2020 NBA Draft Winners & Who To Keep an Eye On



After a long history of losing, the future of the New York Knicks looks bright after the 2020 Draft.

Devaughn Tucker, Staff Writer

With the 2020 NBA draft behind us and the start of the season only a few weeks away, it’s time to look at one of the big winners of the draft and the one player that many would agree to keep an eye on throughout the next few seasons.

The New York Knicks have been notoriously bad for a long time now, which is news to no one. Every single year Knicks fans hope for at least one player that will change the trajectory of the team’s success rate; this year’s draft was no different. Unlike previous years, fans have something to look forward to after this draft. The Knicks were one of the big winners coming out of the draft with two solid players drafted and the signing of an undrafted prospect the following morning.

With the eighth pick in the draft the Knicks selected Obi Toppin, a 6’9” PF out of Dayton. Before the start of the bubble season in the NBA, the Knicks had the twenty-eighth worst offense in the league. Toppin could provide a boost here with his presence in the paint. His field goal percentage at Dayton hovered around Zion Williamson-like (.633 FGP) before sports needed to be shut down due to COVID-19. He led all of college basketball in dunks per game and averaged twenty points, seven and a half rebounds and nearly two and a half assists for Dayton’s offense. Toppin, along with Knicks’ second acquisition from the draft could bring new life to an otherwise lackluster offense.

After the eighth pick, the Knicks didn’t have another until pick twenty-three and with that spot they picked Leandro Bolmaro. Before the night was over, they traded Bolmaro to the Minnesota Timberwolves and received Immanuel Quickley, a 6’3” guard out of Kentucky. During the 2019-2020 season, Quickley was a dead eye shooter who managed a 42% 3-point field goal percentage. He tends to find the open spot on the floor during fast breaks and can make the catch and shoot motion in rhythm consistently. He is also capable of adjusting to defenders who are rotating on to him and still knock down the shot. His pump fake, sidestep and step backs are all examples of this. His ability to spread the floor could provide opportunities for Toppin to find easy buckets on the inside. On top of being a deadly 3-point shooter, he averaged 92% from the free throw line during that same season and averages 89% for his career. Being able to knock down free throws consistently is an important aspect of today’s game because of the high volume of foul calls. The day after the draft was over, the Knicks signed an undrafted prospect who many were surprised to not hear his name called on draft night.

The morning after the draft it was reported that the Knicks were looking to sign Myles Powell, a 6’2” guard out of Seton Hill. Many were surprised to see Powell go undrafted. During the 2019-2020 season he was generally Seton Hill’s  first, second and third option on offense. Many teams were looking to double and even triple team him because of his role, but this did not stop him from averaging twenty-one points, three assists and four rebounds. Powell can create his own shot well and has the explosiveness to crash through the defense and finish at the rim. His abilities along with Quickley’s could create a one-two punch in the Knicks backcourt that could be exciting to watch. Pair this with Toppin’s potential to catch lobs and be a presence in the paint, these three could play a major role in the development of at least a playoff level team.

When it comes to the player everyone should pay at least a small amount of attention to, it’s Lamelo Ball, the 6’7” guard who last played overseas in Australia and was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the third pick. At this point it seems the entire basketball world knows about the Ball family, whether it’s from the antics of the father Lavar Ball, or the three brothers Liangelo, Lonzo, and Lamelo who are now all associated with an NBA organization. Disregarding all of this, Lamelo has the potential to be an elite guard in this league. It may not take place in his first or second season, but with some experience and maturity he could shape his game into something elite. Offensively he is a great passer already: he averaged seven assists per game in the National Basketball League’s 2019-2020 season. He can put teammates in positions to score on both the fast break and in half court situations. He is also an adept ball handler. This coupled with his quick trigger release allows him to create his own shots with ease at any range. His downside is his general shot selection, lackluster field goal percentage, lack of a second gear to get to the rim and he is also considered a liability on defense to many.

Ball’s field goal percentage was only thirty seven percent in his one season with the NBL. This is because he tends to take contested shots. He has the potential to make them due to his size but hasn’t shown the ability to do so on a consistent basis. He is also not the most athletic guard, most of his game on the inside consists of floaters that he makes possible due to his ball handling ability. Many feel scoring at an NBA level may be tough for him because of his lack of explosiveness in this regard. On defense, Ball is not very committed and allows ball handlers to blow by him often. He does have the size and length to keep players in front of him but lacks the tenacity it takes to be a good on-ball defender. I feel most if not all these downsides can be ironed out of his game with experience and maturity. He may also have to put extra time into gaining weight and building his frame, like his older brother Lonzo did after the 2017-2018 NBA season. Taking all of this into account, I feel Ball will be one of the most exciting players to watch for the next couple of seasons for more reason than one.

The upcoming season is going to be unlike any before it due to the nation’s ongoing battle with COVID-19 virus, but one thing that is for certain is that it will be exciting to see how the players who were drafted develop and make their career’s their own.