The 2020 NBA Draft is going to be unlike any other, with the coronavirus pandemic having an unprecedented impact.
Normally held in June, the draft is moving to October 15 this year because the entire NBA calendar has been pushed back. More than four months will have elapsed since the March 11 suspension of the 2019-20 season and the league returns on July 31 in Orlando – with Milwaukee Bucks the current
5/2* favourites to be crowned champions.
No Tanking in 2020
Another new aspect of the 2020 draft proceedings is that the commissioner changed the format of the lottery, in order to deter the league’s worst teams from tanking. Instead of the worst team getting the best chance to win the draft lottery, as has been the case in the past, now the three worst teams are tied with the best chance.
This year, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves all have a 14 per cent chance of landing the No.1 overall pick.
Fans of those franchises may be griping that they did not get an invite to Orlando (only the 22 teams either in the play-off positions or in relative play-off contention are continuing their seasons), but in actuality Golden State, Cleveland, and Minnesota should not be complaining. They are now locked into their status as the three worst teams and are no longer in any danger of winning too many games to change that.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks wrapped up the fourth spot (12.5 per cent chance of winning the lottery) and they are followed by Detroit Pistons (10.5 per cent), New York Knicks (9.0 per cent) and Chicago Bulls (7.5 per cent).
College Players to Look Out For
So which players are those teams focusing on?
Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards is the favourite to be the No.1 overall pick. The 6’5”, 225-pound shooting guard averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game in his first and only season with the Bulldogs.
The 18-year-old recently told 247 Sports: “I think I should go No.1, no doubt. That’s the only place I think I should go. I just feel like I got the physical tools. I feel like my body frame is already there and I’m going to stay in the gym and continue to get better.”
LaMelo Ball looks likely to be the second option to be the top choice. Ball has been reaping benefits of his family’s Big Baller Brand company, so it was no surprise that he decided not to attend college after initially committing to UCLA during his early high school days. The youngest Ball brother instead took his talents overseas, including a brief stint in the NBL based in Australia and New Zealand.
“I think everyone saw what he’s capable of,” praised Matt Flinn, the head coach of Ball’s NBL club. “He just impacts the game in so many different ways. It’s exciting to be a part of and it’s also the way he brings his teammates into the game.”
Ball, although a slight underdog to go No. 1, may have something of an advantage in that the coronavirus crisis completely wiped out the NCAA Tournament. As a result, college stars like Edwards, Dayton’s Obi Toppin and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony did not have a chance to shine on the big stage in March.
Now we have to wait until October to see who will shine brightest on draft night.
*All odds correct at time of writing