The deadline for early entrants to the 2020 NBA draft passed over the weekend.
The next deadline to watch out for is June 15 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Underclassmen have until then to withdraw from the draft and keep their college eligibility. With the ever-changing landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these dates could change, but for now, these draft hopefuls will go through the process in hopes of hearing their names called on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
One way or another, the draft will eventually take place, at which point it will be time to welcome in another exciting draft class.
There's plenty of time to go until the draft really heats up, but that won't stop us from going through some of the players we're most excited to catch.
Though he likely won't be the first name called on draft night, the player I'm most excited to see is the 7-foot-1 centre from Memphis whose season was cut short due to a suspension over eligibility concerns after just three games.
In a draft mostly dominated by big guards and wings, Wiseman is a paint patrolling, rim-protecting centre with an enormous 7-foot-6 wingspan. He's admittedly raw and perhaps behind where he would have been had he been in the lineup for Memphis the entire year, but Wiseman still has the physical tools to be the most imposing player in this draft.
In a league trending smaller, Wiseman projects as an even bigger question mark given how questionably his game translates to an evolving NBA that places more emphasis on shooting than size. He's quick enough to be able to switch onto the perimeter and he's a good enough passer to eventually make NBA defences pay for sagging too far off of him even if he's not yet much of a threat as a shooter.
I don't necessarily think Wiseman will be the best player in this draft, but I am particularly intrigued given there's not another lights out prospect to hang your hat on. Every player inside the top 10 comes with a fair share of question marks, so it's not as if Wiseman is alone in that regard. The Golden State Warriors have been rumoured to be looking elsewhere and Wiseman might be too big of a project to take on for a team looking to compete next season. That being said, it's fun to think about how he could fit it on a team that's in desperate need for some size down low.
- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)
The answer here is LaMelo Ball.
There's not been a more entertaining family than the Ball family in recent memory and if you've watched any of their reality show you know that LaMelo may be the most interesting character. Pair that with his potential on the court, and you have must-see TV.
I admit, I was skeptical that Ball would be able to go over to Australia and show any signs of development in what is a tough physical league, but towards the end of his time there he showed signs of improvement. He averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He'll have to improve his jumper, which we knew going into his one season showcase in Australia so it wasn't a surprise that he shot under 40% from the field and 25% from three. But he does have the tools to be a playmaker at the next level and if he's focused, a solid defender much like his brother Lonzo.
Given the space and rules he'll have to operate within the NBA, there might be a chance Melo turns into something special, and I'll be here with popcorn at the ready for the journey.
- Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)
From an upside standpoint, this 6-foot-9 Israeli-Serbian might be the most intriguing and versatile prospect in the draft. Avdija checks every box a scout could envision and his skill set appears as if it was meticulously engineered for today's NBA.
The 19-year-old is an unknown in North America but has an impressive string of accomplishments overseas, leading Israel to back-to-back FIBA Under-20 European Championships. He was named MVP of the tournament in 2019 and his gaudy stat line of 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals offers a sniff of the well-roundedness to his game.
Watching Avdija's mixtape from Maccabi Tel Aviv, you might confuse him with the team's point guard as he pushes the ball fluidly on the break, carves up defences off the dribble and finds open teammates. His jumper has a smooth, effortless, quick-release. He's got some explosiveness on both sides of the ball that won't be elite in the NBA but still formidable for a guy his size. Give me a point forward, a stretch four and even enough D to be a stand-in centre in smaller lineups.
The intangible savvy and creativity to Avdija's game is the piece that makes him truly tantalizing. Check out a baseline drive and quick, emphatic flush at the 2:10 mark of his Maccabi highlight reel. It's a finish that most players wouldn't even consider attempting from that angle with their off-hand, let alone pull off successfully.
This overall package makes Avdija reminiscent of a new-age Detlef Schrempf; one of the most versatile and under-appreciated players of the last 30 years who won wherever he went and would easily be a max player in 2020. Who knows if Avdija's game will translate as well against the world's best, but in a draft relatively devoid of talent, he's got a chance to draw a lot of attention from the get-go.
- Alex Novick (@Anov_SN)
I haven't watched much college basketball this season, but I'm intrigued by everything I have seen and heard about Obi Toppin.
Toppin seems like an ideal power forward for today's NBA. He can get out in the open court, he's a powerful finisher around the rim, he can punish smaller players in the post and he was a solid 3-point shooter this season - he went from taking 0.6 3-point attempts per game as a freshman to 2.6 as a sophomore, knocking them down at a 39.0 percent clip.
Toppin has even shown flashes of being a capable passer even though he had more turnovers (131) than assists (128) during his two years at Dayton.
The biggest questions with Toppin are on the other end of the court. He's not much of a rim protector and he has a hard time defending the perimeter, making him a tweener on defence. It could make for a particularly tricky fit with someone like Karl-Anthony Towns, John Collins or Kevin Love - players he could be teammates with in the NBA - as the combination of either one of them and Toppin would form a ... defensively challenged frontcourt.
Still, even if he only becomes average on defence, he has the potential to be a big-time player in the NBA, whether it's as a high-end role player or as a star.
The most intriguing landing spot for Toppin? The Golden State Warriors. They might be better off with a traditional centre seeing as they already have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green, but he'd fit in well with what they do offensively and he could learn a lot defensively from Green.
- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
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