With 25 seconds remaining in his 14th game with the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George hit a go-ahead three-pointer to give his new team a one-point lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was one of nine NBA games played on Nov. 18, 2019, and the second win of an eventual seven-game winning streak for the Clippers.
One year later, on Nov. 18, 2020, the Clippers didn’t play and won’t play for the remainder of the month, nor will any other NBA team. Instead of approaching the one-fifth mark in a typical NBA season, the first-ever November NBA Draft was held after the most unconventional season (and offseason) ever and before the shortest season since the 2011 lockout resulted in a 66-game schedule.
Sixty players were selected on Wednesday night during the virtual NBA Draft in which no teams or prospects were present for the first time in decades. Here are the biggest and most interesting storylines from a strange night:
On Dec. 11, 2014, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Andrei Kirilenko and Jorge Gutiérrez from the Brooklyn Nets for Brandon Davies. Additionally, the 76ers received the right to swap 2018 second-round selections, a 2020 second-round pick, and cash considerations.
Nearly six years later, that trade was completed when the Boston Celtics selected Israeli point guard Yam Madar. Between the December 2014 trade and Wednesday’s selection of Madar, the pick was traded three more times: to Orlando in the Anžejs Pasečņiks deal in 2017, to Charlotte in the Mozgov-Biyombo deal in 2018, and to Boston in the Kemba Walker deal in 2019.
That 2014 trade was one of 33 pre-draft trades. Another 16 trades were made on draft day, including Ricky Rubio’s return to Minnesota. The Timberwolves infamously passed on Steph Curry to select Rubio with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft. One pick later, they passed on Curry again to select another point guard, Jonny Flynn. Curry is a two-time MVP, three-time NBA champion, and future Hall of Famer. Rubio and Flynn aren’t any of those things.
The Washington Wizards selected Kentucky freshman John Wall with the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. Wall was the first of three lottery picks for the Wildcats after John Calipari’s first season as head coach. And in the nine years that followed, Kentucky had at least one lottery pick each year, a total of 21 lottery selections over Calipari’s first 10 seasons.
The Boston Celtics drafted Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick on Wednesday, officially ending Kentucky’s streak, the longest lottery streak in college basketball since 1985. It also ended a 19-year streak in which Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina combined for at least one lottery pick. The four blue bloods combined for eight total selections, though none came in the first 14 picks.
Without elite blue-blood programs and only two top-20 picks from teams projected to earn a top-three seed in the canceled 2020 NCAA Tournament (Bracket Matrix), the draft wasn’t littered with many college stars. Of the 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy, nine graduated or declared early, but none were selected in the top five, and only two were selected in the top 25 (Obi Toppin and Jalen Smith). Three semifinalists went undrafted, including Kansas point guard Devon Dotson, an early entrant.
The No. 1 overall pick hasn’t won NBA Rookie of the Year honors in the subsequent season since Karl-Anthony Towns did so in 2016 after his selection in the 2015 NBA Draft. Fellow No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won Rookie of the Year in 2018, but he missed the entire 2016-17 season after his selection in the 2016 draft.
If Anthony Edwards breaks the drought this year, he’ll do so as an underdog. Edwards was the top-overall pick but ranks third in NBA Rookie of the Year odds behind No. 3 pick LaMelo Ball and No. 2 pick James Wiseman. The trio is tied, however, in NBA MVP odds, though at +100000, they’re buried behind 77 other players, including MVP favorite Luka Dončić. Only two players in NBA history have won MVP—Wilt Chamberlain in 1960 and Wes Unseld in 1969—in their rookie season, and no player under the age of 22 has won MVP. Ball, Wiseman, and Edwards will all be younger than 22 years old when the 2021 MVP is awarded.
After the draft, NBA Finals odds bumped the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the Clippers, whom the Nets hopped last week (amidst rumors of a James Harden trade) before falling back to No. 3 prior to the post-draft jump.
The Nets, one day after acquiring Landry Shamet from the Clippers and selecting Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry with the 57th pick, now have the second-highest NBA Finals odds. At +500, they trail the Los Angeles Lakers (+325) and sit ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks (+550) and their draft-day trade partner, the Clippers (+550).
Landry Shamet wasn’t the only perimeter player moved on draft day. Three months after miserable three-point shooting led to a first-round playoff exit (26 percent in four games), the 76ers acquired two sharpshooters in Danny Green and Seth Curry.
Green was initially dealt from the Lakers to the Thunder, along with the draft rights to Jaden McDaniels (who was later moved to the Timberwolves), before hopping to Philadelphia. And Curry was dealt to the 76ers in a trade that sent Josh Richardson to the Dallas Mavericks. Both Green and Curry are among only 14 active players shooting at least 40 percent from three in their career (minimum of 1,000 attempts), per ESPN Stats & Info.
The Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies landed the two most prolific college sharpshooters in Saddiq Bey and Desmond Bane, respectively, both of whom shot better than 44 percent from deep last season. And both players were part of the draft-day trade frenzy: Bey landed in Detroit after a selection by the Nets and trade to Dallas, while Bane landed in Memphis after a selection by the Boston Celtics.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor, a college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @adoughty88.