The NBA might be stuck at a standstill, but the 2020 draft player pool is still filling up.
Potential top-10 pick Tyrese Haliburton joined the fray on Tuesday. Anthony Edwards, who's in consideration for the first overall selection, declared last Friday.
This isn't the best draft class we've seen by any stretch, but it's nevertheless comprised of a bunch of interesting prospects.
After laying out the draft order (based on current standings) and our latest mock first round, we'll spotlight three of the safest prospects in this class.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn
5. Detroit Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
6. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
7. Chicago Bulls: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
8. Charlotte Hornets: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
11. San Antonio Spurs: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
12. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF/C, Olympiacos
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
15. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
23. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
24. Utah Jazz: Leandro Bolmaro, SG/SF, Barcelona
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Robert Woodard, SF, Mississippi State
26. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tre Jones, PG, Duke
28. Toronto Raptors: Zeke Nnaji, C, Arizona
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
There's a risk in labeling Deni Avdija as safe, and it's fooling people into thinking he lacks major upside. That just isn't true. If his shooting improves, he could function as a 6'9" guard who can defend three or more positions.
What makes him safe, though, is a higher floor than most of his peers. Even if that jumper never comes around, the 19-year-old will fill a useful role on whichever team he lands, as ESPN's Mike Schmitz noted:
"At the very worst, he's a big combo forward who can make an open 3 (career 32.3% shooter on 434 attempts), defend his position, move off the ball and make the right play. Even if he never stabilizes as a shooter—still a big question for some—there's a sizable role for his prototype. More cautious evaluators see comps to Dario Saric when he was in Philadelphia."
Avdija may not emerge as the draft's best player, but he's among the least likely to bust. His ball movement, defensive versatility and instincts are ready for an NBA rotation right now.
Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
Spending a top pick on Tyrese Haliburton will require passing up prospects with more potential. He's not the most reliable one-on-one creator, and the low release on his jumper makes it fair to question how much of his 42.6 three-point percentage will carry over to the big league.
But the 20-year-old fills a niche at both ends of the floor built around length, versatility and smarts.
Haliburton is always looking for open teammates, almost to the point of being too passive. He makes players better by delivering on-target outlet passes to create easy scoring chances or spotting open lanes against defenses scrambling to contain his pick-and-rolls.
He may not wow in any specific stat category, but he'll make his presence felt in most. This past season, he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals. For reference, the last player to post that line in the NBA was Michael Jordan.
That's not saying Haliburton will soon become the next Jordan or anything close to it. He might have the longest All-Star odds of all the top prospects, but he could have one of the longest careers of anyone in this class, because his skills are sharp and coveted.
Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
It feels funny to label a player as safe after he just launched himself into the draft discussion with a breakout year—confined to 14 games by a stress fracture in his foot—that obliterated his previous production.
But it's all about how we're framing safety. If teams are drafting Aaron Nesmith to be a 23.0-points-per-game scorer like he was at Vanderbilt, we'd advise them to proceed with caution. After all, he only averaged 11 points on 39.2 percent shooting the season prior.
But if teams target the 20-year-old as a shooting specialist, it's hard to imagine how they'd be disappointed.
"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," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "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."
There hasn't been a better time to arrive in the NBA as a perimeter specialist. That same role catapulted Cameron Johnson into the lottery last year, and maybe it propels Nesmith to similar heights.