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Better late than never for NBA draft

The Associated Press

There was no dancing on the court after a March Madness victory. No bounding onto the stage in a spiffy suit to meet the commissioner in June.

The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the traditional end of a college career and the usual start of a pro one. Players such as Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman should be about a month into their rookie seasons by now, but their plans were put on hold.

After multiple delays, the NBA draft finally arrives Wednesday. Like everyone else in 2020, this year’s class of players has tried to make the best of their difficult circumstances.

“I feel like it was better for me,” Edwards said. “I haven’t complained, I haven’t tripped about it at all. I just felt like it was better for me because more time for me to get better and get ready for the NBA.”

The freshman guard from Georgia is one of the leading candidates to be picked first by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ball, a guard who skipped college to play professionally overseas, and 7-foot-1 Memphis freshman center Wiseman are the other headliners in the class.

The draft is usually held in June in New York, where Adam Silver announces the first-round picks. The top players sit at tables in the front of the arena and when their names are called, put on a hat with the logo of the team that picked them and walk onto the stage for a handshake and a photo with the commissioner.

This time, Silver will be announcing the picks from the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut. Players have been shipped boxes of hats for wherever they will be watching to choose the one they need when their name is called. Besides ESPN, the draft will also air on the NBA Network, too.

It’s not the draft night they wanted, but the excitement of becoming a pro player won’t diminish. Not when they’ve been waiting since March, when sports stopped just days before the selection of the NCAA Tournament field, to start playing ball again.

“I mean, playing in games, I missed it a lot. But at the same time, this extra time, it’s only helping me,” said forward Obi Toppin, the national college player of the year from Dayton.

“I feel like I’m more prepared and mentally prepared for when the time comes, and I feel like when I’m on the court and that jump ball goes up, I feel like I’ve been waiting so long that it’s going to be an amazing feeling.”

The Golden State Warriors have the No. 2 pick, a chance to add a top young player to a team that reached five straight NBA Finals before tumbling to the bottom of the league when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were injured. Charlotte picks third, followed by Chicago and Cleveland.

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