On a night in which Woj stripped ESPN’s telecast of the 2020 NBA Draft of any suspense due to tweeting the picks early, the worldwide leader deserves some credit for putting together a crew that, for once, knew what the hell it was talking about.
The four-man team of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Jay Williams, and Mike Schmitz was the perfect group to break down this draft, and the ones to come. Rapidly rising star Malika Andrews seamlessly slid into the broadcaster/reporter position, which had been held by Maria Taylor in previous years.
Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose weren’t there. And neither were Chauncey Billups or Michael Wilbon. This year we got to listen to people who actually cover the college and pro game regularly.
With Davis serving as host, you had a veteran that leads ESPN’s College Gameday for football and basketball. Bilas serves as the network’s No. 1 color commentator for the college game. Williams works on ESPN’s NBA Countdown, but rose to fame at the network covering the college game as he used to work on Gameday with Bilas and Davis. And while Schmitz may have been unknown to many, he’s one of the best scouts out there, and has an incredible grasp of high school, college, and pro prospects.
This was a crew that didn’t have to do a lot of pre-show prep. It had already done it.
For instance, there was a moment in the telecast when Davis asked the crew to throw out a name of someone in this draft who could potentially become a superstar.
Bilas and Williams wouldn’t take the bait. Not because they didn’t want to, but because there was no need to lie or put expectations on someone from this class that won’t reach that level, given that you can count the number of true NBA superstars on one hand. In years past, someone would have definitely thrown out an unnecessary name to answer that question. But because this crew knew that, it was wise enough to know that the question didn’t deserve an answer.
And yes, while some moments on Wednesday night were a bit clunky due to the broadcast being unable to keep up with Woj’s tweet bombs or tech issues, like when Bruce Pearl did his hit from a parking lot. In the end, the right people were chosen for the job.
Hopefully, things stay that way. Because the last thing we need is for them to put somebody like Kendrick Perkins on the telecast next year when we all know he’ll have no idea who Cade Cunningham is.