2020 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Elite Frontcourt Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

Memphis center James Wiseman runs off the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Oregon won 82-74. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

The top three frontcourt prospects in the 2020 NBA draft class carry varying levels of collegiate experience. 

James Wiseman has a better chance than Obi Toppin or Onyeka Okongwu to be the No. 1 overall selection, but he played the least minutes in college basketball of the three.

While Wiseman chose to focus on the NBA draft process after a 12-game suspension, Okongwu improved game by game as a freshman at USC, and Toppin turned into the men's player of the year. 

Wiseman is projected by many experts to land in the top two, while Toppin and Okongwu will likely be selected between No. 4 and No. 8. 


2020 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

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

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

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

4. Atlanta Hawks: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

5. Detroit Pistons: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

6. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

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

8. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu. PF/C, USC

9. Washington Wizards: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

10. Phoenix Suns: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

11. San Antonio Spurs: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

12. Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

14. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

15. Orlando Magic: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn): Patrick Williams, SF/PF. Florida State

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

18. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B 

19. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana): Josh Green, SG, Arizona

20. Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia): Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington

21. Denver Nuggets (from Houston): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

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

23. Miami Heat: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

24. Utah Jazz: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver): Tre Jones, PG, Duke

26. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

27. New York Knicks (from Los Angeles Clippers): Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

28. Toronto Raptors: Paul Reed, PF, DePaul

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

30. Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee): Leandro Bolmaro, SF, Barcelona B


Elite Frontcourt Prospects

James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

Wiseman is one of the few prospects in play for the No. 1 overall pick, but there is a small chance he drops a few selections based on team needs. 

Stadium's Jeff Goodman and NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely are among the analysts who have projected Wiseman to land at No. 1 with the Golden State Warriors. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman predicted Wiseman would be chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 2. 

Georgia's Anthony Edwards may be a better fit for the team's system, which favors shooters. 

Cleveland may look to the frontcourt after selecting Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in 2018 and 2019, but Andre Drummond resides on the roster. The Cavaliers could justify a selection of Wiseman if they have him learn under Drummond and the NBA's rebounding leader moves on after the 2020-21 campaign. Drummond has a player option for next season.

However, you could argue the Cavs would be better off choosing Edwards or Deni Avdija to spread the floor. 

If Wiseman drops, the Minnesota Timberwolves will probably pass on him because they have Karl-Anthony Towns occupying the paint and could use another shooter. In the worst-case scenario, he could fall to the New York Knicks, who have plenty of needs to fill. 

Wiseman played three games for Memphis before his suspension. Although it is a small sample size, Wiseman had a pair of double-doubles and a third game with 17 points and nine rebounds.

If teams believe they can benefit from his upside and develop him into a big man who can spread the floor, Wiseman will be scooped up early.


Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

Aaron Doster/Associated Press

Toppin comes into the NBA with plenty of momentum after thriving at Dayton. The 22-year-old produced 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for a team that was contending for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

While he possesses plenty of intriguing offensive qualities, Toppin has to improve on his defensive skills, and his age could lead to questions over his potential. Teams may choose a player with more upside and a longer time to develop his game. 

Toppin's ceiling in the draft is probably the No. 4 pick, where Goodman has him going to the Atlanta Hawks. That would align Toppin alongside Clint Capela, Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins and help him improve on defense while contributing on the offensive end. 

The Detroit Pistons could add Toppin as a complement down low next to Blake Griffin and Christian Wood, who established himself as a reliable force once Drummond was traded to Cleveland.

If the New York Knicks pass on a point guard, Toppin could be the choice. Wasserman projected him to land at No. 6 in his latest mock draft. That may be the ideal path for the Knicks with some questions surrounding Cole Anthony's freshman season at North Carolina and Killian Hayes coming over from Europe. 


Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07:  Onyeka Okongwu #21 of the USC Trojans blocks a shot by Cody Riley #2 of the UCLA Bruins in the second half of the game at Galen Center on March 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Okongwu should be the second center off the board behind Wiseman. 

The USC freshman was an imposing force down low in the Pac-12, as he averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61.6 percent from the field. His ability to score in the paint combined with his defensive presence should draw him to teams picking from No. 5 to No. 10.

Wasserman has Okongwu landing at No. 5 as an addition to Detroit's frontcourt, while Goodman projected him to land one spot down at No. 6. 

If the Pistons and Knicks go in other directions, Okongwu should not drop past the Charlotte Hornets at No. 8. Charlotte could pair the USC big man with PJ Washington to round out a decent top half of the depth chart with Terry Rozier, Nicolas Batum, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges and Devonte' Graham. 

If that occurs, it would give the Hornets a chance to combine four lottery selections with an experienced backcourt. 


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Statistics obtained from ESPN.com