NBA Mock Draft 2020: Predictions for James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball, More

Keegan PopeContributor IIIApril 30, 2020

Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv's Deni Avdija controls the ball during the Euro League basketball match between Olimpia Milan and Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

The NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline has come and gone. In total, 205 players—163 from colleges and 42 from the international teams or other institutions—have declared their intentions to at least test the draft waters.

That's down from 233 a year ago and 236 in 2018, but it is still more than double what it was in 2015, the final year players who went through the NBA's predraft process were prohibited from returning to school.

Prospects in this year's class have until June 3 to declare whether they will return to school or remain in the draft—at least, that's the plan in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While a significant number of the players who declared for the draft will return to college—84 underclassmen opted to stay in the 2019 draft—there's no reason to believe any of the players projected as first-round picks are likely to go that route.

In what is considered one of the weakest drafts in recent memory, here's how we see Round 1 shaking out. The players who could make the biggest rises on draft boards between now and whenever the draft is held are highlighted thereafter.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

3. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

5. Detroit Pistons: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

6. Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

8. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

10. Phoenix Suns: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

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: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

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: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

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


Onyeka Okongwu, F, USC

The 6'9" Onyeka Okongwu was best known for being on the receiving end of alley-oops and cherry picks from the Ball Brothers up until this season. But in his lone campaign at USC, he became the Trojans' best player, averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.

He has some ability to step out and shoot, but his offensive game needs some work for him to be effective at the NBA level. He does, however, possess a load of potential and can be an immediate impact player as a rebounder and on the defensive end. This year's group is not particularly deep with quality big men, so don't expect to see him on the board for long.


Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama

As The Athletic's Sam Vecenie pointed out in his most recent mock draft, the more people watch Kira Lewis Jr., the more impressed they are.

In what has to be one of the quietest All-SEC campaigns in recent memory, the 6'3" Lewis—who was just 18 as a sophomore—averaged an eye-popping 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 36 percent from behind the arc. He's one of just three high-major players in the past three decades to hit those numbers.

At just 170 pounds, he's pretty slight, so he will need to bulk up to be able to guard at the NBA level. But his scoring ability, combined with his pure end-to-end speed, makes him an intriguing riser in a point guard class that isn't terribly impressive outside of LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton and Cole Anthony.


Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

With every Euroleague prospect projected in the lottery, teams hope they are finding the next Luka Doncic and not the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Well, Deni Avdija is likely neither.

At 6'9", he's likely to stick at a combo forward position in the NBA, but it's his playmaking skills that make him such an intriguing prospect. In his final eight games with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Avdija averaged 13.8 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting more than 53 percent from the field and making nearly 50 percent of his three-pointers.

He's unlikely to be the focal point of any franchise's rebuild, but there might not be any of those players in this class. He could, however, be a nice piece to build around who fits well in a team-based system. So much is unknown about what the draft lottery will look like, but don't be surprised if he's off the board before the draft numbers hit double digits.


Follow Keegan on Twitter, @ByKeeganPope.