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James Wiseman Still Favored to be Selected #1 in 2020 NBA Draft Despite Leaving Memphis

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Jan 3, 2020 · 5:51 PM PST

James Wiseman wearing blazer and Warriors hat on draft night
Golden State Warriors draft pick James Wiseman in San Francisco, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • James Wiseman still the favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft despite leaving Memphis
  • Wiseman played three games before being handed a 12-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations
  • Other top pick candidates include Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Cole Anthony – read below for our prediction

Former No. 1 recruit James Wiseman is still the favorite at +125 to be selected first in the 2020 NBA Draft despite leaving Memphis. The 7-foot-1 big man played three games for the Tigers before behind handed a 12-game suspension for NCAA recruiting violations.

Other players in the mix to go first overall in the June draft are Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and Cole Anthony.

2020 NBA 1st-Overall Pick Odds

Player Odds
James Wiseman +125
Anthony Edwards +125
LaMelo Ball +500
Cole Anthony +600

Odds taken Jan. 3 .

Wiseman averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the three games he played. He left Memphis, signed with an agent and is now preparing for the NBA Draft. But should a guy who has only played three college games go No. 1?

Fellow freshman Edwards is averaging 18.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for Georgia. Ball is going for 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7 assists per game in 12 outings with his Australian team. And Anthony put up 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game with North Carolina before having minor surgery on his right knee.

Any one of these guys could hear Adam Silver say their name first June 25 at the Barclays Center. Let’s analyze their respective chances and provide the best investment.

Leader in the Clubhouse

There’s a reason Wiseman was the most sought-after recruit before signing with Memphis.

He’s drawn comparisons to Chris Bosh and has been coached by former NBA star Penny Hardaway in either a club or collegiate capacity for two of the last three seasons. And while Wiseman isn’t proving his worth during what was sure to be a one-and-done season in Bluff City, he’s also preserving his health by not playing in games.

His strategy is similar to what elite NFL prospects do in late December and early January by avoiding bowl games — only Wiseman is taking it to the extreme. Is he worth a wager at +125? I say yes.

Anthony & Edwards

Cole Anthony is a dynamic point guard for the Tar Heels who can score, distribute and lead. Having Roy Williams as your head coach and former UNLV star and NBA player Greg Anthony as your father aren’t bad things.

But what is bad is having surgery for a partially torn right meniscus in the middle of December. Anthony is expected to be out for at least another two weeks — and possibly longer. What’s worse? The injury didn’t occur on one play, but rather it was a wear-and-tear issue. Literally. That might put NBA teams off a bit. While Anthony should heal fine, best to fade the UNC phenom at this point.

Meanwhile, if someone is going to be drafted ahead of Wiseman, it might just be Anthony Edwards.

The Peach State native is an athletic 6-foot-5 shooting guard whose game is similar to another guy coached by current Georgia head coach Tom Crean — Victor Oladipo. Edwards is also a plus-defender on the perimeter and can throw it down with the best of them.

That said, going off comparisons alone, who goes first: Bosh or Oladipo? Obviously, Bosh in most cases. Edwards is worth a small investment as a hedge to Wiseman — and also team need.

Just Ballin’

Last but not least in this quartet of talented players is LaMelo Ball. He’s playing for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia of the NBL and has tremendous court vision.

Big brother Lonzo has elite vision too, but his NBA game has yet to fulfill expectations. Unlike ‘Zo, LeMelo’s pick-and-roll game is exceptional. And that’s what the next level is all about. Defensive ability is a question mark for Ball — who has had issues guarding opponents off the dribble Down Under. Thankfully not a question mark is the behavior of his father Lavar. The Big Baller Brand patriarch has thankfully kept quiet on LaMelo — and that’s a good thing. Ball also might be worth a wager at +500.

Ultimately, I still like Wiseman to go No. 1. But don’t be surprised if Edwards or Ball go first overall.

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