If half the trade rumors turn out to be true, then the NBA draft Wednesday should be eventful. Every year, rumors abound at this time, but the noise seems to be louder this season.
Here is a guide for the draft.
Question: Who’s No. 1?
Answer: Unlike last season, when Zion Williamson was the clear-cut No. 1 pick, this season most experts think it will be one of three players — Georgia freshman shooting guard Anthony Edwards, Memphis freshman center James Wiseman, or LaMelo Ball, the 19-year-old point guard who has played professionally first in Lithuania and last season in Australia for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL. Fans are familiar with the three players, but maybe not necessarily their games because these three played a combined 35 college games. Edwards played in 32, Wiseman three, and of course Ball zero.
Ball is considered a better player than his brother Lonzo, now on the New Orleans Pelicans. Like Lonzo, LaMelo is not considered a good shooter. Neither is Edwards, who shot 29.4% from three-point range for Georgia. Wiseman took only one three-pointer in his three games with Memphis. In another era, when centers were more dominant, he would likely be a surefire top pick, but most expect either Ball or Edwards to earn that distinction.
Q: The Sixers have five selections, No. 21 in the first round and Nos. 34, 36, 49 and 58 in the second round. What are the chances they keep all these picks?
A: There is almost a zero chance that the Sixers keep all five picks, unless they draft several players who are overseas and they stay there for at least a year. More likely the Sixers will use some of those picks for trades. The big question is whether they will hold on to their first-round pick.
Q: Will Golden State hold on to the No. 2 pick?
A: That’s a good question. The Warriors, after five straight seasons in the NBA Finals and three titles during that span, had the NBA’s worst record last season, 15-50. Klay Thompson missed the entire season while recovering from a torn ACL and Stephen Curry was limited to five games after breaking his left hand. With arguably the NBA’s best backcourt returning, the Warriors believe they will be contenders. Would they trade the No. 2 pick (probably Wiseman) for immediate veteran help?
Q: Is there other potential movement among lottery teams?
A: One of the worst-kept secrets is that Atlanta, with the sixth pick, would be open for offers in return for a veteran. There are also rumblings that Detroit, currently at No. 7, is looking to move up and may have Ball in its sights. Boston, with three first-round picks (14, 26, and 30), likely won’t keep all three and could package some picks to move up.
Q: What player offers the biggest gamble?
A: Aleksej Pokusevski, who turns 19 in December, is creating a lot of buzz. At 6-foot-11 and 215 pounds (a generous figure), he is considered one of the biggest gambles. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, he played for Olympiacos in Greece. He is considered a power forward, but there is very little power to his game. He shot 32.1% from three-point range, but he has a nice looking stroke. He will need to get stronger. Teams that don’t need a player right away might select him and have him continue to develop before he is ready for the NBA.
Q: Who is the best shooter in the draft?
A: That is easy. It is 6-6 Aaron Nesmith, who played for former Sixer Jerry Stackhouse at Vanderbilt. Nesmith played just 14 games this past season as a sophomore after suffering a stress fracture in his foot. He shot 52.2% from three -point range in those 14 games. TCU’s Desmond Bane, a 6-6 senior, is another of the top shooters in the draft. He shot 43.3% from three-point range for his career.
Q: Who is the best local prospect?
A: That would be Villanova 6-8 sophomore Saddiq Bey a three-and-D player. Bey could be picked as high as the late lottery. As a sophomore he averaged 16.1 points and shot 45.1% from beyond the arc.
If Bey is drafted in the first round, he would be the fifth Villanova first-rounder since 2017. The others: Josh Hart in 2017 and Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVencenzo, and Omari Spellman in 2018. All told, Villanova has had 15 first-round draft choices.
Q: What colleges have been the most dominant in the NBA draft?
A: According to NBA statistics, since a two-round draft was adopted in 1989, Kentucky has had the most first-round selections with 40. Duke is next with 39 first-round picks. Kentucky will almost assuredly add to that total since combo guard Tyrese Maxie is considered a surefire first-rounder. Duke, which had three first-round picks in each of the previous three drafts, isn’t guaranteed to have one in this draft.