2020 NBA Mock Draft: Questions Loom During Basketball Hiatus
The 2020 NBA draft seemed filled with uncertainty before the cancellation of collegiate and pro basketball. An abbreviated predraft process, if there is one at all, will make it even tougher to evaluate and predict.
Will prospects be able to fly to workouts or participate with others? Will there be an NBA combine for teams to test and meet players, schedule interviews or collect medicals?
Teams may have to fly semi-blind during the months leading up to the draft, which also seems likely to be moved back.
The mock draft order is based on the standings as of the last NBA game played.
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
We'll continue to slot Anthony Edwards at No. 1 with the Golden State Warriors atop the mock draft board until lottery night.
He's the popular answer for best prospect in the draft, but he should also fit coach Steve Kerr's system, given his shot-making and interchangeability between positions.
The Warriors hole at center shouldn't factor into the equation based on their options. Unless they're convinced James Wiseman is the class' prize, Golden State wouldn't use a No. 1 pick on a rim runner who doesn't shoot, pass or defend away from the basket. They can find a cheap free agent for that.
Edwards finished his freshman year averaging 19.1 points and 2.8 assists, distinguishing himself with advanced shot-creation, distance pull-ups, streak scoring and ball-screen playmaking. Even after the addition of Andrew Wiggins, Kerr could still use Edwards in a variety of ways to take more pressure off Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
The Cleveland Cavaliers won four of their eight games with Andre Drummond in the lineup. Common sense suggests he'll opt in for next season and general manager Koby Altman will show interest in re-signing his new acquisition to expedite the franchise's rebuild.
That makes it tougher to picture the Cavaliers taking a center like James Wiseman. But could they draft another guard after selecting Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in consecutive years? Only if they were positive that LaMelo Ball was the best player available and a personality who'd embrace Cleveland.
Altman may wind up opting to avoid those question marks and instead value Deni Avdija's fit and potential trajectory. After winning MVP of the FIBA U20 European Championship, playing big minutes in Euroleague and averaging 12.3 points on 55.5 percent shooting in the Israeli BSL, he's emerged as a legit top-five option who'd give the Cavaliers needed versatility and defense from the wing.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff could throw him right into the mix at the 3 with Garland, Sexton, Drummond and Kevin Love. Between Avdija's three-ball, passing, ability to guard both forward spots and experience/willingness to play a supporting role, the 19-year-old would offer Cleveland both valued strengths and two-way upside.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG/SG, 2001)
At No. 3 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, LaMelo Ball may just be too enticing when taking into account who else is available.
They likely won't draft Wiseman or center Onyeka Okongwu with Karl-Anthony Towns at the 5. And Towns' need to improve defensively may turn Minnesota off from Obi Toppin, whose biggest weakness is guarding the perimeter.
D'Angelo Russell and Ball each possess enough size and skill versatility to be considered interchangeable and compatible.
Ball's signature strength early will be playmaking, but there is still plenty of scoring upside to unlock from his creativity, floater game, finishing package and confident three-point shot-making.
4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Without an obvious hole to plug, the Atlanta Hawks will likely be looking for the best talent, even if it means creating a logjam. They'd worry about how to work a John Collins-Clint Capela-Obi Toppin frontcourt later in the process. At this stage, Toppin has become too compelling after finishing his last five games at Dayton averaging 23.4 points and 3.0 assists on 67.7 percent shooting and 7-of-13 from three.
While known for his explosiveness around the basket, he's started to separate from the late-lottery pack with flashes of shooting, face-up moves and passes.
While his defensive movement and age (22) raise questions, they shouldn't be alarming enough outside the top three for the draft's top offensive big man.
5. Detroit Pistons: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Positions and need shouldn't be taken into account for a Detroit Pistons roster that features Blake Griffin, Sekou Doumbouya and Luke Kennard as a returning core. Only talent should matter—not finding a point guard or adding shooting. And that puts James Wiseman in play for the upside his physical tools, athleticism and room to improve create.
At 7'1", 240 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan and bounce, Wiseman has a foundation that is tough to beat. The question is how much skill he can add to it. Flashes of post moves and mid-range touch in high school have led to optimism over his chances of developing into more than just a dunker.
In the meantime, he should continue to rack up easy baskets from dump downs, lobs, rolls and offensive rebounds. And though his defensive awareness must improve, his length will naturally translate to shot-blocking and boards.
6. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
The New York Knicks figure to look past Cole Anthony's inefficiency at North Carolina, where it was clear he lacked talent around him and spacing. He still pumped in 18.5 points and 2.2 threes per game, and though his 4.0 assists sound underwhelming, his passing skills looked better than the numbers suggest.
Assuming new president Leon Rose isn't as familiar with international scouting, he's likely to have more of a comfort level drafting a player like Anthony, who'd give the lineup a new franchise point guard and familiar name for the agitated fanbase to get behind.
It will be interesting to see how much thought the Knicks give to Killian Hayes, a more natural playmaker than Anthony, but not the same caliber of scorer or shooter. It seems safer to project the Knicks taking the player they've presumably had eyes on since midway through high school. Anthony and Barrett could make for a dynamic offensive backcourt.
7. Chicago Bulls: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
The Chicago Bulls might not want to draft another point guard and disrupt Coby White's rhythm. He averaged 26.1 points and 4.4 assists over his last nine games. The Bulls could look at Onyeka Okongwu for his athleticism and defensive upside that neither Lauri Markkanen nor Wendell Carter Jr. can match.
The Bulls could always start out by using Okongwu as an energizer off the bench. But long term, his defensive activity and offensive development could put legitimate pressure on Carter, particularly if his injuries persist.
Aside from the volume dunks and blocks, Okongwu was a far more effective/versatile post scorer (1.13 PPP) than Carter (.75 PPP) out of college. The rapid improvement of USC's center since high school may suggest his trajectory is worth betting on.
8. Charlotte Hornets: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
Hip trouble shortened RJ Hampton's season in the NBL. But for a 6'5" combo guard, a comfort level against pros and smaller sample size of action create an element of mystery that could work in Hampton's favor in a draft that lacks obvious star power.
Eight picks in, Hampton could look enticing for his athleticism, perimeter shot-making, playmaking potential and room to improve as a creator and shooter. At 19 years old, Hampton adds explosiveness for transition and downhill scoring, a passable jumper when set, floater skill and passing IQ.
While he doesn't excel in one area yet, there are a lot of areas to bet on with Hampton's development.
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
With John Wall turning 30 in September and coming off a major Achilles injury, the Washington Wizards will have to decide whether to go after a point guard in the draft. The fact that he's owed roughly $132 million until 2023 complicates Washington's rebuilding decisions.
Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton would make the Wizards think, but the team may wind up feeling safer about Isaac Okoro, who has a case as the draft's more versatile/effective defender.
He projects as the type who'll make a career out of guarding top perimeter scoring wings and forwards. But Okoro also flashed enough signs of offense, having shot 60.3 percent inside the arc and made 15 threes over Auburn's last 15 games.
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (France, PG, 2001)
Killian Hayes figures to draw looks as high as No. 4 or No. 5. The debate about whether to draft him that early questions whether he's a star NBA point guard or just a strong playmaker. The difference could be determined by his shooting development, arguably the draft's biggest swing skill for one individual prospect.
In both Eurocup and the German BBL, he shot over 45 percent from the floor and averaged at least five assists. Hayes strengthened his NBA case this year by improving his floater, finishing package and perimeter shot-creation while continuing to build on his standout passing game.
He did finish at just 29.4 percent from three, the worry for teams in the top 10. An optimist would point to his age (18), 30 made threes (up from 14) and 87.6 percent free-throw mark.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
Haliburton would have to make it past the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. If he does, the Spurs would presumably be drawn to his special passing IQ as well as his versatility to play off the ball at 6'5". After averaging 6.5 assists and grading in the 99th percentile as a spot-up player, Haliburton could be an interesting complement to Dejounte Murray.
12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
With Bogdan Bogdanovic set to enter free agency, the Kings could target Maxey for backcourt depth and scoring. They shouldn't put too much stock into his disappointing shooting percentages, given his clear shot-making skills and the fact that previous Kentucky guards have blossomed with more NBA space. Maxey's lack of explosiveness and playmaking lower his perceived ceiling, but his pull-up game, floater, advanced finishing and NBA body hint at a high floor.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
The top-shooter-in-the-draft discussion must start with Nesmith after he buried 52.2 percent of his 8.2 three-point attempts per game. Given his 6'6" size and shot-making versatility (51.0 percent off screens), it's become easy to picture his jump-shot success carrying over in an off-ball role. The Pelicans just wouldn't be able to use Nesmith for creation after he totaled 13 assists in 500 minutes and generated six points on 16 pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
Achiuwa averaged 20.3 points, 17.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks over Memphis' last three games. And for a 6'9", 225-pound mobile big, it's stretches like those that can spark imaginations and diminish concerns tied to his questionable jump shot and poor passing.
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
The Magic have shied away from point guards in the draft since trading for Elfrid Payton. This could be the year Orlando revisits the possibility of adding a ball-handler with Lewis at No. 15 after he closed the season averaging 23.2 points and 6.7 assists over Alabama's final nine games. For Orlando, signs of life from Markelle Fultz shouldn't diminish the appeal to Lewis, who's still 18 and offers a unique element of speed to put more pressure on defenses. Consistently in the bottom third among teams in offensive efficiency, the Magic could see value in Lewis' ability to break down opponents and create scoring opportunities.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Teams looking for a three-and-D wing will have Vassell highlighted on their board. The athletic, 6'6" sophomore just finished another season shooting over 41 percent from three while continuing to bolster his reputation as a tough on-ball defender and smart team defender off the ball.
17. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The Celtics could target Bey for his potential to immediately add three-point shooting (45.1 percent). Though not the flashiest athlete, his ball-handling, passing and jump shot consistently pop for a 6'8", 215-pound forward.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF/C, 2001)
While there was hope that Pokusevski would start seeing time in Euroleague after a brief appearance with Olympiacos, he returned to Greece's second league to finish the season with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two threes, two steals and two blocks in under 18 minutes. His body needs years of work, but Pokusevski's mix of 7'0" size, ball-handling, shooting fluidity and defensive range is unmatched among 2020 draft prospects.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
The cancellation of college basketball interrupted Green's hottest stretch of the season. He'd made nine of his last 13 three-pointers, an exciting development for an explosive wing and exceptional defender who struggles to create.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Freshman)
The Bucks could look at Jones as an immediate contributor during their championship window. He made a strong jump this year as a scorer (16.2 PPG) and shooter (1.3 3PT, 36.1 percent), but it's still his passing IQ, defensive pressure and intangibles that Milwaukee would see carrying over to its second unit.
21. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Theo Maledon (ASVEL, PG, 2001)
The Nuggets could add backcourt depth with Maledon, who's stood out overseas by showing poise handling the ball as an 18-year-old in Euroleague and the Jeep Elite league. Limited blow-by burst raises questions about his upside, but he's played at a solid role-player level against legitimate pro competition, demonstrating strong passing skills, finishing coordination and shooting balance.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
After shooting just 37.0 percent from the floor in 2020, Mannion could slide due to questions about how effective he can be without plus tools or explosion. He'd enter value-pick territory in the 20s, where the Sixers could look at Mannion as a backup behind Ben Simmons to play-make and knock down jumpers for the second unit.
23. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
Smith's improved body and breakout season should lead to first-round looks based on the value of bigs who stretch the floor and protect the rim. He became one of six players since 1992 to average at least 10 rebounds, two blocks and a three-pointer.
24. Utah Jazz: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
A limited (or no) predraft process could hurt McDaniels, who may have needed workouts to remind teams of his ball skills and shooting touch after he shot just 40.5 percent and averaged 3.2 turnovers. Inconsistency has made the scouting report since high school, but for a 6'9" forward, McDaniels still possesses unique face-up shot-creation moves and jumper versatility with the pull-up and three-ball.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Stewart made a strong final statement in the Pac-12 tournament game against Arizona, scoring a season-high 29 points with a three-pointer. There isn't anything sexy about his post-up-heavy attack, but it's easy to picture Stewart contributing right away with his powerful 250-pound frame, effort and hands around the basket.
26. Boston Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona II, SG/SF, 2000)
Bolmaro emerged on watch lists over the years through FIBA tournaments and the Nike Hoop Summit. Limited minutes in Euroleague this season—and potentially no predraft process—will make it tough to convince general managers to reach in the top 20 or 25. But he did put up reassuring numbers in the LEB Silver league (14.9 points, 3.6 assists, 1.8 3PTM) that continue to highlight appealing offensive versatility for a 6'7" wing.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
Despite Williams' limited production at Florida State, he should draw first-round interest because of flash plays and appealing potential. The powerful 6'8" combo forward made an impression with drives through contact, dunks off cuts, ball-screen playmaking and shooting touch.
28. Toronto Raptors: Cassius Stanley (Duke, SF, Freshman)
Stanley's explosive leaping and three-point shooting potential will cause certain teams to look past his inability to create or pass. He closed the year on a high note, scoring 19 points on 3-of-5 from deep in Duke's win over North Carolina.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Ramsey finished the season shooting 42.6 percent from three, and given his 6'4" frame and picturesque form, the made jumpers were persuasive despite his odd 64.1 percent free-throw mark. He also averaged 3.7 assists over his final seven games, an encouraging sign for his playmaking development after a slower start in the passing department.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
The declining value of non-stretch centers will hurt Carey in the draft, particularly given the unlikelihood of him improving a team's defense. But his inside scoring, passing and rebounding should still be useful against certain lineups.