How the 2020 NBA Draft Went Down – Top 9 Highlights
The 2020 NBA Draft wasn’t the spectacle of yesteryear, as an ongoing global pandemic made sure to ground the festivities to a certain degree.
Adam Silver still found a way to work his magic, however, as the NBA commissioner announced the picks like always, setting up a pristine digital environment, while also initiating new ideas to keep the process as advanced as possible.
Theatrics aside, the 2020 NBA Draft also included the usual moments, with everyone finally finding out who would go first overall. Other prospects slid down the draft board, a few went earlier than expected, and for many players, life changed immediately.
Those changes were met with instant, genuine emotion, and that alone made for some of the biggest moments in the 2020 NBA Draft.
It was a draft worth looking back on. Join me as I recap the story of the 2020 NBA Draft with the top 9 highlights.
Anthony Edwards Goes #1 Overall
There’s no better place to start the 2020 NBA Draft’s top highlights than the first overall pick.
Nobody knew for certain who would go at the top spot, but the day of the draft, most of the top NBA sportsbooks listed Edwards as the mild favorite.
Edwards was the guy in the end, as the Minnesota Timberwolves held onto the top pick and selected the Georgia standout.
After making headlines for various comments leading up to the draft, Edwards felt like the right call for Minnesota, and he also delivered a touching moment during his interview.
Seen next to pictures of his late mother and grandmother, Edwards added a touching moment to his ascension to the NBA.
Warriors Go Big With James Wiseman
Among the biggest stories in the 2020 NBA Draft was what the Golden State Warriors would do with the second overall pick.
Just over a year removed from defending their championship, the Dubs endured a rash of injuries and ended the year with one of the worst records in basketball.
Fortunately, that resulted in them getting this selection. While there was much debate as to what they’d do with it, the Dubs ultimately opted to address a major need by selecting promising center James Wiseman.
Golden State has always been known for their small ball lineups, but they’d lost key bodies down low over the years, and it was starting to show.
A potential generational star, Wiseman looked like a coup for the Dubs, and was probably the better fit for them ahead of the much-hyped LaMelo Ball.
MJ Approves of LaMelo in Charlotte
Prior to the 2020 NBA Draft, everyone wondered about the future of LaMelo Ball. Part of the curiosity was due to the fact that he was such a polarizing talent, but also because he came from the Ball family.
Everyone knows about LaVar Ball and his wild antics, with one iconic statement being that he’d beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one.
With that hanging like a dark cloud over this draft – especially with Ball potentially on Charlotte’s radar – Jordan reportedly approved the Ball pick, nixing any possibility of bitterness (we think).
Whether that’s actually what allowed this pick to happen or not will probably never be known, but the point is Jordan recognized Ball’s talent, and didn’t hesitate to get him.
Ball is certainly talented, having perhaps the best combination of size, athleticism, and offensive ability in the draft.
Charlotte took a risk in selecting him, of course, having already possessed two starting caliber guards on their talent-starved roster.
Obi Toppin Reps His City
The first few picks had a narrative or compelling situation to monitor, but what made them truly special was they involved the very first selections, and elite talents.
Even as the draft matured, though, there were still some high-level prospects waiting to hear their name called. Some were deserving of going a bit earlier than they did, and they were understandably wondering when they’d be chosen, and where they’d call home in the NBA.
One such player was Dayton superstar Obi Toppin. A versatile forward that at one point was in contention to go first overall (or at least inside the top-4), slid out of the top-5, and nobody was sure what would happen.
Then the New York Knicks were on the clock, and they got their hometown product.
Obi Toppin finished his high school career without a D-I offer.— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) November 19, 2020
– Played a post-graduate year at Mt. Zion Prep
– Committed to Dayton, named A-10 freshman of the year
– As a sophomore, he won national player of the year.
Tonight, No. 8 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft ???? pic.twitter.com/xdDzaq3Fqi
Toppin couldn’t handle the news, as he broke down over the sheer joy of not just being selected by an NBA franchise, but the mere idea of “repping his city” as a member of the New York Knicks.
It was easily one of the biggest moments of the 2020 NBA Draft. In addition, it took a mildly sliding prospect off the board, and showed the Knicks might be en route to a better draft strategy than they’d done in the recent past.
Diana Taurasi’s Hologram Interview
One of the best highlights of the 2020 NBA Draft in a sense personified the way the entire draft was handled. It involved WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi.
A life-sized version of Diana Taurasi, the #WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, will appear via an AT&T 5G hologram for a series of content pieces with consensus first-round pick Patrick Williams as AT&T activates around next week's #NBADraft (Terry Lefton).https://t.co/hdqrMsriwn— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) November 13, 2020
With Patrick Williams selected by the Chicago Bulls fourth overall, but ESPN not having anyone on hand to physically interview him due to COVID-19, the studio got creative.
As you can see, Taurasi was dropped down in front of Williams as a hologram, allowing the two to conduct an otherwise normal interview in completely abnormal fashion.
It was a pretty cool thing to see, and it showcased the league’s impressive attempt to make the draft experience as entertaining and as engaging as possible.
Even Williams approved, calling the hologram interview “dope” upon its completion.
Sixers and Mavs Swap Josh Richardson, Seth Curry
The story of the 2020 NBA Draft wouldn’t be complete without a nod to some trades.
This was admittedly not the best NBA Draft in terms of big draft day trades. There were a lot of superstars discussed in the rumor mill in the weeks and months leading up to this draft, but nothing really came of all the chatter.
On a high level of operation, at least.
The draft still had some dealings, as teams swapped a litany of picks, and there were even a few players dealt. One of the biggest moves was this trade where Dallas sent scorer Seth Curry to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson and the 36th overall pick in the draft.
It didn’t look like much on the surface, but it actually was a great deal for both sides. Curry could roam free in Philly’s system as an offensive assassin, and their defensive strengths elsewhere can mask his main weakness.
Richardson was looking like the odd man out in Philadelphia, but his balanced offense and strong defense would be put to greater use in Dallas.
It was the rare deal that worked for both sides, while Dallas turned the 36th overall pick into Tyler Bey.
Cole Anthony’s Prediction & Spike Lee
ESPN and basically any channel covering the NBA Draft (or any draft) catch a ton of heat for the various narratives they spin each year. This time, however, they got a good one that was actually authentic.
Not only was it authentic, but Cole Anthony’s NBA dream coming true was over a decade in the making.
In fact, in an interview with his mother about a film she made about her son and his friends playing basketball, Cole Anthony talks about his passion for basketball and his dream to play at the highest level.
A lot of kids say these things, and even more dream them. But Cole Anthony said these things on camera, worked hard, went to North Carolinas, and got selected 14th overall by the Orlando Magic.
It was made even more impressive and more emotional for Anthony, seeing as he labored through injury and a trying season in his only year with the Tar Heels.
This was a touching moment, but it wouldn’t be complete without a little humor. Anthony is the son of former NBA player Greg Anthony, who clearly has ties to film director Spike Lee.
Spike Lee's reaction to Cole Anthony getting drafted by the Magic is priceless ? pic.twitter.com/e18TDhg5Wi— ESPN (@espn) November 19, 2020
Lee makes a cameo in the draft celebration, and it’s the stuff of legends almost instantly.
Tyrese Maxey Gets Emotional, Too
This was easily one of the most genuinely emotional drafts we’ve ever seen. You could probably point to every other draftee that got teary, gave a longer than expected hug, or got choked up.
Perhaps the one who got the most emotional was Tyrese Maxey.
The former Kentucky star got severely choked up as he talked about Rajon Rondo helping him train, as well as his move to the pros.
Maxey was made the 21st overall selection by the Philadelphia 76ers, and by the looks of it, he’s someone who appreciates his opportunity.
Ricky Rubio Goes Back Home
Lastly, perhaps one of the top highlights of the 2020 NBA Draft saw star point guard Ricky Rubio go back to the town his pro career began in.
It isn’t the type of deal that made perfect sense. Minnesota drafted Anthony Edwards first overall, and they already had D’Angelo Russell on the roster.
While unsure of their entire plan, bringing Rubio back in the fold at worst improved their overall depth, and at best landed them a reliable starting point guard.
Rubio spent the 2019 season nearly helping the Phoenix Suns make the playoffs, but was moved to Oklahoma City in the offseason. Then, in a shocker, he was traded yet again, and even more shockingly, sent back to the Timberwolves.
If you hadn’t noticed, the 2020 NBA Draft was one of raw emotion. Perhaps it was because of the mental toll of an ongoing global pandemic, and such an interrupted and abnormal process coming to an end.
Seriously, not only have some of these players endured quarantine and a changing world like everyone else, but they also had their workouts and interviews impacted.
Heck, some prospects were gearing up to make their presence known during March Madness, and obviously that never happened.
It all rolled into one big ball of entertainment, and produced these amazing moments. The story of the 2020 NBA Draft will be memorable for all of this, but mostly because it may have produced some superstars.
Done with the 2020 NBA Draft and looking to who goes #1 overall in 2021 already? Brush up on tips for betting on the NBA Draft, and hit up our sports betting blog once odds come out.