Memphis' James Wiseman is front-runner to be No. 1 pick in NBA draft, according to a report

Tyler Byrum
NBC Sports Washington

The talent at the top of the 2020 NBA Draft class doesn't quite live up to the expectations that are generated from the top picks in an ordinary year. And with so much uncertainty among the top prospects, many evaluators find it tough to predict which direction teams will go. 

There's a clear-cut top three in James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball. But Wiseman only played three games at Memphis before he was suspended and then withdrew from the school. Ball played overseas in Australia and suffered an injury.

Of the three, Wiseman has stood out in the eyes of many NBA executives, according to Stadium's Jeff Goodman. In an anonymous poll of 35 executives, 20 would select the 7-foot-1 center as the No. 1 pick.

There's a lot to like about Wiseman. He has the 'star-power' and an explosive game that comes with being a top pick. As a pure raw athlete, a lot of teams would love the opportunity to develop him. With his size, he could instantly have an impact as a rim-protector and rebounder. There's just skepticism on his lack of play in college and not playing a competitive game since November. 


Georgia's Edwards (10 of 35 votes) was second, LaMelo Ball (four votes) was third. 

While Wiseman may be the front-runner, it's irrelevant unless the team picking wants him. A report from the San Francisco Chronicle states that Golden State - who currently has the worst record in the NBA - is not interested in either Wiseman or Ball. Last year Zion Williamson was overwhelmingly thought of as the top selection. There was no debate. Every team would have taken him No. 1. 

This year, not so much. 

"I wouldn't even want the No. 1 pick," one NBA general manager told Goodman. "If I have it, I'm trying like hell to trade it."

It's a weird draft this season, even weirder with the coronavirus pandemic throwing a wrench in preparation. Many teams say they would like to take Wiseman, there was even one executive that would dive deeper into the class and take Dayton's Obi Toppin

"This is an underwhelming draft at the top," a high-ranking executive to Goodman. "It's as difficult for the No. 1 pick as I've seen in a long time."

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Memphis' James Wiseman is front-runner to be No. 1 pick in NBA draft, according to a report originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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