NBA Draft 2020: Latest Predictions for Onyeka Okongwu, More Top Post ProspectsMay 21, 2020
There's a chance that three frontcourt players will be taken in the first five picks of the 2020 NBA draft. Memphis' James Wiseman, USC's Onyeka Okongwu and Dayton's Obi Toppin shouldn't have to wait long to hear each of their names called on draft night.
However, who will be the first among the trio selected?
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Golden State Warriors are higher on Okongwu than Wiseman, even though Wiseman is typically ranked higher on most experts' big boards. Is it possible other teams could feel the same way?
Here are predictions for where the top three frontcourt players in this year's class could land in the draft.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
When the first team interested in drafting a post player is on the clock, the talent and potential of James Wiseman, a 7'1" center, is going to be too much to pass up. And although he only played three games during his time at Memphis, he could develop into an exciting NBA player with time.
Wiseman is ranked No. 3 on ESPN's NBA draft big board, with his projected role listed as "franchise center."
"Exceptional athlete for his size in terms of his ability to get up and down the floor, cover ground and elevate around the rim quickly with explosiveness and power," ESPN's Jonathan Givony wrote.
There's a solid chance that the first team that will draft a big man will be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who should have interest in adding a young post player. While Andre Drummond and Kevin Love will start in the short term, a player like Wiseman could join a young core that also includes guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and help Cleveland build for the future.
Drummond will likely accept his player option for the 2020-21 season, but he could hit free agency after that. And if Wiseman has a strong rookie season for the Cavs, perhaps that will be his opportunity to work his way into their starting lineup, potentially becoming a fixture for years to come.
Prediction: Wiseman gets drafted by Cavaliers in top five
Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
At 6'9", Onyeka Okongwu doesn't have the size of several other top frontcourt prospects, such as Wiseman. However, during his lone season at USC, Okongwu proved that he's capable of making an impact under the basket and has skills that should translate to the NBA.
Over 28 games, Okongwu averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 61.6 percent from the field. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor describes Okongwu as a "do-it-all big with rare versatility as a defender," praising his competitive drive and ability to make big plays.
Although the Atlanta Hawks have some talented, young post players, they might not be able to pass up Okongwu if he's on the board when they're on the clock. For now, Clint Capela and John Collins would remain Atlanta's starters down low, but Okongwu has great upside for the future and can develop while playing in a bench role under those players.
Because the Hawks are unlikely to get the No. 1 pick (where they could get Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards), there may not be a great fit among the top players available when they're on the clock, which is why they could draft Okongwu, the best available player at that point.
Prediction: Okongwu gets drafted by Hawks in top five
Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
If Obi Toppin can carry over the momentum from his 2019-20 season at Dayton, he could quickly make an impact in the NBA. And perhaps he'll even turn into one of the league's superstars down the line.
Toppin, who was a first-team All-American while winning both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, has a bit more college experience under his belt than several of the other top frontcourt prospects. He spent two years at Dayton, breaking out this past season while averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31 games.
One possible fit for Toppin could be the Detroit Pistons, who could use a potential star, especially in the frontcourt. Christian Wood is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and if he leaves, Toppin could slide right into a starting spot alongside veteran Blake Griffin.
Detroit hasn't won a playoff series since 2008, and it's only reached the postseason three times since. Part of the reason for its struggles could be a lack of star power, which Toppin could help fix if he can play at the level he did while at Dayton.
Prediction: Toppin gets drafted by Pistons in top five