2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Landing Spots of Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 19, 2020

ATHENS, GA - FEBRUARY 19: Anthony Edwards #5 of the Georgia Bulldogs gestures 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

Partnerships forged at the NBA draft are two-way streets.

Just like teams need to find the right prospects, players need to get to the right landing spots.

Some need early exposure and as many minutes as they can handle; others are better off being slowly developed. The systems need to make sense, too. A lumbering big man could get left behind by an up-tempo team, or a shot creator might not have enough room to operate on a squad that's light on shooting.

After running through our updated mock first round, we'll take a closer look at the landing spots for our first three picks.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

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

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

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

5. Detroit Pistons: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

7. Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

8. Charlotte Hornets: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

9. Washington Wizards: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

10. Phoenix Suns: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

11. San Antonio Spurs: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

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

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

14. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova

15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

18. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Leandro Bolmaro, SG/SF, Barcelona

20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington

21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Robert Woodard, SF, Mississippi State

22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

23. Miami Heat: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

24. Utah Jazz: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

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

26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos II

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado

28. Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland


Anthony Edwards: Golden State Warriors

Edwards is the closest this draft has to a consensus No. 1 prospect, even if he's rough around the edges on offense. He has the foundation of a three-level scorer, and if he realizes that potential, he'll be the best player in this draft.

The 18-year-old needs plenty of polish, though, which makes Golden State an interesting landing spot.

On one hand, he'd go from having to do too much at Georgia (a major factor in his 40.2/29.4/77.2 shooting slash) to now playing off of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. A more selective Edwards could narrow his approach to catch-and-launch triples, electric off-ball cuts and the occasional isolation opportunity, all while working to become a versatile, disruptive defender.

On the other hand, the full-strength Warriors will evaluate themselves on the championship-or-bust scale, as they may only have so long to construct another contender around the 32-year-old Curry. That might minimize Edwards' chances, and if he encounters one too many growing pains, he could be at risk of being left behind.


Onyeka Okongwu: Cleveland Cavaliers

Okongwu opened the campaign buried behind James Wiseman on big-man rankings—last summer, 247Sports ranked Wiseman as the top overall recruit and put Okongwu 25th—but Okongwu has gained so much momentum he's now overtaken Wiseman in our mock.

The 19-year-old flashed both the traditional interior duties of the center spot and its more modern demands for skill and versatility. He dazzled above the rim (61.6 percent shooting, 2.7 blocks), but he also defended in space, hit 72 percent of his free throws and expanded his post-up arsenal in way that should help him punish smaller defenders on switches.

The Cavs should be in the market for a big man, especially if they see a future in which Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. can coexist on the perimeter. Assuming they don't have Andre Drummond in their long-term plans, the center spot could be Okongwu's for the taking, as Tristan Thompson is set to enter free agency and Kevin Love has a permanent residence on the trading block.

Offensively, Okongwu should make a dynamic pick-and-roll partner with any of Cleveland's young perimeter creators. He'll be even more valuable defensively, since there are plenty of leaks to cover. Sexton, Garland and Porter all rank 430th or worse in ESPN.com's defensive real plus-minus.


LaMelo Ball: Minnesota Timberwolves

Betting on Ball means valuing his offensive gifts to the extent that they outweigh his defensive concerns. That's exactly what Minnesota did by adding D'Angelo Russell at the deadline to pair him with another offense-first star in Karl-Anthony Towns.

Why not lean fully into the offensive end and aim for an elite attack with the addition of Ball?

The 18-year-old is arguably the best passer in this draft, and that skill would only be enhanced by playing with scoring threats such as Towns and Russell. There might be a pinch of overlap between Ball and Russell, but the latter has the size, versatility and shooting stroke to play off the ball.

Now, the defense might be a disaster. None of the three has a consistently revved-up defensive motor, and if a lack of effort doesn't sting them, sometimes poor instincts will.

But scoring on the Wolves is different than outscoring the Wolves, and with a Ball-Russell-Towns trio leading the way, teams would have trouble keeping up.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.