2020 NBA Mock Draft: Who Will Knicks, Warriors Target at the Top?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 10, 2019

2020 NBA Mock Draft: Who Will Knicks, Warriors Target at the Top?

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    More than a month into the 2019-20 college basketball season, there still isn't a runaway No. 1 overall prospect for the 2020 NBA draft. 

    However, there should be a star available for the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers or some potential dark-horse lottery winner.

    LaMelo Ball landed atop our most recent big board, but that doesn't mean he'll be the obvious choice for every team. 

    Freshmen and international players fill most spots in the lottery, though a breakout sophomore has skyrocketed into that conversation. And a few sophomores are making this year's point guard class even deeper than it seemed a month ago.

1. New York Knicks: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)

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    By the start of next season, the New York Knicks should have a new coach and different roster. Will the front office tag team of Steve Mills and Scott Perry still be around to make the franchise's draft pick?

    Whoever is in charge will have tremendous pressure to get this selection correct. And in Anthony Edwards, a 6'5", 225-pound scorer averaging 20.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.6 threes and 2.3 steals, the Knicks should see No. 1 overall upside without any baggage. 

    His 33 second-half points against Michigan State had the scouting community buzzing. And his game-winning pull-up to sink Chaminade highlighted his ability to create and make shots like a No. 1 option. 

    While LaMelo Ball will deserve consideration, particularly given the Knicks' need for a point guard, management may want to avoid the media circus that would follow. With Edwards and RJ Barrett, New York would have a pair of interchangeable wings to put pressure on defenses. 

2. Golden State Warriors: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG/SG, 2001)

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    The Golden State Warriors take one year off from competing, and they're suddenly in line to be rewarded with another star guard. 

    LaMelo Ball may not fill an obvious need once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson return, but there is likely to be a gap between him and the next-best option from the 2020 class. And Ball's passing and shot-making should still work well in Golden State's positionless system. 

    A foot injury is expected to sideline Ball for a month, per ESPN's Jonathan Givony, but he had triple-doubles in each of his last two games. And though skeptics may point to his inefficient shooting percentages, the 18-year-old is carrying a giant workload while consistently scoring and playmaking at high levels in a professional overseas league.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers' front office will have to assess need versus talent with this pick. After taking guards Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in consecutive years, would they dare take another in Cole Anthony or Nico Mannion?

    Memphis center James Wiseman gets the nod at this point, even though he's suspended until Jan. 12 and some scouts are unsure about his star potential. 

    His 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan and athleticism will buy him time to develop his skills. Even without a great deal of polish, Wiseman averaged 19.7 points on 76.9 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks through three games. 

    Between his broad shoulders, length and bounce, he's a walking easy basket and rim protector who's able to play high above the rim for finishes, offensive putbacks and defensive plays in the paint. The Cavs would take their chances on his post game, mid-range touch and pick-and-roll coverage improving over time.

4. New Orleans Pelicans: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)

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    At No. 4, Cole Anthony will be in the center of the best-player-available conversation.

    The New Orleans Pelicans will have to weigh whether it makes sense to add another guard to a backcourt featuring Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday. But Anthony's scoring (19.1 points per game) may be too enticing to pass up, and the Pelicans could always shop Holiday or move Ball to the second unit. 

    The eye test on Anthony has looked more convincing than his shooting percentages (36.8 percent overall), which is a result of a heavy workload and poor team spacing. His shot-making has stood out most on pull-ups, step-backs and spot-ups. And he's getting into the lane, although he hasn't finished at a strong rate yet.

    Averaging 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals, Anthony has made up for some inefficient offense by crashing the glass and competing defensively. Once his layups and runners start falling and his teammates start making more jumpers, his numbers will resemble that of a top-five pick. 

5. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)

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    The Atlanta Hawks could target Onyeka Okongwu for his interior presence, energy and rim protection (3.3 blocks per game) next to John Collins.

    He'd give Hawks point guard Trae Young another lob target, as he's currently shooting 62.9 percent on two-point shots and punishing rims. But he's also slotted this high because of his flashes of post moves and touch that point to scoring upside.

    Okongwu is averaging 25.5 points per 40 minutes, and he ranks in the 95th percentile of half-court points per possession, per Synergy Sports.

    After drafting a pair of forwards last year in De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, the Hawks could use this year's pick on a big like Okongwu to anchor the paint. 

6. Memphis Grizzlies: Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Although Deni Avdija is playing sparingly in Euroleague, the Memphis Grizzlies likely scouted him closely over the summer at the U20 European Championships, where he was MVP of the tournament.

    He has looked impressive this year in Israeli BSL play, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from three. The 6'8" forward checks boxes with positional tools, face-up scoring moves, passing skills, shooting range and defensive versatility.  

    His lack of explosion raises some questions about his shot-creation, finishing and upside. But based on who else is available, Avdija's high floor will be a selling point to a Grizzlies team that could use more 3s and 4s.

7. Washington Wizards: Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    The point guard conversation is bound to come up in the Washington Wizards front office. Should they draft one for insurance in case John Wall never returns to the player he was prior to his Achilles injury? 

    Nico Mannion could be on the board when Washington is picking. And he may be the best player available, regardless of position. 

    Averaging 15.3 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 48.1 percent overall and 40.5 percent from three, Mannion has looked like the full package, impressing with three-level scoring efficiency and passing skills. While Cole Anthony may have the edge from a physical and defensive standpoint, Mannion is making a case as the more well-rounded offensive player. 

8. Chicago Bulls: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    For a 6'9" forward, Jaden McDaniels' flashes of shot-creation, shooting and defensive versatility are bound to entice one top-10 team. 

    The Chicago Bulls could overlook some freshman inconsistency for long-term upside tied to his positional tools, scoring potential and defensive playmaking.

    They popped Sunday night in a heavily scouted matchup against Gonzaga, where he went for 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He added a step-back three, mid-range pull-up, baseline slam, runner in the lane and chase-down block to his highlight reel.

    McDaniels isn't the most refined player, but his obvious talent and a wide array of skills should help give him some wiggle room with scouts. 

9. Charlotte Hornets: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    RJ Hampton has delivered so far in the NBL, standing out and producing with athletic transition play, playmaking skills and set shooting. 

    He comes off as noticeably mature for his age (18), between the adjustments he's making and the way he's carrying himself in a pro league overseas. 

    If there is a knock against Hampton, it's the notion that he doesn't have one signature strength or skill. However, for a 6'6" swingman, his versatility and production (9.5 points, 2.5 assists and 0.9 three-pointers per game) should be enough to draw interest from teams in the back half of the lottery. 

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF, Sophomore)

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    On breakout watch to the start the season, Obi Toppin quickly capitalized on the eyes looking to see if he had taken another step forward. 

    A powerful, explosive finisher, Toppin has developed into a skilled post player and accurate shooter. He already has 10 three-pointers after hitting only 11 as a freshman.  

    His offense remains ahead of his defense, and he's old for his class, turning 22 in March. But at No. 10 overall, the Portland Trail Blazers won't get picky. Toppin's mix of physical tools, athleticism and inside-out scoring has created both a high floor and ceiling.

11. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes (France, PG, 2001)

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    At 18 years old, Killian Hayes ranks fourth in Eurocup with 6.9 assists per game. His passing and playmaking should be appealing to a Detroit Pistons team relying on Derrick Rose, Bruce Brown and Reggie Jackson for point guard play. 

    Hayes still needs to improve as a shooter, but he's making progress in that department. He's already hit 17 threes after making 14 in 2018-19. 

    Regardless, his ability to put pressure on the rim and create open looks for teammates should be the draw for Detroit. 

12. San Antonio Spurs: Theo Maledon (France, PG, 2001)

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    The San Antonio Spurs presumably will have seen plenty of Theo Maledon, who's earned a role with ASVEL, the team Tony Parker owns. 

    A different-style point guard compared to Dejounte Murray, Maledon has built his reputation overseas with his poise, passing skills and shooting. He isn't an explosive athlete, but he does a good job changing speeds and using body control and touch. 

    The 18-year-old is getting fourth-quarter minutes in Euroleague. Though Maledon won't make a sound in some games, scouts have watched him excel in different settings over the years, from FIBA and the Jordan Brand Classic to the Jeep Elite League.  

13. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    Tyrese Maxey has cooled off since debuting with 26 points against Michigan State. But the eye test still approves of his strong frame, shot-making and scoring ability in the lane. 

    He could work both on and off the ball, showing secondary playmaking skills as well, particularly as a passer in ball-screen situations. 

    While teams may question the height of Maxey's ceiling given his 6'3" size and lack of explosion, his ball-handling, passing, finishing, shooting and defensive toughness give him one of the higher floors among prospects in the lottery discussion. 

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SG/SF, Freshman)

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The draw to Isaac Okoro stems from his defensive versatility and toughness, but he's also shooting 73.2 percent inside the arc. 

    The 6'6”, 225-pound forward defends wings and bigs inside and out while scoring through contact and making smart passes. 

    Scouts could ultimately wind up torn on how to value Okoro if his jump shot remains shaky (3-of-17 from three). Regardless, his defensive projection alone should be enough for him to secure a first-round spot. 

Nos. 15-20

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    15. Phoenix Suns: Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Green's athleticism, energy and defense continue to pop each game. Though he isn't a skilled creator or scorer yet, he's flashed enough glimpses of spot-up shooting, floaters and passes. 

    16. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF, Freshman)

    Robinson-Earl has stood out earl, despite lacking athleticism or face-up ball-handling moves that typically hint at upside. His strong frame, hands around the basket, post skills and shooting touch point to a high NBA floor, while his obvious basketball IQ enhances his role-player appeal.

    17. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)

    Averaging 8.2 assists to 2.7 turnovers, Haliburton continues to build a case around terrific passing IQ. But he's entered the top-20 discussion by improving his scoring ability, particularly around the perimeter. After making 12 of his last 22 three-point attempts, he's now shooting 40.8 percent from deep on the season.

    18. Utah Jazz: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)

    An 18-year-old sophomore, Lewis is averaging 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 38.1 percent from three. Despite lacking explosion and a sharp pull-up game, he's emerged as a first-round point guard thanks to his quick and fluid driving and passing off the dribble and accurate catch-and-shoot ability from three. 

    19. Atlanta Hawks (via Nets): Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)

    Carey has been dominant in his old-school ways, averaging 20.9 points and 10.4 rebounds over his last seven games by pounding it inside. A combined 62.7 percent of his offense has come from the post and offensive rebounds, per Synergy Sports. Though he isn't a flashy modern-day big, Carey has been too effective with NBA tools and back-to-the-basket skills, plus improved quickness, which has led to some surprise face-up moves and shot-blocking. 

    20. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Paul Reed (DePaul, PF/C, Junior)

    Last year's Most Improved Player in the Big East, Reed has taken another step forward this season, mostly with his defense. He's averaging a combined 5.5 blocks and steals per game, demonstrating impressive movement and anticipation. Enough signs of shooting (7-of-21 from three) by March should launch Reed into the first-round mix. 

Nos. 21-30

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    21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Landers Nolley II (Virginia Tech, SF, Freshman)

    Ruled ineligible last season, Nolley hasn't wasted any time this year, averaging 18.6 points while shooting 49.1 percent from three. He won't win any athletic tests, but for a 6'7" wing, his shooting, tough shot-making and passing should be enough to draw first-round interest if he keeps producing through ACC play. 


    22. Toronto Raptors: Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF, Freshman)

    Achiuwa has used his 6'9", 225-pound size and athleticism to score in transition and off offensive rebounds and cuts. He has also flashed his defensive potential, which is fueled by quick feet and length. However, he is definitely a project, as he lacks skills for creation and perimeter shot-making. 


    23. Houston Rockets: Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)

    Teams should already have a good feel for Jones, who is now in his second year running Duke's offense. A reputable defender and passer, he has come out more aggressive this year looking for his shot. The results have been mixed, but either way, teams will see a backup who makes good decisions, pressures the ball and plays hard. 


    24. Dallas Mavericks: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, C, Freshman)

    Shooting 71.8 percent, Nnaji has quickly put himself on the NBA radar by executing off post moves, second-chance opportunities, transition and timely cuts. Teams will want to see more flashes of shooting, but his 81.5 percent free-throw mark has been encouraging. 


    25. Los Angeles Clippers: Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)

    An enforcer around the basket, the 250-pound Stewart continues to plow through contract for low-post buckets and offensive rebounds, just as he did in high school. His physical presence and motor create a high perceived floor. Limited athleticism, no scoring versatility and suspect defensive quickness make Stewart more of a Plan B option for non-lottery teams. 


    26. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Jordan Nwora (Louisville, SF/PF, Junior)

    Nwora is up to 21.6 points per game, and his three-ball is suddenly connecting at a 46.0 percent clip. The improved shooting should start to result in more NBA interest while he works as lead scorer for the nation's No. 1 team. 


    27. Miami Heat: Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)

    A leg injury has cost Ramsey some games, but his shot-making and athleticism for transition and defense have jumped out early. It doesn't appear he'll offer much playmaking, so it will be key for his shooting to remain hot once he returns to the lineup. 


    28. Boston Celtics: Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG, Sophomore)

    The eye test on Henry looks more convincing than the numbers. He isn't a high-level creator, which limits him in Michigan State's offense. But the 6'6" guard is hitting open shots, capitalizing on driving lanes and making impact defensive plays. This late, teams will overlook Henry's production for his fit. 


    29. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)

    Improved shooting has helped Nesmith transform into a lead scorer from a spot-up role player. He's making 51.5 percent of his 8.5 three-point attempts per game, and though he's bound to cool off, the 6'6" wing is sure to draw first-round looks for his versatile shot-making skills and defensive tools.


    30. Los Angeles Lakers: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    An athletic 6'6" wing, Vassell shoots 44.8 percent from three and often makes high-IQ defensive reads. He won't be on every team's first-round board, but one could view Vassell as a fit for his three-and-D role player potential.

    The order of this mock is based on the NBA standings heading into Monday, Dec. 9. 

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.


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