NBA Mock Draft 2020: Expert Predictions for Top Sleeper Guard Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 14, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. plays against Vanderbilt in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Nashville, Tenn. Lewis Jr. was selected to the Associated Press All-SEC first team announced Tuesday, March 10, 2020.  (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The NBA draft is often a hotbed for sleeper prospects, and based on what we've seen in recent years, the ranking of the most productive pros typically splits from the draft order.

Only two of the last five No. 1 overall picks lead their respective draft classes in win shares (Ben Simmons, 2016, and Karl-Anthony Towns, 2015). In two of the other drafts, the win shares leader wasn't even a top-10 pick (Brandon Clarke, 21st in 2019, and Bam Adebayo, 14th in 2017).

This year seems as likely as any to unearth another surprise leader. While Anthony Edwards is the most popular prospect mocked at No. 1, he has his fair share of concerns. Since there isn't really a consensus order behind him, the unpredictability only grows from there.

Given the potential for a hidden gem to surface down the road, we have examined several expert opinions to try to uncover the backcourt prospects most likely to outperform their draft positions.


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


Expert Predictions for Top Sleeper Guard Prospects

Magic Grab Kira Lewis Jr. at No. 15

Markelle Fultz finally finding his footing is a positive for Orlando, but it hardly means the franchise has solved its years-long search for solid point-guard play.

The way B/R's Jonathan Wasserman sees it, the Magic should consider adding another young lead guard to the mix with Alabama's Kira Lewis Jr. as the 15th overall pick:

"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."

The Magic need an offensive jolt in the worst kind of way. Their last rank inside the top 20 had Dwight Howard manning the middle and Jameer Nelson running point (15th, 2011-12).

Lewis flashed high-level ability down the stretch of his second season with the Crimson Tide.

Over his final nine outings in 2019-20, the 19-year-old averaged 23.2 points and 6.7 assists. His combination of speed, vision, creativity and emerging shot-making could be just what this offense needs to get going.


Bucks Bulk Up Backcourt Collection With Nico Mannion

Milwaukee willingly created a void in its backcourt by orchestrating last summer's sign-and-trade that rerouted Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana. But the Bucks at least had the foresight to help them cover that gap by bringing back a first-round pick (lottery-protected) in return.

That's exactly what ESPN's Jonathan Givony predicts they'll do at No. 18 by drafting Nico Mannion, although the scribe thinks a sharpshooter like Vanderbilt's Aaron Nesmith would be the better fit.

"Although the passing creativity, deep shooting range and unselfishness of Mannion is tempting, the Bucks likely will be looking to add wing depth and additional shooting to the roster," Givony wrote. "That makes Nesmith appealing if Milwaukee can snag him with Indiana's pick."

Mannion's one-and-done run with the Wildcats was a mixed bag. On the plus side, the 19-year-old flashed a fiery (though inconsistent) shot from deep, and his assists per game (5.3) was more than double his turnovers (2.6). On the not-so-great side, he shot just 39.2 percent from the field and created question marks about his ability to finish without elite explosiveness or natural tools.


Boston Takes Tre Jones at No. 17

The Celtics boast one of the most complete starting fives in the league, but they could use reinforcements behind Kemba Walker.

Brad Wanamaker is fine, but he's probably already bumping into his ceiling at 30 years old and headed to restricted free agency this summer. Carsen Edwards is a 5'11" scoring guard, and he has failed to impress in limited run during his rookie season (32.7 percent shooting, 30.9 percent from range).

This led CBS Sports' Kyle Boone to mock Duke point guard Tre Jones to Boston at No. 17:

"Boston desperately needs to upgrade its point guard depth, and Jones' defensive smarts and high-floor prospects make him an obvious fit. And while Jones' offensive struggles may always hamper his upside, the C's may not need his offense running a second unit for a pretty complete and balanced roster already in place."

The 20-year-old fared better on offense during his second season at Duke, but he didn't wow anyone with his shooting efficiency (42.3 percent) or three-point volume (39 makes in 29 games).

Jones does, however, add ball control (6.4 assists against 2.7 turnovers), defensive pressure and the intangibles of a natural playmaker.