2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions, Breaking Down Prospects on the Rise

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 17, 2020

Auburn's Isaac Okoro (23) celebrates after Auburn defeated Arkansas 79-76 in overtime in an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Michael Woods/Associated Press

There's no such thing as a static NBA draft stock.

No, not even in a sports world otherwise suspended by a global pandemic.

While prospects are limited in this socially distanced environment, evaluators have more time to dissect their games. And since groupthink can play a part in determining mock draft order (i.e., moving stocks up or down), these expert opinions can matter an awful lot.

After laying out our latest mock first round, we'll spotlight three lottery prospects who are trending up with NBA draft experts.


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


Prospects on the Rise

Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

The Association's ever-increasing itch for versatility gives serious helium to the draft stock of Deni Avdija. Even if he doesn't have one elite skill, teams are growing more attracted to the fact that he doesn't have much in terms of glaring weaknesses.

"The 6'9" Avdija slides seamlessly between point guard and power forward, and improved considerably as a defender this season while playing a complementary role for Maccabi Tel Aviv as it contended for the EuroLeague final four," ESPN's Jonathan Givony wrote.

With EuroLeague experience on the resume, Avdija's exposure to high-level competition might raise his floor in relation to his draft classmates. But that doesn't come at the expense of upside. If the 19-year-old harnesses his inconsistent jumper, he could become a jumbo playmaker who can score at every level and defend multiple positions.

What does all that equal on draft night? When B/R's Jonathan Wasserman compiled his latest mock draft, he slotted Avdija all the way up at No. 2.


Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

Isaac Okoro's numbers don't jump off the page, and honestly, his scouting report doesn't really, either.

His offensive issues are plentiful and worrisome. College defenders didn't respect his three ball, and he didn't make them pay for the disrespect (28.6). His 67.4 free-throw percentage doesn't exactly speak favorably of his shooting mechanics. He also doesn't have great burst off the bounce, so he might be the kind of player who gets his scoring chances from the creativity of others.

How does any of this make Okoro a rising prospect? Well, it doesn't. What handles that task is perhaps the most defensive talent in the draft. He already looks like the kind of player coaches can throw against top-scoring wings and forwards, and he aces the versatility test.

If teams don't see much future star power in this class, then they could be attracted to the 19-year-old's plug-and-play potential.

"While Okoro isn't viewed among teams as a consensus top-five prospect, he's the type to maximize his long-term potential and thrive as a high-level starter with potential to develop into more than that," ESPN's Mike Schmitz wrote while mocking him as the third overall pick.


Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

This draft runs heavy on lead and combo guards at the top, which can make it hard for anyone to stand out. That's typically been the case for Killian Hayes, who usually hovers around the 10th pick of most mocks.

But the 6'5" floor general has his believers, apparently none bigger than The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, who slotted the 18-year-old first overall on his big board.

"In a league where perimeter shooting, playmaking, and defensive versatility are at a premium, Hayes is my top-ranked prospect in this year's class," O'Connor wrote. "... While playing last season in Germany for Ratiopharm Ulm, Hayes showed skill beyond his years, taking stepbacks, side steps, and fearless pull-up jumpers."

While this is, admittedly, a generous scouting report, comparisons to James Harden, Manu Ginobili and D'Angelo Russell all surface in O'Connor's dispatch. This could all come down to shooting. Hayes already looks like an impact passer, but his shooting development could determine whether he's a helpful offensive piece or an entire franchise's offensive engine.