Revisiting the 2020 NBA Draft: How are the first-round picks doing?

Revisiting the 2020 NBA Draft: How are the first-round picks doing?

Before we know it, the 2021 NBA Draft will be upon us, and it’ll be even more of a crapshoot than the last one because NBA scouts have been unable to attend most college games or travel overseas to look at international prospects.

Veteran scouts used to working in packed gyms and arenas are instead poring over grainy game film from overseas and DVR’d recordings of college games in order to get the best info they can on the players who will be available on July 29 – exactly three months from today.

With the 2020-21 NBA season winding down, this is a good time to look back at the 2020 draft and see how each of the first-round picks have panned out.

  1. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves: Either Edwards or LaMelo Ball will win Rookie of the Year, and Edwards probably wouldn’t even be in the conversation if Ball had not gone down with an injury. The 19-year-old has increased his field goal percentage and three-point percentages over the course of the month of April, but his scoring has dipped from 24.2 points per game in March to 21.3 in April. His team has won five of seven, including two against the league-leading Jazz. He leads all rookies with 142 threes. (Our Spencer Davies believes Edwards deserves ROY).

  2. James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors: He is out for the season after he had surgery to fix a meniscus injury in his right knee. The recovery time will be months rather than weeks. Wiseman averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds and showed flashes during his first season. The Dubs will be able to pair him with another top young prospect if Minnesota’s pick falls outside of the top three. Golden State acquired it in the D’Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade. It is unprotected the following season.

  3. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets: He has not played in five weeks, but he is expected back any day after recovering from a broken wrist. He will have only a few days to re-acclimate himself with his teammates, including Malik Monk, whose return from a sprained ankle will coincide with Ball’s. The rookie is averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds in just 28.6 minutes per game.

  4. Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls: He has started all 61 games he has appeared in, but he’s averaging only 9.1 points and 4.6 rebounds and has eclipsed the 20-point mark only twice all season. He has reached double figures in points in only one of the Bulls’ last 11 games, but let’s not forget he is only 19 years old – same as Edwards and Ball. Some 19-year-olds adapt quicker than others.

  5. Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers: He has started all 57 games he has played in, but the 20-year-old’s numbers are quite pedestrian: 8.5 points, 42.2% from the field, 28.9% from three-point range, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He had a season-high 20 points against Toronto on Monday, but went 1-for-8 on threes. He leads all rookies in minutes (31.8).

  6. Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks: He was never going to get a ton of run on a roster that already included Clint Capela and John Collins, and he is logging only 11.3 minutes per game. He has reached double figures in points three times and in rebounds once in 41 games.

  7. Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons: The French-American teenager has been getting consistent minutes this month after recovering from a hip injury (torn labrum) that sidelined him for three months. He has shown a knack for getting steals, but needs to learn how to draw fouls and get to the free throw line. He is 7-for-7 from the line in 10 games this month.

  8. Obi Toppin, New York Knicks: He has appeared in 53 games without a single start and has scored in double figures only three times. But he plays for a coach, Tom Thibodeau, who brings rookies along slowly, and he has shot below 50% in only four of 15 games this month.

  9. Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards: The rookie from Israel is out for the season with a hairline fracture in his ankle after starting 32 of his 54 games. He had been unspectacular, averaging only 6.3 points and making 53 three-pointers.

  10. Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns: He was sent down to the G-League in February, and he has seen mostly garbage time minutes in his 22 appearances. He’s averaging 1.1 points, and he has attempted only three free throws all season (making one).

  11. Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs: He has made two starts in 51 appearances and has shown some flashes, but he needs to become more consistent. He has seven double-figure scoring nights, two of which have come in the Spurs’ past six games.

  12. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings: Right now, he has to go down as the steal of the lottery and he’s almost certain to finish third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Ball and Edwards. He’s averaging 12.8 points and 5.3 assists with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.44, ninth-best in the NBA. In 18 games as a starter, he's averaging 14.6 points, 5.8 assists and 1.1 steals.

  13. Kira Lewis, Jr., New Orleans Pelicans: The 20-year-old backs up Lonzo Ball and plays 16.5 minutes per night. He is steady but has had limited opportunities, having gone for 20 points one time. He ranks 12th among rookies in assists with 2.3 per game.

  14. Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics: He had his best game of the season on Wednesday in a victory over Charlotte with 15 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks. It was only his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season. He became the first Celtics rookie to record a 15-3-3 game since Paul Pierce did it in 1998-99.

  15. Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic: He’s experiencing trial by fire after the early-season injury to Markelle Fultz, and has improved every month. He is currently on a run of 10 consecutive double-figure scoring games and ranks fourth among rookies in scoring (12.0), third in assists (4.4) and fourth in free throw percentage (81.3%).

  16. Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons: He leads all rookies in rebounds (6.6), field goal percentage (57.4) and blocks (1.15) despite playing only 20.4 minutes per game. A very solid building block for Troy Weaver.

  17. Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder: The 19-year-old is second among rookies in blocks per game (1.1) and is getting a lot of run on Sam Presti’s rebuilding project, logging 25-plus minutes in 20 of the past 22 games. He’s sixth among rookies in rebounding (4.6).

  18. Josh Green, Dallas Mavericks: The Aussie shooting guard gets a little bit of run here and there, but his season-high is 8 points. He’s only playing 10.3 minutes per game, but he has started in five games.

  19. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons: He’s second among rookies in made three-pointers (139), seventh in scoring (11.3), seventh in three-point percentage (37.7%), second in free throw percentage (87.1%), 12th in rebounding (4.2) and ninth in minutes played (25.8). He might be Detroit’s best rookie.

  20. Precious Achiuwa, Miami Heat: He has appeared in 55 games and does not appear among the rookie league leaders in any category except rebounding, where he is 16th with 3.6 boards per game. He’s only playing 12.4 minutes per game.

  21. Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers: Maxey is a very solid player who caught everyone’s attention on Jan. 9 when he dropped 39 points on Denver, which got Rafael Stone of Houston quite interested and may have kept James Harden from becoming a member of the Sixers. He has made 10 of his last 11 shots in the past two games. He’s eighth among rookies in field goal percentage (46.1%).

  22. Zeke Nnaji, Denver Nuggets: He cracked the rotation in February and March, but he hasn’t played as much recently on a veteran-laden Nuggets team. He has scored just five points this month. In February, he averaged 5.9 points and 1.3 threes while shooting 46.7% from three.

  23. Leandro Bolmaro, Minnesota Timberwolves: He’s having a strong season in the ACB for FC Barcelona, where he is teammates with Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. His coach is Sarunas Jasikevicius. Heck of a draft-and-stash.

  24. R.J. Hampton, Denver Nuggets: He was dealt to Orlando as part of the Aaron Gordon trade, and let’s just say he was winning a lot more in Denver. He is playing 23 minutes per night with the Magic and has made one start. With the Magic, he's averaging 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in 23.0 minutes.

  25. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks: He has captured the imagination of Knicks fans, is fifth among rookies in scoring (11.7) and leads all rookies in free throw percentage (89.5%). He is also fifth among rookies in three-point percentage (38.7%).

  26. Payton Pritchard, Boston Celtics: He has been much more productive than Nesmith. He has appeared in 57 of 63 games, is second among rookies in three-point percentage (41.6%, trailing only Desmond Bane) and he has only missed four free throws all season (in 41 attempts).

  27. Udoka Azubuike, Utah Jazz: He has appeared in only 12 games and has a season-high of 4 points. Rudy Gobert is sort of in his way.

  28. Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves: One of the few people who can say “I beat the Jazz twice this season,” McDaniels is 20th in scoring (6.8), 15th in rebounding (3.7), third in blocks (0.96) and 10th in three-point percentage (36.6%) among rookies.

  29. Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors: One of the league’s older rooks (22), he has been tutored by Kyle Lowry and has seen his role increase significantly this month as the team from Tampa plays out the string. He’s shooting over 40 percent on threes in April, while taking a bunch of them.

  30. Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies: He leads all rookies in three-point percentage (45.5%), and he is 10th in scoring (9.1) and sixth in field goal percentage (47.1%). He averages 22 minutes for a team that has eight players averaging in double figures.

With the condensed schedule, limited practice time and COVID protocols, this season has not been easy for these rookies. Let’s hope their sophomore campaign isn’t as strange or difficult.

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