Anthony Edwards paid tribute to his mother and grandmother. Onyeka Okongwu recalled his brother. Obi Toppin thought about going home.
Tears flowed freely for these players and many more on Wednesday night when their long-awaited and months-delayed NBA dreams were finally realized.
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 grandma present,” Edwards said. “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 the 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 and floral suit 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, to No.15.
Certain moments triggered deeper emotions. Okongwu, taken at No.6 by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died from a skate accident in 2014.
Toppin, the National Player of the Year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after New York 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, who represents my city, it’s incredible.”
Edwards became the 11th full-fledged 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 quitting. ‘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 brother Lonzo, taken No.2 by the Lakers and now New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.
After all of his travels, Ball can’t wait to make a home playing for Michael Jordan’s team in Charlotte.
“I feel like I can go play basketball,” Ball said. “I feel like I was born to do this.”
Newcomers will have little precious time to prepare for their debut and will have 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 2020-21 72-game 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 really focus on myself. I’m really ready to play with these great 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 world of sports in March, there was no NCAA tournament for players to make a final 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 took Patrick Williams of Florida, the ACC’s sixth man of the year in freshman, to 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 in Frenchman Killian Hayes, taken by Detroit at No.7, and Deni Avdija, Israel’s highest player when Washington picked him at No.9. .
The frame wasn’t the only unusual thing in the draft. Duke hasn’t had a player selected in the first round after scoring 39 since the league went to a two-round draft in 1989.
And the San Antonio Spurs picked the lottery for the first time since 1997, when they drafted No.1 Tim Duncan. The Spurs picked Devin Vassell at No.11, giving Florida State two first-round picks for the second time. of the history of the school.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards, G, Géorgie
2. Golden State Warriors, James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte Hornets, LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks (Australie)
4. Chicago Bulls, Patrick Williams, SF, State of Florida
5. Cavaliers de Cleveland, Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
6. Atlanta Hawks, Onyeka Okongwu, C, Californie du Sud
7. Detroit Pistons, Killian Hayes, PG, France
8. Knicks de New York, Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
9. Washington Wizards, Deni Avdija, SF, Israël
10. Phoenix Suns, Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
11. San Antonio Spurs, Devin Vassell, SG, State of Florida
12. Sacramento Kings, Tyrese Haliburton, PG, State of Iowa
13. New Orleans Pelicans, Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
14. Boston Celtics, Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
15. Orlando Magic, Cole Anthony, PG, Caroline du Nord
16. Portland Trail Blazers, Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington (reportedly traded to Detroit via Houston)
17. Minnesota Timberwolves, Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia (reportedly traded to Oklahoma City)
18. Dallas Mavericks, Josh Green, SG, Arizona
19. Brooklyn Nets, Saddiq Bey, PF, Villanova (reportedly traded to Detroit via LA Clippers)
20. Miami Heat, Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis
21. Philadelphia 76ers, Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
22. Denver Nuggets, Zeke Nnaji, PF, Arizona
23. New York Knicks, Leandro Bolmaro, SG, Argentina (reportedly traded with Minnesota)
24. Milwaukee Bucks, RJ Hampton, PG, New Zealand Breakers (reportedly traded to Denver via New Orleans)
25. Oklahoma City Thunder, Immanuel Quickley, PG, Kentucky (reportedly traded to New York)
26. Boston Celtics, Payton Pritchard, PG, Orego
27. Utah Jazz, Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
28. Los Angeles Lakers, Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington (reportedly traded to Minnesota via Oklahoma City)
29. Toronto Raptors, Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State
30. Boston Celtics, Desmond Bane, SG, TCU (reportedly traded to Memphis)
31. Dallas Mavericks, Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
32. Charlotte Hornets, Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
33. Minnesota Timberwolves, Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota (reportedly traded to New York)
34. Philadelphia 76ers, Theo Maledon, PG, France (reportedly traded to Oklahoma City)
35. Sacramento Kings, Xavier Tillman Sr., C, State of Michigan
36. Philadelphia 76ers, Tyler Bey, PF, Colorado (reportedly traded to Dallas)
37. Washington Wizards, Vit Krejci, PG, Czech Republic (reportedly traded to Oklahoma City)
38. Utah Jazz, Saben Lee, PG, Vanderbilt (reportedly traded to Detroit)
39. New Orleans Pelicans, Elijah Hughes, SG, Syracuse (reportedly traded with Utah)
40. Memphis Grizzlies, Robert Woodard II, SF, State of Mississippi
41. San Antonio Spurs, Tre Jones, PG, Duke
42. New Orleans Pelicans, Nick Richards, C Kentucky (reportedly traded to Charlotte)
43. Sacramento Kings, Jahmi’us Ramsey, PG, Texas Tech
44. Chicago Bulls, Marko Simonovic, C, Monténégro
45. Milwaukee Bucks, Jordan Nwora, PF, Louisville
46. Portland Trail Blazers, CJ Elleby, SG, Washington State
47. Boston Celtics, Yam Madar, PG, Israël
48. Golden State Warriors, Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
49. Philadelphia 76ers, Isaiah Joe, SG, Arkansas
50. Atlanta Hawks, Skylar Mays, SG, LSU
51. Golden State Warriors, Justinian Jessup, SG, Boise State
52. Sacramento Kings, KJ Martin, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) (reportedly traded to Houston)
53. Oklahoma City Thunder, Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State (reportedly traded to Washington)
54. Indiana Pacers, Cassius Stanley, SG, Duke
55. Brooklyn Nets, Jay Scrubb, SG, John A. Logan College
56. Charlotte Hornets, Grant Riller, PG, Charleston
57. Los Angeles Clippers, Reggie Perry, C, State of Mississippi
58. Philadelphia 76ers, Paul Reed, PF, DePaul
59. Raptors de Toronto, Jalen Harris, SG, Nevada
60. New Orleans Pelicans, Sam Merrill, SG, State of Utah (reportedly traded in Milwaukee)