Edwards was taken out by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No.1 pick in an NBA Draft delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced his choice at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The project was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus pushed him away from his usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Boxes of hats were sent to the best prospects to put the one they needed after their name was called.
Edwards watched as he sat next to the portraits of his late mother and grandmother. They both died of cancer and he was moved after her name was announced.
“As far as just being excited and just being happy and ready to go and ready to work and ready to get there ASAP, those emotions were overwhelming with just my mom and grandmother present. Said Edwards. “I mean, it was just a dream come true and just a blessing. ”
And while there wasn’t the usual family table in the green room and a trip to the stage to meet the Commissioner, some players were still outfitted in trendy clothes – maybe no more than number 12, Tyrese Haliburton from Sacramento, whose blue, floral costume had the words “Black Lives Matter” inside.
They celebrated with family, friends, coaches – and in Cole Anthony’s case, even celebrity fans. Director Spike Lee jumped up and down with his family when Orlando took Anthony, whose father, Greg played for the Knicks, at No.15.
Certain moments triggered deeper emotions. Okongwu, ranked 6th by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died in a skate accident in 2014.
Toppin, the National Player of the Year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after the New York Knicks took him to No. 8, bringing the Brooklyn-born to his hometown.
“I’m from New York, that’s why it’s important,” Toppin said. “Me, I am my city, it’s incredible. ”
Edwards became the 11th straight full player to be the No.1 pick, coming in a year where there was no obvious and clear choice. He averages 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, leading among all freshmen.
The Golden State Warriors, stung by news that Klay Thompson had suffered another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis center James Wiseman with the second pick. They stumbled at 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 revealed at the start of the project, but that did not convince the Warriors to take another guard. Instead, they went with the 7-foot-1 center who arrived as the No.1 rookie out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft. .
LaMelo Ball then made it to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a long basketball trip that sent the California high school goaltender to stoppages as a professional in Lithuania and Australia. He joins his brother Lonzo, taken No. 2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers caught in the top three picks.
Newcomers will have little time to prepare for their debut and will need to cut months of rust or more – Wiseman hasn’t played an organized game in a year – without the benefit of the Summer League. Training camps will open in early December and the 72-game 2020-21 season is scheduled to begin on December 22.
“This draft process was the longest for me so I just worked on my game,” said Wiseman. “I’ve actually played pickup games with the pros before, so I got a lot of experience. But I really focus on myself. I’m really ready to play with these big guys. ”
Teams had to assess prospects without the benefit of the usual Chicago combine project or the ability to invite them to their facilities for practice sessions and meetings. And with the coronavirus shutting down the sports world in March, there was no NCAA tournament for players to make one last impression before entering the draft.
This contributed to perhaps more questions than usual regarding the draft, with no one knowing how the top few picks would play out.
The Chicago Bulls picked up Patrick Williams of Florida, the ACC’s sixth man of the year as a rookie, at No.4. Cleveland followed with Isaac Okoro of Auburn, another freshman. , to complete the top five.
The second half of the top 10 included a couple of highly regarded international players: Frenchman Killian Hayes, taken by Detroit in 7th place, and Deni Avdija, Israel’s highest player when Washington picked him 9th.