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How the NBA’s Top Draft Prospects are Performing

Previously published Feb 26. 2021
Markus Spiske

Previously published Feb 26. 2021

The 2020 NBA draft was one to be remembered. While every draft is unique because of its deft and athletic players, this draft was extra special due to COVID-19. The playoffs had to be pushed back, so the draft was also postponed from June to November. The most recent time the draft was rescheduled was back in 1975.

Many draft analysts argued who would be picked No.1 as it was highly competitive, and each player has their different pros and cons. The top three interchangeable draft picks were Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman. Analysts had varying lists for the order of picks. Edwards was picked first to the Timberwolves, Wiseman was picked second to the Golden State Warriors, and LaMelo was picked third to the Charlotte Hornets. Due to LaMelo’s father Lavar and his brother Lonzo’s hype, this selection surprised tons of fans.

Being the first draft pick, you would expect Edwards to have an excellent record and present potential in various skills. However, Anthony Edwards didn’t get far in college. The Georgia Bulldogs, his college team, recorded five wins to thirteen losses. Critics say he is unprofessional and immature because he seems bored on the court. For example, he jogs back in transition defense, showing a lack of hustle. On a brighter note, Edwards is a six-foot-five-inch shooting guard compared to Dwayne Wade and Donovan Mitchell. Analysts claim his hang time, body control, and the first step are exceptional.

In his first game, The L.A. The Lakers crushed Edwards and the Timberwolves. In 30 minutes, the prospect led the team in points; he scored 15 points with four rebounds and two assists. In the following four games, the Timberwolves were blown away. In those games, his points per game were a disappointing 8.5. Even worse, he barely got any rebounds or assists after his debut. Then the Timberwolves went on a seven-game losing streak. During these games, the first pick averaged roughly 12.5 points, 1.75 assists, and two rebounds in 23 minutes per game. The Wolves finally got a win despite Edwards having his worst game. He scored poorly the next round, too. Despite exhibiting some of his talents, Edwards is inconsistent and can improve in many areas.

James Wiseman, who was drafted to the local Golden State Warriors, is a seven-foot-one-inch center. He was a perfect pick for the Warriors as they needed a consistent center; Kevin Looney, their only center, is often injured. Also, despite Wiseman’s size, he is quick and has the potential to shoot. Wiseman recorded 20 points and ten rebounds per game in his three college matches before entering the NBA. In his first NBA game, he made seven shots for nineteen points. Stephen Curry led the team but played six more minutes than Wiseman. If he can consistently compete at Curry’s level, he will float to the top. The second game was another blowout because nobody sparked. However, James was just a couple of points from leading his team in points again. He only scored seven points in his third game and grabbed just three rebounds but got the win.
Furthermore, in his next two games, he recorded less than ten points and five rebounds. The dry spell finally ended against the Portland Trail Blazers. He had a double-double helping the Warriors defeat the Blazers. When the Warriors played the Kings, they had a blowout. Wiseman decently scored 10 points along with four rebounds. In the next game against the Clippers, Wiseman didn’t get many minutes despite being in the starting lineup. He recorded ten points and four rebounds in 18 minutes. For the next four games, Wiseman played his role in the team by amassing a respectable amount of points (almost ten each game) and rebounds. Despite his inconsistent and dependent performance, he “flashed a ton of potential as a rim protector and rim-runner,” in the words of Kyrie Irving.

The third pick, LaMelo Ball, fits in well with Michael Jordan’s team, the Charlotte Hornets. Devonte Graham, a Hornet, had a breakout year and proved his worth as a perimeter shooter and passer. Terry Rozier, who Charlotte acquired this offseason, is another three-point shooter. Analysts believe that both can play off-ball, allowing LaMelo to play his point guard. Last year the Hornets were recorded as one of the worst offensive teams. If all three guards start, this trio could fix that issue. However, this lineup leaves a vulnerable defense. Analysts compare it to the 2020 Oklahoma City Thunder starting lineup, which started Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroeder.

Paul and Shroeder specialized in dishing the ball, and Shai excelled at driving to the hoop. The trio had a lot of horsepower for attacking and still a respectable defense, resulting in unexpected OKC success. Similarly, LaMelo has an excellent offensive fit on the Hornets currently as his defensive game progresses. For his NBA debut, he battled Isaac Okoro and the Cavaliers. Their loss fell on LaMelo, who scored 0 points and had three turnovers. He became the first NBA top-three pick to have a scoreless debut game in 2013; fans called it a “nightmare.” Fortunately, Ball scored 13 points and surprisingly had six rebounds next game, but the Hornets still had a slight loss. Next, the Hornets defeated the Nets by just two points. In 20 minutes, he scored six points but had five assists and rebounds. Fortunately, Ball’s productivity increased. Throughout eleven games in which the Hornets won five, the famous star averaged about thirteen points, seven assists, and 7.5 rebounds over 27.5 minutes. After multiple close calls for triple-doubles, LaMelo finally recorded his first triple-double, recording twenty-two points, eleven assists, and twelve rebounds; he broke the record for the youngest NBA player to obtain a triple-double. The Charlotte Hornets are happy with their rookie’s recent performance.

The fourth pick in the draft, by the Chicago Bulls, was Patrick Williams, who specializes at small forward. Similar to Wiseman, he is athletic, tall, and healthy. He stands six foot eight inches, has a seven-foot wingspan, and weighs 225 pounds. As a defensive player, he averaged four rebounds, one steal, one block, but only nine points over 22.6 minutes. His size, length, and speed allow him to guard various positions, but he could work on his off-ball defense. He had a high-scoring debut game against the Hawks with 16 points in 33 minutes. Also, he managed to get a steal, block, assist, and four rebounds.

Yet, the Bulls still lost. After his debut, the Bulls lost again, partly due to Williams not playing as well. The third game was a loss against Wiseman and the Warriors. Edwards left the stadium with just six points, four rebounds, and two assists. Patrick had a decent performance in the next couple of games, both against the Washington Wizards. He averaged 11 points and one assist and rebound in those games. For the next ten games, Chicago went 5-5 in which Patrick played well. A trend in his stats shows that he is more rebound-oriented instead of assists. Patrick has the ingredients to be a versatile defender, and the Bulls will hopefully help him develop and utilize his skills.

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For the fifth pick in the NBA draft, Isaac Okora displays impressive skills. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him. He has a similar build to Anthony Edwards as he is 6 foot 6 inches and weighs 225 lbs. Instead of shooting guard, however, he plays small forward. His colleagues describe him as “an absolute ox” and state that he has been “all over the floor defensively.” Collin Sexton, a long friend, and teammate of Okoro, described him as funny and quiet. Unlike the other teams discussed, the Cavaliers had a strong start to their season, winning their first three games. In his first NBA game, Okoro played well as he scored eleven points along with five assists and three rebounds. However, in his next match, his only stat was three rebounds in forty-two minutes. Isaac didn’t play for the next five games for two main reasons: He suffered a left ankle sprain, and he was also on the COVID-19 Health and Protocol List, preventing him from a strong start to his career. He made a recovery on Tuesday against the Magic, but they still lost, putting the Cavaliers at a 4-4 record. For the next eight games, the Cavaliers went 4-4. Okoro played for over thirty-five minutes in nearly every game but did not have a breakthrough performance. His performance, personally, should be much better, especially when he claims that he should have been the #1 pick. From his few games played, Isaac proved to be inconsistent and lacks scoring in his game.

All five of these draft prospects have a promising future, regardless of their draft number. Some fans believe that some prospects have exceeded their expectations, while others claim that the rookies have disappointed. Despite their current performances, these rookies have specialties in different areas, such as LaMelo’s vision or Wiseman’s height, and have worked very hard to get into the NBA. Congrats to all the 2020 rookies!

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