When Zion Williamson went first overall in the 2019 NBA draft, it came as no surprise — he had been considered the top prospect in last year’s class for months, well before we knew which team would get the No. 1 pick. For the most part, the same can be said of other recent top picks like Anthony Davis (2012), Karl-Anthony Towns (2015), and perhaps even Markelle Fultz (2017).
On the other hand, some drafts have two or three prospects in the top tier. A number of draft experts believed Luka Doncic should be picked ahead of Deandre Ayton in 2018. In 2016, the debate over the No. 1 pick was between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
The 2020 draft class, however, looks most similar to 2013’s group. That year, Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Ben McLemore, and Victor Oladipo were among the many players considered candidates to be drafted first overall. The Cavaliers didn’t take anyone from that group, opting instead for Anthony Bennett.
2020’s similarities to 2013’s draft class doesn’t mean that this year’s first overall pick will have a Bennett-esque NBA career, but so far, we have little clarity on which player might be the first one off the board. LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin, and Killian Hayes are among the players who have shown up atop various experts’ draft rankings, with no consensus on which player most NBA teams favor.
In an attempt to gauge which way NBA teams are leaning, Jeff Goodman of Stadium anonymously polled 35 team executives and found that 20 of them picked Wiseman as the top player in this year’s class. Of course, the big man played just three games for Memphis in the fall before leaving the program due to eligibility issues, so evaluators and scouts didn’t get much of a look at him at the college level. And even those that NBA execs who favor Wiseman don’t sound particularly enthusiastic about their choice.
“I wouldn’t even want the No. 1 pick,” one NBA general manager told Goodman. “If I have it, I’m trying like hell to trade it.”
“It’s not an easy decision,” another GM offered. “(But) even though the NBA doesn’t value bigs like it used to, there just aren’t a lot of seven-footers who can run and jump like Wiseman can out there.”
While Wiseman received the majority of the votes in Goodman’s poll, Edwards (10 votes), Ball (four), and Toppin (one) also had supporters. The only real consensus? It won’t be an easy decision for whichever team wins this year’s draft lottery.
“This is an underwhelming draft at the top,” one high-ranking executive told Goodman. “It’s as difficult for the No. 1 pick as I’ve seen in a long time.”
This year’s top choice may ultimately come down to the specific needs and preferences of the team that wins the lottery. But in our poll today, we want you to put positional needs aside and assume all other factors are equal. In that scenario, which of this year’s prospects would you be most comfortable drafting first overall?
Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!
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