NBA drafts aren't always defined by the players selected at the top.
The 1996 class is one of the most celebrated in history, but arguably its best two picks weren't made at the top (Kobe Bryant at No. 13, Steve Nash at No. 15). And while no one is scoffing at Hakeem Olajuwon's No. 1 selection in the 1984 class, the win shares metric prefers three players before him: Michael Jordan (No. 3), John Stockton (No. 16) and Charles Barkley (No. 5).
But teams don't have the benefit of hindsight when they enter a draft. It's an educated guessing game based around projections, and more often than not, the No. 1 pick enjoys the most favorable projections.
So, while we can't guarantee Anthony Edwards and the other prospects atop the 2020 class will emerge as its greatest players, we understand why they're slotted as such for now. After running through our latest mock first round, we'll spotlight the fits for our first three picks.
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: Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Anthony Edwards To Warriors
Despite the potential impact of James Wiseman's size-athleticism combo or LaMelo Ball's playmaking, the Dubs are reportedly down on that pair and prefer Anthony Edwards at No. 1—if they don't trade the pick, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Wiseman seemed a logical option for the Warriors, given their void on the interior, but he is a raw prospect, and they'll be trying to contend next season.
Is Edwards ready to help that cause? If he's a fast learner, he could feast on open shots and use his physical gifts on defense for now, and if he builds up some trust, he could be tapping into his shot-creation skills sooner than later.
His freshman stat line showcases both his potential (19.1 points in 33 minutes per game), but also his room for growth (40.2/29.4/77.2 shooting, 91 assists against 87 turnovers). Was the inefficiency related to shoddy decision-making and shot selection, or was the 18-year-old saddling too heavy an offensive burden for an undermanned club?
Given what the Warriors' development system has done before, it seems likely they'll bet on themselves and try to maximize Edwards, unless they can move the pick for more win-now support.
Deni Avdija To Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are in such an early stage of their rebuild that team needs shouldn't enter their thought process, unless two prospects carry an identical grade. That's our way of noting that if Cleveland thinks Ball is the best player available when it's on the clock, it should grab him and worry about his fit with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton later.
But here, the Cavs instead prefer the high-floor, solid-ceiling combo offered by Deni Avdija, and he just happens to slot in comfortably at whichever forward spot they want to fill. He might not be a future star, but he could be an above-average starter for a decade-plus.
"He's a 6'9" playmaker who does a little bit of everything," an executive told cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. "The kid loves the game. He works hard and is a perfectionist."
Avdija can play on or off the ball, which helps lighten the load on Garland and Sexton without stepping on any toes. Avdija's shooting must improve, but he doesn't have many unchecked boxes beyond that.
LaMelo Ball To Timberwolves
Unless the Wolves land in Edwards' range, they might not see the wing prospect who would address this roster's biggest void. That could lead to some heated need-versus-talent debates, but ultimately, a franchise with one playoff trip since 2004 should decide it can't pass on the best player available.
So, Ball is the selection, even if there are some similarities—ball-dominance on offense, indifference on defense—with D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
But this offense could be so prolific that the Wolves could afford a few defensive leaks. Ball and Russell are both big shot-creators, and Towns is a perfect pick-and-roll (or pick-and-pop) partner for either one. The fact Russell and Towns are such advanced scorers already should also help mask the fact that Ball has enountered some obstacles as a shooter and scorer.
"It would be an interesting situation for Ball, who struggled with efficiency in the NBL carrying a heavy workload for the Illawarra Hawks," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "In Minnesota, he'd have Russell to take pressure away and Karl-Anthony Towns as an elite scorer to lean on and play off."
Ball is already an advanced passer, and since he's going in the lottery, he'd have trouble finding many better receivers for his deliveries than Towns and Russell.