- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia’s Anthony Edwards first overall in Wednesday’s NBA Draft — ending months of speculation over what had become one of the most scrutinized classes ever due to the draft being delayed twice.

Minnesota kept its choice a mystery throughout the draft process in a year when there was no consensus on which prospect should be taken first.

But the Timberwolves went with Edwards, a 6-foot-5 guard who will join center Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell as the pillars of a rebuilding team.

Before the Timberwolves’ pick, Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball were all seen as candidates to go No. 1 — and the three ended up being the first picks in order.

The Golden State Warriors used the second pick on Wiseman, a 7-foot-1 center from Memphis, to give them a rim-protecting big man.

The Charlotte Hornets then drafted guard Ball.

While the top prospects went early, the Washington Wizards got a good dose of luck as forward Deni Avdija — seen as a potential top-five pick — fell to the team at No. 9.

Avdija, 19-year-old from Israel, is 6-foot-9 and spent last season playing in the Israeli Premier League, where he impressed scouts with his playmaking.

ESPN called the selection “the steal of the draft.”

And one pick after Avdija, Maryland forward Jalen Smith was drafted by the Phoenix Suns.

This year’s class was generally regarded by insiders, scouts and analysts as lacking compared to others.

Recent years have seen stars such as Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum emerge, but the prevailing thought is that this group of prospects lacked star power.

Still, there were intriguing options.

At Georgia, Edwards wowed scouts and NBA executives with a bruising athleticism that punished defenses. The 19-year-old averaged 19.1 points per game in college.

Some scouts have concerns about his effort, but most believe he is a dynamic playmaker well suited for the modern NBA.

Wiseman, meanwhile, was viewed as the potential No. 1 as early as last year.

The 7-footer is a tremendous presence around the rim, using his long arms to block shots and athleticism to roll to the basket.

Then, there was Ball — perhaps the draft’s most-famous prospect.

The brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball elected to play overseas in Australia rather than go the college route.

But he still dazzled with his electric passing and feel for the game. There are concerns about his defense and his shot.

To round out the top 10, Chicago tabbed forward Patrick Williams with the fourth pick, Issac Okoro went fifth to Cleveland, Onyeka Okongu went sixth to Atlanta, Killian Hayes seventh to Detroit and Obi Toppin eighth to New York.

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