NBA Draft 2020: Selection Order and Expert Predictions for Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

Memphis' James Wiseman (32) is congratulated between plays in an NCAA college basketball game against University of Illinois-Chicago Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)
Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

The NBA has myriad questions to answer when (or if) the pandemic-induced hiatus breaks.

If the 2019-20 season resumes, playoff spots will be up for grabs and a champion will be crowned. One overlooked aspect, though, is the standings impact on draft-lottery odds.

Even though the Association flattened the odds a bit to discourage tanking, the teams with the three worst records still have a 14 percent chance of grabbing the first pick. Teams with the fourth- and fifth-worst marks have 12.5 and 10.5 percent chances, respectively. The percentages trickle down to the remaining lottery participants from there.

It'll be a while before any of this sorts itself out. The lottery has been postponed indefinitely. But a reverse look at the latest standings gives us an idea of how the selection order could look (via Tankathon), so let's run through that before examining what the experts are saying about the best prospects in this class.


NBA Draft 2020: Latest Selection Order

1. Golden State Warriors

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

4. Atlanta Hawks

5. Detroit Pistons

6. New York Knicks

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Charlotte Hornets

9. Washington Wizards

10. Phoenix Suns

11. San Antonio Spurs

12. Sacramento Kings

13. New Orleans Pelicans

14. Portland Trail Blazers

15. Orlando Magic

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets)

17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies)

18. Dallas Mavericks

19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers)

20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers)

21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets)

22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder)

23. Miami Heat

24. Utah Jazz

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets)

26. Boston Celtics

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers)

28. Toronto Raptors

29. Los Angeles Lakers

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks)


Expert Predictions for Top Prospects

LaMelo Ball To Golden State?

Big Baller becomes Splash Sibling? CBS Sports' Kyle Boone thinks it could happen. In his latest mock, Boone slotted LaMelo Ball first overall to the Golden State Warriors.

"Even with a healthy Stephen Curry, depth at point guard figures to be a priority for the Warriors," Boone wrote. "LaMelo Ball would give them another gunner who can make plays and read defenses to complement the core already in place. He's a high-level passer and creator who perfectly fits where the NBA game is going."

Ball might be the best passer in this draft. He could not find better recipients of his passes than Curry and Klay Thompson, who have both made more than 41 percent of their career threes. Ball's shot selection should also improve in Golden State, as he wouldn't be asked to do too much.

It's an intriguing fit, especially if Ball fine-tunes his shooting touch and ups his defensive effort.


Anthony Edwards Going No. 1?

Normally, the No. 1 pick has identified himself by this point on the NBA calendar. This year is anything but normal, of course, and that aspect of the predraft process is no different.

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie reported hearing five different names when asking teams and internal evaluators who they would target with the No. 1 pick. That said, Vecenie's mock starts with Anthony Edwards, in part because he's the most popular choice at the top.

"His name is the one I hear most as being the No. 1 guy, and he's pretty much a consensus top-three guy," Vecenie wrote. "I still believe he has the highest upside because of his powerful athleticism and shot creation ability."

It's hard reading too much into Edwards' one-and-done season at Georgia, since he didn't have much help around him and played the entire campaign as an 18-year-old. But it seems scouts are more willing to reward his highs (19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game) than penalize his lows (40.2 percent shooting, 29.4 from three).


Cavaliers Getting James Wiseman?

The Cleveland Cavaliers probably don't have an opening at the 5 spot. Andre Drummond shouldn't opt out of his $28.8 million player option, meaning the middle is likely in his hands for next season.

But given the scope and length of Cleveland's latest post-LeBron James rebuild, the franchise is thinking further ahead than just next season. That's how a prospect like James Wiseman could land in the Cavaliers' laps, as he did as the second pick in a mock draft from ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz.

"They are likely to be in the market for a franchise frontcourt player, which is why a center like Wiseman is attractive," Givony wrote.

The ESPN scribes actually view Onyeka Okongwu as the better fit because of his defensive versatility, but Wiseman's tools and potential are too great to overlook. Wiseman is at least an athletic, rim-running 7-footer, and there's a chance he adds a three-ball to his arsenal at some point.