NBA Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Draft and Predictions for Top Underrated Players

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2020

Duke guard Tre Jones (3) reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Tre Jones wasn't the main attraction on the Duke roster for two years, but he was a valuable backcourt asset who helped the Blue Devils achieve success. 

His distribution and defensive skills should make him an intriguing NBA prospect, but he is being overlooked in a 2020 NBA draft class that features plenty of potential lottery picks at point guard. 

Those qualities could make Jones one of the biggest steals of the draft in the final third of the opening round. 

Maryland's Jalen Smith can also use his biggest strengths to carve out a role at the next level, but he will also have to wait to hear his name called. 

If Jones and Smith take advantage of their best assets and make improvements in other areas of their respective games, they could transform from underrated prospects into important pieces for NBA Finals contenders.


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): Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

23. Miami Heat: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

24. Utah Jazz: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

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

27. New York Knicks (from Los Angeles Clippers): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

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


Top Underrated Prospects

Tre Jones, PG, Duke

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Jones was not the most talented player on the Duke teams he played on, but an argument can be made he was the most important. 

The point guard was called on to direct the offenses led by Zion Williamson and Vernon Carey Jr. and to shut down opposing ball-handlers. 

The Minnesota native benefited from returning for his sophomore season, as he increased his points per game from 9.2 to 16.4 and assists per contest from 5.3 to 6.4.

Jones also took more shots in his second collegiate season, as he shot 42.3 percent from the field on 13.2 attempts per game and 36.1 percent from three-point range on 3.7 shots per contest. 

While those totals are promising, Jones needs to work on his jumper more to become a complete point guard, according to The Athletic's Sam Vecenie.

"Is Jones a starting point guard? Not until he develops the threat of a jumper," he wrote. "But he brings everything else to the table. He’s an elite passer who rarely makes mistakes. He’s a tenacious defender. He has the ability to take over and score when necessary, like he had to last season."

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman noted the qualities that could intrigue potential suitors in the back end of the first round.

"He still offers value in the 20s due to his passing IQ and ability to pressure opposing ball-handlers on defense, but he also made an encouraging jump this season as a pull-up shooter," Wasserman wrote. 

The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors stick out right away as the best fits for Jones because of how their point guard depth charts could be altered in the near future. 

Even if Goran Dragic comes back in free agency, Miami needs to find a younger backup, and Jones could be the perfect fit.

If he slides past the Heat, the Raptors may target him to play behind Kyle Lowry in his rookie season if they fail to re-sign Fred VanVleet in free agency. 

Landing with a contender could be the best-case scenario for Jones since he would have a chance to improve his jumper while fine-tuning his strengths as a backup.

Prediction: No. 23 overall to Miami


Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

John Minchillo/Associated Press

Smith was a menace down low for Maryland by averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in his sophomore campaign. 

The big man also improved his shooting percentages from the field, three-point range and free-throw line. 

His size and shooting ability should intrigue teams such as the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, who could add him to large first-round draft hauls. 

Wasserman pointed out that, at the bare minimum, Smith's presence around the rim would be worth a first-round selection. 

"Even if no major scoring skill translates and he brings nothing as a passer, he could fit the right lineup with his shooting and presence around the basket," he wrote.

Boston is scheduled to have three selections in the top 30 and could go after players like Smith who may require a little more patience to develop an all-around game. 

In comparison to other potential late first-round picks, he has more of a foundation to work off thanks to his dominant paint skills. 

If a coach, like Brad Stevens, is able to mold Smith's game further, he may become one of the best value picks of the draft as a consistent contributor for a contending team. 

Prediction: No. 26 overall to Boston.


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Statistics obtained from ESPN.com