The Minnesota Timberwolves made University of Georgia standout Anthony Edwards the first overall selection in the 2020 NBA draft on Wednesday.
The Timberwolves, who finished 19-45 in the coronavirus-disrupted 2020 season, opted for Edwards, who averaged 19 points per game as a freshman, to bolster a roster that includes young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Edwards said from his home in Georgia on the ESPN broadcast of the draft.
“So many emotions,” he said. “My family is emotional. I feel like when I get out of here I’m going to be emotional. It’s beyond measure to be in this situation.”
The 2020 draft comes barely four weeks after LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the NBA Finals after a virus-disrupted season.
And it comes just five weeks before the 2020-21 campaign tips off on December 22.
That means the NBA’s newest top recruits face being thrown in at the deep end after an unprecedented last leg of their journey to the league.
“We’ve all had to do our best, whether that’s agents, players, colleges, pros, so we’re thrust into that, too, and it makes for a lot of unknowns,” said Golden State general manager Bob Myers, whose Warriors took James Wiseman with the second overall selection.
Wiseman, a 7ft 1in (2.16m) center who played just three games for the University of Memphis before withdrawing to aim at the NBA draft, is an imposing presence at the rim who said — speaking from his home in Nashville during the virtual draw ceremony — that he was ready to get to Golden State and “learn as much as possible and just be the best version of me.”
The Warriors, one season removed from a run of five straight Finals appearances that yielded three titles, finished last in the Western Conference after a season marred not only by the departure of Kevin Durant but by injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Their hopes that the addition of new blood in Wiseman would signal a turnaround may have been tempered with news earlier Wednesday that Thompson, who missed all of 2019-20 with a torn left knee ligament, suffered a lower right leg injury of undetermined severity in training hours before the draft.
Ball goes third
The Charlotte Hornets, owned by NBA icon Michael Jordan, took LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick.
Ball, the youngest of three basketball-playing brothers who already have their own reality TV show, was touted as a potential top selection, but erratic shooting ability may have weighed against the 6ft 7in 19-year-old from California whose path to the NBA included stints playing professionally in Lithuania and Australia.
He averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 31.2 minutes over 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia’s National Basketball League this past season.
The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams with the fourth pick, Isaac Okoro went fifth to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks took Onyeka Okongwu sixth overall.
France’s Killian Hayes went seventh overall to the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons had started wheeling and dealing even before their No. 7 number came up, making a trade to acquire another first-round selection less than an hour before the draft began.
They acquired veteran forward Trevor Ariza and the number 16 pick from the Houston Rockets for a future draft pick.