2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions, Prospects Who Are Safest Bets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

Georgia's Anthony Edwards brings the ball down the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

In comparison to the current crop of NBA rookies, the 2020 NBA draft class features fewer safe bets. 

There is no Zion Williamson or Ja Morant headlining the list of players, but there are a few standouts who could develop into regular contributors right away. 

Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards and Memphis center James Wiseman could be viewed as the safest prospects because most experts believe they will land in the top two. 

However, a case could be made for the players with more collegiate experience to be safer picks, even if they are not the first players off the board. 


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

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


Prospects Who Are Safest Bets

Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

ATHENS, GA - FEBRUARY 19: Anthony Edwards #5 of the Georgia Bulldogs looks on during a game against the Auburn Tigers at Stegeman Coliseum on February 19, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Edwards does not carry the same level of hype as Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett had a year ago.

However, he can still turn into a consistent scorer in the NBA, which is why he is one of, if not the, safest picks to make. 

The one-and-done guard averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 40.2 percent from the field at Georgia. 

Although he led the Bulldogs in scoring most games, Edwards struggled to make an impact from three-point range. 

Edwards shot 29.4 percent from beyond the arc on an average of 7.7 three-point attempts per game.

If the franchise with the top pick develops his three-point shot, he could be a well-rounded scorer at the next level. 

The obvious fit to help with that attribute is the Golden State Warriors, who are currently in place to have the best draft lottery odds.

Letting Edwards hone his skills beneath the Warriors' crop of high-scoring guards could accelerate his development. 

Edwards' abilities will not be stunted if he lands with the Cleveland Cavaliers or Minnesota Timberwolves because he would receive plenty of playing time to work on his shot. 

Each of those three franchises could list Edwards on top of their respective draft boards because his scoring prowess is clear, and if they work on his shot even more, he may go down as the best pick from the 2020 draft.


Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

The Naismith Player of the Year award is typically a good indicator for a player to have success at the next level. 

Williamson and Anthony Davis are the highest-profile winners from the last decade, but many others, like Doug McDermott, Frank Kaminsky and Buddy Hield, have carved out solid careers for themselves. 

Frank Mason is the only player of that group who has not transitioned well into the NBA. 

If you go back further, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, JJ Redick and Kevin Durant have all thrived as professionals after winning the Naismith award. 

Toppin improved all aspects of his game during Dayton's tremendous 2019-20 campaign. He averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. 

The power forward's age, 22, may play against him since teams could target younger players to develop them and maximize their potential.

However, it could also be an advantage for Toppin since he matured throughout his amateur career and does not require a ton of development.

Toppin could make an immediate impact on the glass for a team like Atlanta or Detroit, and if he works on his defensive qualities, he could carve out a long career. 

Toppin could be viewed as a safer pick than Wiseman because the center only played three games at Memphis and teams would take him based on potential. 

The same may be said in comparison to LaMelo Ball and Deni Avdija, who may face a bigger adjustment after playing internationally.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com