A Way-Too-Soon 2020 NBA Lottery Mock Draft
Once the 2019 NBA draft ends, scouting for the 2020 draft begins.
Teams already have a rough idea of who the top names will be. However, with so many underclassmen declaring this year, next year's first round may consist mostly of one-and-done freshmen and a strong group of internationals.
No returning NCAA prospect cracks our way-too-early lottery board. And to start, our No. 1 overall prospect will come from a college other than Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina.
1. Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Strong, explosive and skilled, Anthony Edwards has the most No. 1 overall ingredients in the class.
He's a scoring 2-guard with secondary playmaking ability in the mold of Victor Oladipo. Edwards has developed into a ball-screen weapon who can also create his own shot with drives, pull-ups and step-backs.
A big threat in the open floor, Edwards (6'4") has a quick first step in the half court as well, along with the ability to rise and score from each level or dish it out inside the arc.
Converting obvious talent into wins and efficiency will be the key for Edwards' stock. He'll have a chance to put up big numbers at Georgia and build a case as the No. 1 pick.
2. Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
North Carolina won't a miss a beat despite losing Coby White to the Chicago Bulls. The Tar Heels retool with another scoring ball-handler in Cole Anthony, potentially the first point guard off the board in 2020.
Anthony (6'3") puts relentless pressure on defenses with his attacking and pull-up game. He recently went for 25 points in both the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
He plays with a sense of confidence in his shot-making and ball skills. He also has a strong physical foundation and enough athleticism to use it as an advantage.
Improving as a decision-maker and facilitator are atop the priority lists. Anthony still seems like a safe bet to pencil into next year's top 10 at the least.
3. RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
After passing on colleges for the New Zealand Breakers, RJ Hampton has become one of the bigger talking points of both the 2020 draft discussion and the basketball industry in general. The 18-year-old will be a major draw overseas, and possibly the reason why others in the future choose to go abroad after high school rather than spend a year in the NCAA.
He's been a part of two gold-medal runs for USA in FIBA. NBA scouts are already intrigued by his 6'5" size, athleticism and scoring ability for a potential lead guard. Hampton is a tough one-on-one cover with his ability to blow by and finish or separate into jumpers.
His three-point shooting and decision-making are the question marks for scouts to monitor. But as long as no red flags pop up in the NBL, Hampton figures to start next year's predraft process viewed as a surefire lottery pick.
4. Deni Avdija (Israel, SG/SF, 2001)
Between FIBA, EuroLeague, Adidas Next Generation Tournament, Basketball Without Borders and NBPA Top 100 Camp, scouts have already been able to see Deni Avdija in multiple settings for years.
At 6'8", he's a smooth, versatile wing with ball-handling and shooting ability. The debate about his NBA potential will swirl around his lack of explosiveness and strength. But he finds ways to compensates with skill, body control and basketball instincts.
After playing 12.5 minutes per game this year with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Avdija figures to have a more suitable role moving forward for showcasing his game and potential.
5. James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
There will be scouts entering the season who view James Wiseman as a contender for the No. 1 overall pick.
He's been atop recruiting rankings or near it for years with 7'0" size, athleticism and an expanding skill set. Scouts will always be drawn to his potential as a shot-blocker and his ability to switch on defense.
An easy-basket finisher inside, Wiseman has also become more confident in his jumper and shot creation, though a tendency to settle for lower percentage shots can be a turnoff.
He'll be under the microscope at Memphis for his obvious talent and some questions about his ability to optimize it.
6. Theo Maledon (France, PG, 2001)
Theo Maledon turned heads this year in the Jeep Elite and EuroCup with his 6'3" size and well-rounded skill set.
He's not the most explosive athlete, but he carves up defenses by changing speed and making scoring and passing plays inside the arc. Maledon has a balanced pull-up game and encouraging shooting range, having hit 38.9 percent of his threes on 126 attempts this year.
A crafty finisher and setup man, the 18-year-old Frenchman will be a major draw overseas next year, particularly for NBA teams that need a point guard. Expect the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns to lead the charge of teams who'll have a scout camped out in France.
7. LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG/SG, 2001)
Before the 2019 draft, interesting news broke when LaMelo Ball announced he'd spend next year playing in Australia.
In terms of preparation, this experience should be beneficial from both a maturity and basketball development perspective. It potentially signifies a desire to lock in and get serious.
Ball could be looking at real playing time with the Illawarra Hawks, and though the NBL's level of talent isn't high, the physicality and its competitiveness are legitimate.
A 6'6" (at least) combo guard, Ball is highly advanced offensively, equipped with tight handles for shot creation and playmaking. He also has versatile, off-the-dribble shooting ability. There's debate about his maturity and baggage that comes with his family name, but he's an exceptionally skilled basketball player whose body continues to improve.
Scouts will be looking closely to see how he handles himself alongside pros, and whether he can be efficient producing within the Hawks offense.
8. Killian Hayes (France, SG, 2001)
On the radar since turning 15, Killian Hayes has had big showings over the years in FIBA and the Jordan Brand Classic. Though he didn't have the most convincing season with Cholet in 2018-19, he's still 17 with tools and skills that point to long-term potential.
At 6'5", Hayes can be considered a combo guard with size and creative handles, shot-making and passing ability. He's a comfortable ball-screen scorer and playmaker, able to put pressure on defenses with blow-by burst off hesitation.
He only shot 14-of-77 from three this past year, so scouts will be tracking his jump-shot development. Another off year in terms of inefficiency could push him down boards. A breakout season, however, may help restore his stock among scouts and propel him into the top-10 mix for 2020.
9. Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Skill and toughness define Nico Mannion's game.
The Italian point guard took it to the United States at the Nike Hoop Summit, finishing with 28 points (12 shots) and five assists against Cole Anthony. Mannion is a fearless, competitive player, polished and well-rounded as a scorer and playmaker.
He plays through contact attacking downhill, and he's consistently been a threatening shooter from AAU to FIBA.
Mannion (6'3") lacks explosiveness and standout physical tools, but he could have everything else going for him by June 2020. Between the flashy red hair, killer instinct and dynamic offensive game, expect Mannion to emerge as a face of college basketball.
10. Matthew Hurt (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Matthew Hurt could be Duke's first lottery pick next year for his size and skill level, inside and out.
Scouts saw him average 14 points on 12 of 20 shooting from three in 2018 with USA's U18 team. He fits the description of a modern-day big based on his shooting range and ability to put the ball down, either to grab-and-go off a defensive board or to attack a closeout.
Listed at 6'8", 215 pounds and turning 20 years old before the 2020 draft, he's on the skinny and older side. But Hurt's fluidity, polish and versatility are bound to interest NBA scouts.
11. Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Scouts camped out at Kentucky this year will first be drawn to Tyrese Maxey.
He's shifty and skilled off the dribble. Maxey figures to be one of Kentucky's top scorers with his shake-and-bake handle, finishing coordination and confident pull-up game. And he'll show some playmaking potential, with the ability to pass in transition or break down defenses.
Maxey was relatively quiet during last year's All-Star circuit in March and April, but his scoring ability, quickness and bounce have popped through high school and AAU. From an NBA standpoint, the questions will surround his positional tools (6'3"), since he'll likely have to defend and play against shooting guards.
12. Josh Green (Arizona, SG, Freshman)
Athletic and energetic with 6'6" size, Josh Green should help bring scouts back to Arizona after an off year.
I've seen him live multiple time over the past year, including at the 2019 GEICO Nationals, which he helped IMG win by going for 19 points in the title game.
He flies around the floor making plays off his bounce and motor, and he's also skilled with shots in his bag for each level, including pull-ups, floaters and set threes.
Green shows promise as a passer and defender who can still impact games when his shot isn't falling.
He's more of a straight line-drive player than a crafty creator, and his off-the-dribble game isn't super creative. But Green checks the right boxes with his physical tools and two-way versatility.
13. Scottie Lewis (Florida, SG/SF, Freshman)
An explosive wing and vocal leader, Scottie Lewis will earn fans with his two-way potential and intangibles.
He's a slasher who has also flashed perimeter scoring ability by creating his own shooting opportunities. He has a pull-up and step-back in the bag that could take his offensive game to a high level.
Lewis (6'5") also brings admirable defensive intensity, plus the tools and quickness to guard positions 1-3. It's possible he earns more respect for his ability to lock down than score.
He's not always the most efficient or consistent shooter, but Lewis should inject Florida's lineup with a spark at both ends.
14. Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Isaiah Stewart's physical profile pops with 6'9", 245-pound size, and his effectiveness is enhanced by a live motor. He's a force around the basket as a finisher and offensive rebounder.
He's also flashed improved shooting touch over the past season, which could play a key role in determining how far he rises up 2020 draft boards.
Stewart is still more of an older-school big man, and as we saw June 20, his playing style isn't as coveted as it once was. He still figures to garner enough interest as an interior presence whose game seems guaranteed to carry over.