After multiple delays, the NBA draft finally arrives Wednesday. Like everyone else in 2020, this year’s class of players has tried to make the best of their difficult circumstances.
There was no dancing on the court after a March Madness victory. No bounding onto the stage in a spiffy suit to meet the commissioner in June.
The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the traditional end of a college career and the usual start of a pro one. Players such as Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman should be about a month into their rookie seasons by now, but their plans were put on hold.
Edwards, a freshman guard from Georgia, is one of the leading candidates to be picked first by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ball, a guard who skipped college to play professionally overseas, and 7-foot-1 Memphis freshman center Wiseman are the other headliners in the class.
The draft is usually held in June in New York, where Adam Silver announces the first-round picks.
The top players sit at tables in the front of the arena and when their names are called, put on a hat with the logo of the team that picked them and walk onto the stage for a handshake and a photo with the commissioner.
This time, Silver will be announcing the picks from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut. Players have been shipped boxes of hats for wherever they will be watching to choose the one they need when their name is called.
The Golden State Warriors have the No. 2 pick, a chance to add a top young player to a team that reached five straight NBA Finals before tumbling to the bottom of the league when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were injured. Charlotte picks third, followed by Chicago and Cleveland.
The teams lacked some resources to evaluate players, without the normal draft combine in Chicago or the ability to invite players to their facilities for meetings and workouts. Perhaps that’s partly the reason there is no consensus No. 1 pick this year like Zion Williamson in 2019.
Wiseman averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games after arriving as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, then was suspended by the NCAA for eligibility reasons and announced he was leaving the program to prepare for the draft.