2020 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for LaMelo Ball, Cole Anthony, Top Point GuardsMay 9, 2020
Every basketball team can benefit from having a top-tier point guard, a player who can not only score but also help facilitate the offense. Some NBA teams already have players who fit that bill. Others do not.
Teams in the latter group could look to add point guards in the first round of this year's NBA draft, which is tentatively set for June 25. That date could change because of the uncertainty surrounding the league amid the coronavirus pandemic. Whenever the draft occurs, a strong group of point guards, led by LaMelo Ball, is ready to enter the league.
After a mock of how the first round could go, we will take a look at three of the top point guards in this year's draft class and predict where they might land.
NBA Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Golden State: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
5. Detroit: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
6. New York: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
7. Chicago: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
8. Charlotte: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
9. Washington: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
10. Phoenix: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
11. San Antonio: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
12. Sacramento: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
13. New Orleans: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
14. Portland: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
15. Orlando: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
16. Minnesota (via Brooklyn): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
17. Boston (via Memphis): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
18. Dallas: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
19. Milwaukee (via Indiana): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
20. Brooklyn (via Philadelphia): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
21. Denver (via Houston): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
22. Philadelphia (via Oklahoma City): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
23. Miami: Vernon Carey Jr., PF/C, Duke
24. Utah: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
25. Oklahoma City (via Denver): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos
26. Boston: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona
27. New York (via L.A. Clippers): Tre Jones, PG, Duke
28. Toronto: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State
29. L.A. Lakers: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
30. Boston (via Milwaukee): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Top Point Guards
LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks
With the potential to be the first player selected in this year's draft, LaMelo Ball should at least be the first point guard to come off the board. Whether or not Ball is the No. 1 pick could depend on which team ends up with that selection.
Regardless, Ball is an exceptional talent who spent his time in Australia getting better. Before a foot injury cut short his season, Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists over 12 games in the NBL play for Illawarra.
The Athletic's Sam Vecenie has Ball as the No. 1 player on his big board ahead of other potential No. 1 picks, such as Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards and Memphis center James Wiseman.
While the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers may be unlikely to draft Ball, one potential fit for the 6'6" point guard could be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who could add Ball to a young core already featuring guard D'Angelo Russell and center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Not only can Ball be a solid scoring option, but he's also a great passer, which could make players around him even better. If Ball is on the board when the Timberwolves are on the clock, they should draft him and reap the benefits.
Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm
How talented is 6'5" French point guard Killian Hayes? Well, he's made enough of an impression on The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor that he has Hayes at No. 1 on his big board.
O'Connor describes Hayes as a "dynamic left-handed shot-maker who's made rapid progress at age 18, though he's raw in some technical areas." Some of the areas where Hayes could improve include his handles, playmaking abilities and his defense.
In 33 games for Ratiopharm Ulm this season, Hayes averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 assists per contest while shooting 49.7 percent from the floor. That solid showing, along with his skills and potential, should make him one of the first point guards selected in the draft.
The Knicks will likely be drafting around the No. 6 spot, which would be an opportune time for them to acquire their starting point guard of the future. Hayes could pair nicely in the backcourt with shooting guard RJ Barrett, the New York Knicks' 2019 first-round draft pick, giving them a solid core to build around as they try to get back on track.
Cole Anthony, North Carolina
In his only season at North Carolina, Cole Anthony averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 22 games. However, he shot only 38 percent from the floor as the Tar Heels struggled to a 14-19 record.
Although Anthony's year at North Carolina could have gone better, he remains one of the top point guards in the 2020 draft class and has the ability to develop into a top scorer. O'Connor broke down Anthony's tremendous offensive skills in his analysis of the 19-year-old point guard: "He knows how to relocate off-ball, balance himself midair and drain off-the-catch threes. Constant threat to score thanks to his ability to hit stepbacks and pull-ups from all over the floor."
Like Ball and Hayes, Anthony could be a top-10 pick. And one team that could have interest in selecting him may be the Chicago Bulls, whose guard rotation already includes Coby White and Zach LaVine.
There should be enough playing time to go around for those three in Chicago, and it would be a beneficial move that helps the team continue to improve.