NBA Rumor: No. 1 pick

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Cunningham knows the work is just beginning. The Texas native has already been thinking of ways to improve before the July 29 draft. “Throughout the season, I was just adding things on in my head,” he said. “We don’t have as much time to just get in the gym and work. I definitely want to get my fluidity and my movement better, whether that’s yoga and things like that. Just getting my range of motion and things a lot better. I still want to focus on tightening my handle, shooting the ball better, just getting more consistent at a lot of the things that I do now.”

And yet Fraschilla wasn’t sure he saw the No. 1 pick in the draft. That’s how spectacular the 2021 NBA Draft is shaping up and Knicks fans should pay attention. Knicks executives changed plans, showed patience and ultimately punted on 2020 free agency, putting them in No. 1 lottery seed contention. “You know how much I love the draft,’’ Fraschilla told The Post via phone after calling the game. “All these guys do the mock drafts. Honestly, they really don’t know what they’re doing. If you’re an NBA GM, this is going to be a very deep draft at the top. Seven-to-10 kids I believe, late in the college basketball season, we’ll be discussing as who will the league taken as the No. 1 pick.”

“2021 is loaded,’’ said VandeGarde. “Loaded.” VandeGarde said Cunningham, Green, Kuminga and Mobley would’ve certainly been the No. 1 pick in last week’s 2020 NBA Draft if high schoolers were eligible. “Could (Cade) be the No. 1 pick?,’’ Fraschilla, the former St. John’s and Manhattan coach, said. “Absolutely. He’s going to be a very good pro. Does he do things beyond his years? Absolutely. What he’ll be is a potential triple-double guy in the NBA in a 48-minute game. But I don’t want to say after seeing after one college game, ‘yeah, it’s over. He’s No. 1.’”

Minnesota Timberwolves prefer trading out of No. 1 pick

According to league sources, as of Tuesday night, the Timberwolves were still calling other teams and attempting to trade this pick. At this point, that would seem to be Minnesota’s clear preference. Interest in the top pick has mostly been tempered going into draft day, but there’s little time left for teams to put their cards on the table, and any real offers will come into play today. Minnesota has pulled out the stops to market this pick and will surely keep trying as long as it can, but the expectation around the NBA on the eve of the draft was that the Wolves would still make this pick and go with Edwards.

Sources have told The Athletic that the Wolves have not made a decision yet on what they’re going to do at No. 1. The players in the mix here are LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards if they keep the pick. James Wiseman seems much less likely as the team is worried about the pairing with Karl-Anthony Towns. Over the last 24 hours, the tide has shifted a bit to where I think Edwards is a bit more likely than Ball. Essentially, the conversations boil down to this: do they take the guy who fits better on this roster in Edwards, who can clearly slide into the 2-guard spot? Or do they take Ball, who probably has a bit more upside? One thing worth noting: this front office led by Gersson Rosas will absolutely consider the idea of which player they believe will retain trade value best going forward as they develop this roster around Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

But if it were up to Edwards, bring on the winter coat and the honor of being selected No. 1 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Being the top pick would be exceptionally cool,” Edwards, 19, told The Undefeated in a phone interview. “Who doesn’t want to be the No. 1 pick? That’d be cooler than anything. … It would be a dream come true to be No. 1. But if that’s not a team that wants me, or if I’m not wanted there, then wherever I’m wanted, I’m happy with that. … “I don’t really care where I get drafted to. If you want to draft me and you are ready to take a chance on me, then I’m ready to give you my all.”

I’m fairly certain the first pick in the draft will be either LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman. Ball is the biggest talent, but Wiseman could end up No. 1 if the Wolves trade down with Charlotte. (One possible construction: The third pick, Miles Bridges and the 32nd pick for the first pick, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman.) That would leave the Wolves in a position to gather some assets and select Anthony Edwards with the third pick, who fits better with the Russell-Towns pair than Ball does.

According to league sources, Minnesota continues to gauge leaguewide interest in the No. 1 pick. The Timberwolves are an opportunistic front office, and are still hoping to maximize the value of the selection via trade. But there’s an increasing level of skepticism from opposing teams that a suitable trade materializes. Dating back to the spring, this has been a draft class in which few, if any teams truly coveted the opportunity to pick first. The thought that another team might now surrender real assets to in essence pick atop a lottery nobody wanted to win? It doesn’t totally add up. If you assume they end up standing pat, Anthony Edwards continues to look like the most likely option for the Wolves.

Chad Ford: I’ve got LaMelo Ball one, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards three, Tyrese Haliburton four, Killian Hayes five and again, this is not predicting where they will go with a particular team. This isn’t a mock draft. This is just overall talent. This was an aggregate of talking to NBA teams and scouts about where they had particular players ranked. And I will just add, there was a lot of variability here as well and so guys are all over the place on NBA boards. There’s not what I would call like a major consensus like there was last year was Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.

LaMelo Ball favorite for No. 1 pick?

The Minnesota Timberwolves will come up with a handful of trade scenarios, but they could have a tough time finding the right partner. The level of interest in Anthony Edwards isn’t overwhelming, and point-guard-needy teams hoping for LaMelo Ball don’t seem to have the right assets for a trade. Most scouts and executives we’ve spoken with believe that Ball would have the edge if Minnesota stays put. Sources also tell Bleacher Report that the Wolves like Obi Toppin, but it’s unclear if they’d be willing to take him at No. 1.

Timberwolves interested in Obi Toppin

Not every NBA evaluator loves LaMelo Ball, whose shooting and professionalism have been questioned by some around the league, even if they still have him at or near the top of their board. And not everyone trusts Anthony Edwards’ style and impact or sees James Wiseman’s upside or value in today’s NBA. Sources tell B/R the Minnesota Timberwolves are high on Toppin. The question is whether they’d be willing to take him first overall or if they’d only draft the big man out of Dayton in a trade-down scenario.

Multiple NBA front office members told B/R they feel they can mask Toppin’s defensive weaknesses by playing him at center, where he won’t guard as much around the perimeter and can still use his athleticism for shot-blocking at the rim. Toppin’s age (22) has also rarely come up as a deterrent. Teams sound persuaded by his offense, which is something the Timberwolves (No. 24 in offensive rating), Hawks (No. 25), Cavaliers (No. 26), Hornets (No. 28) and Bulls (No. 29) could obviously use.

When it comes to where the Wolves are headed, Saunders said the team is in a great position with the Nos. 1, 17 and 33 picks in the NBA draft, which will be held on Nov. 18. But so far, they cannot do in-person workouts. “Can’t do any of that. It has been a lot of Zoom meetings and interviews and then just evaluating,” Saunders said. “We do a lot of work, and we have a number of people in this organization, [assistant general manager] Gianluca Pascucci, he does a lot of work with our draft. These guys are putting together a great plan and a great step-by-step process to what we’ll do.”

Why so much uncertainty? First and foremost, there is not a singular talent in this draft. Teams are all over the map in terms of who they like at the top. In that vein, the Timberwolves are doing due diligence on all of the top prospects. That also includes Ball, Anthony Edwards, and, yes, James Wiseman, despite the presence of Karl-Anthony Towns. I don’t think they’ll ultimately go the direction of Wiseman — hence why he’s not the pick here — but they’ve done enough work into him to where it would be wrong to totally take him off the table despite the positional overlap, per sources. Ultimately, though, this is kind of the issue for the Wolves. None of the three players who most executives consider to have the highest upside in this class particularly fit with the Wolves.

According to a Western Conference executive, word around the league is Minnesota isn’t leaning one way at No. 1, sounds “confused” and feels pressure after “messing up last year by trading for Jarrett Culver.” The belief is that Minnesota’s priority is to trade, realistically down the board assuming an established star won’t become available. If the Wolves stick at No. 1, multiple sources say they’d bet on LaMelo Ball having the edge over Anthony Edwards.

Wolves open to trading No. 1 pick?

That makes this pick ripe for a trade. Rosas is one of the most aggressive general managers in the league. Sources around the league already expect that he’ll work the phones over the next couple of months at least to see what’s out there on the market. The consensus around the league is that this will simply be a value play for Rosas, not necessarily one based upon a specific timeline they want to adhere to. Remember: Rosas and executive vice president Sachin Gupta come from the Houston school of thought under Daryl Morey, where they think of most assets in regard to trade value. If they decide an offer is good enough, the thought is he’ll take whatever he thinks is the most valuable for the organization long-term, versus the one that will help them win this year. Maybe it’s player capital, maybe it’s additional draft capital in a trade down. One thing most teams want to do league-wide is potentially expand their draft capital in the much stronger 2021 draft, so may it’s a trade out involving a big offer. Maybe they do just stand pat. But the Wolves are absolutely going to explore what’s available.

One thing Penny Hardaway was gung ho about, was former Tiger James Wiseman’s chances of being the number one pick in the NBA Draft, despite Minnesota having the top pick with Big Man Karl Anthony Towns already on the roster. “He’s the Unicorn. That’s what he calls himself,” said Hardaway. “He can run the floor. Rim protect. He works harder than anyone, and he’ll get his shot down out to the 3 point line and be a threat from out there as well. I’m not just saying that because I coached him, I just know the NBA and what they’re looking for, so to me, he’s the number one pick overall.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased to land the first overall pick in this year’s draft, marking only the second time in franchise history,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “We are excited for the possibilities ahead of us to bring in a high caliber player now that we secured the first overall selection. As a front office, we are proud of what we’ve built here in Minnesota so far and we are looking forward to continuing to build upon that foundation in this year’s draft.”

“I’m glad I could represent for the state of Minnesota at the draft lottery the same way we plan to show out for our fans when we get back on the court,” said Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell. “The number one pick is exciting to have, it makes me think back to when Karl and I got drafted 1,2 in the 2015 draft. There’s so much buzz and energy during the draft as a player and I really look forward to seeing what Gersson and the front office will do to build upon our 2020-21 roster with this pick. I know we’re ready to compete and I can’t wait to see who joins us next.”

Shams Charania: “I feel like I’m the best player coming out of this class. I should be the No. 1 pick.” Potential top NBA pick Anthony Edwards (@theantman05) sits down on @Stadium: Life lessons, modeling game off Bradley Beal, more. pic.twitter.com/s0isG4gt0i


This is where things get a little interesting for the Hawks. There are some folks inside the organization who firmly believe Ball is the best prospect in this draft class, and it’s not close, and there are others who are against taking him because of the fit with Young. Particularly, the defensive end of the floor scares them because they aren’t good on that end. From what I’ve heard, he’s not a total cross off for the Hawks, but a lot more evaluation and talks are going to have to happen to get everyone in agreement for him to be the choice.

James Wiseman the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick

In an anonymous poll of 35 NBA executives conducted by Stadium, James Wiseman has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. The 7-foot-1 center, who played just three games at Memphis this past season prior to withdrawing from school amidst an NCAA suspension, received 20 of the 35 votes (57 percent). “I wouldn’t even want the No. 1 pick,” one NBA general manager told me. “If I have it, I’m trying like hell to trade it.”
1 year ago via KNBR

The bust potential is high once again, in what some are considering the weakest draft since Anthony Bennett was selected No. 1 overall in 2013. With little consensus on who the best player is, it’s anybody’s guess who Warriors GM Bob Myers — two-time Executive of the Year — has his eye on. Well, unless you’re Warriors beat writer Connor Letourneau, who told Murph & Mac that sources around the team have informed him Golden State will select wing-scorer Anthony Edwards out of Georgia if they land the No. 1 pick. “This is a draft where there isn’t a ton of certainty up high,” Letourneau began. “The top five picks are kind of in flux. There isn’t a Zion type talent, there isn’t a LeBron, so teams really have to do their research and be careful who they are picking.

Most executives currently expect the first three prospects to come off the board to be Georgia wing Anthony Edwards, Illawarra guard LaMelo Ball, and Memphis center James Wiseman. But it’s too early to say where each prospect will go when opinions vary so greatly. I’ve spoken with NBA executives who have Wiseman first, and others who have him ranked outside of the top 10. Edwards has been labeled a boom-or-bust prospect. And I’ve heard LaMelo called both “underrated” and “overrated” because of his family’s last name. Hayes also has his skeptics.

Georgia’s Anthony Edwards is the kind of power athlete with length who typically appeals to the Orlando front office, although he may not be available beyond No. 1 given that his is the name I hear most often when I ask NBA executives to name their favorite prospect in the class. An explosive scorer at 6-foot-5, Edwards still has a ways to go in terms of his approach on defense. But no one has more upside as a pure scorer — something Orlando desperately needs. To me, those are the two highest-upside guys in this class, and Orlando would do extremely well to acquire either.

Dubs not interested in LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman

The NBA draft lottery won’t be held until May 19 at the earliest, but the Warriors are on track to select no later than fifth. According to multiple league sources The Chronicle contacted in the past few days, the Warriors — contrary to what mock drafts might suggest — aren’t believed to be high on two of the three players being mentioned as possibilities at the No. 1 pick: former Memphis center James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball, who last played for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. As one source put it, “I think they’d only take one of those two if they were trading down in the draft and taking them for another team.”

In his first interview since leaving school to turn professional, Wiseman told ESPN that he cried every night in his dormitory room during the turbulent episode with the NCAA, ultimately leaving school amid a 12-game suspension for rules violations that Wiseman insists he hadn’t been aware occurred. “I was really in the middle of a hurricane,” Wiseman told ESPN in an interview that aired Friday. “That’s like the worst place you could possibly be. Just having the mental agony and the suffering, crying every night because I just wanted to get on the court so much.”
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