Difference-makers can surface from any point on the NBA draft board.
They might be most congested near the top, but at least one sleeper usually awakens and ascends from further down the draft board. And we're not just talking about outperforming draft position, we mean emerging as one of the top talents in the entire event.
The 2012 draft was the last in which the top-two performers in career win shares were both selected inside the top 20. Nikola Jokic (41st pick in 2014) and Brandon Clarke (21st in 2019) each lead all of their draftmates in the category.
So, consider this a warning to not invest all of your pre-draft resources into analyzing and reanalyzing the top prospects. Take some stock of the fringe first-rounders, too. History says one of them will probably pop in a big way.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
5. Detroit Pistons: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
6. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
7. Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
8. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn
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 Who Will Sneak into 1st Round
Tyrell Terry, PG/SG, Stanford
It wasn't clear if Tyrell Terry would make a one-and-done jump, as his 160-pound frame obviously needs some developing. But with his hat in the ring, his stock could rise into first-round territory due to his shooting touch and ball skills.
"Terry's ability to make outside shots and facilitate offensive gameflow with his passing are both serious selling points, enabling him to play on and off the ball, preferably alongside a bigger guard," SI.com's Jeremy Woo wrote.
Terry's shot looks NBA-ready. He splashed 40.8 percent of his triples and 89.1 percent of his free throws. He had six games with at least four three-pointers, including a 7-of-11 showing against Utah and a 5-of-7 effort versus William & Mary.
His strength and athleticism are obvious question marks, but his potential as a scorer and playmaker could be high enough for someone to take a first-round risk.
Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas
What could keep Devon Dotson out of the first round? He doesn't have a ton of size or length, and he needs work as an outside shooter and table-setter.
So, what could get him into that 30-player mix? We'll let him handle that one.
"I can bring elite speed, explosiveness and change of pace to an NBA team early," Dotson told ESPN's Jonathan Givony. "I believe with the additional spacing that the NBA game provides, I will be able to put pressure on the defense with my speed and strength. Also, I believe that I will be able to initiate offense in the open court with my ability to changes ends quickly."
No one logged more minutes over the last two seasons for the Jayhawks, who went 54-13 over that stretch. In 2019-20, the 20-year-old led them in minutes, points and steals, and he had as big of a say as anyone in their top-10 efficiency ranks on offense (eighth) and defense (second), per KenPom.
Dotson can be a second-team energizer and change-of-pace guard now, and if he improves his outside shot, his future might reside in an NBA starting lineup.
Grant Riller, PG, Charleston
The pre-draft process could be huge for Grant Riller, who will face questions about his age (23-year-old fifth-year senior) and level of competition. But if he gets a chance to scrimmage with other prospects, his offensive potency could shine.
"Riller is super quick off the dribble and highly skilled, finishing his senior season grading in the 97th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, 84th percentile out of isolation and 96th percentile out of spot-ups," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "He shot 40.0 percent off the catch, 42.1 percent off the dribble and a spectacular 63.4 percent at the basket."
He functions as an undersized scoring guard (6'3", 190 lbs), but if scouts see him passing well enough to fill the combo-guard role, that's good enough. He hovered around 4.0 assists per game over the past two seasons while serving as the Cougars' primary option and not having a ton of scoring help around him.
Riller offers a blend of explosiveness and toughness that manifest into elite in-traffic finishing, and few prospects in this class can match his consistency. He averaged 21.9 points in each of the last two seasons and shot above 49 percent from the field in both.