The 2020 NBA Draft is less than three weeks away, and as the league quickly pivots from celebrating the successful end to the 2020 season to the (proposed) expedited start to the 2021 season, the rumor mill and “smoke screen season” is rapidly heating up.
Just this past Tuesday, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor released his updated 2020 NBA Mock Draft, and immediately threw some gasoline on the fire as it pertains to what the Minnesota Timberwolves may do with the first overall pick.
New first-round MOCK DRAFT with latest intel written in the notes— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 27, 2020
This mock includes a few fake trades
Top 50 BIG BOARD—these are my personal rankings
Best viewed on desktop but mobile works great too. We’re only three weeks away from draft night! https://t.co/MWGF6RSakS
In this latest piece, KOC kicked things off by suggesting a fake trade between Minnesota and the Charlotte Hornets, and emphasized that the “buzz” surrounding Memphis big man James Wiseman is starting to pick up significant steam:
“Rumblings around the league suggest Golden State and Charlotte covet Wiseman; to get him, the Hornets might need to leapfrog to trade up. The pieces exchanged here resemble the Celtics-Sixers deal in 2017 involving Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum, but hopefully it’ll work out better for Charlotte than it did for Philly. Wiseman’s athleticism gives him a foundation to be a solid pro, and he has plenty of traits that could lead to stardom.”
It’s common knowledge by now that this draft class isn’t on the same level as previous classes that included elite prospects like Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, or Karl-Anthony Towns. With that said, and as I’ve written before in the past, winning the lottery (even in a “down” year) is still a major coup for the Timberwolves, and it may already be paying huge dividends as other teams around the league begin to fall more and more in love with certain prospects.
This original reporting by KOC was quickly backed up by the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, who confirmed that the Hornets were focusing their attention on Wiseman and were open to trading ahead of Golden State if necessary:
What exactly could a deal with Charlotte potentially look like? It has long been rumored that the Wolves would like to acquire future first round picks (then again who wouldn’t), but for Minnesota it’s specifically important considering they attached their 2021 first rounder (top three protected) in the Andrew Wiggins deal. Would Charlotte give up a future first, with maybe lottery protections? Top 7 protections?
Or what about one of the young players on their roster? Swapping picks and then sending Miles Bridges to Minnesota would make the most sense (in my opinion), but it would be much more fulfilling if the Hornets would bite on replacing Bridges with rookie sensation P.J. Washington. Charlotte also has frisky young(ish) players like Malik Monk and Willy Hernangomez, but I’m not sure either does more than the current Wolves counterparts who share portions of the same names (i.e. Malik Beasley and Jauncho Hernangomez).
Regardless of how this all eventually plays out, the latest reporting from O’Connor is a timely reminder that it is the Minnesota Timberwolves, not the Golden State Warriors, who run things atop the 2020 NBA Draft. As more teams meet and work out potential draft prospects, it will be fascinating to see which team eventually bites the bullet and tries moving up in the draft pecking order.
More(y) to Come...
Remember when Daryl Morey shocked the NBA universe by announcing that he was stepping down from his position with the Houston Rockets? And remember when everyone thought he would take a hiatus from sports altogether and explore other avenues (such as working in Silicon Valley)? Well... about that:
The Philadelphia 76ers are in advanced talks on a deal to hire Daryl Morey to oversee the franchise's basketball operations, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 28, 2020
In what has been one of the bigger Woj Bombs of 2020, it was announced Wednesday morning that Daryl Morey had agreed to a five-year deal to oversee the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. Woj would go on to report that Philly’s current GM — Elton Brand — would remain with the team in his current role, but the news about Morey was definitely a shock to NBA fans and executives around the league.
With the draft only a few weeks away, it’s hard to really formulate a strong #take on how this will all affect the November/December offseason, but it’s also important to mention from a Minnesota standpoint the strong relationship between Morey and Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. Does the latest news make it more likely that Minnesota trades for Ben Simmons? Less likely? Can we somehow get Robert Covington back either way?
Proposal vs. Counterproposal
The other significant NBA news from the last 24-48 hours came from Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, who reported that a significant faction of players and star players (i.e. LeBron James and Chris Paul) are pushing for the 2021 season to begin on MLK Day and not Christmas Day.
Yahoo Sources: Substantial faction of players and star players pushing for NBA season to start Jan. 18 — MLK Day — with a free-agency commencement of Dec. 1.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 28, 2020
As Derek wrote yesterday, it seemed extremely optimistic for the league to get the draft, free agency, and training camp all completed prior to Christmas Day, and this latest reporting confirms that the players want a little more time between the end of one season and the start of a new one. While the league and the player’s association continue to hammer out details on future salary caps and other financially impacted areas of the league, it will be worth monitoring how much give-and-take each side allows during these unchartered times.
Either way, it looks like it’s full steam ahead for the NBA offseason, which should make for a very exciting and jam-packed holiday season.