2020 NBA Draft Night

Weird stuff.

Jim Rome
November 19, 2020 - 9:10 am
Anthony Edwards

USA Today

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The NBA Draft was last night and let’s be honest about it – it was weird. It was always going to be weird because it’s being held in November. And because it’s been eight months since we’ve seen any of the college players on the floor. And because it was a virtual draft.

First, a quick note on the virtual component. It was pretty well done. It looked and felt a lot better than having Roger Goodell in his basement. And the emotions from the players, when they were at home, surrounded by family and friends, felt a lot stronger and more authentic than having them at tables in a giant NBA arena.

But there were a couple more added levels of weirdness. Let’s start get one thing out of the way – the entire night had a cloud over it due to the reports about Klay Thompson that broke shortly before the draft began. That was a total gut punch that is going to get its own take, but it made a strange night even stranger.

Couple that with the fact that there wasn’t an NCAA tournament this year, so we never got a chance to see these college players on the biggest stage. We didn’t get to see Obi Toppin in the NCAA tournament. And we barely got to see James Wiseman at all. In other words, these guys didn’t get to become household names before we were in their homes watching them react to being picked.  

And there wasn’t a clear cut number one pick. So for the first time in a while, there was some genuine suspense when Adam Silver walked to a podium in Connecticut to announce what Minnesota would do with the first pick.

And there you have it. Anthony Edwards is the first pick in the draft and he’s going to the Timberwolves. If you saw him against Michigan State last season, I can see why you’d want to take him number one. And I can see why you’d be interested in putting him with Karl-Anthony Towns and D'angelo Russell.

But unlike in years past, I have absolutely no idea if he’ll turn out to be a great number one pick. That’s not a knock on him, there just isn’t that much data to go on. And, if we’re being honest, the fact that he was on a team that went .500 didn’t help and the strange stuff about him not really liking basketball is kind of…well…weird. I mean, how talented would you have to be to be selected first overall in a sport that you may not even like. 

I know the Timberwolves have done their homework on him, but that ESPN piece on him was interesting. The one where he said "To be honest, I can't watch basketball." Weird.  But I guess better than I can’t stand PLAYING basketball.

And then, reading from the piece, “He retells the story about the first time he dunked and how it signaled to him that he was talented and could accomplish something he might not have been able to in football, which was his first love. So that's the direction he went, simple as that, hanging up his cleats. "That's all I needed to see," he says.”

A lot of guys love one sport and then play another. I’ve talked to hundreds of guys over the years who played football and then switched to basketball or went from basketball to football or tennis to basketball to baseball. And somewhere along the line, they have a moment where they get hooked by the new sport.

So Edwards was asked by ESPN when he got into basketball. And the answer was kind of weird.

"I'm still not really into it. I love basketball, yeah. It's what I do."

Let me double up: huh? Huh?

And it doesn’t end there. The piece goes on: “He's not entirely convincing. He says if he were drafted by the NFL tomorrow, he'd let basketball go. "Because you can do anything on the field," he explains. "You can spike the ball. You can dance. You can do all type of disrespectful stuff." In the NBA, he says, "you can't do any of that. You'll get fined."

So to recap, Minnesota just took a guy who doesn’t like watching basketball, isn’t really into basketball, and if he could play football, he’d just go play football. And his reasons for playing football aren’t necessarily because of the love of that game, it’s more because you can spike the ball and dance.

I’m not saying these are red flags, but they’re something. Again, the new group in that Minnesota front office is sharp as hell. They know what they’re doing. And I’m sure they’ve had numerous conversations with Edwards and have talked about how it sounds like basketball is a side project for him.

By the way, there are plenty of guys in the NBA who don’t love basketball. That’s not a shocker. They just don’t usually broadcast that fact about themselves.

Basketball is a job for Edwards. You don’t have to love your job. A lot of people don’t. You can be pretty good, maybe even really good, at a job you don’t love. You don’t have to love basketball to be good at basketball. But it helps. 

I’m not here to crack on Edwards. He’s young. He has been through a lot of pain, so maybe it’s hard to love basketball at the moment. I really hope this works out for him and for Minnesota.

With Edwards off the board, it was Golden State’s turn and again, their pick was overshadowed by the news of Klay Thompson’s injury. Would that change what they were going to do? Would they take James Wiseman as appeared to be their plan or would they switch to LaMelo Ball? Here’s Adam Silver with the answer.

(Insert)

 

I get that for Golden State. 7’1 with a 7’6 wingspan and probably the highest ceiling in the draft. It’s a good pick. And it meant that Ball would go to Charlotte.

 

But the weirdness didn’t end there. Check this - Kansas did not have a lottery pick. Kentucky did not have a lottery pick. North Carolina did not have a lottery pick. Duke did not have a lottery pick. Villanova did not have a lottery pick. Syracuse did not have a lottery pick.

 

But Georgia did. Memphis did. Dayton did. Vanderbilt did. Auburn and Alabama did, so did Vanderbilt.

 

Florida State had two lottery picks, but that isn’t weird. That tells you what Leonard Hamilton has built there. Since 2016, FSU basketball has more first round picks than FSU football. That is an incredible statement and an incredible testament to what Coach Ham has done.

 

And it’s also a sad reminder of what we missed out on when the NCAA tournament was canceled this year. We missed out on Dayton getting a deep run. We missed out on Coach Ham possibly winning his first title.

 

And I will leave you with these two points from a strange night: Greg Anthony’s son was just drafted. So was Kenyon Martin’s. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will. Like I always say, time is weird: and not good weird, jacked up weird. And I’m telling you, it really does feel like yesterday that was I was a young Van Smack in Santa Barbara broadcasting Gaucho basketball and seeing Greg Anthony and the Running Rebs invade the thunderome: Greg Anthony as a college kid: like yesterday: except yesterday I actually saw his kid great drafted onto the NBA. Anyone have any idea how I can spin back the odometer of life: or at least stop it for a little way. Damn, it can be weird!