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Five emerging superstars destined to make a big splash at the 2020 NBA Draft

Five emerging superstars destined to make a big splash at the 2020 NBA Draft

Ahead of this week's NBA Draft, we look at which potential stars are likely to be selected early, and where they could end up.

THE NBA draft is upon us. At 01:30 GMT on Thursday November 13, 60 young and talented prospects will have their dreams come true. Scouts have had extra time to do their due diligence this year as the pandemic has placed restraints on sports worldwide. 

The primary draft prospects have recently been made available to media via Zoom calls. Thus far, I have attended every interview, learning which teams players have had contact with and who they worked out for over the last few weeks. 

This draft contains very few stars but has a high volume of valuable role players throughout the first round. With such a slew of young talent capable of filling a small role on multiple teams, this draft is set to be unpredictable. 

Understanding team needs will be essential when placing value-based wagers, which leads us to look at which player is slated to go number one overall.

Anthony Edwards

The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the first pick in Thursday's draft, having struggled throughout last season. After trading for D'Angelo Russell the previous season and pairing him up with All-Star centre Karl-Anthony Towns, it seems highly unlikely they will select either position with their opening pick. 

Those powers of deduction leave only Edwards among the top tier of players. At 6'5'' and 225lbs, the shooting guard out of Georgia is topping most mock draft boards, filling a position of need for the Timberwolves while projecting as one of the only rookies entering the league with legitimate All-Star upside. 

Edwards will give the Timberwolves a viable transition outlet who can score at will in the open court. D'Angelo Russell's pick-and-roll heavy offense will compliment Edward's ability to play off-ball when getting ahead of steam rolling to the basket. 

Edwards' draft position: Over 1.5 - 17/2, Under 1.5 - 19/20
Edwards to be drafted first overall: 19/20
Edwards to be selected second overall: 19/20
Edwards to be selected third overall: 19/20

James Wiseman

Multiple teams are enamoured with James Wiseman; his blend of rim-protection, athleticism, and scoring fit well with the prototypical modern-day centre. With the Golden State Warriors owning the second pick in the draft, Wiseman projects as their ideal pick-up. 

The Warriors are thin at the five spot, and the 7'1'' athletic big-man fits the bill. His potential as a floor-spacing big fits their five-out offensive model (where all players take-up positions outside of the three-point line). With the Warriors' championship core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all entering their 30s, taking a swing on a high-upside player such as Wiseman is the logical move. 

There are murmurs of Golden State trading this pick on draft night in return for some veteran help, as they look to challenge for an NBA title immediately. However, Wiseman's upside should see him go in the top three, regardless of who is selecting there. 

Wiseman's draft position: Over 2.5 - 10/11, Under 2.5 - 10/11
Wiseman to be drafted first overall: 9/1
Wiseman to be selected second overall: 22/25
Wiseman to be selected third overall: 23/20

LaMelo Ball

Unlike the Timberwolves and Warriors, the Hornets aren't able to pick a player based on ‘fit’. Instead, Charlotte need to make their selection based on the best talent available.

Assuming the draft goes as expected, LaMelo Ball fits the bill as the most talented player remaining on the draft board. At 6'6'', the well-travelled point guard will fit seamlessly beside Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham while elevating the Hornets roster with his exceptional playmaking skills. 

Charlotte is miles away from contending but do have their sights set on making a return to the playoffs with the eighth seed. Adding a high-level talent with professional experience internationally such as Ball makes the most sense for this team comes Thursday morning. 

Ball's draft position: Over 2.5 - 19/10, Under 2.5 - 21/50
Ball to be drafted first overall: 17/20
Ball to be selected second overall: 5/2
Ball to be selected third overall: 2/1

Kira Lewis Jr

Kira Lewis Jr is the fastest player in the NBA draft, drawing comparisons with De'Aron Fox for his break-neck playing style. Kira Lewis Jr is a polished offensive talent, abusing teams with his smart ball-handling and crafty changes of pace. 

The Boston Celtics currently hold the rights to the 14th selection in the upcoming draft and could sorely use some additional shot creation off the bench. Brad Wanamaker is likely to leave for new pastures in the forthcoming weeks, and currently, there is no long-term successor to Kemba Walker in place. 

Acquiring the guard out of Alabama would be a smart decision from the Celtics front office, which can help both now and further down the line. In this late-lottery area, projections are fluid due to the curve this draft classes talent falls on, but Lewis Jr projects to be one of the "best of the rest," and it's highly unlikely he slips further than 14th. 

Lewis Jr's draft position: Over 15.5 - 5/4, Under 15.5 - 13/20
Lewis Jr to be drafted eighth overall: 13/1
Lewis Jr to be selected 14th overall: 13/2
Lewis Jr to be selected 19th overall: 9/1

Jalen Smith

Bigs that can stretch the floor are valuable commodities in the modern NBA; alas, they're seldom drafted in the lottery unless they project as an All-NBA talent (see James Wiseman). Jalen Smith will provide his new team with rim-protection, athleticism, three-point shooting, and a sprinkling of offensive rebounding - not bad for a late first-round pick! 

Currently, the Brooklyn Nets hold the 19th pick, and regardless if it's them selecting on draft night, Jalen Smith figures to feature heavily in the 19-22 range. Assuming this selection is Brooklyn's, Smith would make sense as a foil to both DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen due to his ability to open up driving lanes for his teammates, as opposing defences are forced to respect his outside shooting ability, 

Centres are renowned for taking longer to develop than guards and wings, so while Smith is a viable option at 19, depending on who drafts him, you may need to tune into the G-League to see his skillset on display.

Smith to be drafted 14th overall: 9/1
Smith to be selected 19th overall: 7/1
Smith to be selected 20th overall: 10/1

Other value wagers

Deni Avdija to be drafted 4th overall27/20
Obi Toppin to be drafted later than 5th2/1
RJ Hampton to be drafted higher than 15th17/20
Onyeka Okongwu to be drafter lower than 6th21/50
Tyrese Maxey to be drafted above 17th - 13/10

The draft will be live on Sky Sports, ESPN+, and NBA league pass from 01:30 GMT this Thursday.





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Adam Taylor
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