Previewing the NBA Draft and Offseason

Since Oct. 11, National Basketball Association (NBA) fans and players alike have been waiting to hear when the 2020-2021 NBA season would commence. Originally, fans and media alike predicted a mid-December start date; that time line was quickly discarded. Since then, speculation began around New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine’s Day as alternate tip-off dates. We are now officially starting the NBA season on December 22. On Wednesday, November 18, the off-season will commence with the 2020 NBA Draft.

This off-season, like the year 2020, has been unlike any other. Draft prospects have had six months more than usual to prepare themselves for the next level of basketball. Players like Stanford point guard Tyrell Terry, Florida State small forward Patrick Williams and Villanova forward Saddiq Bey have been climbing up draft boards because of rumors of incredible development since the end of the college basketball season. With this improvement, the rumor mill has been spiraling out of control. Teams have had too much time to evaluate these players, thus, their vision of the perfect fit players for their team has changed numerous times. 

Three players in this NBA Draft are in a tier of their own: Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Illawarra guard LaMelo Ball and Memphis center James Wiseman. Any of these three players has the potential to be the number one pick in the draft. At Georgia, Edwards averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game during his freshman season. Edwards has drawn many comparisons to Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, NBA shooting guards who Georgia coach Tom Crean coached during their college careers. Edwards should be a leading scorer for any team that drafts him. Ball averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game during his lone season for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL). Ball, like his brother Lonzo, brings high basketball IQ and elite playmaking to the game, adding up to give him boom-or-bust potential. Wiseman, in his three games at Memphis, averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks per game. Wiseman’s freshman year was cut short after the NCAA suspended him twelve games for a rule violation, prompting him to leave Memphis and train for the draft. 

All three of these prospects can produce massive upside or end up being a bust, which is why most teams are worried about drafting them. The Minnesota Timberwolves own the number one pick, but there is no clear fit between these three prospects due to the emergence of the Karl-Anthony Towns/D’Angelo Russell duo. The Warriors will probably trade out because they still have their elite core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. If not, expect them to take Wiseman, who can be a good rim-running center in coach Steve Kerr’s offense. The Hornets, if they don’t trade the pick, should take whoever is left out of the Ball/Wiseman/Edwards trio. 

This draft could be defined by draft-night trades. The Pelicans, who own the 13th pick, are looking to move up in the draft and are using all-league guard Jrue Holiday as bait. The Hawks, who own the sixth pick, could be a possible suitor if they are looking to win now. All-star guard Russell Westbrook has requested a trade out of Houston which could shake up the order of the NBA draft. The Knicks, Hornets and Pistons are all possible destinations for Westbrook. The Thunder could look at this pick as the last step towards their rebuild and trade up, fully embracing the new era in Oklahoma City.

No matter how the draft night plays out, free agency will start on Friday, Nov. 20. It’s only a matter of time before we get to tip-off on Dec. 22. New faces will begin their career in familiar places, while familiar faces look to move their careers to new places. Finally, we are getting to the offseason, and basketball, just as quickly as it was gone, will be back.