The NBA and college basketball seasons have yet to reach their midpoints, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the first pick in next year’s NBA draft. One-and-done has been the theme for the last several years as a freshman has gone No. 1 in each of the past ten drafts.
The last non-freshman chosen first in an NBA draft was current Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin who went first in 2009. The 2020 crop features another field full of freshmen vying for the No. 1 spot. Who goes first will likely come down to whichever team wins the draft lottery and owns the first pick.
The Big Man
If the first pick goes to the New York Knicks, look for 7-footer James Wiseman to go first. The Memphis center averages 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game for coach Penny Hardaway. Wiseman had to overcome some adversity early in the season (suspension), but he is a can’t miss prospect who can score and play defense.
Having a Ball
Brother Lonzo was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, but LaMelo could surpass big brother and go No. 1. Ball spurned college basketball and is playing in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) for the Illwarra Hawks. At 6 ft. 7 inches tall, his offensive skills are amazing. His defense is the big concern.
Anthony Edwards was considered by many to be the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2019. A McDonald’s All-American, Edwards averaged 29 points and nine rebounds a game as a high school senior. As a freshman at Georgia now, Edwards averages 20.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He is a natural scorer with a terrific jump shot and the athleticism that reminds some of a young Michael Jordan.
Best of the Rest
While Wiseman, Ball, and Edwards are the favorites to go No. 1, there are a few outliers that could surprise. R.J. Hampton, like Ball, went to Australia instead of college in the states. He is a 6-5 wing reminiscent of Jamal Murray.
Arizona point guard Nico Mannion is deadly from 3-point range, has a quick first step, and his decisiveness on the court makes him a threat to go No. 1. Jaden McDaniels is a 6-10 scoring machine out of Washington. A solid season with the Huskies could move him up the draft board.