Anthony Edwards

Draft Notes: Anthony, Scrubb, Hunt, Edwards

North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony is viewed as a surefire lottery pick for the 2020 NBA draft, but he’s not yet ready to commit to actually declaring for the draft and leaving UNC, as Myron Medcalf of ESPN writes. Anthony said on Instagram that he’s currently focused on the coronavirus pandemic and relief efforts in New York.

“Living in New York City, the coronavirus hits hard,” Anthony said. “My family and I know many people directly affected by the coronavirus — many hospitalized, a few in critical condition, and one person who has died. … So, my biggest concern right now is trying to figure out how I can help during this crisis.”

While Anthony has yet to officially put his name in the 2020 draft pool, UNC head coach Roy Williams expected the young guard to do so, as he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Asked if he expects any of his players to leave school for the NBA, Williams replied, “I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind that Cole will be leaving.”

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on Tuesday that he expects the NBA to move back both the combine and the draft due to the coronavirus situation (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv). Calipari hopes that – in that scenario – the date for college players to make final decisions about their draft eligibility would be pushed back too.
  • Junior college star and Louisville commit Jay Scrubb is entering the 2020 draft without forgoing his college eligibility, his father Jason Scrubb tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports. “Jay’s focus right now is trying to be a pro player, and we want the NBA to take him seriously,” the elder Scrubb said. “Some execs aren’t sure if he’s going to go to school or try for the NBA. With the timeline we don’t know when we would hear from the NBA. He wants to be a pro athlete, but he does love Louisville.”
  • SMU sophomore forward Feron Hunt is testing the draft waters this spring, he announced on Twitter. Hunt is coming off a 2019/20 campaign in which he averaged 11.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 30 games (28.2 MPG) for the Mustangs.
  • Toledo junior guard Marreon Jackson recently announced on Twitter that he’s entering the 2020 draft pool while retaining his college eligibility. He averaged 19.8 PPG and 5.4 APG in 32 games (35.3 MPG) in 2019/20.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes a closer look at Anthony Edwards, exploring why the Georgia guard has emerged as the leading candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft and what question marks still surround him.

Pistons Notes: Draft, Brown, Casey, TV Workers

If the Pistons win the lottery, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards would be their best hope of landing a potential superstar in this draft, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Edwards’ “power athleticism” gives him a slight edge over LaMelo Ball, another point guard who played in Australia this season. Edwards, who is already 225 pounds at 18 years old, can be elite offensively if he’s willing to put in the work, Vecenie adds. The Pistons currently have a 10.5% chance of landing the top pick, so Vecenie and The Athletic’s James Edwards III run through a variety of draft scenarios and prospects from 1-7.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • Second-year guard Bruce Brown will be focused on continuing to develop his jumper and improving his other ball skills during this offseason, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. Brown has already established himself as a solid and versatile perimeter defender and coach Dwane Casey views him in a secondary ballhandler role going forward. The franchise values Brown as a vital part of the future while reshaping many other parts of its roster, Langlois adds.
  • Casey has been spending extra time viewing film of not only NBA games but also draft prospects, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons were one of the teams that went into self-isolation after the suspension of play. “Watching game film, trying to see what we can do differently defensively,” Casey said. “New ideas to experiment with for next year. Also watching a lot of draft film. Very unusual for this time of year.”
  • While the Pistons and other teams are giving assistance to arena workers and staff members during the hiatus, the team’s broadcasting crew is seeking financial help, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press reports. Freelancers for Fox Sports Detroit — which also broadcast Red Wings and Tigers games — are not getting paid during the hiatus. FSD was one of the regional sports networks purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group last year and haven’t been offered any assistance from Sinclair. Most FSD workers at Pistons home games, including stage managers, camera operators, audio technicians and editors, are freelancers.

Anthony Edwards Declaring For 2020 NBA Draft

Freshman Georgia guard and potential top pick Anthony Edwards is entering the 2020 NBA draft class, he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Edwards – who has signed with Octagon agent Omar Wilkes for representation, according to Daniels – said that he believes he should be the No. 1 selection this year.

“I think I should go number one, no doubt,” Edwards told 247Sports. “That’s the only place I think I should go.”

While it remains to be seen whether the NBA team that gets the No. 1 pick will agree with Edwards’ assessment, the 6’5″ guard is widely viewed by draft experts as the top player on the board. Edwards currently ranks first on ESPN’s big board, and topped the most recent mock draft published by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic.

“I think he has to be a realistic option for No. 1,” an NBA scout told Daniels. “He has size and strength for position with ability to make shots and create for others. He’s shown glimpses defensively and can impact both sides of the ball. The potential is there to be a future superstar.”

In his scouting report on Edwards, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz praised the 18-year-old’s explosiveness, defensive potential, and ability to create shots, while noting that his decision-making is “a work in progress,” he can be undisciplined on defense, and he’s a streaky perimeter shooter.

In his first and only college season, Edwards averaged 19.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 32 games (33.0 MPG). He knocked down just 29.4% of his three-point attempts, despite averaging 7.7 attempts per game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Logistics, Medicals, Mock Draft, More

Even before the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 NBA draft was viewed as a confusing one, given how many of this year’s top prospects – including LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, and RJ Hampton – had their seasons cut short by injuries or eligibility issues. Before going down with injuries, Ball and Hampton were playing on the other side of the world in Australia’s National Basketball League, limiting scouting opportunities for NBA teams.

Now, given the league’s hiatus and its shrinking list of pre-draft events, decision-makers are expecting to have to do their scouting almost exclusively via film, as Ethan Strauss of The Athletic details. Some executives, such as Warriors GM Bob Myers, are still hoping for the opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face, but are unsure whether that will be possible.

“Are we allowed to talk to them in person? That’s a huge part of hiring anybody, which is what a draft pick is; you’re hiring somebody into your company,” Myers said this week. “We’d like to be able to look at them and talk to them and we’d like to see them up close.”

The draft combine typically provides teams with an opportunity to meet dozens prospects in the span of a few days. However, as Strauss notes, even though this May’s combine hasn’t yet been postponed or canceled, few people expect it to happen. It’s also not clear when exactly the draft, currently scheduled for June 25, will take place if the NBA aims to resume its 2019/20 season in the spring or summer.

Here’s more on an uncertain 2020 draft:

  • Although teams are getting used to the idea of relying on digital scouting and conducting meetings through video apps like FaceTime or Zoom, executives are wondering how prospects will go through medical checks they’d usually undergo at the combine, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. One team staffer conveyed a similar concern to Strauss: “What the league has to do is at least get the medical records. Everything else is optional.”
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes his own look at the scheduling and logistical issues surrounding this year’s draft and digs into how the unusual circumstances may affect the decisions being made by potential early entrants.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has published an updated version of his mock draft, with Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and Obi Toppin coming off the board first, in that order.

And-Ones: Italy, 2020 Draft, 2021 Free Agents

The coronavirus outbreak continues to have a major impact on Italian sports, with Nicola Lupo of Sportando passing along word that all sporting events taking place in Italy through April 3 will be played behind closed doors. The Italian government, which announced those measures, also said that athletes, coaches, and other team personnel will undergo medical tests to help avoid the virus from spreading.

There aren’t as many former NBA players competing professionally in Italy right now as there are in China and some other countries around the world, but Italy is still one of Europe’s basketball hubs, featuring one EuroLeague team in Olimpia Milano. The ruling will have a major impact on what basketball games in Italy look like over the next several weeks.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, the country’s leading freshman scorer, ranks atop many draft experts’ big boards for 2020. John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks down Edwards’ pros and cons, arguing that despite some flaws, Edwards has a “pretty high floor” and looks like “the least-bad option in a bad draft.”
  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if the uninspiring crop of NCAA prospects this spring will prompt more teams to look at international draft options. Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Theo Maledon are among the prospects who could appeal to NBA teams, as Tjarks details.
  • Although the 2021 free agent class looks tantalizing, many of the very best players who could hit the market that summer – including LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – are already playing where they want to be, so it remains to be seen how much star movement there will be, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic.
  • As Lonzo Ball tries to help push the Pelicans into the postseason and LaMelo Ball prepares for the 2020 draft, their brother LiAngelo Ball is expected to sign a G League contract soon, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ball has been practicing with the Thunder‘s NBAGL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, as of late.

And-Ones: P. Gasol, Player Options, 2020 Draft

Veteran big man Pau Gasol suggested earlier this month that he hopes to get healthy in time to represent Spain in the 2020 Olympics, and that he hasn’t given up on the possibility of an NBA comeback. Gasol, who will turn 40 in July, recently reiterated that point to Spain’s Agencia Efe, as relayed by Eurohoops.

“I understand that sooner or later, whether this summer, next season or another, my retirement is inevitable,” Gasol said. “I hope that the foot recovers so that it can allow me to play a little more. We will see how much more. Enjoy one last season.”

Gasol’s foot issues limited him to 30 games in 2018/19 and sidelined him altogether in 2019/20 before he was waived by Portland. At this point, a return to the NBA seems unlikely, but it would be great to see Gasol get healthy and get a farewell season in 2020/21.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes an early look at this summer’s player option decisions, projecting which players are locks to opt in or out, and which decisions will end up being a little trickier. Gozlan singles out Mike Conley, Andre Drummond, and DeMar DeRozan as complicated cases, since they won’t match their 2020/21 option salaries if they opt out, but they could earn more total money on new multiyear deals.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) takes a look at some draft-related storylines to watch over the next month in the NCAA, including the final games of Anthony Edwards‘ college career, Isaac Okoro‘s draft stock, and the logjam of first-round point guard prospects.
  • Speaking of Edwards, the Georgia guard remains atop Sam Vecenie’s 2020 draft big board at The Athletic. LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija, James Wiseman, and Killian Hayes round out Vecenie’s top five.

And-Ones: Mock Draft, Maker, G League Union, Bethea Jr.

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards heads to Cleveland in the latest mock draft compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Former Memphis center James Wiseman (Golden State), Auburn swingman Isaac Okoro (Atlanta), guard LaMelo Ball (New York) and Israeli swingman Deni Avdija (Charlotte) round out the top five. USC big man Onyeka Okongwu has firmly moved into the top 10 after a couple of big performances against top competition and Givony has him going to Detroit at No. 7.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Makur Maker has been declared eligible for this year’s draft, Evan Daniels of 247Sports reports. The 6’11” Maker is a five-star recruit currently at Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix but he doesn’t plan to play any more games there, Daniels continues. The question about his eligibility stemmed from not receiving his diploma following his senior year of high school. Maker plans to play in the Iverson Classic All-Star game and the Nike Hoop Summit, Daniels adds.
  • NBA players have voted to support the formation of a union for G League players, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The vote was held at the NBPA meeting on Monday. Formal approval at the G League level will have to take place before the union can be formed (Twitter links).
  • Raptors 905 guard Michael Bethea Jr. is the subject of a feature story by The Athletic’s Blake Murphy on the life of a G League player.

And-Ones: 2020 Mock Drafts, Stauskas, Deng, CBA

Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards has topped a new mock 2020 NBA draft from Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo. Guard LaMelo Ball of Australia’s Illawarra Hawks and Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro round out Woo’s top three.

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has also cooked up a new, post-trade deadline 2020 mock NBA draft. Though Vecenie notes that most NBA front offices believe this could be the weakest draft in several years, he notes that several players with high ceilings could be sleeper picks later in the draft.

Edwards (No. 1) and Ball (No. 3) make Vecenie’s top three as well, but sandwiched between them is James Wiseman. The 7’1″ freshman Memphis center played just three games for the Tigers before ultimately leaving the team to prepare for the draft after incurring a 12-game suspension.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA shooting guard Nik Stauskas has departed EuroLeague squad Baskonia following a season-ending knee surgery, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia and Alessandro Maggi. The 26-year-old Stauskas averaged 9 points a night in Euroleague play this season. Drafted No. 8 by Sacramento out of Michigan in 2014, Stauskas also enjoyed NBA stints in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Cleveland.
  • The recently retired Luol Deng, a two-time All-Star with the Bulls, has been named a global ambassador for the Basketball Africa League, per ESPN. “I look forward to following some of the top African club teams when the inaugural season gets underway next month and supporting the BAL in expanding its footprint around the world,” the Sudanese-born Deng said in a statement. Deng, a 6’9″ defensive-oriented forward, logged 16 seasons in the NBA.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association will restart play on April 1, after play was suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. It remains unclear if the CBA will run later than usual or merely have a condensed season.

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Powell, Trade Market, Reed

A trio of guards — Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony — top The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s latest draft board. Another guard, 18-year-old Killian Hayes, made the biggest move among the top 20 prospects. Hayes, who is playing in Europe, jumped from No. 16 to No. 7.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, the Spurs’ Lonnie Walker and the Celtics’ Robert Williams are among five buy-low trade targets for teams seeking to fortify their benches, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury was not only a major setback for the Mavericks but also Team Canada, Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada notes. Powell was expected to be a foundation piece for Canada’s Olympic push and his size, smarts, and athleticism will be hard to replace, according to Grange.
  • Veteran center Willie Reed has signed with the G League and returned to the Salt Lake City Stars, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Reed, 29, was playing in Greece but parted ways with Olympiacos earlier this month.

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Giannis, Curry, Silver

The 2019 NBA draft, like many in recent years, had an obvious hierarchy at the top, with No. 1 prospect Zion Williamson followed by clear top-tier options like Ja Morant and RJ Barrett. However, things don’t project to be quite so simple in 2020, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link), who suggests that the this year’s draft might be the weirdest one in years.

As Givony explains, James Wiseman‘s departure from the University of Memphis, Anthony Edwards‘ inconsistency at Georgia, and a handful of unknowns surrounding LaMelo Ball have ensured there’s no clear-cut favorite to be the No. 1 pick in June. Wiseman’s absence, along with injuries to Ball, Cole Anthony, and R.J. Hampton, have also resulted in a dearth of opportunities for evaluators to scout many of this year’s top prospects.

With so much uncertainty about the top of the 2020 class, a chaotic draft night is possible, according to Givony, who thinks teams might have big boards that look very different.

Despite Givony’s assertions, there seems to be at least a rough consensus among experts on the top of the draft order for now. In their latest mock drafts, Givony and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic each have Edwards, Wiseman, and Ball going 1-2-3, in that order. The two mock drafts do diverge significantly from there, however.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After his postgame conversation with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday went viral, Warriors Stephen Curry claimed to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) that he wasn’t talking to Giannis about teaming up in Golden State in the future — he was giving him his gamer tag for the online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. “Don’t shoot the messenger,” Haynes said, perhaps recognizing that some fans will find Curry’s explanation dubious.
  • Former NBA first-round pick Jared Cunningham, who had been playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League, has opted to return to China and sign with the Shanghai Sharks, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Cunningham, who has appeared in 84 regular season NBA games, played in the Chinese Basketball Association for Jiangsu in 2016/17.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies five issues facing commissioner Adam Silver in the coming years, including the NBA’s next TV rights deal and the league’s delicate relationship with China.
  • The National Basketball Players Association is creating an accelerator program to help current and former players invest in and create startup companies. Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg has the story and the details.