2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Projections and Predictions for Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 4, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

With the 2019-20 NBA season either stuck in hiatus or already completed, this is the perfect time for draft preparation.

At some point, the offseason will arrive, and with it will come a new batch of ballers shouldering the supersized hopes of their new employers. Some will boom, others will bust, and most will land somewhere in the middle. The impact of this class will be felt for years to come, even if a full-fledged superstar never emerges from this player pool.

Since the cram-session portion of the predraft process is already underway, let's run through a mock first round and spotlight the potential fits of three top prospects.


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: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

12. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

14. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova

15. Orlando Magic: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

18. Dallas Mavericks: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington

19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona

20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado

22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

23. Miami Heat: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

24. Utah Jazz: Leandro Bolmaro, SG/SF, Barcelona

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Robert Woodard, SF, Mississippi State

26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

28. Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech


LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

If anyone is willing to look past LaMelo Ball's defensive indifference, it's a Timberwolves front office that green-lit the offense-driven pairing of Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.

Minnesota ranked 21st in defensive efficiency this season. It played like the NBA's worst defense during Towns' 1,187 minutes of floor time (115.4 points allowed per 100 possessions). If it's possible, the unit could grow even more generous with Ball unless he's far more consistent with getting his motor revved.

But the offense could be spectacular—quite possibly good enough to compensate for the wet-paper-bag defense. Ball is the best passer in this draft, and he could have the rock humming between Towns, Russell and, assuming they're re-signed, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez. That's a ton of scoring and shooting, especially if Ball finds his rhythm from three.

Minnesota is either obsessed with scoring or willing to take the best talent available and figuring out the rest later. Either way, Ball fits the vision.


Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

The Bulls have a bunch of fire-ballers, but they're still waiting for the right quarterback to bring them together.

Enter Tyrese Haliburton.

He's the most natural table-setter in this class, and he's especially potent in the open court. He reads the game at a rapid rate, and he's the kind of passer who can throw his teammates open.

That vision and selflessness netted him 7.0 assists per 40 minutes this past season (against 3.0 turnovers). He did that while also serving as the leading scorer of a Cyclones team that lacked consistency around him. Two of their next three highest scorers shot below 41 percent.

If Haliburton showed a gift for ball movement with that kind of supporting cast, then just imagine what he could do finding shots for Zach LaVine, Coby White and Lauri Markkanen.


Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

Not even a full year removed from Anthony Davis' departure, the Pelicans are already on the verge of another climb up the standings. They have their franchise anchor in Zion Williamson, plus a capable co-star in Brandon Ingram (provided he returns as a restricted free agent) and a strong supporting cast of youngsters and a smattering of vets.

New Orleans doesn't need to shoot for upside, in other words, and can instead focus on finding high-floor players with the ability to contribute sooner than later. That's the primary selling point for Devin Vassell, who checks the role-playing boxes of defensive versatility and outside shooting.

"Teams looking for a three-and-D wing will have Vassell highlighted on their board," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "The athletic, 6'6" sophomore just finished another season shooting over 41 percent from three while continuing to bolster his reputation as a tough on-ball defender and smart team defender off the ball."

Vassell can expand New Orleans' wing rotation already next season, and he can offer his own potential if he improves his off-the-bounce scoring and playmaking.