17. Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia (Oklahoma City Thunder via Minnesota Timberwolves)
And one of our first international “unicorns” of the draft.
16. Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington (Detroit Pistons via Portland Trail Blazers)
This is the Trail Blazers pick, but he’s heading to the Pistons. We’re heading into the area of the draft order where it starts getting a bit complicated.
By the time of the early 20s, drafting becomes way more of an art than a science so I honestly couldn’t guess.
15. Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina (Orlando Magic)
And there’s Cole Anthony, maybe a few spots lower than many would have thought. And, hey, random Spike Lee cameo!
He absolutely has potential to be the “I can’t believe the X got him with the Yth pick” player of the Draft (and there always is one, just ask Tyler Herro).
I’ll say this: the trading down to pick Jayson Tatum move ended up working so well that it’s hard to complain about the rest although I still do.
14. Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt (Boston Celtics)
(Long, long sigh.) I guess Danny Ainge felt he needed a shooter here?
In the next 2-3 picks, I think? I know that’s not incredibly specific, but we’re getting close to when he’s going to be the most attractive player remaining.
13. Kira Lewis Jr. PG, Alabama (New Orleans Pelicans)
Honestly, after landing Zion Williamson last time around, it doesn’t matter at all if Kira Lewis Jr. ends up panning out or not. I am going to assume this makes Cole Anthony as the Celtics’ pick.
This also pretty much puts an end to any thoughts of the Boston Celtics trading up in this draft, which I was convinced would be their best move considering how many picks they had in this draft. I should just stop predicting anything.
12. Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State (Sacramento Kings)
And Haliburton doesn’t even last long enough to tease Boston. The Kings gladly take him with the very next pick and the ESPN guys immediately start gushing about him.
11. Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State (San Antonio Spurs)
This selection official makes Tyrese Haliburton the guy falling in the draft which means that he will be taken the pick right before whenever the Boston Celtics have their first shot.
10. Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland (Phoenix Suns)
Phoenix Suns select Smith, who looks like a PF who could pitch-in as a center. This is all great, but I was really expecting at least one trade by this point.
What will happen to Obi Tappin? He will either be a classic bust. Or, he will be great and the Knicks will trade him for a handful of past their prime stars and Obi will blossom into a hall of famer.
I’m thinking the second career path.
9. Deni Avdija, SF, Israel (Washington Wizards)
And the 6-foot-10 forward from Israel sneaks inside the Top 10. The ESPN guys really love this pick.
We have had a lot of crying throughout the night. Just about every player has gone through difficult circumstances to get to where there are now. It’s a shame that this all had to happen in this particular historical moment.
8. Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton (New York Knicks)
If the New York Knicks make a selection and Knicks fans aren’t there to boo it, have they really made a pick? The Knicks pick Obi Toppin, who is probably the best available player remaining and absolutely the best name in the entire draft. It’ll be interesting to see how the Knicks eventually screw him up.
7. Killian Hayes, PG, France (Detroit Pistons)
There’s a lot of international players being picked already. The commentators use the word “crafty” to describe him. Twice.
6. Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC (Atlanta Hawks)
And that answers that question.
Yeah. Holding a massive event during a pandemic is not a great sign of judgment you want from your first-round pick.
I am spending every single one of these interviews with draft picks hanging out with their friends and family and judging them by how many people they have invited. I have a bad case of 2020 brain.
5. Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn (Cleveland Cavaliers)
A solid, safe pick. He might have NBA-caliber defense already.
“You didn’t start a single game when you were in Florida.” I’m sure that Bulls fans really liked hearing that in regards to their first-round pick.
A very good question but honestly, it feels like we’re already in “nobody knows anything” territory as far as this draft.
4. Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State (Chicago Bulls)
Well, that’s certainly a decision. Feels like a bit of reach.
3. LaMelo Ball, PG, Chino Hills (Charlotte Hornets)
In a “Congratulations, I’m Sorrry” moment: the good news is that you’re playing for Michael Jordan now. The bad news is that you’re playing for Michael Jordan now.
2. James Wiseman, C, Memphis (Golden State Warriors)
It’s hard to know if they would have selected differently had Klay Thompson not been injured, but the Warriors go for the obvious choice at number two by chosing Memphis center James Wiseman. I approve.
True as he’s already played overseas in the Australian Basketball League which could only help his development.
Edwards certain has the talent to be a number one pick, the main issue with him might be due to the fact that he’s been on the record as not really being a basketball fan. “I’m still not really into it,” he said recently. “I love basketball, yeah. It’s what I do.”
What is the over/under on number of times a team trades down in this first round? Like 8? 10?
The 2020 NBA Draft Begins!
Alright, that’s enough vamping. Adam Silver is up here to talk more about how different this draft will be than most. He uses the term “New Normal” but he manages to avoid the term “unprecedented times.”
Did that beer commercial just use “Pressure Drop” as background music? Toots Hibbert didn’t die for this.
You could be right. I suppose I better make my position clear: I personally like big man James Wiseman the best of this bunch, but I understand that he might not be the best fit in the modern game.
It’s time for the obligatory Adam Silver interview here about how the NBA is preparing for next season. It’s briefly mentioned that in some cases, there will be a limited number of actual fans in the stands during some games. Seems risky to me, but I never thought the Disney World Bubble would work.
Okay, it’s looking like we’re a half-hour away from the actual start of the NBA Draft, I should have realized that ESPN would start off with a pre-draft show. In any case, I’m glad I made the decision to stream this on my laptop rather than try to hijack the apartment’s TV. They’ve let me blog basketball and baseball, but I can’t force this kind of sheer sports geekiness on my roommates.
As the person who proclaimed, in this very outlet, that Lonzo Ball would win Rookie of the Year in his first season, I cringed while reading this. This could also factor into why I’m cold on LaMelo, there’s a “once bitten, twice shy” element in play.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a team made a basketball signing with one eye on ticket sales and ratings. The NBA is not just a sports league, after all, it’s part of the Entertainment Industry.
This again goes with my idea that there will be teams out there who will value Ball higher than the team that lands him in the draft.
Email from workwithleob
There was news that Klay injured his leg today. Will this affect the warriors pick?
Yes! How? Absolutely no clue. Until this news broke, it looked pretty set in stone that the Warriors were treating the 2019-20 season as one lost to injuries and that they would go back to being a threat in the Western Conference in the next one. So, the consensus was that they would look into trading the second round pick for pieces that would help them win now.
Thompson’s injury, however, could radically change their projected timeline, depending on its severity and the amount of time it takes for him to come back. I don’t think the Warriors even know what the best move here is.
Email from Jonng Inbrasil:
In prior years this was good tv, hope it is again but with no March Madness my interest is way down.
Yeah, don’t expect a huge production this time around, this Draft is going to be purely functional, it’s something the league has to do to move on in preparing for the next season. LaMelo Ball is the biggest name here among the players and his dad is ten times more famous than him.
Related email from Andrew James:
Why no love for Ball?And is this the first draft since [I can’t remember] that all top picks are likely to be traded?
I think Ball is probably going to be a good NBA player but I think his stock is artificially inflated by the whole Ball Family narrative. I feel like there’s a team out there that is willing to give up a lot for him and that, if so, the team that lands him should strongly consider pulling that trade.
I am tempted to compare LaMelo Ball to Eli Manning, but then I remember that Eli somehow beat my NFL team in the Super Bowl not once, but twice, so what do I know about such things?
Klay Thompson injured
Well, we told you there would be surprises today, but we didn’t promise they would be good ones. Depending on the severity of Thompson’s injury, this could make the Golden State Warriors’ lack of relevance, which until now seemed like a one-season story, an ongoing concern.
That’s what I’ve heard, the current starting date is penciled in at December 22 and it will be a 72 game season rather than the normal 82 which, to be perfectly honest, is a change the league should make permanent. 82 games was always just too long of a season even for most of us basketball diehards.
Email from Andrew James:
Just wondering what you thought Charlotte should do tonight as they seem to be – once again – in a difficult position at number 3, dependent on where the top 2 picks go. Will whoever they take – maybe Ball – feel like a good result?
If Ball ends up at third, I would take a long, long look at trying to fleece a team looking to trade up in the draft.
Al Horford-for-Danny Green
I wasn’t kidding when I said that teams would be multitasking today more than ever. Already we have the first major trade of the evening. After a single, miserable season with the Philadelphia 76ers, big man Al Horford has reportedly been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for veteran 3-and-D man Danny Green alongside guard Terrance Ferguson. In the deal, the 76ers are also sending the 34th pick in today’s draft, a protected first rounder from 2025 and the rights to Serbian guard Vasilije Micic.
Hello everyone, remember NCAA Men’s College Basketball? It was a real thing once upon a time. Then on March 12 it, along with pretty much every other institution at the time, shut down thanks to Covid-19. The 2019-20 season ended without a champion being named. So, it’s been months since most of the players in today’s draft have actually participated in games of consequence and neither teams nor most basketball fans have seen them in action for a long while. Even before the pandemic hit, the 2020 NBA Draft was regarded as one of the weaker ones. The additional uncertainty brought upon by the long layoff has not helped.
So, there’s probably not a Zion Williamson to be found among the current class, but at the very least the long-postponed 2020 NBA Draft will act as an interesting experiment. There’s no Sure Thing here, for instance. The literal madness of March meant that there was no March Madness year, no opportunities for players to increase their draft stock by breaking out during the tournament.
On top of it all, the NBA Trade Deadline season didn’t kick off until Monday, which means that teams have spent the last few days furiously working the phones at the same time they’ve been reviewing their big boards of draft picks. This, in other words, could be a weird night, as if there have been any normal ones this year.
One thing remains the same: if you want to contribute to today’s liveblog, feel free to send your thoughts to us. You can do so by email (to Hunter.Felt.Freelance@theguardian.com) or via Twitter (@HunterFelt). The Draft itself is not starting until 7:30 pm EST according to ESPN, but that’s not going to stop any of us from the nonstop speculation, is it?
Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s some news from the Associated Press on a pre-draft move:
The New York Knicks moved up a few spots with their second pick of the NBA draft’s first round by completing a trade with the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
The Knicks acquired the No23 selection from Utah, sending the Nos 27 and 38 picks to the Jazz.
New York also received the draft rights to Croatian center Ante Tomic, who was taken by the Jazz in the second round in 2008 but has spent his entire career in Europe.
The Knicks’ first pick is the No8 selection.