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Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
For months, there was speculation surrounding how the first few picks of the 2020 NBA draft would unfold. Many experts had shooting guard Anthony Edwards, center James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball as the top three prospects in this year’s class, but nobody knew when or where they would go.
Would any teams trade down? Could any of that trio fall below the top three picks?
In the end, the teams with the top picks stayed put. That led to Edwards going to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 1, Wiseman going to the Golden State Warriors at No. 2 and Ball going to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 3, just as some analysts projected.
Now, those three players (along with the rest who were drafted Wednesday night) will begin their NBA careers. And teams will decide how best to use these talented youngsters during their rookie season.
Here are grades for how the teams fared during the draft and a closer look at the top prospects.
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Ariel Schalit/Associated Press
Atlanta Hawks: C+
Boston Celtics: A-
Brooklyn Nets: B-
Charlotte Hornets: A+
Chicago Bulls: C
Cleveland Cavaliers: B
Dallas Mavericks: B
Denver Nuggets: B+
Detroit Pistons: B-
Golden State Warriors: A
Houston Rockets: C+
Indiana Pacers: B
Los Angeles Clippers: B-
Los Angeles Lakers: n/a
Memphis Grizzlies: A-
Miami Heat: B+
Milwaukee Bucks: B
Minnesota Timberwolves: B+
New Orleans Pelicans: A
New York Knicks: B-
Oklahoma City Thunder: B+
Orlando Magic: B+
Philadelphia 76ers: B
Phoenix Suns: D
Portland Trail Blazers: C
Sacramento Kings: A+
San Antonio Spurs: A
Toronto Raptors: B+
Utah Jazz: C+
Washington Wizards: A
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Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
There was no consensus top prospect in this year’s draft class, so the Timberwolves had options to consider with the No. 1 overall pick. But if they held on to the selection, it always seemed to make the most sense that they would opt for Edwards, who impressed during his lone season at Georgia in 2019-20.
It also appeared to be the best fit for Minnesota, which already has guard D’Angelo Russell and center Karl-Anthony Towns as part of its core. With Edwards added to the mix, it now has a high-potential wing scorer who could become one of its top players moving forward.
“We really challenged him on who he’s been to this point and what he’s going to become into the future,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “The passion for who he wants to become is something that we’re excited about.”
Minnesota also traded for veteran point guard Ricky Rubio on Wednesday night, so it appears to have a solid lineup heading into the 2020-21 season.
Edwards should have an opportunity to quickly become a key part of that, and it will be intriguing to see how he meshes with the Timberwolves’ starters early in the year.
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Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press
One of the biggest questions heading into the draft was whether the Warriors would trade down. They may have had an NBA-worst 15-50 record last season, but it was expected they would have a quick turnaround (although Klay Thompson’s latest reported injury could affect whether that happens).
Wiseman has a ton of potential, but there’s also plenty of uncertainty surrounding the 7’1″ center who played only three games during his college career at Memphis, all of which took place more than a year ago in November 2019. But if he utilizes his impressive skill set and lives up to expectations, he could become a star for Golden State.
“We were high on Wiseman. We had him No. 1 on our board when all the dust settled,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said, per Janie McCauley of the Associated Press. “Certainly the Klay thing made you think for a second but it was just a short amount of time. We decided we were staying the course of what we always felt.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if the 19-year-old immediately slots into Golden State’s starting lineup alongside point guard Stephen Curry and power forward Draymond Green.
And although the Warriors have become known for deploying smaller lineups, Wiseman’s athleticism should help them continue to play at a high pace, and he could quickly become a focal point for their offense.
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Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
Ball has been in the spotlight since his early days in high school. Now, he’s playing for a team owned by arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. And the 19-year-old has the potential to develop into a star himself.
At the No. 3 overall pick, Ball went to the Hornets, who are owned by Michael Jordan. That means the most talented point guard in this year’s draft class will be looking to help a struggling franchise reach a new level and will be doing so while playing for a legend.
“Man, straight blessing, for real,” Ball told Fox Sports South. “I don’t even have enough words to say. You know me, I’m just blessed right now, for real.”
Charlotte has some talented young players on its roster, but it’s been lacking star power. Ball should help in that department, as he has the playmaking skills and scoring ability to make him a fun player to watch.
And if he plays up to his potential and continues to develop, it will be exciting to see what happens for him and the Hornets in the future.