Five months delayed and unavoidably reformatted by the ongoing pandemic, the 2020 NBA Draft finally took place on Wednesday night with the Minnesota Timberwolves selecting Georgia’s Anthony Edwards with the first pick over James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball.
‘It’s an indescribable feeling,’ Edwards said. ‘I’m blessed beyond measure to be in this situation.’
Like the NFL Draft in April, the NBA introduced its new class of rookies in a virtual format, which is why Edwards 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.
Similarly, North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony was at his home when learned he was being taken 15th overall by the Orlando Magic. Only in addition to his family members, like his father and former Knicks star, Greg Anthony, Cole was joined by decorated filmmaker Spike Lee, a diehard New York fan and family friend.
Lee has traditionally attended the draft when it’s held in New York, where Adam Silver announces the first-round picks, all of whom are seated at the front of the arena, waiting for their names to be called so they can walk on stage, receive their new team’s hat, and shake the Commissioner’s hand.
This time, Silver announced the picks from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut, while players were seated at their homes, equipped with a large box of all 30 NBA team hats so they could be prepared for whichever club they were chosen by.
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Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards went first overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves
North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony was at his home when learned he was being taken 15th overall by the Orlando Magic. Only in addition to his family members, like his father and former Knicks star, Greg Anthony, Cole was joined by decorated filmmaker Spike Lee (right), a diehard New York fan and family friend
Cole Anthony (center) reacts with his family, including father and former Knicks guard Greg (third from left), after being picked 15th overall by the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night
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
LaVar Ball celebrated his son LaMelo’s good news by bragging: ‘I TOLD YOU SO!!’
‘As far as just being excited and just being happy and ready to go and ready to work and ready to get there as soon as possible, those emotions were overwhelming with just my mother and grandmother being there,’ Edwards said. ‘I mean, it was just a dream come true and just a blessing.’
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.
- 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
- Detroit Pistons (via POR & HOU) – Isaiah Stewart, center, Washington
- Oklahoma City Thunder (via BKN & MIN) – Aleksej Pokusevski, power forward, Serbia
- Dallas Mavericks – Josh Green, shooting guard, Arizona
- Detroit Pistons (via PHI & BKN) – Saddiq Bey, forward, Villanova
- Miami Heat – Precious Achiuwa, power forward, Memphis
- Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) – Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky
- Denver Nuggets (via HOU) – Zeke Nnaji, power forward, Arizona
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via UTAH & NYK) – Leandro Bolmaro, point guard, Argentina
- Denver Nuggets (via IND & NO) – R.J. Hampton, point guard, Australia’s NBL
- New York Knicks (via DEN & OKC) – Immanuel Quickley, point guard, Kentucky
- Boston Celtics – Payton Pritchard, point guard, Oregon
- Utah Jazz (via LAC) – Udoka Azubuike, center, Kansas
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via LAL & OKC) – Jaden McDaniels, power forward, Washington
- Toronto Raptors – Malachi Flynn, point guard, San Diego State
- Memphis Grizzlies (via BOS & MIL) – Desmond Bane, shooting guard, TCU
It’s not the draft night they wanted, but the excitement of becoming a pro player wasn’t diminished on Wednesday – not when they’ve been waiting since the pandemic hit in March to start playing ball again.
Though there wasn’t the usual family table in the green room and trip on stage to meet the commissioner, some players still were outfitted in fashionable attire — perhaps none more than No. 12 pick Tyrese Haliburton of Sacramento, whose blue, floral suit had the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the inside.
Some moments triggered deeper emotions. Okongwu, taken No. 6 by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.
Toppin, the national player of the year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after the New York Knicks took him at No. 8, bringing the Brooklyn-born forward to his hometown.
‘I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important,’ Toppin said. ‘Me repping my city, it’s amazing.’
And draft picks weren’t the only players who enjoyed nice moments with their families on Wednesday.
The Philadelphia 76ers made a trade with Dallas to acquire Seth Curry, the younger brother of former MVP Stephen and the son-in-law of new Sixers coach Doc Rivers.
Edwards became the 11th straight one-and-done player to be the No. 1 pick, coming in a year where there was no clear obvious choice. He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, tops among all freshman.
The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis center James Wiseman with the second pick. They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The severity of his injury had not been revealed as the draft began but it didn’t persuade the Warriors to take another guard. Instead they went with the 7-foot-1 center who arrived as the No. 1 recruit out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft.
LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a lengthy basketball journey that sent the guard from high school in California to stops as a professional in Lithuania and Australia. He joined brother Lonzo, taken No. 2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.
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.
‘This draft process has been the longest for me, so I’ve just been working on my game,’ Wiseman said. ‘I’ve actually been playing pickup games with pros already, so I’ve been getting a lot of experience. But really just focusing on myself. I’m truly ready to play with these great guys.’
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.
The annual NBA Draft photo with players and commissioner Adam Silver was replaced by a digital substitute on Wednesday night at ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut
Former Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton wore a flashy tux while being picked by the Kings
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.
Detroit agreed to trade guard Luke Kennard to the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that brought the No. 19 pick in Wednesday night’s draft to the Pistons, according to a person with knowledge of the trade who spoke on condition of anonymity because the had not been announced.
The trade gave Detroit a third first-round pick. The Pistons took point guard Killian Hayes at No. 7 and ended up with Isaiah Stewart from Washington at No. 16 after agreeing to a trade for that pick. Saddiq Bey from Villanova was the selection at No. 19.
This is Detroit’s first offseason under Weaver, who was hired this year. The Pistons still have Blake Griffin, but they traded big man Andre Drummond last season and bought out point guard Reggie Jackson. Detroit has not won a playoff game since 2008 and went 20-46 last season.
Now Kennard – who averaged 15.8 points a game last season – is on the way out, and the Pistons have a trio of first-round picks who might help them in their rebuild.
In addition to the trade with the Clippers, Detroit also agreed to a deal with Houston. The Pistons acquired the 16th pick and Trevor Ariza for a future first-round selection, according to the person who spoke with AP.
The Sacramento Kings selected Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th overall pick in the NBA draft Wednesday night, adding depth to a backcourt that is almost certain to undergo significant changes.
Haliburton averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 assists during his sophomore season at Iowa State. He shot better than 42 percent from 3-point range during his college career.
Considered one of the best guards available in the draft, the 6-foot-5 Haliburton was projected to go as high as the Top 5 but fell to the Kings, where he will join point guard De´Aaron Fox in the backcourt.
Haliburton said no one in his family has ever been to California but called Sacramento ‘the perfect spot for me.’
‘The team Sacramento has now, there’s a young core that’s ready to compete, ready to be healthy and be able to truly compete to make the playoffs,’ Haliburton said. ‘I don’t know too much about Sacramento but I’m looking forward to learning the place and really calling that place home for the rest of my career hopefully.’
The Kings’ 14-year playoff drought is the longest active streak in the NBA and the second-longest drought in league history. First-year Sacramento general manager Monte McNair, armed with four picks in this year’s draft, is hoping to build around Fox and Marvin Bagley III, the second overall pick in 2018.
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)
The Boston Celtics loaded up on backcourt depth in the NBA draft on Wednesday night, picking Vanderbilt shooting guard Aaron Nesmith and Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard in the first round.
The Celtics used the No. 14 pick on Nesmith, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound sophomore who was averaging 23 points and shooting 51 percent before a foot injury ended his season 14 games in. Some analysts called him the best shooter in the draft.
‘The shooting is his thing,’ Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ‘When you can put the ball in the basket, that certainly is a benefit.’
Nesmith called himself an ‘absolute sniper’ and said he wanted to make life easier for Celtics veterans like Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. He described himself as ‘a guy that’s always going to be there, work hard and earn his stripes.’
‘I want to be great,’ he said. ‘I want to be the best player I can be, so that includes defense.’
With the 26th overall pick, the Celtics selected Pritchard, who was the Pac-12 player of the year after leading the conference with 20.5 points per game and 5.6 assists. Stevens praised his toughness.
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.
The Dallas Mavericks drafted Arizona guard Josh Green, a native of Australia, with 18th pick in the first round Wednesday night, adding a backcourt mate for Luka Doncic as they continue to build around the 21-year-old sensation and fellow European star Kristaps Porzingis.
Dallas changed the look of its backcourt even further by trading Seth Curry to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson and another second-round pick, a person with knowledge of the deal said on condition of anonymity because it had not been announced.
The Dallas Mavericks drafted Arizona guard Josh Green (pictured), a native of Australia, with 18th pick in the first round Wednesday night, adding a backcourt mate for Luka Doncic as they continue to build around the 21-year-old sensation and fellow European star Kristaps Porzingis
Green, drafted two days after his 20th birthday, moved to the United States at 14 and played high school basketball at IMG Academy in Florida.
The 6-foot-6 swingman entered the draft after a pandemic-shortened freshman season at Arizona, where he averaged 12 points per game and shot 36% from 3-point range. He was standout on defense, leading the Wildcats with 46 steals.
‘What we needed first for our roster are wing defenders that can shoot and score and hopefully make plays,’ coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘We feel like he’s a ready-to-go 3-and-D guy.’
The Mavericks sent Curry, one of their better 3-point shooters, to the 76ers for Richardson and the 36th pick in the second round, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced. Curry is the son-in-law of new Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers.
The 76ers picked Colorado forward Tyler Bey at No. 36 for Dallas, which earlier drafted another guard with the first pick in the second round – 31st overall – in Stanford’s Tyrell Terry. The freshman averaged 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game for the Cardinal.
Led by Doncic and Porzingis, the Mavericks made the playoffs for the first time in four years, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round at the NBA bubble in Florida.
Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv’s Deni Avdija is headed to Washington after being taken by the Wizards
‘Coming off of last year, our offense was historically great,’ Carlisle said. ‘We need to get our defense better. Some of it is going to be the kind of work we put in during training camp. But the other part is when we draft and acquire players, we want to acquire players with that mindset and that ability.’
The addition of Green comes with the Mavericks expecting shooting guard Tim Hardaway to exercise the $19 million option on his contract. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said Hardaway is important piece as the Mavericks try to move toward title contention.
‘I think I need to focus on the things the team needs,’ Green said. ‘I feel like in my position and role, I don’t think I need to do anything outside of that. I think if I´m able to play defense, work as hard as I can, hit open shots and do what the team needs to do, I feel like that happens.’
Porzingis is expected to miss the start of the season coming off surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. He missed all of 2018-19 after tearing the ACL in his left knee with the New York Knicks, who traded him to Dallas last year.
Richardson has averaged 12.4 points in five NBA seasons and is a career 36 percent shooter from 3. The 27-year-old played four seasons in Miami before going to Philadelphia in a trade during the 2019 offseason.