Apr 2, 2020 - Sports

The weirdest NBA draft ever

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Table: Axios Visuals

The 2020 NBA draft was already shaping up to be the weirdest draft in years, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the sports world, it could be the weirdest draft ever.

Why it matters: While most drafts have a clear hierarchy by the time April rolls around, this draft does not. There's no reliable No. 1 pick, almost every top-10 prospect has a glaring weakness and the global sports hiatus has shrouded the whole class in mystery.

Think about it: How much do you actually know about Anthony Edwards? Did you watch LaMelo Ball play a single game in Australia? Have you ever even heard of Deni Avdija? It's an odd class, made odder by the circumstances.

The state of play: A month ago, front office executives thought they'd be evaluating talent during March Madness, foreign league playoffs, the combine and individual workouts.

  • Now the entire pre-draft process is up in the air, and with the NBA season in flux, it's not even clear when the draft will be held.

What they're saying:

"The high-ranking decision-makers who have been working all year aren't going to miss a beat. It's going to expose the GMs who were flying around with their teams staying in Four Seasons rather than going [to scout] in Dayton, Ohio, and staying at the Courtyard Marriott. If there are no more data points coming in, they're screwed."
Anonymous front office exec, via B/R

Between the lines: Teams will still interview prospects, but they'll likely have to do so virtually, so the in-person interactions and up-close observations that often lead to players moving up (or down) draft boards are gone.

  • Without interviews and workouts, front offices will place a greater emphasis on game tape, which could benefit upperclassmen who have a larger body of work, while hurting those with less available video like James Wiseman (played three games at Memphis), Ball (played 12 games in Australia) and raw international prospects who don't get much playing time.

In related news ... The five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award were announced yesterday: Obi Toppin (Dayton), Luka Garza (Iowa), Myles Powell (Seton Hall), Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) and Markus Howard (Marquette).

Go deeper: BIG3 to create a hybrid reality show about quarantine basketball

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