2020 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Where 1st-Round Prospects Will Land

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 23, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

LaMelo Ball has a chance to better or equal older brother Lonzo Ball's draft position.

The point guard, whose sibling was taken No. 2 in 2017, is one of the three prospects generating the most buzz in relation to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Ball could be an intriguing fit for at least three of the teams with the five worst records in the NBA.

Team needs will also play a major role in where Deni Avdija ends up, but he could face a longer wait than Ball since he is viewed as a second-tier prospect behind the top three of Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman.


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: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

5. Detroit Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

6. New York Knicks: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

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


Predictions for Top Prospects

LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

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 Im
Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Ball's distribution skills could make him the second top-two pick from his family in four years.

The 18-year-old, who played with the NBL's Illawarra Hawks instead of ending up in college basketball, is widely viewed as the top point guard in the draft class.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman detailed Ball's scoring upside, which could be intriguing on top of his passing skills: "Ball's signature strength early will be playmaking, but there is still plenty of scoring upside to unlock from his creativity, floater game, finishing package and confident three-point shot-making."

CBS Sports' Kyle Boone and Gary Parrish both believe Ball will land at No. 1 with the Golden State Warriors, which would be an intriguing fit for both parties.

If the Warriors rebound with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson healthy, it's likely they will not receive an opportunity to select a premier draft talent in the next few years. Ball could take some ball-handling pressure off Curry and Thompson, who would then have more time to create shots along with Andrew Wiggins.

Although the Minnesota Timberwolves do not have two dominant backcourt scorers, a similar situation may arise if Ball and D'Angelo Russell end up on the same roster. If there are no surprises in the draft lottery, Minnesota could follow the best-player-available strategy and add Ball at No. 3.

It seems unlikely the Cleveland Cavaliers would take a third straight point guard in the lottery, and the Atlanta Hawks should look to other areas of the court to bolster the roster to support Trae Young.

If the Detroit Pistons or the New York Knicks vault into the top three, Ball would be a good fit for them.


Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Avdija may be selected as high as No. 2, but he could drop out of the top five as well.

The Cavaliers might be in the best position to make the Maccabi Tel Aviv player a top-three selection. If the Warriors choose Anthony Edwards, the Cavaliers may draft for need over the best available talent.

With Andre Drummond expected to cash in on his player option, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor, and Collin Sexton and Darius Garland developing in the backcourt, the Cavs will not have a massive need for Ball or Wiseman.

Wasserman predicted Avdija would end up at No. 2 with Cleveland, where he would be a complement on the wing to Drummond, Kevin Love and others:

"Coach J.B. Bickerstaff could throw him right into the mix at the 3 with Garland, Sexton, Drummond and Kevin Love. Between Avdija's three-ball, passing, ability to guard both forward spots and experience/willingness to play a supporting role, the 19-year-old would offer Cleveland both valued strengths and two-way upside."

The worst-case scenario for the Israeli small forward is a drop to the Knicks or the Chicago Bulls, which may happen if teams value Edwards, Ball, Wiseman, Obi Toppin and Tyrese Haliburton over him.

ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony broke down how Avdija would fit into the Knicks' draft plans: "Should Ball be off the board already, Avdija looks like an interesting fit who can provide some of the ball-handling, playmaking, unselfishness and defensive versatility the roster lacks."

New York has more needs across its roster than most teams slated to pick in the top half of the lottery, and if Avdija is available, he may be the pick over a point guard. If that occurs, the Eastern Conference side would pair Avdija with RJ Barrett in an attempt to build a young foundation.


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