwards with the first-overall pick.
Like the NFL Draft in April, the NBA is introducing the new class of rookies in a virtual format, which is why the 6-foot-4 shooting guard was seen receiving the news in his living room, flanked by portraits of his mother and grandmother, both of whom died of cancer in his youth.
Memphis center James Wiseman was taken second overall by the Golden State Warriors, while LaMelo Ball – the youngest member of the Ball family (see below) – went third to the Charlotte Hornets. Florida State’s Patrick Williams went fourth to the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers picked Auburn’s Isaac Okoro fifth overall, and USC center Oneyka Okongwu was taken by the Atlanta Hawks at No. 6.
The Detroit Pistons selected France’s Killian Hayes with the seventh pick; the New York Knicks landed Brooklyn native Obi Toppin, the national college player of the year from Dayton, at No. 8; and Israel’s Deni Avdija was picked ninth by the Washington Wizards.
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Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards went first overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves
LaMelo Ball pictured between his mother, Tina, and father LaVar, who previously had a public spat with Donald Trump after his son LiAngelo was arrested for shoplifting in China (see below)
Although his college career was brief, scouts are excited about seven-foot James Wiseman
The draft is usually held in June in New York, where Adam Silver announces the first-round picks. The top players sit at tables in the front of the arena and when their names are called, put on a hat with the logo of the team that picked them and walk onto the stage for a handshake and a photo with the commissioner.
This time, Silver is announcing the picks from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut. Players have been shipped boxes of hats for wherever they will be watching to choose the one they need when their name is called.
It’s not the draft night they wanted, but the excitement of becoming a pro player won’t diminish. Not when they’ve been waiting since March, when sports stopped just days before the selection of the NCAA Tournament field, to start playing ball again.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards, shooting guard, Georgia
- Golden State Warriors – James Wiseman, center, Memphis
- Charlotte Hornets – LaMelo Ball, point guard, Australia’s NBL
- Chicago Bulls – Patrick Williams, small forward, Florida State
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Isaac Okoro, small forward, Auburn
- Atlanta Hawks – Oneyka Okongwu, center, USC
- Detroit Pistons – Killian Hayes, point guard, France
- New York Knicks – Obi Toppin, power forward, Dayton
- Washington Wizards – Deni Avdija, small forward, Israel
- Phoenix Suns – Jalen Smith, center, Maryland
- San Antonio Spurs – Devin Vassell, shooting guard, Florida State
- Sacramento Kings – Tyrese Haliburton, combo guard, Iowa State
- New Orleans Pelicans – Kira Lewis Jr., point guard, Alabama
- Boston Celtics (via MEM) – Aaron Nesmith, small forward, Vanderbilt
- Orlando Magic – Cole Anthony, point guard, North Carolina
- Houston Rockets (via POR)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN)
- Dallas Mavericks
- Brooklyn Nets (via PHI)
- Miami Heat
- Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC)
- Denver Nuggets (via HOU)
- New York Knicks (via UTAH)
- New Orleans Pelicans (via IND)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN)
- Boston Celtics
- Utah Jazz (via LAC)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAL)
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics (via MIL)
‘I mean, playing in games, I missed it a lot. But at the same time, this extra time, it’s only helping me,’ said Toppin.
‘I feel like I’m more prepared and mentally prepared for when the time comes, and I feel like when I’m on the court and that jump ball goes up, I feel like I’ve been waiting so long that it’s going to be an amazing feeling.’
The newcomers will have precious little time to prepare for their debuts and need to knock off months of rust or more – Wiseman hasn´t played an organized game in a year – without the benefit of summer league. Training camps open in early December and the 72-game 2020-21 season is set to begin on Dec. 22.
Teams had to evaluate prospects without benefit of the usual draft combine in Chicago or the ability to invite them to their facilities for workouts and meetings. And with the coronavirus shutting down the sports world in March, there was no NCAA Tournament for the players to make a final impression before entering the draft.
That helped contribute to perhaps more questions than usual surrounding the draft, with little feel for how the top few picks would play out.
Edwards will now slide into the lineup on the perimeter, buttressing the building blocks the Wolves believe they’ve cemented with center Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. There’s plenty of room to grow after a 19-45 finish that had them left out of the NBA’s postseason bubble. Minnesota has made the playoffs only once in the last 16 years, a first-round loss to Houston in 2018.
This was the second time in 32 drafts for this woebegone franchise that the Timberwolves held the top pick. They took Towns, now a two-time All-Star, with the first overall selection out of Kentucky in 2015.
The Golden State Warriors went with Wiseman soon after learning that All-Star guard Klay Thompson injured his leg while rehabbing the knee injury that kept him out of the 2019-20 season.
The team announced the injury without providing further details about the severity or any timeline for his availability with training camp starting Dec. 1 and the season beginning December 22. Thompson was scheduled to be evaluated in the coming days, Golden State said.
It was unclear how this might affect Golden State’s draft decisions Wednesday, when the Warriors held the No. 2 overall selection.
This could be a severe blow for the Warriors, who finished worst in the NBA last season. Thompson didn’t play at all during the coronavirus-shortened season as he worked back from surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee. He suffered that injury in the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.
LaMELO BALL ENTERS THE NBA AS FATHER LAVAR REIGNITES FEUD WITH PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
By Alex Raskin, Sports News Editor for DailyMail.com
While basketball fans may know LaMelo Ball as the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo, the rest of the country may be more familiar with his father LaVar and the middle Ball brother, LiAngleo, who was famously arrested in China for shoplifting in 2017.
That arrest sparked a war of words between the notoriously outspoken LaVar and President Donald Trump, who took credit for negotiating the release of LiAngelo and two of his UCLA teammates from house arrest at their hotel in Hangzhou.
LaVar publicly disputed Trump’s role in the release of his son, who was on a team trip to China and was caught stealing sunglasses from several high-end boutiques near Shanghai.
While basketball fans may know LaMelo Ball (right) as the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo, the rest of the country may be more familiar with his father LaVar (left) and the middle Ball brother, LiAngleo, who was famously arrested in China for shoplifting in 2017
LiAngelo’s arrest in China sparked a war of words between the notoriously outspoken LaVar and President Donald Trump, who took credit for negotiating the release of the three UCLA teammates from house arrest at their hotel in Hangzhou
LaVar (left) publicly disputed Trump’s role in the release of his son, LiAngelo (right), who was on a team trip to China when he was caught stealing sunglasses from several high-end boutiques near Shanghai. LiAngelo went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft
Trump quickly responded on Twitter, saying he should have left LiAngelo in China.
‘Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,’ Trump tweeted. ‘I should have left them in jail!’
LiAngelo did not follow Lonzo’s footsteps into the NBA, instead briefly signing with his younger brother LaMelo in Lithuania. LaVar, meanwhile, has struggled to get his ‘Big Baller Brand’ apparel company off the ground amid accusations of theft against one business partner.
LaMelo Ball (right) is the younger brother of Pelicans point guard Lonzo (left)
Never one to walk away from an argument, LaVar Ball took another swing at Trump on Wednesday, telling the BroBible podcast that the President’s election loss was the result of their feud.
‘If he would’ve never act a fool, he’d still be president,’ Ball said, while referencing a Big Baller Brand shoe he sent the President. ‘I would’ve been there with him, I woulda helped him out. You wanna act crazy with the Big Baller, guess what happens? Anybody real crazy with me don’t last long. … anyone messed with Big Ballers in the long run, it’s not gonna work out for you.
‘If Trump would’ve accepted my shoes and not actin’ a fool, he would still be president. Now he gotta go. Oh well.’
LaMelo, who once scored 92 points in a high school game in Southern California, decided against attending college, perhaps because he would have been ineligible after briefly signing with his father’s Big Baller Brand. (Lonzo has cut ties with the company)
Instead of following Lonzo and LiAngelo’s path to UCLA, LaMelo instead signed with the Illawarra Hawks of the Australia’s National Basketball League, winning rookie of the year and putting himself into consideration for the top pick of Wednesday’s draft.
CANADA IS REVIEWING RAPTORS’ PLAN TO PLAY IN TORONTO AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The Canadian government is reviewing a proposal from the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic.
A spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Tuesday officials have been in contact with the Raptors and will continue to engage with them ‘in the coming weeks.’ Raptors general manager Bobby Webster told Sportsnet television the team needs to know ‘in the coming days. This is not a next week type thing.’
The Raptors and the NBA need an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel.
The Canadian government is reviewing a proposal from the NBA and the Raptors to play in Toronto amid the pandemic. (Pictured: Longtime Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry)
A spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu (pictured) said Tuesday officials have been in contact with the Raptors and will continue to engage with them ‘in the coming weeks.’ Raptors general manager Bobby Webster told Sportsnet television the team needs to know ‘in the coming days. This is not a next week type thing’
The federal government denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto earlier this year because health officials didn’t think it was safe for players to travel back and forth from the United States, one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases in both countries, but particularly in the U.S, has surged since then.
Drake shouts from his courtside seat during the second half of an NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on November 25, 2019 in Toronto
‘The health and safety of Canadians is our government’s top priority and reducing the spread of COVID-19 must always be top of mind,’ Hajdu’s office said in statement. ‘We understand that many Canadians are eager to see their favorite professional teams return to play. We are reviewing a proposal from the NBA and the Toronto Raptors for the resumption of NBA basketball in Canada.’
The NBA season is set to open Decemebr 22, with training camps beginning in about two weeks. Time is running out for the Raptors.
‘We are working on, as everyone knows, a kind of parallel path here which is we want to stay in Toronto but as we all know time is of the essence and we are also working on a path to play elsewhere,’ Webster said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
‘We want to be in Toronto. We want to play here. But we are also realistic about the timing and respectful of the protocols. … It doesn’t necessarily affect our operations. We all know we’ll run a basketball team and the 72 games will get played. But just where that is probably more of a — as everyone can imagine — drain on personal decisions and families which always looms large in this industry.’
Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network, doesn’t think the Raptors should be allowed to play in Canada. Nor does he expect the government to approve it.
Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors players kneel for the Canadian national anthem prior to a game inside the league’s bubble at Disney World outside Orlando last August
‘I anticipate the Raptors will have to play south of the border,’ Morris said. ‘The logistics, the optics, make no sense.’
Morris calls the U.S. a disaster and noted there won’t be a bubble in the NBA this time. This season will require teams to travel in the U.S.
The Blue Jays failed to persuade the federal government to grant exemptions and played home games in Buffalo this year. Two cities in Florida — Tampa and Fort Lauderdale — along with Nashville have been reported as potential destinations for the Raptors.
The Canadian government requites a comprehensive public health plan and written support from local health officials. The plan is being reviewed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
(The Associated Press)
PLAY-IN TOURNEY ON, OLYMPICS LIKELY OUT FOR NBA IN 2020-21
The 2020-21 NBA schedule will feature a play-in tournament and an NBA Finals that could run all the way until July 22 — keeping some players from competing in the Olympics.
The league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, will begin December 22 and look like none other. The NBA announced Tuesday how it will make up the 72-game schedule, which won’t be entirely known until well after it’s started.
Teams will play 42 intraconference games, with each club facing the others within its conference three times apiece. Teams will play the remaining 30 games against the opposite conference — one at home and one on the road in a return to cross-country travel and playing in arenas after completing last season in a ‘bubble’ environment.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver had a difficult task negotiating the details of the upcoming season with the National Basketball Players’ Association amid the pandemic
When that’s finished, the play-in tournament, approved Tuesday by the board of governors on a one-year basis, follows involving the teams with the seventh through 10th-best records in each conference. They will play for the final two playoff spots in the East and the West.
The league debuted the play-in tournament this year at Walt Disney World, though it only featured the Nos. 8-9 teams in the Western Conference. Portland knocked out Memphis to earn the final seed in the playoffs.
This time, the team with the seventh-best record in each conference will host No. 8 in one game. The winner secures the No. 7 seed, while the loser hosts the winner of a game between No. 9 and No. 10. The winner of that game gets the final playoff spot.
The league plans to announce the first half of the schedule around the start of training camp in early December. The second half will be unveiled during the latter part of the first half, featuring the remaining games along with any that needed to be postponed because of the virus.
If all goes according to plan, preseason games will be held December 11-19. The first half of the season then runs December 22 through March 4, followed by an All-Star break March 5-10 — though the All-Star Game in Indianapolis was scrapped.
The second half is March 11 to May 16, with the play-in tournament May 18-21. The postseason could then last for two months from May 22 to July 22.
That almost certainly eliminates a number of players from considering going to Tokyo for the postponed 2020 Olympics. The Summer Games are set to begin July 23, with the qualifying tournaments for the remaining four spots in the men’s field scheduled to run from June 29 to July 4.