The Impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 NBA Draft Process

By Max Feldman

With the projected restart of the NBA season in the middle of the Summer, the schedule of the Draft process will be massively different than it has ever been before. Jonathan Givony from Draft Express said, “NBA execs widely agree that the pre-draft process will be severely limited, if not lost altogether, as the prospect of having athletes or scouts board commercial flights anytime in the near future for individual workouts, pro days or a league-wide combine appears unlikely.”

Moving forward, FOG will move into how these possible changes will benefit some prospects while largely hurting many others.

Five 2020 NBA Draft Prospects Who Will Benefit From a Misaligned Draft Process

LaMelo Ball

Illawara Hawks

Ball’s statistics in the NBL were strong for an 18 year old, while his shooting percentages were not exactly up to par for a top three projected prospect. With a potential pre-draft process lacking a combine and workouts, Ball would benefit because organizations would rely on his film and progression over the last few years. He is not a highly athletic prospect, meaning the lack of data might actually serve to his favor. While a prospect of his level is likely to not participate or potentially not even attend the combine, he would be measured and tested in workouts. From Lithuania, to Spire Academy and to Illawara, Ball has massively improved his game as well as his maturity. Look for LaMelo’s stock as a top three prospect and FOG’s top overall prospect to stand pat atop the field.

Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State

The Iowa State Sophomore lead guard has bounced around the lottery, but holds still at 13th on the FOG Big Board (March Edition). Haliburton only played in 22 games before his season ended with a broken wrist. Haliburton has very strong measurements as a 6 foot 5 ball handler with a massive wingspan. Likely healthy by the normally scheduled NBA combine, Haliburton hasn’t competed in months and would be doubtful to participate in scrimmages. Look for Haliburton to capitalize off of a massively improved sophomore campaign and land to guard hungry organization in the late lottery.

Obi Toppin

Dayton

The National Wooden Award Winner results have not released yet, but Toppin is a finalist and is the debatable favorite to win. Toppin elevated the Dayton Flyers to a top five team in the nation and were likely to be a one seed in the NCAA tournament. Toppin would benefit from an offseason lacking a combine or workouts because of the field of work he already has in place. Toppin’s measurements would’ve impressed scouts, but his active frame already is among the most NBA-ready. Look for Toppin to climb up draft boards because of his extremely secure stock as we approach draft day.

Aleksej Pokusevski

Olympiacos B

The Serbian big man has crept up the FOG Big Board throughout the season, and has largely benefited from the lack of exposure with Olympiacos B and will continue to do so. Poku’s measurements are extremely promising in terms of development including an NBA weight program. At 7 feet with a slender frame, Poku can run the floor, handle and shoot with touch at all three levels. Missing out on athletic tests however, would benefit his stock. Poku could perform well in potential scrimmages and workouts, but has not competed against American/NCAA talent in his career thus far. Doing so for the first time on such an important stage like the NBA combine presents massive risk to his stock. Look for Alekesej Pokusesvki to be one of the bigger risk-reward type of prospects who could potentially land in the back end of the lottery or slide to the back end of the first round.

Immanuel Quickley

Kentucky

The SEC Player of the Year has all the film on his side. Quickley has progressed in all facets of his game under the wing of Coach Calipari. In 2019-2020, he ‘quickley’ became one of the best shooters in the nation, knocking down 43% of his shots from beyond the arc and 92% at the free throw stripe. Quickley will benefit from a potentially misaligned pre-draft process because of his vast improvement showing signals of much more. Calipari molded him into the Conference Player of the Year and simply an NBA prospect, both of which seemed incredibly unlikely a year ago. Scouts will be eager to jump on an athletic prospect with proven development and intangibles. Look for Quickley, similar to Toppin, to capitalize on a strong seasons concluded by accolades to serve as their biggest stock booster, rather results and reviews from a combine or workouts.

Five 2020 NBA Draft Prospects Who Will NOT Benefit From a Misaligned Draft Process

James Wiseman

USA

The former top overall recruit in the class of 2019 had a short stint at Memphis due to suspension and eventually an abrupt exit from the team. Yet, Wiseman has been atop the 2020 Draft boards for years now. He remains on that level, but many scouts and front office decision makers have questions regarding his skill level and maturity. Wiseman is an athletic freak at 7 foot 1 and 240 pounds, and the combine as well as workouts would’ve undoubtedly boosted his stock. A massive wingspan, strong footwork and speed as well as his ability to jump out of the gym would’ve made him an early favorite to be a major winner at the combine. A misaligned pre-draft process will not quite drop James Wiseman out of the top 10, but he may lose a few million dollars because of it. With the lack of test results, in-depth film and some questions looming, look for Wiseman’s stock to wander around the top 8 depending on who you talk to.

Cole Anthony

North Carolina

Anthony’s NBA Draft stock seemed to be consistently dropping throughout his campaign with North Carolina. Pegged as a top 5 pick entering the season, UNC stumbled to a miserable 14-19 recoord. Anthony struggled with injuries and any consistency while on the court. He produced some highlights and did his thing scoring the ball, but was inefficient and showed flashes of immaturity. There is no doubt his skill level is NBA-ready and remains a top 10 prospect, which only speaks to his value and long-term potential as an organizational cornerstone. Anthony will not benefit from a misaligned draft process because if his film speaks for itself… Anthony will fall and fall quickly. Anthony showed signs of immaturity and frustration while questions arose of his ability to lead, elevate the game of his teammates as a point guard, and his ability to win. Getting in the gym and working out with teams will let Anthony shine, as he would be unlikely to participate in the combine outside of measurements. FOG has said repeatedly than no one in the 2020 field will benefit more from NBA spacing and up and down pace than Cole Anthony, and he will not be able to show those glimpses without team workouts. Look for Anthony to jump at and capitalize on any opportunity possible to show teams that there is more in his bag than he showed at UNC in one season.

Cassius Stanley

Duke

The explanation of Cassius Stanley’s stock with a potentially misaligned 2020 pre-draft process is a little simpler than the rest. The Duke freshman would have been the winner of the NBA combine and a challenger to the vertical jump record. Without participation in those tests in front of scouts and GM’s, Stanley’s stock would likely fall outside of the first round in the eyes of FOG. Again, look for Cassius Stanley’s stock to face a large decline if a misaligned pre-draft process results in the cancellation of the combine and team workouts.

Patrick Williams

Florida State

Williams may be a curious case to many NBA teams assuming he enters his name in the field. FOG is exceptionally high on Williams as he falls at the 10th spot on the March Edition Big Board. He did not start for the top five ranked Seminoles, and was not incredibly productive in terms of numbers in any area. But, his size, athleticism and instincts project extremely well in my eyes at the next level. Issues will arise with Williams’ if the pre-draft process is misaligned as the 6 foot 8 wing needs more exposure. With a long and strong frame, if Williams is able to display his versatility on both ends as a shot maker, finisher and all around defender, FOG is confident his stock will rise in the eyes of NBA scouts and GM’s to the degree that we rate him currently. Without the chance to display that versatility and physical maturity during the NBA combine and team workouts? Patrick Williams would likely be better of sticking around for another season in Tallahassee. Look for a potentially misaligned NBA offseason to dictate the decision that Patrick Williams makes regarding his collegiate eligibility.

Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois

Dosunmu is very likely to be NBA-bound regardless of the landscape this offseason, but missing out on one last chance to display his athletic ability, wiry frame and lead guard potential would be the difference between a guaranteed and non-guaranteed contract for Ayo. The Chicago native was the fuel to an Illini team that finished the season ranked 21st in the nation, as he displayed in depth improvement in every facet of his game. Dosunmu’s baseline to baseline speed would be among the best in the field and his physical test results would certainly create excitement at his 6 foot 5, 190 pound frame with long arms. The potential cancellation of interviews, team workouts and combine scrimmages would diminish Ayo’s strong stock as a leader, a gritty playmaker and an overall energetic floor general. For FOG, Ayo was certainly among the prospects with the most to gain entering the pre-draft process. Look for Dosunmu’s to take a hit if the offseason and pre-draft process is indeed misaligned.

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