- Graeme Simpson
NBA Draft Preview
With the draft just days away, we are at the beginning of a short and hectic NBA off-season. The NBA Season is set to tip-off December 22nd, leaving the rookies just 34 days to get acquainted with their new teams.
Unlike previous draft years, we do not have a clear cut number-one pick. We also have teams like the Warriors, who aren't rebuilding, but have a high draft pick. This year, unlike others, did not have an in-person NBA Combine nor a March Madness Tournament.
All in all, the 2020 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one for the history books. With so many unknowns, and a more difficult path for the rookies, we can expect some major busts as well as some late picks turning into steals.
Race for the Number 1 Pick
The Minnesota Timberwolves won the lottery back in August, rewarding them with the first overall pick. With their season cut short, they did not meet the requirements to participate in the NBA Bubble Seeding games. With the new addition of D'Angelo Russell right before the trade deadline, this year's Wolves team will look drastically different from last year's.
Odds for the Number One Pick:
Anthony Edwards: -200
LaMelo Ball: +150
James Wiseman: +625
With Anthony Edwards being the odds-on favorite, it seems the Timberwolves will take him with the first pick. Edwards has an extremely good body and stature for an incoming rookie. Although I am not impressed by his game film, he does show signs of greatness. I think if he were to be drafted with the first pick he would fit right into their staring line up at the SG position, along side Russell at point guard and Towns at the five.
LaMelo Ball is an interesting player for this number one pick. Many believe Ball is the best player in the draft, which I would have to agree with, but I have doubts if he can coexist with D'Angelo Russell. LaMelo is a type of player who has to have the ball in his hands. Whether that is creating for himself or a teammate, he demands the ball. On the other hand, Russell is a type of player who likes to hold on to the ball until he sees and open teammate or gets to one of his spots. So I can see a bit of conflict between the two ball handling guards in this rotation if the Wolves go with LaMelo.
Do I believe James Wiseman has a chance of being the first overall pick? Absolutely not. That's pretty much it. It would make no sense for a team that has a center as their franchise player to draft another center. I am giving James Wiseman a 0.01% chance to be picked by the Timberwolves.
The Most Reluctant Pick
We see this every year. A team does not like the position they are in, can't find a trade for the pick, does not like the players they are projected to pick but can't afford to take a chance on another prospect. This year, that team is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many experts have them taking Obi Toppin with the 5th pick. By no means is Obi Toppin a bad prospect, he just does not fill the holes for the Cavs. Cleveland was one of the worst defensive teams last season while on Toppin's scouting report, he received a D+ on the defensive metrics. Toppin is a Power Forward. The Cavs have Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. at that position already.
They could take someone like Issac Okoro, who's game is centered around his defensive abilities, to fill their defensive needs. But what if Okoro never finds an offensive game? The Cavs would be in trouble. Big trouble. They simply can not take the risk of Okoro never panning out into any type of offensive threat.
The Sleeper Pick
With this draft not being top heavy, there is a greater chance of having a big sleeper pick or two. Three prospects stand out to me that are projected from picks 10 to 20. These are the players who have been overlooked during the draft process, but could have an outstanding NBA career.
Kira Lewis Jr.
The Point Guard out of Alabama has star potential. I believe he is the fastest player in this year's draft. His lightning quick speed has caught the eyes of some scouts, but his stock hasn't risen too much. Not only can he be speedy, he can finish at the rim too. Lewis Jr. likes to give 100% on every aspect of his game. He also brings plenty of energy on the court, truly an electrifying player.
When watching some of Desmond Bane's film, you can't help but notice his elite jump shot. He shot at a 43% clip from behind the arc at TCU, proving he can be a perimeter threat. Another area Bane excels at is his hustle plays. He never takes a play off. He will give 110% every time he is on the floor. With his versatility and size, Bane could be a transcendent player in the league.
The young Serbian talent, Aleksej Pokusevski - or Poku for short - is the unicorn of the draft. Some of the things he is capable of do not seem human-like. The 7'0" Center moves like a wing and has a 7'3" wingspan. Surprising for Poku's size, he is a very competent playmaker. He is the type of player to be putting up Jokic type numbers at the C position. Pokusevski just needs some growth and experience to become a dominant force in the league.
Most Likely to Be a Bust
Let me clear this up... No, I do not think all of the players will be busts. I have just put together a list of players most-likely to bust out of this draft class. These are players that have the highest bust potential, but that does not mean they are a given to have a disappointing NBA career. Now, with that being said... let's get into three players who I believe have the highest chance of busting.
Of course, being the presumptive first overall pick brings added pressure and demand from a player. Is Edwards up to the task? This is a question I can't answer with 100 percent certainty, which is concerning. There are a lot of things Edwards should be able to do but just doesn't. He should be able to attack the rim well but doesn't. He should be able to knock down three-point shots but doesn't. He should be able to defend the perimeter well at all times but doesn't. Do you see where I am going here? When it comes to bust potential, Edwards is screaming it from the rooftops.
First off, I do not think that Okoro will end up being a bust, but I do recognize it is very possible. Like I said with him and the Cavs, if he does not develop an offensive game, he basically turns into Stanley Johnson. I can guarantee you not a single team with a lottery pick is wanting to draft Stanley Johnson.
Again, Obi Toppin is another guy I do not believe will be a bust, but it certainly could happen. It worries me that Toppin could be going to a team where he does not fit. That could harm the growth of any player entering the league. Toppin's defense is a huge question mark surrounding him heading into the draft. He also isn't that great of a rebounder with a weak lower body. If he never finds the identity of his game, he could end up being a poor man's, Julius Randle.
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