The rookie class for the upcoming 2020 NBA draft has largely been seen as weaker than the average batch of incoming rookies, with no clear-cut predictions for the first overall pick. Despite this apparent lack of certainty, a survey recently suggested that most league executives are expecting Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman to get selected with the No. 1 pick.
As reported on Thursday morning by Stadium‘s Jeff Goodman, 20 out of 35 NBA team executives polled in an anonymous survey said that the 7-foot-1-inch Wiseman is the most likely player to be taken first overall in the 2020 draft. Ten officials predicted Georgia Bulldogs guard Anthony Edwards, four went with Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball, and one said that will use the No. 1 pick on Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin.
When asked by Goodman on what he thinks about the poll’s results, Wiseman said that he’s less concerned about being selected at No. 1 than he is about ending up with a team that could make good use of his talents while helping him grow as a player.
“I really don’t care about the No. 1 spot, to be honest,” Wiseman remarked.
“I just want to get better and be a student of the game. NBA [veterans] teach you a lot about the game of basketball. I feel like being in that type of environment will make my game develop tremendously. So I just want to go to a team that I can fit the most and be successful.”
— Stadium (@Stadium) May 21, 2020
As noted by Bleacher Report, Wiseman will be entering this year’s draft as “somewhat of an unknown commodity,” given that he only played three games for Memphis in his freshman season, averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and three blocks before leaving school. The publication added that multiple experts do not have the 19-year-old on top of their mock drafts or prospect rankings, with Bleacher Report’s own Jonathan Wasserman only ranking him at No. 12, per the most recent update on his draft board.
In his report for Stadium, Goodman cited multiple executives who pointed out one of the biggest perceived weaknesses in this year’s draft class — the absence of a can’t-miss prospect who could emerge as a consensus choice for the first pick. One official, as quoted, went as far as saying they would “[try] like hell” to trade the selection, presumably for a proven veteran. There was, however, another NBA general manager who said that they like Wiseman’s physical attributes and athletic skills, as well as his potential to be an impactful defender in the pros.