OKC Thunder: How does COVID-19 impact the NBA Draft?

OKC Thunder, draft: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers reacts after a dunk in the second half of a game . (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder, draft: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers reacts after a dunk in the second half of a game . (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder still has the possibility of owning two first-round picks in the 2020 NBA Draft. How does the COVID-19 outbreak impact this year’s class?

The NBA Draft was once right around the corner, and just a few days ago we were preparing in high anticipation to watch and evaluate these college athletes one final time before the NBA Draft. Now, we sit in limbo. With no NCAA tournament, the Conference titles not even playing to completion, and the NBA Season as a whole put on pause, what comes next? Does the OKC Thunder still get two picks in the draft?

Right now, tiebreakers send their pick to the 76ers, but if the NBA elects to finish the regular season, the team could fall and get their pick back.

With some reports swirling that this NBA season could be prolonged into August, what does that mean for the NBA Draft? When will it be held? Where will it be held? What about the NBA combine, and the in-person workouts? We are currently seeing the NFL cancel all in-person interviews with prospects ahead of their April Draft, and the NCAA blocking all in-person recruiting trips. Even beyond the technical and way-too-deep into the weeds of things, what about the prospects?

Well, outside of the NCAA possibly granting Seniors an extra year of college eligibility, not much changes. Unlike the college baseball season, which has been called off just a couple of weeks into the season, the college basketball slate was about 90 percent over. Their tape will speak for themselves, and they have given scouts plenty to go off of. Whereas with baseball, this draft turns a lot more into guessing, than the reality of what a player has done.

Where it really hurts college basketball prospects, is the exposure. No, not to NBA scouts. Believe it or not, the OKC Thunder and all NBA scouts already know everyone, they do not sit on the couch with cool ranch Doritos all over them and find out about CJ McCollum from his impressive performance against Duke in one of the best upsets in the NCAA tournament when he was at Lehigh.

They knew of the combo guard long before that. However, the fans did not. (Which by the way, as you hunker down and are forced into self-isolation, that CJ McCollum game vs Duke is a great re-watch)

Their NBA stock will stay about the same. However, their fan base changes dramatically. Despite my love for college hoops, I know a lot of fans do not even watch half of the college basketball games until the NCAA tournament.  So this was going to be a chance for guys like Obi Toppin to really take off nationally for the casual fan.

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Take Ja Morant for example, from a year ago, playing for a mid-major college, while the NBA scouts knew he was legit the world did not. Not until he put up a good showing on the big stage. That brought him a huge following into the NBA, and can really jumpstart a player’s off-the-court earning potential.

The only other questions surrounding this year’s class due to their being no tournament, is what if the NCAA does grant eligibility back to this senior class? While the NCAA has already granted the eligibility relief to their spring athletes, they have yet to decide on the winter sports.

However, I do not think players who were projected to get drafted are going to take advantage of this newfound grace from one of the greediest corporations in the U.S.

Taking Seton Hall’s Myles Powell for example, sure his squad could’ve made a wild, and unforgettable ride in the NCAA tournament this year. They had all the talent, and it would have been fun to watch.

However, Powell has played well enough to be a lock in the first round of the NBA Draft. At the age of 22 though, you simply can not return to college. The NBA has a problem with valuing young age, over actual production.

That is how guys like Jalen Brunson fall to the middle of the second round. Powell is not getting any younger, and as stupid as it may be, in NBA circles when you hit 23 it is as if your upside out of college vanishes.

Next. 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0. dark

So, how are you spending your self-isolation time?