2020 NBA Draft Buzz: Is a New No. 1 Pick Emerging?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterNovember 7, 2020

Memphis center James Wiseman (32) dunks against Oregon during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Oregon won 82-74. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

The NBA draft is set to get underway as soon as Nov. 18, and the top of the board seems more fluid than ever. There hasn't been this much uncertainty over the first few picks since 2013, when Anthony Bennett went No. 1.

Lottery teams are trying to figure out what the Minnesota Timberwolves will do at No. 1, as their decision could change everything.

Bleacher Report has kept its ear on the NBA's door to remain plugged into this year's draft conversation.


No. 1 Pick Buzz

The storylines and rumors regarding the No. 1 pick continue to evolve.

Multiple sources have told Bleacher Report the name they keep hearing now for the Timberwolves is James Wiseman. "Some within the Golden State Warriors think Wiseman is going No. 1, whether Minnesota keeps the pick or not," one source plugged into the conversation said.

It's an intriguing development given the obvious questions about whether Wiseman and Karl-Anthony Towns can play together.

However, sources also say the Charlotte Hornets "want Wiseman badly," a plausible belief given the team's established backcourt and need for a big man.

Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

Could Minnesota be trying to create the perception it would draft Wiseman, just as a ploy to pressure Charlotte into offering more in a trade up to No. 1? By swapping with the Hornets and moving to No. 3, the Wolves' front office could feel less pressure and draft a player who fits the lineup cleaner—while acquiring additional assets—such as combo forward Deni Avdija or even Obi Toppin for the 4.

Or could Minnesota really take Wiseman at No. 1 with the belief he's the best player in the draft? If that were the case, the Wolves would play Towns against power forwards and use Wiseman for rim protection. The obvious concern would be their ability to defend the perimeter and faster lineups.

The Wolves even considering Wiseman would reflect a clear lack of confidence in LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards. But it's also possible the team is blowing smoke to draw more or bigger offers from teams targeting the 7'1" 19-year-old.


What's Happening at No. 2?

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

The presumption around the league is that Golden State will settle on Wiseman if he's there at No. 2. But with the idea that Minnesota may draft him or a team like Charlotte could move up and steal him, what's Plan B?

A source told Bleacher Report there is a rumor circulating that Warriors ownership could pressure the front office to select Ball if Wiseman is gone. Another source close to Golden State indicates there are both pro-Ball and anti-Ball voices inside the front office.

Ball is expected to meet with the Warriors before the draft, per ESPN's Jonathan Givony.

Trading down is still on the table for Golden State, though it's unclear how low general manager Bob Myers is willing to drop and what he'd be looking for in a deal. Aside from the team being reportedly "blown away" by Deni Avdija's workout, sources say the Warriors are also high on wing Devin Vassell if they were to trade down.


Onyeka Okongwu Updates

Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

Buzz on Okongwu had been quiet through October. League sources now tell Bleacher Report he met with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week after meeting with the Hornets, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards.

A league source told Bleacher Report the Wizards would be thrilled if Okongwu falls to them at No. 9, his perceived draft floor.

Though Wiseman figures to be the first center drafted, some scouts prefer Okongwu, who's also higher on my personal board.

If the Hornets miss out on Wiseman, it seems possible they could turn their attention to Okongwu, who'd similarly plug a hole in the middle with his athleticism, scoring efficiency and defensive upside.


Desmond Bane Winning Teams Over

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Viewed as a second-round pick for most of the season, Bane has been making a strong impression on teams since March despite limited opportunities.

"Incredible kid; he was one of our top interviews so far," one scout told Bleacher Report. Another team with a mid-first-round pick told me his team was very high on the senior guard who shot over 42.5 percent from three for the third consecutive season and registered a career-high 26.0 assist percentage.

Bane told Bleacher Report earlier in the draft process that Joe Harris was the player he's been comparing himself to when asked by NBA teams. Between his shooting, passing, defensive IQ and self-awareness, he's put together a persuasive role-player profile that could earn him a spot in the late teens or 20s.


Other Notes 

  • Prior to Okongwu's visit to Cleveland, I've been hearing the Cavaliers would be choosing between Avdija, Obi Toppin and Isaac Okoro at No. 5.
  • There has been a lot of buzz about the Detroit Pistons' interest in Patrick Williams. If Tyrese Haliburton is gone, Williams could be the favorite at No. 7. That situation is reflected in our latest mock draft.
  • Zeke Nnaji recently worked out for the Miami Heat, and he's getting looks from teams in the teens. Though it's always important to take workout videos with a grain of salt, footage of his shooting has been eye-opening given how few threes he took at Arizona. 
  • Teams are talking about Malachi Flynn more as a first-round pick than they were during the season. There seems to be a lot of trust in his skill level, intangibles and winning record at San Diego State. He's moved into the 20s in our recent mock draft.
  • Tyler Bey set an NBA combine record for forwards with a 43.5-inch vertical. He recently worked out for the Toronto Raptors and has more meetings and workouts scheduled with teams in the 20s. His athleticism, defense and potential as a shooter could earn him a first-round spot.

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