The Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night started an N.B.A. draft unlike any other by selecting Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick.
In a draft that was staged virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, with prospects watching from home and team executives making their selections from their practice facilities, N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from an ESPN television studio in Bristol, Conn.
Unlike in previous drafts, there was no clear-cut favorite at No. 1 — though there was no shortage of intrigue. Ultimately, after spending months weighing their options, the Timberwolves went with Edwards, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard. He was the Southeastern Conference’s freshman of the year after averaging 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. Edwards was not the best perimeter shooter available in the draft — he shot just 29.4 percent from the college 3-point line — but he operated at Georgia with N.B.A.-level athleticism, manufacturing production at the rim.
The Timberwolves already have two young stars around whom they plan to build — Karl-Anthony Towns, 25, and D’Angelo Russell, 24, have both been All-Stars — and Edwards could be a nice fit playing alongside Russell in the backcourt.
As a part of its comprehensive draft research, Minnesota’s front office conducted more than 1,000 telephone interviews in recent months and compiled reams of evaluations. At the end of the process, the Timberwolves came away from a wide pool of prospects convinced that Edwards was the best player for them.
Before the pandemic wrought havoc on the league calendar, the draft had been scheduled for June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
On Monday morning, the Knicks worked their way up the draft order by sending picks No. 27 and 38 to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the No. 23 pick and the rights to Ante Tomic, a 33-year-old center who has spent his entire pro career overseas.
The draft was also preceded in recent days by a flurry of trade activity. The Milwaukee Bucks agreed to send a smorgasbord of players and draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday, one of the league’s top two-way guards.
The Bucks have been under immense pressure to upgrade their roster around Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible to sign a so-called supermax extension with the Bucks starting on Friday. Antetokounmpo, the 15th pick in the 2013 draft, has won back-to-back N.B.A. Most Valuable Player Awards and the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The Los Angeles Lakers, fresh off their 17th N.B.A. championship, have also been busy, agreeing to a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire the point guard Dennis Schroder, one of the top reserves in the league last season.
And Chris Paul, the veteran point guard, has joined the Phoenix Suns after the Thunder traded him for a package that included Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Teams are expected to begin reporting to training camps on Dec. 1 for individual workouts. The season is scheduled to start on Dec. 22.