The Minnesota Timberwolves made University of Georgia standout Anthony Edwards the first overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday, November 18 (Thursday, November 19, Philippine time).
The Timberwolves, who finished 19-45 in the coronavirus-disrupted 2020 season, opted for Edwards, who averaged 19 points per game as a freshman, to bolster a roster that includes young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.
The 2020 draft comes barely 4 weeks after LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the NBA Finals after a virus-disrupted season.
And it comes just 5 weeks before the 2020-2021 campaign tips off on December 22.
That means the NBA's newest top recruits face being thrown in at the deep end after an unprecedented last leg of their journey to the league.
"We've all had to do our best, whether that's agents, players, colleges, pros, so we're thrust into that, too, and it makes for a lot of unknowns," said Golden State general manager Bob Myers, whose Warriors took James Wiseman with the second overall selection.
Wiseman, a 7-foot-1 center who played just 3 games for the University of Memphis before withdrawing to aim at the NBA Draft, is an imposing presence at the rim who said – speaking from his home in Nashville during the virtual draw ceremony – that he was ready to get to Golden State and "learn as much as possible and just be the best version of me."
The Warriors, one season removed from a run of 5 straight Finals appearances that yielded 3 titles, finished last in the Western Conference after a season marred not only by the departure of Kevin Durant but by injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Their hopes that the addition of new blood in Wiseman would signal a turnaround may have been tempered with news earlier Wednesday that Thompson, who missed all of 2019-2020 with a torn left knee ligament, suffered a lower right leg injury of undetermined severity in training hours before the draft.
The Charlotte Hornets, owned by NBA icon Michael Jordan, took LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick.
Ball, the youngest of 3 basketball-playing brothers who already have their own reality TV show, was touted as a potential top selection, but erratic shooting ability may have weighed against the 6-foot-7 19-year-old from California whose path to the NBA included stints playing professionally in Lithuania and Australia.
He averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 31.2 minutes over 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia's National Basketball League this past season.
The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams with the fourth pick, Isaac Okoro went fifth to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks took Onyeka Okongwu sixth overall.
French point guard Killian Hayes, who has been playing with ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, went seventh overall to the Detroit Pistons – the highest overseas player taken this year.
Hayes, 19, averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists per game in 2019-2020 in Germany's top league and is expected to combine well with last year's first-round pick, Sekou Doumbouya, who is also from France.
Deni Avdija, 19, became the highest-drafted player from Israel when the Washington Wizards took him ninth.
Avdija, who played for Israeli powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv at 16 and averaged 12.9 points per game in the 2019-2020 EuroLeague season, was tabbed by the Wizards a year after they made Rui Hachimura the first player from Japan to be drafted in the first round.
For the first time two players born in Nigeria – Precious Achiuwa and Udoka Azubuike – featured in the first round.
Achiuwa was taken 20th by the Miami Heat and Azubuike 27th by the New York Knicks, both coming through US collegiate programs, as did Aussie Josh Green who was taken 18th by the Dallas Mavericks.