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Q&A: NBA Draft 2020 Preview Edition

Frequently asked questions about tonight’s 2020 NBA Draft, answered:

 

Q: The draft is tonight?

A: Yes, the 2020 NBA Draft is tonight. It was initially scheduled for June, as is tradition, but was then rescheduled for mid-October once the pandemic hit. Then in September they looked around and were like, whoa this is still pretty bad and we’re in the middle of the playoffs, so they pushed it back once again to where it is now: tonight, the night of November 18th.

Q: Is it virtual?

A: Correct. This year’s draft will not be an in-person event, instead a virtual event to be broadcast live on ESPN. NBA commissioner Adam Silver will still run the show from ESPN studios, but the tradition of shaking hands is dead in 2020 as each draft pick will be home with family and friends (in accordance with local and state regulations and recommendations).

Q: I guess that means the hat tradition ends too, right?

A: ACTUALLY—you’re going to love this—the top prospects were sent NBA Draft Gift Lockers with the official draft hats of each of the league’s 30 teams. So when Tyrese Maxey hears his name called on the broadcast, he can turn to his NBA Draft Gift Locker to grab the official hat of his new employer.

Q: What else is in the locker? 

A: The gift locker also includes a personalized NBA Draft basketball, speakers, headphones, earbuds, a tablet and all of the necessary equipment to participate on draft night (new iPhone, tripod, ring light and other live stream equipment.)

Q: You said Tyrese Maxey got one? 

A: Maxey got one.

Q: Where is Maxey expected to get drafted? 

A: In ESPN’s latest prospect rankings, Maxey is considered the No. 14 overall prospect, eyeing a spot inside the draft lottery. He is the only former Wildcat in the lottery range, so John Calipari’s streak of having a Kentucky player in the lottery rides on Maxey’s selection in the draft.

Reported interested teams include, in no particular order: New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets, among many others.

Q: What about the other Kentucky guys? 

A: Sticking with ESPN’s prospect rankings, Immanuel Quickley is Kentucky’s next best prospect at No. 41. Nick Richards is No. 64, followed by Ashton Hagans at No. 71 and Kahlil Whitney at No. 73.

Q: You forgot EJ Montgomery.

A: I did not, unfortunately.

Q: EJ is not in the top 100?

A: No, Montgomery is hard to find on any top 100 list, furthering the criticisms around his decision to go pro. He couldn’t have known the pandemic would last this long when he announced his departure for the draft in the spring, but the last seven months couldn’t have gone worse for Montgomery trying to make his case for the league.

Q: But not even the top ONE HUNDRED?

A: Sadly, no. And for a little perspective, Sacha Killeya-Jones—another former Wildcat who transferred, got kicked off his new team (NC State), and hasn’t played college basketball in two and a half years—is ranked No. 99.

Q: That is sad. I hope it works out for EJ in the long run.

A: Me too.

Q: Who is going first overall?

A: Unlike most years, it is still unclear who will go No. 1 overall, although it is expected to be either LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards. James Wiseman should be a third player in consideration, but he refused a workout and told Minnesota he is uninterested in playing there, so it would take a trade up to see Wiseman go first overall. LaMelo Ball is the betting favorite to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt with the Wolves. Anthony Edwards isn’t out yet, though.

Q: You said Minnesota has the first pick. What’s the order?

A: It goes…

FIRST ROUND

1. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Charlotte Hornets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. New York Knicks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Phoenix Suns
11. San Antonio Spurs
12. Sacramento Kings
13. New Orleans Pelicans
14. Boston Celtics
15. Orlando Magic
16. Portland Trail Blazers
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
18. Dallas Mavericks
19. Brooklyn Nets
20. Miami Heat
21. Philadelphia 76ers
22. Denver Nuggets
23. Utah Jazz
24. Milwaukee Bucks
25. Oklahoma City Thunder
26. Boston Celtics
27. New York Knicks
28. Los Angeles Lakers
29. Toronto Raptors
30. Boston Celtics

SECOND ROUND

31. Dallas Mavericks
32. Charlotte Hornets
33. Minnesota Timberwolves
34. Philadelphia 76ers
35. Sacramento Kings
36. Philadelphia 76ers
37. Washington Wizards
38. New York Knicks
39. New Orleans Pelicans
40. Memphis Grizzlies
41. San Antonio Spurs
42. New Orleans Pelicans
43. Sacramento Kings
44. Chicago Bulls
45. Orlando Magic
46. Portland Trail Blazers
47. Boston Celtics
48. Golden State Warriors
49. Philadelphia 76ers
50. Atlanta Hawks
51. Golden State Warriors
52. Sacramento Kings
53. Oklahoma City Thunder
54. Indiana Pacers
55. Brooklyn Nets
56. Charlotte Hornets
57. Los Angeles Clippers
58. Philadelphia 76ers
59. Toronto Raptors
60. New Orleans Pelicans

Q: How did these guys work out for teams anyway?

A: With no NBA combine, plus the risks in jet-setting around the country to NBA cities, the league invited around 80-90 prospects to participate in an official “Pro Day” at each player’s convenience. As I understand it, invited players drove to the nearest NBA city to participate in combine-like agility, strength and basketball drills. The workout was conducted by NBA personnel but not from the hosting team, then filmed and shared with all 30 NBA teams. Some of the more elite players may have made trips to meet with teams with the top picks, but this was the format for most draft eligible participants.

Immanuel Quickley drove to Philadelphia for his workout, some of which can be seen in the back-half of the video below:

Q: I hope Quickley goes in the first round.

A: I hope so too. The mock drafts have him in the second though.

Q: Well mock drafts are stupid.

A: Everyone is guessing when you get outside the top picks, especially this year. Anything can happen.

Q: Who are some non-Kentucky people to watch for?

A: Unless you’ve been following along, you probably don’t know a lot about Deni Avdija, the do-it-all talent from overseas. Avdija is a top-five pick as a guard/forward out of Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) and the Warriors are reportedly “infatuated” with his game.

Outside of Avdija and the three players we mentioned in top pick consideration, you may be surprised to find Auburn’s Isaac Okoro go off the board pretty early. Former UK assistant Leonard Hamilton could have two top-10 picks from Florida State in Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell. Another overseas draft entrant, American-born Killian Hayes from France, is possible to Sacramento to play with De’Aaron Fox. Then there is still RJ Hampton, the five-star guard in the 2019 high school graduating high school class who chose New Zealand over playing college basketball at a blue blood.

Q: More.

A: Ok, there is Washington one-and-done Jaden McDaniels, who was almost a Cat last season. Kenyon Martin’s son K.J. Martin skipped college to enter the draft. From the Southeastern Conference you’ll also recognize Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. and Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith, familiar names projected to go mid-first round. Obi Toppin, older brother of current UK forward Jacob Toppin, will be the first upperclassmen off the board somewhere in the top 10.

Q: Ok that’s plenty. What time does this virtual NBA draft start?

A: You’ll want to be settled down in front of your television at 8 p.m. for the NBA’s first ever virtual draft. A preview show will begin at 7:30 p.m. if you’re really excited, and both will stream on the ESPN app.

Q: I’m excited.

A: Me too. Go Cats.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR