2020 NBA Mock Draft: No. 1 Spot Up for Grabs 1 Month Before NCAA Tournament
The NBA All-Star break signifies the one-month warning before the NCAA tournament. Prospects are nearing their closing statements to scouts, and we see late risers from February to March every year.
A pair of international prospects have been charging hardest lately—one into the top three and the other into the top 10. Meanwhile, a couple of high-profile NCAA point guards continue to slip.
With no consensus No. 1 or agreed-upon set of tiers, it's starting to seem more likely that the draft order will play a key role in who goes when and where.
This particular mock order was based on the standings heading into All-Star Weekend.
Michael Lee from The Athletic returns for the 3rd Annual "The Full 48" All-Star Weekend Wrap-Up to break down the weekend festivities including the dunk contest and judging, the new All-Star Game format, and the incredible tributes to Kobe Bryant. They also discuss late Commissioner David Stern and the conspicuous absence of Michael Jordan.
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
There will be plenty of questions about what the Golden State Warriors should do if they win the lottery.
Trading the pick for a veteran will be an option that's debated. However, keeping the selection could lead to Anthony Edwards, who they could immediately use for his shot-making and versatility as a 6'5", 225-pound wing who works in ball-screen situations, spots up from three and defends multiple positions.
He possesses a special mix of athleticism and offensive skills for creating his own shot and converting tough looks out to 25 feet.
Golden State would look past his inefficient shooting percentages given his 31.1 percent usage on a weaker team. He does deserve some criticism for the heavy dose of hero jumpers, but with the Warriors, he wouldn't have the freedom to overdribble, dance out of isolation and build on his current bad habits.
Team fit could ultimately play a key role in Edwards' development, and he'd benefit greatly from going to Golden State, where his shot selection would naturally tighten and the positive culture would be good for his growth.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
At No. 2 overall, the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for stars over filling needs. And they could easily view LaMelo Ball as a clear top-two prospect in the 2020 draft.
It may mean having to trade Collin Sexton or Darius Garland—or moving one of them to the sixth-man role. Compared to both, Ball, 6'7", is a superior playmaker and passer with the ability to create open shots for finishers and shooters. He'll make the game easier for teammates than Garland or Sexton can.
Ball's shooting is the biggest question, and he tends to prefer floaters to pull-ups. But he won't turn 19 until August, and he still made 24 threes over 13 games in the NBL, demonstrating plenty of shot-making skill off the catch and off rhythm dribbles.
Despite the Illawarra Hawks lacking talent and winning just four times with Ball active, he remained professional and consistently played the right way. That should help a losing team like Cleveland overcome any fears it may have about his maturity, which has absolutely improved over the years.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
Deni Avdija has turned a corner with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
He's emerged as one of the team's top options in the Israeli BSL over the past five weeks, scoring at least 16 points in four of six games since Jan. 11. He made four of his five threes last Tuesday after going 3-of-6 in a Euroleague win over Fenerbahce Ulker.
For a 6'8" combo forward, his fluidity, skill versatility and defensive IQ continue to pop. He's flashed the ability to create and pass, as well as work off the ball as a spot-up shooter and cutter. And despite turning 19 years old in January, he's made an impact with his defensive anticipation and competitiveness.
Avdija might not have the same perceived upside as super-athlete and scorer Anthony Edwards, but scouts view him as one of the draft's safest picks and a fit for any lottery lineup.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The acquisition of D'Angelo Russell gave the Minnesota Timberwolves a boost of offensive creation and shot-making. But at some point, the front office needs to start plugging holes with defenders, and Isaac Okoro could be the class' best option.
Strong, quick and focused, Okoro has a tremendous defensive foundation, and he's experienced success this year guarding every position, inside and out.
But he's also delivered scoring efficiency for Auburn, shooting 60.2 percent inside the arc. He's 16-of-21 on drives out of spot-ups to the basket, 10-of-16 on post-ups, 9-of-17 out of isolation and 9-of-12 on cuts.
Shooting will be the swing skill for Okoro. His age (turned 19 in January) and eye-test results on 16 made threes suggest it's worth betting that his jumper will become just good enough.
5. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
After all the failed attempts at drafting or developing a point guard of the future, the New York Knicks should be drawn to Tyrese Haliburton.
In a class loaded with uncertainty, there is certainty tied to Haliburton's passing IQ. Despite suffering a season-ending broken wrist, he's given scouts enough over the past year, from the U19 World Cup (48 assists, eight turnovers, seven games) to Iowa State, where he'll finish his sophomore season averaging 6.5 assists to 2.8 turnovers.
But he also scored 15.2 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field and 41.9 percent from three with the Cyclones. He's taken a key step forward with his shot-making and floater, even ranking in the 99th percentile out of spot-ups.
With RJ Barrett expected to take the lead as the Knicks' top backcourt scorer, Haliburton would be a fitting complement with his facilitating and defensive anticipation.
6. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Leaving Memphis after three games won't kill James Wiseman's draft stock. But it could allow a few others to leapfrog him on boards, particularly given the decline in value of centers who aren't shooters, playmakers or versatile options.
However, Wiseman won't slip too far, just based on his spectacular physical profile. At 7'1", 240 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan and bounce, he shouldn't need a high skill level to give the Charlotte Hornets easy baskets and shot-blocking.
Flashes of post play and touch create hope that he can develop into more than a finisher, putback machine and rim protector. On a team led by Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham, Wiseman's scoring efficiency and defensive upside should be a draw.
7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
The 2020 draft is an opportunity for the Detroit Pistons to move on from Reggie Jackson, and Killian Hayes is starting to build momentum that could push him ahead of the NCAA's top point guards.
Over his last 10 games between Eurocup and the German BBL, he's averaging 14.6 points and 4.9 assists on 55.9 percent shooting. The 6'5" ball-handler has always excelled as a playmaker and passer, but he's made an impressive jump creating for himself and executing shots like runners and step-backs.
Teams will be focused on his jumper during the predraft scouting process, but his shooting is headed in the right direction with 30 threes in 31 games and an 88.6 percent mark from the free-throw line.
8. Chicago Bulls: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Instead of drafting another score-first guard in Cole Anthony or Tyrese Maxey, the Chicago Bulls could opt for Onyeka Okongwu, who'd add scoring efficiency and rim protection.
His identity is built around athleticism, energy and defense, but there is more offensive upside for Chicago to unlock. He grades in the 95th percentile on post-ups, and he's made nine of 17 short jumpers and 74.2 percent of his free throws.
With Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. struggling to stay on the floor, the Bulls could see Okongwu as either insurance, an upgrade or a way to stay flexible if they decide one of their current bigs may be more valuable on the trade market.
9. Washington Wizards: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
It's been a tough stretch and overall season for Cole Anthony, who's shooting 35.4 percent with 52 turnovers to 51 assists. One team is bound to give him a pass, however, given his usage and lack of support from teammates.
He's still averaging 19.3 points per game as the only Tar Heel capable of generating his own offense. He's shown toughness by returning from a knee injury during a lost season for North Carolina. And though his facilitating feel and finishing need work, his driving ability, pull-up game, floater and aggression still point to plenty of scoring potential.
With John Wall expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season and his future effectiveness unknown following an Achilles injury, the Washington Wizards might not want to pass on a chance to add another ball-handler as talented as Anthony.
10. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
With Bogdan Bogdanovic entering free agency this summer, the Sacramento Kings could lean toward adding another guard.
Scouts sound confident enough in RJ Hampton's play overseas, despite the fact that his season was cut short due to hip trouble. Attacking the rim is his signature skill, but he's flashed glimpses of playmaking ability and perimeter shot-making.
The Kings figure to be drawn to the idea of an athletic 19-year-old combo guard whose character and maturity have earned glowing reviews.
11. Phoenix Suns: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF, Sophomore)
While the explosive finishes and flashes of shooting point to upside, Toppin's consistency has made his draft case more convincing.
He's viewed by scouts as one of the draft's safest prospects, having scored at least 15 points in 23 of 25 games for KenPom.com's No. 2 offense in the country. He leads the nation in dunks, grading in the 92nd percentile for transition points per possession, the 97th percentile off cuts and the 99th percentile on putbacks.
But he's also made 16 of 32 spot-up jumpers and flashed some ability to attack closeouts and convert on the move. Toppin's defense would be a reason to stay away with a top-10 pick, as he doesn't project as a plus rim protector or switching forward. But his offense is further along than any other big man's.
12. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Support for Maxey has wavered, but enough scoring eruptions—like Tuesday's 25 points against Vanderbilt— should lead to one team in the lottery pulling the trigger.
He slashes and finishes through contact, makes 40.4 percent of his runners and is presumably a sharper shot-maker than his 29.7 three-point percentage suggests. The fact that head coach John Calipari has had 2-guards perform better in the pros may also help ease teams' concerns about Maxey's upside.
13. San Antonio Spurs: Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Mannion would be a complement to Dejounte Murray in San Antonio with his sharper passing and shooting. He's in a slump and lacks advantageous physical tools that Hayes and Anthony possess, but his skill level and competitiveness remain attractive for an NBA guard.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Three-and-D is Vassell's game. He's up to 42.0 percent from deep while regularly making standout defensive plays on and off the ball, using both his excellent tools and IQ for anticipation. Even if there isn't any exciting All-Star potential tied to his outlook, Vassell is building an appealing case to teams that may value his high floor and NBA fit.
15. Orlando Magic: Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF, Sophomore)
At 6'8", 216 pounds, Bey's mix of positional tools and 45.1 percent three-point shooting has led to first-round buzz from scouts. His shot-making versatility, secondary playmaking ability, physical tools and NBA fit should be enough for teams to look past his limited quickness and explosion.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
Lottery teams may be forgiving with McDaniels, whose long-term potential is the selling point. He's mistake-prone when it comes to shot selection, decision-making and effort. But for a 6'9" forward, he possesses a unique skill set in terms of ball-handling, creation and shooting touch.
17. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
Jones' value will always revolve around his playmaking IQ and defensive toughness. But he's made himself a bigger draw to NBA teams by improving his scoring ability off the dribble. Jones' 28 points in an overtime win over North Carolina on Feb. 8 could have been a needle-mover for evaluators on the fence.
18. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
Averaging 15.1 points and 10.2 rebounds, Achiuwa still shows enormous room for improvement to his skill package. Teams will value his 6'9" size, mobility and energy for picking up easy baskets and displaying defensive versatility. But he'll have a chance to go in the top 20 based on the potential tied to his flashes of face-up play and the occasional made three (11-of-33).
19. Oklahoma City Thunder: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
A foot injury knocked Nesmith out for the season, but not before he was able to make a case as the draft's top shooter. He drilled 60 threes through 14 games at a scorching 52.2 percent clip. Though not an advanced creator with the ball, his shot-making versatility and accuracy led to 23.0 points per game. He won't need many dribbles to produce.
20. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos junior team, C, 2001)
Teams view Pokusevski as a sleeper, but enough seem to be tracking him for a first-round projection. Despite playing in Greece's second division, his unique blend of shooting, passing and shot-blocking skills made a lasting impression during FIBA play and the Adidas Next Generation Tournament.
21. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Though Green makes an impact with his athleticism and defensive energy, teams will have to remain patient with his offense until his ball-handling and shot improve. Even if they don't, his transition scoring, floater, passing and pressure defense should be enough for him to carve out a supporting role.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Theo Maledon (ASVEL Basket, PG, 2001)
Maledon's production comes and goes overseas, but for an 18-year-old playing in Euroleague, he's done an admirable job holding his own and running an offense. Even if it takes years to get results, teams could see an NBA guard based on his size (6'3", 170 lbs), poise, finishing coordination, passing and shot-making capability.
23. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
A 2020 riser, Smith is on pace to become one of five players since 1992 to average at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and a three-pointer. He lacks a flashy face-up game, passing skills and explosive quickness, but his shooting (39.4 percent on threes), rim protection, improved upper body and energy have made it easier to envision an NBA fit.
24. Utah Jazz: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Since Feb. 8, Lewis has gone for 37 points in a road win at Georgia, a triple-double against Auburn and 27 points in a win versus LSU. Average tools, athletic limitations and a suspect pull-up game could be problematic when projecting him to the NBA. But this level of production for an 18-year-old in the SEC will appear too enticing.
25. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Patrick Williams (Florida State, PF, Sophomore)
Williams' powerful frame, shooting touch and potential defensive versatility should lead to first-round interest even if his scoring and impact fluctuate at Florida State. With potential lottery pick Vassell out against Syracuse on Saturday, Williams led the Seminoles to a win with 17 points, seven boards, two steals and a block off the bench.
He's a prime candidate to rise during workouts and persuade teams with his body, movement and shooting versatility.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
With NBA teams looking for frontcourt shooters and switchable defenders, Carey might not receive the interest his 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game suggest he could. But he's still a first-round prospect for his post scoring and offensive rebounding, which seem likely to carry over based on his strong body and hands.
27. Boston Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona II, SG, 2000)
NBA teams know to monitor Barcelona's junior team, and Bolmaro has been highly productive for it in the Spanish LEB Silver league. The 6'7" wing possesses a strong skill set of shot-making and ball-handling for playmaking.
28. Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Stewart figures to be more of a Plan B option for teams than a target given his lack of scoring versatility, defensive range and athleticism. He does seem to have a high floor as an enforcer and energizer around the basket. He'd be a value pick this late for a team just hoping to land a rotation player on a rookie contract.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Scouts have become interested in Ramsey's mix of athleticism and consistent three-point shooting (45.5 percent). He's not particularly creative as a scorer or playmaker, but his mix of tools and shot-making is appealing and likely to pop even more during predraft workouts.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Cassius Stanley (Duke, SF, Freshman)
Stanley needs his jumper to become a plus since it's unlikely he offers value as a creator or playmaker. But he's one of the draft's most explosive athletes, and his 21 threes in 23 games and defensive effort could make him worth gambling on as a hit-or-miss first-round option.