All NBA drafts have their strong spots.
The 1996 talent grab overloaded the league with star guards, like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. The 2003 iteration changed frontcourts forever with the arrivals of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.
The 2020 draft is almost certainly not having that kind of impact, but it has its own strengths all the same. Guard play, in particular, appears the early needle-mover, as our latest mock draft (featured below) counts four backcourt prospects among the top six projected 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 Alone at No. 1
Georgia's Anthony Edwards is by no means a perfect prospect. The late bloomer noticeably lacks polish, as he finished his one-and-done season with the Bulldogs shooting just 40.2 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from distance.
But he's still the consensus expert choice to be the first prospect taken. That's where Wasserman, Givony and Woo all slot him, and most mocks you'd find from other sources will start the same way.
"His production, youth and high-end physical tools create a compelling case as the draft's top prospect," Woo wrote. "The hope is that given time, Edwards develops into a capable, high-usage shot-creator on the wing, and that he will also add value defensively."
Edwards has the length, strength and bounce to look the part of a budding basketball star, and he flashes that ability with pull-up threes, explosive finishes and crafty playmaking. But he's a long way from putting everything together.
It's more risk than teams would prefer at No. 1, but in a class this shallow, his upside is probably worth it.
LaMelo Ball Goes Top-5
LaMelo Ball might be the most recognizable name in this field, which shouldn't be possible when college basketball fans never saw him. The 6'7" playmaker bypassed college hoops to join the professional ranks in Australia, but he was already a near-household name before he left the States because of his famous family and early exposure.
That's not the reason that all three experts agree he's a top-five pick, though. His size, skills and unique table-setting ability all make him one of the most intriguing players in this draft.
"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," Wasserman wrote.
The 18-year-old's game needs a lot of work at both ends, and he'll battle skepticism around his shot selection and defensive effort. But he'll be a gifted distributor out of the gate, and his deep shooting range points to a potentially special set of offensive skills.
He shouldn't wait long to hear his name called. Wasserman slotted him third, Givony ranked Ball fourth and Woo had the point guard as his fifth prospect selected.
Split Opinions on the Others
Both Wasserman and Givony view Edwards and Ball as the top two guards in this class. Woo has Ball third among backcourt players, but he's still among the top five selections.
The experts don't have the same kind of agreement about the other players in the guard pool.
Wasserman's third guard to go is North Carolina's Cole Anthony as the sixth overall selection. Woo slotted Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton fourth overall and second among guards. Givony adds another name to the mix with Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey, who declared for the draft Monday, ranking as his third guard and sixth pick.
"Maxey had a strange freshman season in the sense that he was outstanding in many of Kentucky's biggest and most visible games, but he struggled with inefficiency and inconsistency for much of the year," Givony wrote.
A 6'3" combo guard, Maxey shot just 42.7 percent overall and 29.2 percent from deep for the Wildcats. But his jumper looks like it will come around, and he's already shown the ability to work on or off the ball. If he blossomed in a better-spaced NBA offense, he'd hardly be the first Kentucky guard to do so.