Ja Morant. Zion Williamson. Everybody knows these two rookies lit it up this season, but besides them, it seemed to lack much else.
There are players like Tyler Herro who was drafted at 13 and Coby White at 7, both picks that were still within the lottery. Otherwise, the draft was considered weak by analysts and has held to that assumption.
In 2020, the NBA might be the world’s last priority, but the current situation brings issues to the league. This especially affects scouts whose job it is to travel and see the talent a team needs. With the world on pause, these scouts will have to look back at the tape to look for talent.
Usually, the scouts can rely on March Madness to put pressure on prospects on a big stage. However, with the pandemic, March Madness was postponed, and thus the big stage. Along with this, many overseas Playoffs have also been postponed. These scouts have a regular season and maybe other seasons prior to evaluating whether a player is worth a draft pick.
This seems insignificant, but if you look at players like Kemba Walker, they rise to the occasion and impress scouts so much they rise in stock. This is for better or worse, for players like Jimmer Fredette were also excellent in the tourney but never translated into the league.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that the global pandemic might also hamper with personal workouts, something GMs use to figure out not only how a player plays, but also how he acts. If these are gone, it will be even harder for GMs to discover what a player is like without meeting them in person.
A General Manager compared this draft to the one in 2013, where all-stars were often picked later in the first round, players like CJ McCollum at 10 and Giannis Antetokounmpo at 15. But the first overall pick (Anthony Bennett) and many others in the first round went out of the league in ensuing seasons. Which puts tremendous stress on scouts and GMs alike to figure out who are the gems and who are the busts.
Another issue is the foreign talent that in many mock drafts are high. Players like Lamelo Ball, Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and RJ Hampton can be high-risk high-reward players as they show much upside but also haven’t seen the best of talents overseas, especially with some of them not getting much playing time. Another top pick, James Wiseman, is another one of these players but for another reason. He was suspended by the NCAA and left Memphis to practice on his own until the draft, which hasn’t hampered with his stock much. However, this could lead GMs to stay away.
The NCAA regular season has made such stars as Obi Toppin, Anthony Edwards, Cole Anthony, and Onyeka Okongwu. GMs have most likely kept a closer eye on these players as they are more accessible, but there are still landmines everywhere. For the lottery teams, it wouldn’t be a good year to trade up unless they really need a position filled out, or see a player dropping to low. It can be expected that there will be many surprises throughout the draft, depending on what teams see in the film. This year’s NBA draft still has many questions that are yet to be answered.