Where will hoops phenom LaMelo Ball begin his NBA career? We’ll learn Ball’s fate when the NBA stages its first virtual draft on November 18. With the coronavirus preventing fans from attending, the league has opted for a change of venue, moving this year’s event from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center—home of the previous seven drafts—to ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut studios.
The draft has traditionally been held in June but with the NBA not putting the finishing touches on its 2020 campaign until October—the result of a four-month COVID layoff—the league has had to adjust accordingly. The first pick in this year’s draft belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves, winners of the draft lottery for the first time since 2014. Next in line are the Golden State Warriors, followed by the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. All first-round picks will be announced by commissioner Adam Silver with deputy commissioner Mark Tatum MC’ing Round 2.
Similar to April’s NFL Draft, which was also held virtually, top prospects including Dayton forward and reigning Naismith Player of the Year Obi Toppin will be watching from home like the rest of us. Unlike the 2019 Draft when highly coveted Zion Williamson was a lock to go No. 1, this year there is no consensus top pick, though the 6’6” Ball would seem to have as good a chance as anyone of going first overall.
Rather than attend college, Ball enjoyed a brief stint in the NBL (Australia’s top professional league) last year, averaging 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists in his 12 games as an Illawara Hawk. Famously outspoken LaVar Ball wants no part of his son playing for the Warriors, seeing it as a poor fit for the talented 19-year-old, though LaMelo may feel differently.