New York: Anthony Edwards paid tribute to their mother and grandmother. Onyeka Okongwu recalled his brother. Obi Toppin thought about coming home.
Tears flowed freely for those and many more players Wednesday night when their long-awaited, months-delayed NBA dreams were finally realized.
Edwards was taken by Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 pick in an NBA draft delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced the selection of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The concept was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus drove it back from its usual home in Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Boxes of hats were sent to the best prospects to put on the one they needed after their name was mentioned.
Edwards watches as he sits next to portraits of his deceased mother and grandmother. They both died of cancer and he was emotional after his name was revealed.
“As far as being just excited and just happy and ready to work and ready to get there as soon as possible, the emotions were overwhelming with just my mom and grandma being there,” Edwards said. “I mean, it was just a dream come true and just a blessing.”
And although there was no ordinary family table in the green room and staged the stage to meet the commissioner, some players were still dressed in fashionable attire – perhaps no more than the number 12 choice Tyrese Haliburton of Sacramento, who ‘s blue, floral suit had the words “Black Lives Matter” on the inside.
They celebrated with family, friends, coaches _ and in the case of Cole Anthony even with fans of celebrities. Film director Spike Lee jumped up and down with his family when Orlando Anthony, whose father, Greg played for the Knicks, was on no. 15 neem.
Some moments caused deeper emotions. Okongwu, number 6 by Atlanta, recalls his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a 2014 skateboard accident.
Toppin, the national player of the year at Dayton last year, struggled to speak after New York overtook him to No. 8 and brought the Brooklyn-born to his hometown.
“I’m from New York, so it’s important,” Toppin said. “I’m my city, it’s wonderful.”
Edwards became the 11th consecutive player to reach the no. 1, in a year where there was no clear choice. He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, the best among all freshmen.
The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson suffered another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis center James Wiseman with the second pick. They stumbled to the bottom of the league, while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The severity of his injury was not disclosed when the draft began, but it did not persuade the Warriors to take another guard. Instead, they went along with the 7-foot-1 center who as the no. 1-yard of high school arrived and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before being suspended for fitness reasons and eventually leaving the program to prepare for the draft.
LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a long basketball trip that sent the guard from high school in California to stop as a professional in Lithuania and Australia. He joins Brother Lonzo, who took second place by the Lakers and is now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers who have been selected in the top three.
After all his travels, Ball is eager to make a home for Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte.
“I feel like I can go play basketball there,” Ball said. “I feel like I was born to do that.”
The newcomers have little precious time to prepare for their debut and have to turn off months of rust or more. Training camps open in early December and the 72nd game of the 2020-21 season begins on December 22nd.
“This draft process was the longest for me, so I was just working on my game,” Wiseman said. ‘I’ve actually played pick-up games with pros before, so I gained a lot of experience. But really only focusing on myself. I’m really ready to play with these amazing guys. ”
Teams had to evaluate prospects without taking advantage of the usual concept combination in Chicago or the ability to invite them to their facilities for workouts and meetings. And because the coronavirus shut down the sports world in March, there was no NCAA tournament for the players to make a final impression before entering the concept.
This contributed to perhaps more questions than usual around the concept, with little sense of how the top choice would play out.
The Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams of Florida State, the ACC sixth man of the year, as No. 4 freshman. Cleveland joins Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, another freshman, to round out the top five.
The last half of the top 10 featured some highly regarded international players in Killian Hayes, France, who were beaten by Detroit at no. 7 was taken, and Deni Avdija, the top player to come out of Israel when Washington placed him at no. 9 selected.
The setting was not the only unusual thing about the concept. Duke did not select a player in the first round, having been 39 since the league was relegated in 1989 to a two-round series.
And the San Antonio Spurs chose the lottery for the first time since 1997, when they fielded Tim Duncan. 1. The Spurs selected Devin Vassell at number 11, who selected Florida State for the second time just twice at school. history.
2020 NBA DRAFT
Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia
2. Golden State Warriors, James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte Hornets, LaMelo Ball, PG, Australia
4. Chicago Bulls, Patrick Williams, SF, Florida
Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
6. Atlanta Hawks, Onyeka Okongwu, C, Southern California
7. Detroit Pistons, Killian Hayes, PG, France
8. New York Knicks, Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
Washington Wizards, Deni Avdija, SF, Israel
Phoenix Suns, Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
Source: Gulf News