WITH most college basketball teams featuring in 10ish games so far, we have a good gauge of the NBA hopefuls determined to be an early draft pick in June. However, despite some impressive performances thus far, no one has separated themselves from the rest of their peers as the consensus No. 1 selection for the class of 2020. There is still plenty of time for someone to run away with that honour, but a loaded field makes it’s tough to predict who that player might be.
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THE favourite to come off the board first at this stage would have to be Anthony Edwards. The Georgia guard has had a stellar start to the season, living up to the hype as the No. 4 ranked recruit for 2019. His combination of elite athleticism and shot-making has been on full display, with Edwards’ performance against Michigan State raising plenty of eyebrows early on in the collegiate season. Against the then #3 ranked Spartans, the 6′ 5″ Bulldog went off for 37 points – 33 of which came in the second half.
IN that Maui Invitational clash, Edwards displayed his ability to manoeuvre through defenses and shake off opponents, forcing many mock drafts around the globe to push his name to the top of the list. Part of the reason Edwards has been able to rise into the No. 1 slot is due to the suspension of one of his biggest competitors, James Wiseman. Memphis’ own first-year star in Wiseman has a legitimate case to go first overall in June, with fans treated to just three performances so far. Wiseman will return to the court in January once he serves his 12-game suspension and will be eager to add to his averages of 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks a night.
BOTH Wiseman and Edwards are destined to be top-3 picks when the draft rolls around and the order in which they’re drafted will depend on who is making the pick. If the team kickstarting proceedings are after a more traditional point guard, then it would be remiss for them not to consider LaMelo Ball. Honing his skills in the NBL for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia seems like a decision that will pay dividends for Ball, with his draft stock continually rising with every game he plays. Before he was sidelined with a recent foot complaint, Ball was the talk of the league, posting consecutive triple-doubles while producing viral highlights thanks to his unreal passing ability.
LAMELO isn’t the only draft hopeful who decided to hoop down under in an effort to boost his draft chances. The New Zealand Breakers have a highly touted prospect of their own in R.J. Hampton, who hasn’t had the same statistical success as Ball, but he still deserves to be mentioned in this group. Hampton is also facing a stint on the sidelines after succumbing to a hip injury, but his versatile skill set has been on full display in the 12 games he featured in for the Breakers. The fact that he doesn’t have a signature skill or strength is concerning and will probably see Hampton fall to the back half of the lottery, but his upside is a great as anyone in the class.
Image from au.sports.yahoo.com
NAMES like Nico Mannion, Tyrese Maxey, and Deni Avdiji also belong in the conversation for the top overall selection, but in an already loaded field, they’ll have to do something pretty special in the next six months to move to the top of the food chain. There is one other candidate who could rise above the rest in UNC floor general Cole Anthony who begun the year ranked as the second-best player out of high school.
THE son of former NBA journeyman and NBA TV analyst Greg Anthony, Cole has enjoyed mixed success to start his freshman season as a Tar Heel, with his hair and on-court attire capturing as much attention as his play. North Carolina hasn’t enjoyed their traditional start to the season and Anthony’s per-game numbers have suffered slightly, but that hasn’t stopped the score first guard from putting forth a resume worthy of a top-5 pick. A threat to put up 30 points and/or a triple-double every time he steps onto the floor will see Anthony flirt with the top of mock drafts for the entire season.
WITH plenty of basketball still to be played until the 2020 draft, we could see a variety of scenarios play out, but I’d be stunned if Edwards, Wiseman and Ball weren’t linked with the first pick for the majority of the time. As I mentioned, there are plenty of other candidates, but that trio seems to have separated themselves from the pack right now. Team needs again will play a factor in who gets drafted where, but for the first time in a long time, there is an air of uncertainty at the top of the lottery and it could make for one helluva draft night.