2020 NBA Mock Draft: The Mystery Begins with the No. 1 Spot

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 7, 2020

2020 NBA Mock Draft: The Mystery Begins with the No. 1 Spot

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    Signs point to the 2020 NBA draft being pushed back after the postponement of the NBA draft lottery and draft combine, which means more time for teams to review tape and dig for information.

    Until commissioner Adam Silver officially declares the season over, we won't have a date for the lottery. It's also unclear whether in-person workouts and interviews will be permitted, and the process to gather medicals may be more challenging than ever.

    Given all the uncertainty, we could be looking at one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory, starting at No. 1 overall.

    After two months without basketball, we used the current standings to determine the mock draft order.

1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)

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    Every No. 1 overall candidate comes with question marks. So if the Golden State Warriors win the lottery, they'll presumably be in contact with teams about trading down or out.

    But for general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr, Anthony Edwards checks all the right boxes.

    His body type, athleticism, skill level and production (19.1 points per game) point to a high floor and suggest he's a sure thing in terms of production. Factor in his age (18) and mismatch potential as a 6'5", 225-pound scorer, and there is long-term star upside. But he's also an immediate plug-and-play option for Golden State given his creation ability, shot-making versatility, transition attack and tools for guarding different positions.

    Edwards' numbers would be bigger with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks or Detroit Pistons, but landing in Golden State, where his shot selection would naturally tighten, may be better for his development. Having Draymond Green and Stephen Curry to keep Edwards' wavering focus in check would just be another plus when assessing his fit.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    If the Cleveland Cavaliers are drafting for fit, James Wiseman might be lower on their board, but Cleveland is too far away to worry about filling needs. General manager Koby Altman will just prioritize talent and worry about how to sort the roster out later.

    Opinions vary on Wiseman's NBA potential and value. The believers are drawn to his spectacular physical profile (7'1", 240 pounds, 7'6" wingspan) and willing to buy the flashes of skill. He's still more raw than polished, but he has delivered exciting glimpses of open-floor ball-handling, post moves and shooting touch.

    Doubters, on the other hand, question the legitimacy of his skill level and defensive impact.

    If Altman was OK with acquiring Andre Drummond, he shouldn't have too much concern about Wiseman's fit in today's NBA. For Cleveland, drafting Wiseman would likely just mean letting Drummond walk after the season (assuming he opts in for 2020-21).

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)

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    At No. 3, the Minnesota Timberwolves would likely deem LaMelo Ball's star power and passing too enticing rather than question his defensive fit alongside D'Angelo Russell.

    They should be able to work fine offensively since both possess enough size and skill versatility to play off the ball.

    But Minnesota may be better off using Ball more at the point while letting Russell focus on scoring. The primary draw to LaMelo is his special vision and ability to create quality looks for teammates off transition and ball screens.

    His outside shot has caused scouts to hesitate before calling him a sure-thing star. But despite the unorthodox mechanics and 25.0 percent three-point mark, he still hit 1.7 threes per game overseas before turning 19 years old.

    Teams will be hoping for a chance to scout Ball's jumper up close, but at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, draft workouts seem unlikely.

4. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

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    Once the higher-upside names start flying off the board, teams will put more stock in fit. And Tyrese Haliburton's fit with the Atlanta Hawks appears ideal.

    During the 2019-20 season, Atlanta's offense was heavily dependent on Trae Young, who led the NBA in time of possession. The Hawks could use a secondary playmaker. Haliburton, an excellent passer and decision-maker, also ranked in the 99th percentile out of spot-ups, so he shouldn't have trouble playing off the ball.

    He should be able to improve the Hawks' No. 26-ranked offense with his ability to take pressure off of Young, move the ball and shoot 49.3 percent off the catch.

    While there are questions about his upside given his limited blow-by burst and pull-up game, Haliburton's tools, versatility and basketball IQ suggest he's a safe play anywhere outside the top three.

5. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)

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    The Detroit Pistons won't be looking at positions of need in the draft. Onyeka Okongwu jumps out as a best-player-available option whom they can build their defense around and still get scoring production from.

    While the immediate draw to USC's anchor stems from his power, athleticism and quickness for easy baskets and shot-blocking, Okongwu can shake in the post, both with his back to the basket and facing up. And though he didn't take many jump shots, he did make 15 of 35 attempts as well as 72.0 percent of his free throws.

    Detroit could also look at Dayton's Obi Toppin, but he's almost three years older, lacks Okongwu's defensive presence and isn't as easy of a fit next to Blake Griffin. And while there may be incentive to grab a point guard, the options available would likely struggle on a roster that provides minimal talent to play off of.

6. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF, Sophomore)

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    There may be pressure on the New York Knicks to draft a point guard at No. 6, but the best player available is still the only priority. Plus, there are enough questions about North Carolina's Cole Anthony to be concerned about giving him the keys to the offense. And while France's Killian Hayes deserves consideration, it's easy to picture the Knicks front office feeling more confident in Obi Toppin, college basketball's Player of the Year.

    The Knicks should also have a pick in the late first round (via Los Angeles Clippers) and early second round (via Charlotte Hornets), so they could draft a point guard then or offer a trade package to move up.

    Meanwhile, Toppin's explosiveness and expanding skill set may be too tough to pass on in a draft filled with uncertainty. Aside from his elite finishing and solid post play, he's become a promising shooter (39.0 percent 3PT) and nifty passer.

    The Knicks know Julius Randle isn't a realistic option to lead the rebuild. Other than age (22), the biggest question mark with Toppin is his defensive outlook, but he's a near lock for monster offensive production, and New York has Mitchell Robinson to protect the rim.

7. Chicago Bulls: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    The Chicago Bulls' level of confidence in Coby White could play a key role in their draft decision. Point guards Cole Anthony and Killian Hayes may be available to them, but after White's explosive final month of the season, Chicago may lean toward Isaac Okoro, a potential defensive stopper, efficient scorer and high-IQ passer.

    He's not an advanced creator or shooter, but Okoro shot 60.3 percent inside the arc while guarding ball-handlers, wings and bigs throughout the season.

    Twenty made three-pointers did fuel some optimism about his chances of becoming an adequate spot-up threat. He just turned 19 years old and has a strong reputation for work ethic and focus. In the meantime, the Bulls will value his versatility and toughness between Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

8. Charlotte Hornets: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    While teams question the height of Deni Avdija's ceiling, his positional tools, skill versatility, defensive focus and international experience point to a high floor.

    The 6'8", interchangeable forward shot 43.6 percent in Euroleague, playing 14.3 minutes per game at 18-19 years old. And with more usage in the Israeli BSL, he averaged 12.3 points and 2.4 assists on 37.5 percent shooting from three.

    Avdija is missing a speciality skill, but for a prospect his age, he's demonstrated plenty of shot-making, finishing and secondary playmaking, along with the ability to compete and react defensively.

9. Washington Wizards: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)

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    Regardless of what the Washington Wizards think about post-injury John Wall, they won't let it affect their search in drafting the best player available.

    Killian Hayes is deserving of that title, but Washington may even be drawn to the idea of drafting Wall's future replacement.

    Still just 18 years old, Hayes finished fourth in Eurocup in assists during a season when he also made significant strides as a shot-creator and shot-maker. He needs to improve his three-ball, but he shot 41.4 percent on dribble jumpers and 58.0 percent around the basket.

    Hayes gradually raising his distance shooting numbers could be a major development for a 6'5" lead guard who already excels at playmaking for teammates and scoring inside the arc.

10. Phoenix Suns: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)

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    Scouts sound split on Cole Anthony, and depending how the draft order plays out, a mini slide to No. 10 seems possible.

    The Phoenix Suns wouldn't let him fall to No. 11. Anthony could start his career playing to his strengths as a scorer behind Ricky Rubio, who would be a fine mentor to help with the incoming rookie's questionable decision-making and reads.

    Despite an inefficient freshman season, Anthony was given limited spacing on a poor shooting team that often played two bigs. He still managed 18.5 points, 4.0 assists and 2.2 threes while grading in the 92nd percentile out of isolation.

    While there are concerns about Anthony running an offense, there aren't many about his ability to create and score.

Late Lottery

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    11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SG, sophomore)

    An athletic 6'6" wing, Vassell shot 41.5 percent from three and regularly made defensive plays that highlighted special instincts from on and off the ball. A limited off-the-dribble game is the big question mark, but Vassell has an easy-to-picture three-and-D profile, and he took a promising step forward as a pull-up shooter (38.5 percent).


    12. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

    Hampton should be able to continue putting pressure on defenses with his athleticism for transition and quickness to get downhill in the half court. His skills are behind his ability to drive and attack, but Hampton has shown just enough shot-making and ball-screen playmaking to feel confident in his potential to create, score and pass at an adequate level in the half court.


    13. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, freshman)

    While teams have lost confidence in Maxey's ability to play point guard, many are still buying his scoring, despite poor shooting numbers. Sharing a backcourt with two other guards at Kentucky may have prevented Maxey from building rhythm. The eye test approves of his spot-up and pull-up shooting capabilities, and he showcased an encouraging mix of floater touch and finishing coordination around the basket.


    14. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, sophomore)

    Nesmith drilled 4.3 threes per game at a scorching 52.2 percent clip before injuring his foot. Defenses will force him to put the ball on the floor—Nesmith was less effective pulling up and totaled just 13 assists in 500 minutes. But in a lineup with ball-dominant guards, he'd be a fit for his off-ball shot-making.

No. 15-20

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    15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, sophomore)

    The Magic can add Lewis to break down defenses with his speed and quickness off the dribble. Over Alabama's final nine games, he averaged 23.2 points and 6.7 assists on 46.3 percent shooting from three. He's not as impressive physically as the top-10 point guards, but Lewis' skill set is arguably more well-rounded, and he just turned 19 in April.


    16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, sophomore)

    Teams looking for shooters will have Nesmith and Bey highlighted on their boards. Bey shot 45.1 percent from three while also grading in the 88th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He lacks quickness and explosiveness, which can limit his ability to shake one-on-one or defend in space. But Bey's shot-making and passing are both strong for a 6'8" forward.


    17. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, freshman)

    Targeting Williams in the top 20 means betting on his flashes, development and trajectory. He'll need time, but he won't turn 19 until August. And for a 6'8", 225-pound forward, he showcased promising shot-making versatility and touch, pick-and-roll ball-handling skills and physical finishing ability at the rim. Williams has the chance to check a valued mix of boxes.


    18. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, C, 2001)

    Despite playing mostly in Greece's second division, Pokusevski has too unique of a draft profile with 7-foot size, effortless shooting range, advanced passing instincts and shot-blocking tools. In just 23.1 minutes for Olympiacos B, he averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.8 blocks. Pokusevski will need time to improve his body, but in this draft, he's worth a home run swing in the Nos. 15-30 range for a team willing to gamble.


    19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, freshman)

    Achiuwa averaged a double-double for Memphis mostly by tapping into his size, mobility and motor. His skill level as a post scorer, shooter and passer needs work, and he's old for his class, turning 21 in September. But Achiuwa still figures to draw first-round interest for his potential defensive versatility, offensive rebounding and flashes of face-up play.


    20. Brooklyn Nets (via Sixers): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, freshman)

    Green's athleticism and energy could quickly translate to transition scoring, slashing and defensive pressure. His skill level needs to catch up, but he's a capable spot-up shooter (30 made threes at a 36.1 percent clip) with a soft floater game in the mid-range. His NBA value will rise with his shooting and playmaking development. Green can make spot-up threes and nice passing reads, but he only shot 21.2 percent on pull-ups and graded in the 16th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler.

Nos. 21-30

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    21. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Theo Maledon (France, PG, 2001)

    At 18 years old, Maledon was a serviceable guard in Euroleague, where he shot 45.6 percent and averaged 3.1 assists in 17.7 minutes per game. He's not the shiftiest or most explosive, but he finds ways to compensate with changes of speed and body control, and his skill level as a shooter and passer were effective against quality competition.


    22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, freshman)

    A projected lottery pick early in the season, Mannion now looks like a possible value pick later in the first round. He lacks burst for blowing by or finishing, having totaled just 15 field goals at the basket in the half court. But there is enough skill tied to his shot-making versatility and passing for Mannion to serve as a useful second-unit guard.


    23. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, freshman)

    McDaniels' impact at Washington didn't quite match his talent or highlights. At 6'9", he possesses a guard's skill package that includes ball-handling for shot creation, a capable pull-up and three-point range. The question for scouts is whether he'll execute with enough efficiency for a scorer (40.5 FG%) who's unlikely to add value as a playmaker or defender.


    24. Utah Jazz: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, C, freshman)

    While scouting Mannion and Green at Arizona, NBA teams came away impressed with Nnaji, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 boards on 57.0 percent shooting. His game doesn't scream "NBA star," but it does say "pro" due to Nnaji's 6'11" size, post skills, nose for the ball and mid-range touch.


    25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona II, SF, 2000)

    Despite having played sparingly in the Spanish ACB and Euroleague, Bolmaro has drawn attention with his flashy style, unique versatility and production in the LEB Silver league. He's a high-level passer for a 6'7" wing, and though his scoring skills aren't as slick as his playmaking, Bolmaro has flashed enough slashing and shot-making to bet on with a first-round pick.


    26. Boston Celtics: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, sophomore)

    Smith became one of six NCAA players on record to ever average at least 10 rebounds, two blocks and a three-point make in a season. Even if no major scoring skill translates and he brings nothing as a passer, he could fit the right lineup with his shooting and presence around the basket.


    27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG, freshman)

    At 6'1", 160 pounds without plus athletic traits, Terry is all skill and IQ. Range, touch, shot-making versatility and finishing coordination were behind his 14.6 points per game on an ultra-efficient 58.9 percent true shooting.


    28. Toronto Raptors: Tre Jones (Duke, PG, sophomore)

    Scouts sound split on how Jones' game will translate, and it's possible he could fall behind other guards with more scoring potential. He still offers value in the 20s due to his passing IQ and ability to pressure opposing ball-handlers on defense, but he also made an encouraging jump this season as a pull-up shooter.


    29. Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, freshman)

    No predraft workouts could hurt Stewart. They would give him a chance to show teams he can shoot from outside, which he didn't do a lot of at Washington. Despite his powerful frame, motor and college production, he could slip without proven shooting range or switchability. Regardless, a team like the Lakers could see him as a high-floor role player with overwhelming strength, inside scoring, offensive rebounding and physicality on defense.


    30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Daniel Oturu (Minnesota, C, sophomore)

    Oturu put together an impressive statistical profile that includes 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 2019-20. He totaled 88 turnovers to 34 assists and still did most of his work from the post. But it's improved shooting touch that could earn him first-round looks after he hit 45.5 percent of his mid-range jumpers and 19 of 52 threes.


    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Basketball Reference.


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