The same three players were at the top of every NBA mock draft heading into Wednesday night’s real thing. The order in which LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman would be selected, however, was very much up in the air.
And as the team selecting third, the Charlotte Hornets would just have to wait and see which of the Big Three they’d get to kick start their rebuild.
With Edwards going first overall to Minnesota and Wiseman second to Golden State, it was Ball — the California-born point guard who played last season in Australia rather than spending one year in college — who is headed to Charlotte.
Ball is the youngest of three basketball-playing brothers. Lonzo Ball is a point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans, while middle brother LiAngelo is playing in the NBA G League.
LaMelo Ball averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists last season for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League.
Edwards, meanwhile, became the 11th straight one-and-done player to be the No. 1 pick. He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, tops among all freshman.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The draft was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic pushed it back out and out of its usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Boxes of hats were shipped to the top prospects to put on the one they needed after their name was called.
Edwards watched while seated next to portraits of his late mother and grandmother. They both died of cancer.
The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Wiseman, the Memphis center, with the second pick. They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The severity of his injury had not been revealed as the draft began but it didn’t persuade the Warriors to take another guard. Instead they went with the 7-foot-1 center who arrived as the No. 1 recruit out of high school and averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games before he was suspended for eligibility reasons and eventually left the program to prepare for the draft.