Rokas Jokubaitis

Draft Notes: Haliburton, Wiseman, Ball, International Players

In a draft full of uncertain prospects, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton may be the safest pick, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Haliburton offers good size for a point guard at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan. He’s also an elite passer, an effective shooter and has natural leadership qualities.

“I’ve had a lot of No. 1, No. 2 picks, and this guy is a difference maker,” said Joe Abunassar, who trained Haliburton at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas after the season was shut down. “As teams look at him, part of that is his approach, his mentality, his personality. Everyone steps up their game when he steps in the game. He’s the most humble guy. I know with him, what you’re getting is a guy that’s going to win games for your franchise.”

Abunasser said Haliburton has gotten stronger since the college basketball season ended, adding roughly 15 to 18 pounds to his frame. With so many lottery teams needing a point guard, he could go higher than projected on draft night.

“He’s a winner. He has an amazing personality,” Abunassar added. “He’s contagious. He’s something that if I was a GM, I’d say we need guys like that.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • There’s increasing chatter around the league that former Memphis center James Wiseman is the most likely No. 1 pick, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Wasserman that some Golden State officials believe Wiseman will be selected first, whether the Timberwolves keep their pick or not. Sources also say the Hornets “want Wiseman badly” and are interested in trading up to get him.
  • Warriors ownership may put pressure on the front office to select LaMelo Ball with the second pick if Wiseman is off the board, Wasserman adds in the same story. A source close to the team claims Ball has supporters and detractors in the front office. Golden State remains in the market to trade down, with Deni Avdija and Devin Vassell as possible targets.
  • More international prospects have pulled their names out of the draft ahead of today’s deadline, according to Nicola Lupo of SportandoNikola Miskovic, Marko Simonovic and Darko Bajo, all of ABA Liga, have all withdrawn. At No. 70, Simonovic was the only one in ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects. Serbian big man Filip Petrusev (story link), who is 59th on ESPN’s list, and Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis (story link) are also skipping this year’s draft. On Saturday, we shared decisions from seven other overseas players.

Early Entry Deadline For 2020 NBA Draft Has Passed

The deadline for potential early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft fell on April 26 at 11:59pm ET, which means prospects who aren’t automatically draft-eligible can no longer enter this year’s pool.

Players who have entered the draft don’t necessarily have to stay in, as long as they haven’t hired an agent — or as long as they’re working with one of 23 agents certified by the NCAA. Currently, the deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is June 3, though it’s possible that date will be adjusted if the NBA draft is postponed.

The NBA has a separate withdrawal deadline from the NCAA’s, allowing prospects to pull out as late as 10 days before the draft. With the draft scheduled for June 25, the NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 15 — that date is generally the one to watch for international prospects, who don’t have to worry about maintaining NCAA eligibility.

Our full list of early entrants can be found right here. While we did our best to make our list as accurate as possible, some players who declared in recent weeks may have slipped through the cracks, while others reported to have entered the draft may have had a change of heart.

The NBA should formally release its initial early entrant list for 2020 within the next two or three days, so we’ll update our list at that point to reflect the league’s official data.

Here are the latest additions we’ve made to our list:

And here are a couple players who had previously planned to enter the draft who ended up opting to return to school instead. They’ve been removed from our list:

It appears there are approximately 190-ish early entrants in this year’s draft pool, which would be a significant step down from the last couple years, when that total has been in the neighborhood of 235.

Of course, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), the real question will be how many of these initial early entrants end up staying in the draft. That number landed at 98 last year, and 91 in 2018. It will likely end up lower this year, not just because the early total is lower, but due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Givony observes, many prospects who entered the draft may not have much more info about where they stand by the June 3 withdrawal deadline than they have now.