The 2020 NBA Draft is finally upon us. With one day to go before the November 18th virtual draft, the odds board looks slightly different than what it was before the pandemic. Sure, the top five names in the best sportsbooks remain the same. However, they are in a slightly different order with 24 hours left before draft night.
There has been no consensus number one pick for this year’s draft but ever since the betting lines have been drawn, the name Anthony Edwards has been on top of the list for most of the time. But as Draft day has gotten nearer, Edwards has tumbled to second in the odds board while the 19-year old who was previously projected to be the third pick in the draft is the new odds on favorite.
LaMelo Ball has moved from 3 to 2, and now no. 1 in the top sportsbooks. The 19-year old younger brother of Lonzo Ball has taken an unconventional route to the draft. He didn’t play college ball and instead played professionally in Australia to boost his draft stock. That ploy is apparently paying off. Ball is now the -150 betting favorite to be picked overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Edwards is second in the latest BetOnline odds board at +100 while James Wiseman is currently listed at +750. Next on the list is Israeli Deni Avdija at +5000 while Obi Toppin is fifth at +6600.
As mentioned earlier, LaMelo Ball has trekked an unconventional path. Ball was expected to go to UCLA where his brother Lonzo played college ball at. But he skipped his junior year in high school when he played professionally in Lithuania and for the JBA league his father created. LaMelo would return to play for SPIRE Institute and Academy during his senior season but instead of going to college, he played professional basketball.
Ball joined the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian National Basketball League in 2019 on a two-year contract via the NBL Next Stars Program which aims to develop future NBA stars. Ball 12 NBL games and averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. At the end of the season, he was named as NBL Rookie of the Year.
The 19-year old is a 6-7 guard who is projected to become a nightmare matchup for NBA point guards. Ball has superb ball-handling skills and has a nice touch from the outside. He is also a terrific playmaker who has excellent court vision and has the knack for making the right plays.
Anthony Edwards was the frontrunner for the top pick of the 2020 NBA Draft from the beginning. The Georgia product was considered as the best guard in college basketball and his game was compared to a young Dwyane Wade.
Edwards played high school ball for the Holy Spirit Preparatory School in Atlanta where he was a consensus five-star recruit. The 19-year old earned McDonald’s All-American honors and USA Today All-USA First team honors during his senior high school season. Edwards played one season of college basketball for the University of Georgia. He averaged 19.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game while earning SEC Freshman of the Year Honors.
The thing with Edwards is that he has an NBA-ready body and tremendous athleticism. He also has a very good shooting stroke and a decent handle that makes him a potential NBA star. However, because the Georgia Bulldogs had a poor record last season, his ability to lead a team to success is in doubt. When it comes to getting picked by the Wolves, Edwards had one workout with the team and he said it went great. But don’t forget that the Wolves traded wing player Andrew Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell so Edwards’ position may not be one that Minnesota is looking to fill in during the draft.
James Wiseman is the best big man available in the draft. The 7-1 center played college basketball for the Memphis Tigers in the NCAA. However, he played in just three total games and averaged 19.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Wiseman began his high school career at The Ensworth School in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. He transferred to Memphis East High School where he was coached by former NBA sensation Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. As a high school senior, he was a consensus five-star recruit with most of the recruiting services ranking him as the top player in the class of 2019. Wiseman was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2019 and he joined Hardaway at Memphis.
He was suspended after the NCAA ruled that Hardaway acted as a booster to facilitate his transfer to Memphis. After serving part of his suspension, Wiseman declared for the NBA draft.
At 7-1 with a wingspan of 7-6, Wiseman’s size alone is elite. But he brings more than that to the table. The 19-year old is agile and quick for his size. He has decent leaping ability and can finish strong around the basket. He doesn’t have the consistent outside shot yet but being a lefty with a smooth stroke certainly helps. Wiseman has the size and length to be an elite NBA shot blocker. But as far as Minnesota is concerned, the Wolves already have a franchise big man in Karl Anthony Towns so it would be unlikely that they will pick up Wiseman.
The Minnesota Timberwolves worked out LaMelo Ball not just once but twice. That’s a sign that the team picking first is thinking hard about him. If you look at Minnesota’s lineup, they have another scoring point guard in D’Angelo Russell whom they acquired from the Golden State Warriors last season. It’s also rumored that the Wolves believe that Anthony Edwards would be a better fit with Russell and team franchise player Karl Anthony Towns. As for James Wiseman, the Wolves already have KAT so it would be ridiculous for them to draft another center. That leaves us with two: LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards.
If the Wolves keep the pick, they might go with Anthony Edwards. However, remember that this team traded Andrew Wiggins last season for D’Lo and Edwards plays more like Wiggins so maybe this isn’t the kind of player they like. Also, there has been plenty of talk that Minnesota is willing to trade down in the draft and there are teams in the other lottery positions that like LaMelo Ball. Minnesota could be picking LaMelo Ball for them.
Wolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas has said that his team will pick the best available talent in the draft because his team’s two stars- Towns and Russell are too versatile to be limited to playing just one position. So Rosas is saying that they won’t necessarily pick a wing (Edwards), guard (Ball), or center (Wiseman).
There is no doubt that LaMelo Ball is the best talent available and is an intriguing pick that other teams covet. Whether they keep him or trade him after the draft, is beside the point. Minnesota is picking LaMelo Ball.
Prediction: LaMelo Ball -150
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