NBA Draft 2020: Predicting Biggest Winners in 1st-Round Mock Draft

Martin FennContributor IIIMay 17, 2020

Dayton's Obi Toppin (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Rhode Island Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Kingston, R.I. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Stew Milne/Associated Press

The status of the 2020 NBA draft remains somewhat unclear.

As of right now, the draft is still scheduled for June 25. However, the NBA elected to postpone the draft lottery and draft combine, both of which were scheduled for May.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has lent some questions with respect to how the league will carry out draft proceedings. Might the NBA follow in the footsteps of the NFL and go fully virtual? Will it even be possible to host a full draft combine?

While the answers to those questions remain unknown, this much is certain: The draft will happen.

This year's class is not nearly as highly regarded as previous classes. Contrary to last summer, when Zion Williamson was the toast of the draft, there is no true consensus No. 1 pick. That being said, there is still plenty of talent to be found.

Given the shortage of star power in this prospect pool, teams will have to be extra judicious in assessing the best team and future fit for their respective franchises.


2020 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: SG Anthony Edwards, Georgia

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: C James Wiseman, Memphis

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: PG LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks 

4. Atlanta Hawks: F Isaac Okoro, Auburn

5. Detroit Pistons: C Onyeka Okongwu, USC

6. New York Knicks: PG Cole Anthony, North Carolina

7. Chicago Bulls: PF Obi Toppin, Dayton

8. Charlotte Hornets: F Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv

9. Washington Wizards: SG Devin Vassell, Florida State

10. Phoenix Suns: G Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State

11. San Antonio Spurs: PG Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm

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

13. New Orleans Pelicans: SG Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky

14. Portland Trail Blazers: SF Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt 

15. Orlando Magic: SF Saddiq Bey, Villanova

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): PF/C Precious Achiuwa, Memphis

17. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): F Patrick Williams, Florida State

18. Dallas Mavericks: C Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos II

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

20. Brooklyn Nets (via Sixers): SF Jaden McDanielsWashington

21. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): PG Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama

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

23. Miami Heat: PG Nico Mannion, Arizona

24. Utah Jazz: SF Leandro Bolmaro, Barcelona B

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): SG Jahmi'us Ramsey, Texas Tech

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

27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): PF/C Vernon Carey Jr., Duke

28. Toronto Raptors: C Zeke Nnaji, Arizona

29. Los Angeles Lakers: PG Tre Jones, Duke

30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): PG Cassius Winston, Michigan State


Biggest 1st-Round Winners

Obi Toppin Falls to the Bulls

Gary Landers/Associated Press


The Bulls have picked seventh in each of the last three drafts, with mixed results.

Lauri Markkanen had a promising sophomore campaign but dealt with more injuries last season and lacked proper usage in Jim Boylen's offensive system. Wendell Carter Jr. has shown flashes of being a two-way star, but his mid-range game is lacking and he has also been plagued by injuries. Last year's first-rounder, Coby White, dazzles with his scoring ability and frustrates with his carelessness and defensive lapses.

The Bulls are building a core group, but they desperately need improvement from their young guys while also drafting a rookie who will provide versatility. Toppin is just that guy.

Toppin—who won both the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the top collegiate player—is an athlete who can step out and shoot the three, and his length gives him upside as a defensive playmaker. These attributes give Toppin the ability to play either forward spot.

Bulls small forward Otto Porter Jr. will be in the final year of his contract next season, and Markkanen can begin negotiating an extension this summer. Drafting Toppin would give the Bulls flexibility at the forward spots while also offering a multidimensional player who is an above-average passer.


Nuggets get Potential Sleeper in Kira Lewis Jr.

L.G. Patterson/Associated Press


Lewis could be off the board before the Nuggets are on the clock. But if he is still there, they should snatch him up in a hurry.

Yes, Denver just extended Jamal Murray. But Murray is more of a combo guard who might be better served playing off the ball, anyway.

Lewis has explosive playmaking capabilities. He averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting close to 37 percent from beyond the arc. Lewis has blazing speed, and he excelled in penetrating with the dribble-drive and making plays for teammates.

The Nuggets traded Malik Beasley, and Monte Morris' future with the team is relatively uncertain, as he will be a free agent after the 2020-21 season.

Denver head coach Mike Malone likes to operate in the half court, but Lewis would offer a change of pace and add a new dynamic to the Nuggets offense.


Celtics Take Advantage of Draft Capital

Nick Wass/Associated Press


Considering this draft offers plenty of unknowns, the Celtics are fortunate to have a trio of first-round picks.

While all three picks fall in the second half of the draft, the Celtics still have an excellent opportunity to grab a few players who can make an immediate impact next season.

Patrick Williams can play either forward spot. He is one of the most athletic players in the draft, and while his perimeter game is lacking, he is an excellent defender and off-ball cutter. Williams would be the perfect fit in terms of Boston's defensive identity.

Jalen Smith might be one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft. Smith averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game as a two-way star for the Terrapins. Even more notably, he raised his three-point shooting percentage by 10 points last year. The Celtics desperately need more frontcourt depth, and Smith could be the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Boston's scoring backcourt.

Winston is hardly the flashiest of the point guards in the draft, but he is as savvy and tricky as they come. Although the Celtics drafted Carsen Edwards last season, he is more of a scoring guard. Boston could use a more traditional playmaker like Winston, who can spell Walker minutes and provide good distribution off the bench.


All stats obtained via Sports Reference unless otherwise noted.