NBA Draft

Rumor: Charlotte “heavily considering” drafting Onyeka Okongwu

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Charlotte reportedly wants to select James Wiseman at No. 3 in the 2020 NBA Draft.

However, plenty of people around the NBA believe USC’s Onyeka Okongwu will be the best big man in this draft when we look back in a few years. His high energy, defense, and athleticism have teams think he could be a very good fit for the modern game.

Charlotte seems to be thinking the same thing about Okongwu, reports Kevin O’Connor of The Athletic.

The Hornets are likely targeting a big man and are heavily considering Okongwu, according to multiple league sources. Okongwu was arguably the best defensive big man in college basketball last season. Pairing him with P.J. Washington would give Charlotte a skilled frontcourt with versatility on defense and playmaking on offense. There are many NBA front offices that prefer Okongwu to Wiseman; if both are on the board, it’ll be fascinating to see which direction the Hornets go. 

It is possible this rumor is just a smokescreen with Charlotte looking for a trade. It is rumored Boston is high on Okongwu and it has three first-round picks plus other players it could trade to move up and get him.

There is a role for Okongwu in the NBA from his rookie year because of his strong defense, with the potential for him to develop into much more. He can do whatever is needed to slow the pick-and-roll — switch, hedge, or drop back — plus he is an impressive shot blocker. He’s a work in progress on the offense but has good handles, soft hands, and is a solid passer. He just needs to work on his shot (but a lot of teams see that as the easiest thing to fix in a prospect willing to work).

For teams not sold Wiseman will reach his ceiling, Okongwu is a strong choice — and those teams may include Charlotte.

Report: James Wiseman does not want to get drafted by Minnesota

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Golden State (No. 2 pick) and Charlotte (No. 3) both reportedly interested in picking James Wiseman.

But Minnesota has the No. 1 pick, and if they want Wiseman he will be wearing Timberwolves midnight blue.

Wiseman doesn’t want that, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “The Scoop” podcast with Darren Wilson.

‘“Wiseman does not want to come to Minnesota because Karl Towns is there. From what I understand, Wiseman doesn’t even want to do anything with the Wolves.”

It makes sense from Wiseman’s point of view. Minnesota already has a 24-year-old All-NBA level center who is the focal point of its offense. While you could argue Wiseman could play the four next to Towns, the fact is Wiseman’s best role will be as a modern big who can set screens, rim run, and hit the occasional three. That isn’t a blend with Towns.

There is also only so much Wiseman can do to avoid Minnesota. He can refuse to do interviews or workout for Minnesota, but in the end, the Timberwolves have the right to select him if they want.

Minnesota could trade down out of the top pick; Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas is listening to offers. If  Charlotte wants to leapfrog Golden State to make sure it lands Wiseman, a deal could be reached. Another surprise team could leap up as well, although in what is generally considered an unimpressive top of the draft, what the Timberwolves get back in a deal is likely to be less than in other years.

Minnesota needs to take its highest-rated player on the board whenever they pick. Talent wins, Minnesota needs more of it (even if they don’t know who that top player is yet). If that’s Wiseman, and he doesn’t fit next to Towns, Wiseman could be traded down the line for a player who does fit. Better that than taking a lesser player just because the fit is better on paper — Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas doesn’t want to be Vlade Divac press conferences talking about why he didn’t select Luka Doncic. The buzz around the league is Minnesota is leaning toward Anthony Edwards, with LaMelo Ball drifting down draft boards, especially after his interviews.

Wiseman will not fall past No. 3 and will probably get his wish to avoid Minnesota. But nothing is set in stone.

 

Report: Charlotte wants to draft James Wiseman, would trade up to get him

James Wiseman
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This rumor had been floating out there before: Both Golden State with the No. 2 pick and Charlotte with the No 3 want to draft James Wiseman.

We don’t know if that’s true about Golden State, but a report from the well-connected Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer says that the Hornets are in indeed high on Wiseman and would trade up to get him.

The Hornets are highly interested in selecting former Memphis center James Wiseman in the Nov. 18 draft, two NBA sources with knowledge of the situation told The Observer…

Those sources said they believe the Hornets — who hold the third overall pick — would consider trading up if it would secure Wiseman, who played just three college games at Memphis before opting out of his freshman season and turning pro.

Both Minnesota, with the No. 1 pick and Golden State at No. 2, are willing to trade their picks. In particular, the Warriors seem to be blowing a lot of smoke about their intentions, but there have been rumors they like Wiseman, and Draymond Green said the young big would fit well with them. Golden State also is a win-now team with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, if they make a trade they want players who can help them right now, not projects for the future.

Charlotte could offer the No. 32 pick in this draft to move up, or a number of young players on their roster such as Malik Monk or Miles Bridges (P.J. Washington would likely be off-limits for this move).

The Hornets are looking for elite talent and certainly need help at the five where Cody Zeller is their starting center. A Wiseman and Washington front line would need to be developed by coach James Borego but could become a key part of Charlotte’s future.

Wiseman has the potential to be very good, but he’s also years away from that and needs both player development and to accept his role. Wiseman is 7’0″ and has the mobility and athleticism teams want in a center in the modern NBA. He has real potential as a shot blocker and a defensive force. He has the potential as a big who can set a screen and pop out for a three or roll and finish at the rim on offense, then protect the rim and guard some in space on defense. Part of the challenge is reportedly he sees himself as more than that, as more of an offensive focal point big man who can face up and run the offense (think Anthony Davis or Giannis Antetokounmpo). If he can accept he’s not that guy but can impact the game as a center, he will have a long and impactful NBA career.

Maybe in Charlotte. Or maybe Golden State.

 

Rumor: Warriors (No. 2 pick) and Hornets (No. 3 pick) want James Wiseman

Memphis center James Wiseman
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James Wiseman was rumored top the Warriors’ draft board.

Or do they want Anthony Edwards? Or Deni Avdija? Or LaMelo Ball? Or

A trade makes most sense for Golden State. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green open a championship window, and that should be optimized. It’s unlikely anyone taken with the No. 2 pick will make an immediately positive impact. Rookies rarely do, and this draft especially features many raw, high-upside prospects.

But who wants to trade up in this environment?

Maybe the Hornets, who have the No. 3 pick.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Rumblings around the league suggest Golden State and Charlotte covet Wiseman

Perhaps, the Warriors’ Wiseman interest is a smokescreen to induce a trade. Unless truly higher on Wiseman (the top prospect who might be most likely to contribute early), Golden State would be well-served to moved down a slot and pick up an extra asset.

Or Charlotte could leapfrog the Warriors entirely and trade up to No. 1 to get Wiseman. The Timberwolves are open to trading the top pick (and therefore incentivized to start rumors like this).

Of course, this is all predicated on the Hornets’ interest in Wiseman being genuine. They could use an upgrade at center, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re interested in this particular center.

But it does seem Wiseman is the main name being used to stir up trade interest near the top of the draft, which might say something about his stock… or his camp’s ability to play the rumor game, too.

Rumor: Golden State high on Deni Avdija, but enough to draft him No. 2?

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Remember this when reading the rest of this Golden State/NBA Draft story, or any draft story anywhere for the next few weeks: There is more smoke in the air around draft picks than at a Snoop Dogg concert right now. Everything is spin. Everyone is lying.

That disclaimer out of the way, the Golden State Warriors met with top international prospect Deni Avdija and came away impressed, reports Ethan Strauss at The Athletic.

By all accounts, it was a positive get together, one in which the 19-year-old Israeli impressed observers. Not only did Avdija perform well in the workouts, but Warriors officials were blown away after meeting with him. The universal takeaway was that he’s a “great kid” with an immense work ethic.

Golden State has the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. They are looking to trade down, out of that spot. As we discussed on the latest PBT Podcast, the problem is there are not teams eager to trade up into the No. 2 spot because the top of this draft is considered unimpressive. The Warriors may not find a partner to dance with and may be forced to keep the pick. At that point, they are drafting No. 2.

Would the Warriors take Avdija at No. 2? Ahead of two of LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman?

The rumor of Golden State’s interest in Avdija is not new. He is a 6’9″ point forward who played last season for European power Maccabi Tel Aviv, but had a very limited role for them. He is reportedly a high-IQ player and a strong pick-and-roll ball-handler but needs to work on his shot. He can play some right away. He’s versatile and that’s the kind of player the Warriors target.

If the Warriors trade down into the five-to-seven range they might still land Avdija; any lower and he is likely off the board.

But the rumor that the Warriors want to draft Deni Avdija is gaining momentum around the league.