2020 NBA Draft: A virtual experience

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Ryan Epstein, Staff Writer

With an expected entertaining NBA playoff coming up in one month, the NBA draft occurred on Nov. 18.  For the first time ever, the draft was held virtually due to COVID-19 protocols.  The draft itself was held in Bristol, Connecticut, at an ESPN facility, not the Barclays Center like it has been for the past six years.  Although this year’s draft was virtual, fans and draftees still had a blast watching some of their favorites land their new teams.  With the draft complete, the 2020 NBA rookie class is projected to be one of the best ever.  

 The first pick in the draft went to the Minnesota Timberwolves who selected Anthony Edwards, a shooting guard from Georgia University.  He is expected to be a great addition to the team alongside stars Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.  

Many experts believe that Knicks fans got a steal from Dayton University: Obi Toppin, the Wooden award-winning forward.

“Obi Toppin is a great fit because the Knicks were looking for explosive players to complement their playmaking guards,” said freshman Jake Siciliano.

While most players drafted by the Knicks are far from thrilled because of the team’s recent track record, Toppin is excited to return to his hometown and play in the Big Apple. 

A majority of teams’ draft grades were higher than normal; however, this could be due to the outstanding draft class along with a few notable steals.  Two underestimated players are Deni Avdija and Tyrese Haliburton.  Deni Avdija, a crafty Small Forward from Israel, was drafted ninth by the Washington Wizards.  Mock drafts by expert analysts had Avdija drafted fifth by the 

Cavaliers, but the Wizards were lucky to snag him. Similarly, Haliburton, a guard from Iowa State, fell from a projected sixth to twelfth when drafted by the Sacramento Kings.  These draft picks are both debated to be the biggest steals in this year.  Haliburton is a phenomenal 3-point shooter, which is what the team needs.  Hopefully he can look to teammate De’Aaron Fox’s passing ability to feed him the ball on the perimeter.  

As for best team performance on draft day, few teams had standout nights.

“Starting off with the number three selection, Michael Jordan and Co. snagged a franchise-altering star in LaMelo Ball.  This was a fantastic pick by the front office as the highly marketable Ball will drive ticket sales through the roof.  His skills with the ball in his hand are like no other and he brings a playmaking, shifty style to the court.  Early in the second round, the Hornets added Duke big man Vernon Carey.  Falling to the second round, Carey is a diamond in the rough.  Reports are saying since the last game he played at Duke, he has lost 30 pounds and added a whole new array to his  style on the court.  With Ball along with the big man Carey, it’s safe to say the Hornets are the big winners,” said junior Jasper Abrahams.

Another team that drafted well was Miami Heat.  With the 20th pick, they took Precious Achiuwa, a dominant forward out of Memphis University.  He may become a crucial pick to fill the Power Forward slot, and help alongside Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and strong center Bam Adebayo.  Time will tell if strong drafts for the Hornets and Heat will translate into improvement for the 2020-2021 season, maybe even a championship. 

Along with the great picks, there are always a few questionable ones where players don’t seem like a good fit for their team.  The Phoenix Suns drafted Jalen Smith, a forward from the University of Maryland, who has little chance of making the starting lineup.  The Suns just built a strong frontcourt, which is looking to be one of the best in the league.  A rookie with little chemistry may not be a good starter.  Devin Vassel may have been a better pick so they could have a third guard as a backup.

“I think the Bulls drafted poorly because in my opinion Patrick Williams isn’t that good,” said sophomore Cal Gober.

Williams is a strong catch and shoot player, but his inexperience and lack of defense rates poorly against some of the other draftees.  Williams never started a game and will likely make many careless errors and turnovers, which is not what the Bulls need coming off their horrific season.

The 2020 NBA draft was an exciting start to the upcoming season, and fans are interested to see how the new rookie class will impact their teams.  Most teams drafted well and will look better than they did last season, but some teams will have to hope that the new recruits work hard during the offseason.  While we await tip-off and the start of the season, we can’t wait for the end of COVID-19 so that fans can attend games and watch their favorite teams in person, as the new draft class proves how successful they will be.