NBA Draft 2020: Predictions, Rumors on LaMelo Ball, Cole Anthony, Top Stars

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIMay 16, 2020

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 30: LaMelo Ball of the Hawks in action during the round 9 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Illawarra Hawks at Spark Arena on November 30, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

What will happen at the beginning of the NBA draft? The answer to that question for 2020 isn't as obvious as it was last year.

In 2019, Zion Williamson was the clear top player in the draft class, and it came as no surprise when the former Duke forward was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 1 pick. This year, there are several players who could be taken with the top selection and plenty of uncertainty about how the first few picks could go.

Like every year, there are already plenty of rumors swirling about which teams have interest in which prospects and how the first round of the draft could potentially unfold. Here's some of the latest draft buzz surrounding numerous teams and several top prospects.


Is Ball Heading to the Big Apple?

LaMelo Ball is projected to be a top pick in this year's draft, but it's not yet clear which team he'll play for to begin his NBA career. If it was up to his father, LaVar, then the youngest of the three Ball brothers would be joining the New York Knicks for the 2020-21 season.

LaVar Ball has publicly stated in the past that he thinks his 18-year-old son would be a fit for the Knicks, and according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, numerous league sources "believe the Ball camp will try to steer" LaMelo Ball to New York.

The Knicks need a franchise point guard, but what if Ball is off the board by the time they're on the clock? Ball could be a top-three pick, and New York currently has only the sixth-best odds of landing the top selection.

However, as Berman wrote, LaVar Ball "lobbied for the Lakers to pick Lonzo with the No. 2 pick and reportedly refused to let others work him out" ahead of the 2017 draft. And sure enough, Los Angeles used that selection on the oldest Ball brother.

It seems less likely that LaMelo Ball goes to the Knicks, due to them not having as high of a pick and the great interest other teams will likely have in him, but never count out the Ball family.


Another Potential Option for Knicks at Point Guard

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 10: Cole Anthony #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts following a play against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game in the first round of the 2020 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on Marc
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

If LaMelo Ball gets drafted before the Knicks are on the clock in the opening round, perhaps they'll still target a point guard. One potential option is North Carolina's Cole Anthony, as SNY's Ian Begley recently reported that New York has scouted the 20-year-old former Tar Heel "extensively."

"New York has done their homework on Cole," an NCAA source told Begley.

It would make sense for the Knicks to have interest in Anthony, who is likely to be a top-10 pick and has the potential to still be on the board when New York is on the clock. Plus, Anthony could pair nicely with RJ Barrett, the Knicks' 2019 first-round pick, in the backcourt and give them a young core to build around in the future.

Although North Carolina struggled this season, Anthony still demonstrated at times why he's being considered an early draft pick this year. In 22 games, he averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor calls Anthony an "energetic score-first point guard who at worst projects as a microwave scorer off the bench and at best can lead an offense."

Don't be surprised if the Knicks end up drafting Anthony, as it's a logical fit and he has a strong chance to be available for New York to select.


Warriors Prefer Okongwu over Wiseman if Drafting Big Man

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27:  Onyeka Okongwu #21 of the USC Trojans acknowledges the crowd after defeating the Arizona Wildcats 57-48 at Galen Center on February 27, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Many mocks and big boards have Memphis center James Wiseman as the best post player in this year's draft class. However, the Golden State Warriors may not have the same opinion.

According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Warriors may consider selecting USC power forward/center Onyeka Okongwu over Wiseman.

"Believe it or not, the Warriors are actually higher on Southern Cal's Okongwu than James Wiseman," Letourneau wrote. "If they end up taking a big man in the top five, it'll almost definitely be the 6'9" Okongwu."

Of course, the Warriors could end up with the No. 1 pick, and it's hard to imagine they'd pass over Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards in favor of Okongwu. However, if another team gets the top pick and uses it on Edwards, then perhaps the situation that Letourneau wrote about will develop.

Wiseman, a 7'1" center, and Okongwu are both likely to be top-five picks regardless, so it wouldn't be a reach if Golden State drafted Okongwu with an early selection.