By Ollie Nash
The rumoured top three picks were proven correct. Photo: CBS Sports
The 2020 NBA Draft is not considered to be one that will produce superstars like the 2003 Draft did with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It has however, provided some great role players that will be able to contribute straight away and in the future on very good playoff teams. This is what I did and didn't like from the 2020 NBA Draft.
Cole Anthony was one guy who showed how much being drafted meant to him. Photo: Cole Anthony Instagram
THINGS I LIKED
Emotion shown by the players and families
Being drafted is always an emotional time. Every player and family has been through their own separate battles and hardships to get to this point and to see it pay-off is undoubtedly an amazing feeling. It felt like more players than ever cried after hearing their name in the 2020 draft though, representative I think of the tough year the world has endured. COVID has flipped everyone’s world upside down; the NCAA Tournament was cancelled, as was any form of organised or pick-up basketball and players didn’t get to enjoy the usual pathway to the draft. To finally be through that experience and be on an NBA team is no doubt a thrill and it showed on Thursday.
Obi Toppin to New York at pick eight
There’s mixed feelings on this pick, especially from Knicks fans, but I love it. New York have been a basket-case for over 20 years now. They’ve attracted one superstar, Carmelo Anthony, during that time, missing out on guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Their culture is non-existent. What they are getting in Obi Toppin is a New York native, a Knicks fan, someone who loves the franchise and the city and is going to go all-out to put them back in contention. They just drafted their culture for the next 10 to 15 years. Were there guards they could have taken that may fit their team needs more? Probably. However, culture is everything in sports and the key to success. Toppin provides this, now the Knicks can build a team around him and R.J. Barret and give their fans some hope for the future.
Isaac Okoro will be a welcomed defensive presence in Cleveland. Photo: John Reed/USA TODAY Sports
Isaac Okoro to Cleveland at pick five
A great pick for the Cavaliers but probably one of the places Isaac Okoro least wanted to go. Immediately he becomes the best defender on Cleveland’s roster, with that comes the pressure and fun of having to guard the oppositions best player every night. He can guard multiple positions and is a great character guy for a mostly young and inexperienced Cavs roster. Like a lot of players in the draft, given the weakness of it, there are some significant areas for improvement. His comes on the offensive end, shooting 29 percent from the three-point line and 67 percent on free throws this season at Auburn. However, if you were an NBA team and had to pick an area for your draftee to be good at out of either end of the floor, it would be defence coupled with competitive mindset. Okoro has that in spades. Shooting and offence is something that can be improved easier once in the league, but it’s hard to teach toughness and defensive instinct.
Tyrell Terry to Dallas at pick 31
My housemate Will nearly had a brain aneurism when Tyrell Terry dropped out of the first-round, so I had to give him a shout-out once his man finally landed in Dallas at pick 31. Kevin O’Connor believes Terry is the steal of the draft and had him at eight on his big board for The Ringer. He shot nearly 41 percent from deep this past season and moves well off the ball, which is so valuable in the Mavericks system with Luka Doncic. Dallas traded Seth Curry to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson, seemingly opening up that spot in the rotation for Terry. Potentially a Tyler Herro type who will play a significant role right away in helping Dallas advance further in the playoffs.
Landry Shamet will fit nicely alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Photo: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Landry Shamet to the Nets
In a three team trade, Landry Shamet and pick 57 (Reggie Perry) went to Brooklyn, Luke Kennard and pick 55 (Jay Scrubb) to the Clippers and Detroit received Rodney McGruder and pick 19 (Saddiq Bey). Lots has been made of the Clippers win in getting Kennard and I agree, but Shamet to Brooklyn is a huge win for the Nets. If they manage to bring back Joe Harris, they now have two elite spot up shooters who can also hit from deep at pace off screens. With the ball dominance of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, these are the players that become so valuable. Don’t need a lot of the ball but can be impactful when given the opportunity. Big win for Steve Nash and the Nets.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE
LaMelo Ball’s kit
LaMelo Ball is a high-roller and has been in the limelight since he was 12, I know that. But seriously the kit he rolled with on draft night was one of the all-time worst. Diamon-studded shoes, black-suit pants and jacket with his personalised Puma logo stitched onto the back, a chain with his logo on it also and a rich-man’s version of speed dealers. I’m a Ball family fan and can’t wait to see him play, but c’mon man, do better.
Anthony Edward’s comments
I love Anthony Edwards and entering the draft he was my obvious number one pick. Has that clear drive and intensity to be effective straight away and made enough big shots for Georgia that I am confident he will make it work in the NBA. However, he literally said he’d rather play NFL and would drop basketball if an NFL team offered him a deal. I feel like it’s been glossed over as a comment, but that is something that would be worrying for me if I am Minnesota. Now, as long as that offer from an NFL team doesn’t come, I think he’ll give everything to the franchise, but the whole sequence was a bit fishy for me.
Suns skipping on Tyrese Haliburton
This is not a hate party on Jalen Smith who Phoenix took at pick 10, he’s a player that can fit into their system right away. However, the Suns missed out on Tyrese Haliburton, a really talented combo guard who would have come on in leaps and bounds learning from Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The guard spots are where the Suns need to add depth too, currently with Cam Payne and Jevon Carter backing-up the superstar starting duo. The pick would have made sense in the short-term and the long-term for the post Chris Paul era. A potential big miss for Phoenix.
The NBA needs guys like Klay Thompson playing, a star. Photo: AP Photo/Steve Dykes
Klay Thompson Achilles tear
It’s not specifically draft related but it happened on draft day so I’m counting it. This f****** sucks. Like a lot. An ACL and now an Achilles, they are two of the toughest injuries to endure. It means we are going to miss out on the Warriors fighting their way back to the top of the Western Conference and we are going to miss out seeing Klay Thompson do miraculous Klay Thompson things for a second straight season. One of the best characters in the NBA and one of the best two-way guards we’ve ever seen, let’s hope for a big comeback in 2021-22.
That’s all folks
I was going to have five things I liked and five I didn’t like, but I couldn’t really think of a fifth, so instead of being a sad-sack, I’m going to leave it at four. Positive vibes everyone, enjoy your weekend.
Cover Photo: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Liam Melrose
Jeremy Lin is amongst a number of NBA players who experienced a breakout in form only to fall away over time. Photo: Chris Chambers/Getty Images
In Part One of our NBA One Season Wonders series Liam Melrose looks at ten players from ten different NBA franchises who had breakout seasons only to drop off the radar in the following years.
NEW YORK KNICKS - JEREMY LIN (2011-2012):
Every basketball fan around the world remembers the season when ‘Linsanity’ took the NBA by storm. The American born former Harvard student burst onto the scene in the 2011-2012 season. The Knicks were actually contemplating waiving Lin, before a number of injuries to multiple point guards on the roster forced New York to give the young guard an opportunity. He didn’t let them down. Following Lin’s promotion to the starting-five, New York went on a seven-game winning streak, with the guard securing the Eastern Conference Player of the Week averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and two steals across four games. This included a career high 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. While Lin continued on to have a consistent career, he never got back to the heights he reached during that 2011-2012 season in New York.
'Linsanity' took over the basketball world in early 2012. Photo: Reuters/Adam Hunger
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES – JONNY FLYNN (2009-2010):
Flynn put together an impressive rookie season averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game earning him a place on the 2010 NBA All-Rookie 2nd team. However, his numbers declined the following season. There was speculation hip surgery he underwent in the summer of 2010 was hampering his output during the 2010-11 season, with Flynn only managing 5.3 points and 3.4 assists per game.
Jonny Flynn's numbers rapidly declined following his rookie season. Photo: Getty Images
MILWAUKEE BUCKS – BRANDON JENNINGS (2011-2012):
Jennings was touted as a future superstar of the league after his first three seasons. He put up a 55 point performance in his rookie season, as well as starting in every game with averages of 15.5 points and 5.7 assists per game, earning him a place in the All-Rookie First team. His best season to date came in 2011-2012 where he averaged 19.1 points and 5.5 assists per game. While he continued to average double figure scoring for the next three seasons, he never took that next step to become one of the premier point guards of the league as was expected at the end of the 2011-12 season, with his numbers slowly dropping each year.
Brandon Jennings was touted as a future premier point guard of the NBA, however after a great start to his career he never took the next step to become a superstar of the league. Photo: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS – MICHAEL CARTER WILLIAMS (2013-2014):
After winning the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year, Carter Williams’ numbers have gone backwards. In his first year in the NBA he averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. While the point guard remained consistent for the next few seasons his numbers slowly declined, and injuries began to take their toll. He has spent the past few seasons as a role player off the bench for a number of teams around the league.
Michael Carter-Williams with former coach Brett Brown after being awarded the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year. Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press
LOS ANGELES LAKERS – ANDREW BYNUM (2011-2012)
Looked to be the next big thing at the centre position, averaging five straight seasons of at least double digit scoring, while securing at least eight rebounds or more. He was a member of the Lakers back-to-back title run in 2009 and 2010. His breakout year came in 2011-12 where he was an All-Star, averaging 18.7 points and almost 12 rebounds per game. However, following that season he fell victim to a number of knee injuries and never fully recovered. He missed the whole 2012-13 season before signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, however the move was short lived, Bynum only managed 24 games with the Cavs before being traded.
Andrew Bynum looked to be the next big thing at the centre position before a number of injuries took their toll on the two-time NBA Champion. Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
SACRAMENTO KINGS – TYREKE EVANS (2009-2010)
While Evans has had a solid career to date, his first season was his best by a long way. He was awarded Rookie of the Year in the 2009-10 season on the back of 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. These were incredible numbers for a rookie. He was just the fourth rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. The other three players to also achieve these numbers in their debut season were Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. However, unfortunately for Evans he was unable to replicate his magnificant rookie season and grow into an NBA superstar as many fans and experts predicted.
Tyreke Evans was awarded the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging similar numbers to LeBron James and Michael Jordan in his first season in the league. Photo: USA TODAY Sports
DALLAS MAVERICKS – JOSH HOWARD (2007-2008)
Josh Howard started in all 76 games he played in the 2007-08 season averaging just under 20 points per game and seven rebounds. However, the following season Howard’s numbers slowly declined as injuries took their toll on the dynamic small-forward. His numbers were increasing in the years leading up to his career-best season, and he likely would’ve continued to improve those or continue to put up around 20 points per game if it wasn’t for a number of knee injuries de-railing his career.
Josh Howard at his best was one of the better small-forwards in the NBA. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
HOUSTON ROCKETS – AARON BROOKS (2009-2010)
Brooks averaged just under 20 points per game and just over five assists in the 2009-2010 season in what was just his third season in the league. He started in all 82 games and was awarded the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. However, he never averaged more than 12 points again which mainly came down to lack of opportunity. He eventually went on to play in China in 2011-12 before coming back to the NBA, where he bounced around the league as a solid reserve, before finishing his professional career in the NBL with the Illawarra Hawks.
Aaron Brooks won the NBA's Most Improved Player award in 2010. He was traded the following season as his career began to spiral. Photo: USA TODAY Sports
TORONTO RAPTORS – MIKE JAMES (2005-2006)
Mike James only played one season in Toronto and it was the best of his career by a considerable margin. James started in all 79 games he played during the regular season for the Raptors in the 05-06 season, averaging just over 20 points and just under six assists per game at the point guard position. James also became the first Raptor in franchise history to score more than 30 points in four consecutive games. He signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves at the end of that season, but with considerably less minutes James was unable to perform at the level he did in Toronto. The Timberwolves eventually traded him, spending the remainder of his career with a number of different teams coming off the bench.
Mike James's time in Toronto didn't last long despite his very strong 2005-06 season. Photo: Robert Seale/Sporting News via Getty Images
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – O.J. MAYO (2008-09)
Mayo began his career in the NBA on fire. He started in all 82 games of his rookie year, and averaged 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists at the shooting guard position. This earnt him a selection into the All-Rookie First Team. His sophomore year was much the same averaging 38 minutes per game and putting up similar scoring numbers. However, his numbers slowly deteriorated after his sophomore season. He showed signs he had re-ignited his career in the 2012-13 season with Dallas, where he started in all 82 games, averaging 15.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. However, he only spent one season with the Mavericks and his numbers once again dropped off with the Milwaukee Bucks, before he was eventually banned from the league due to drug violations in 2016. He went on to play in China and he remains there today.
O.J. Mayo was once one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Cover Photo: Noah K. Murray/ The Star-Ledger
By Ollie Nash
The 2006 NBA Draft Class. Photo: NBA
Let's be honest, the 2006 NBA Draft isn't a great one in terms of stars, but it's provided some really effective role players that have had a big part to play in playoff and championship runs. Almost more impressively, there are multiple players in this draft that have rolled with the changes of the NBA style of play and have kept themselves relevant, a tough ask in any career.
PICK 1: TORONTO RAPTORS – KYLE LOWRY (ORIGINALLY PICK 24 – MEMPHIS)
ORIGINAL PICK – ANDREA BARGNANI
It was a tough decision for the first pick of this re-draft, but Kyle Lowry’s 2019 NBA Championship just gets him over the line. After some tough initial years with Memphis and Houston, he blossomed into the leader and flat-out baller that we know today at Toronto during the 2012-13 season and beyond. Is now a six-time All-Star, NBA champ and was voted to the All-NBA Third team in 2015-16.
Kyle Lowry was a key cog of Toronto's championship run in 2019. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star/Getty Images
PICK 2: CHICAGO BULLS (TRADED TO PORTLAND) – LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE (ORIGINALLY PICK TWO – CHICAGO)
Original pick – LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge would have every right to feel hard done by not being pick one. Pick two isn’t a bad consolation prize though. Aldridge was one of the premiere power forwards of the mid 2000s to early 2010s. He was the franchise player in Portland for the best part of eight years and has continued to put up numbers in San Antonio, despite losing a step or two in his older age. Seven-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA member and one of the nicest mid-range jump shots the league has ever seen.
PICK 3: CHARLOTTE BOBCATS – PAUL MILLSAP (ORIGINALLY PICK 47 – UTAH)
ORIGINAL PICK – ADAM MORRISON
He’s not the guy you can rely on to carry a team but he’s the guy you can never neglect on the defensive end either. Paul Millsap has shown over the years he can be a key cog of a strong playoff team, playing on both ends of the floor. He has made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons and even in 2020 at the ripe old age of 34, was the spark that Denver needed in Game 5 against the Clippers to ignite their comeback from 3-1 down.
Paul Millsap has been a four-time All-Star with three teams. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post
PICK 4: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (TRADED TO CHICAGO) – RAJON RONDO (ORIGINALLY PICK 21 TO PHEONIX, TRADED TO BOSTON)
ORIGINAL PICK – TYRUS THOMAS
If you asked me three or four years ago, Rondo might have been lower on this list, but his resurgence back into an NBA effective player with the Pelicans and Lakers has bumped him back up to fourth. A star in Boston, averaging a double-double in two seasons and going extremely close to doing it a further two times. Had issues as he bounced around with Dallas, Sacramento and Chicago, but has found his place again with this Lakers team and was a vital contributor in multiple Finals games in 2020. Without Rondo, the series may very well have gone to seven games.
PICK 5: ATLANTA HAWKS – J.J. REDICK (ORIGINALLY PICK 11 – ORLANDO)
ORIGINAL PICK – SHELDEN WILLIAMS
With the way the NBA game is moving, J.J. Redick could play until he is 43. A lights-out three-point shooter, going at 41.6 percent over his career, with the ability to hit them off screens at speed. Hasn’t averaged below double digit scoring since 2009-10 and has put up 15 points or more per game every season since 2012-13. A great veteran now that provides a lot of leadership while still being effective out on the floor.
JJ Redick missed the playoffs for the first time in 2020. Photo: Matt York/Associated Press
PICK 6: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (TRADED TO PORTLAND) – RUDY GAY (ORIGINALLY PICK EIGHT – HOUSTON, TRADED TO MEMPHIS)
ORIGINAL PICK – BRANDON ROY
One of the most consistent stat padders of the late 2000s and early 2010s, but never quite the impact of others at his position during the same stretch. Was a regular 18 to 20 points per game scorer for 10 years from 2007-08 to 2016-17, but poor efficiency was an area he was criticised for. Has found a nice little role to end his career with San Antonio, still showing glimpses of some of his best form that we saw earlier in his career.
PICK 7: BOSTON CELTICS (TRADED TO MINNESOTA) – BRANDON ROY (ORIGINALLY PICK SIX – MINNESOTA, TRADED TO PORTLAND)
Original pick – Randy Foye
One of the biggest “what could have been” stories in NBA history. Could only manage five seasons with Portland before being struck down by injury for good, but in those years managed three All-Star appearances, two All-NBA selections and a Rookie of the Year Award. Averaged 18.8 points, four rebounds and nearly five assists in his 326 games while providing some unbelievable highlights. A career cut too short, but someone I’d be taking at seven, even if it was for just those five crazy years.
Brandon Roy was a five-year highlight reel in Portland. Photo: Getty Images
PICK 8: HOUSTON ROCKETS (TRADED TO MEMPHIS) – P.J. TUCKER (ORIGINALLY PICK 35 – TORONTO)
ORIGINAL PICK – RUDY GAY
P.J. Tucker is a great story of perseverance and in an era where the NBA style of play changed so drastically, he moved with the times well. After his rookie season where he only played 17 games, Tucker spent five seasons overseas. Since returning to the league in 2013-13 with Phoenix, he’s become a more than serviceable player on both ends of the floor. He has increased his three-point shooting over the years, much of this thanks to Houston, but it has proven vital for him to stay relevant in the league.
PICK 9: GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – THABO SEFOLOSHA (ORIGINALLY PICK 13 – PHILADELPHIA, TRADED TO CHICAGO)
ORIGINAL PICK – PATRICK O’BRYANT
Thabo Sefolosha was one of the OG three and D guys in the NBA. After finding his way to Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Sefolosha became a big part of the team on the defensive end, while increasing his three-point attempts to between two and three per game. Has bounced around the league since leaving the Thunder and is now a good veteran locker room presence, but certainly a career to be proud of.
Thabo Sefolosha has been an NBA journeyman in his 14-year NBA career. Photo: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
PICK 10: SEATTLE SUPERSONICS – ANDREA BARGNANI (ORIGINALLY PICK ONE – TORONTO)
ORIGINAL PICK – MOUHAMED SENE
The original number one pick of the draft slides his way into pick 10, just making the cut. While the expectations of a number one pick weren’t met by Andrea Bargnani, he still enjoyed a very solid career. 10 seasons, nine of those averaging double digit scoring and a nice four year stretch in the middle where he put up 15 to 20 points per game. Was ahead of his time as a stretch four or five, putting up three shots from behind the arc per game for his career and shooting 35 percent.
Cover Photo: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press