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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

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

13 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.