NBA Mock Draft 2020: Latest Projections for Polarizing Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 28, 2020

Memphis' James Wiseman watches the game from the bench in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ole Miss Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)
Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft class lacks consensus opinions about even its best prospect, so there's at least a degree of polarity with every player in it.

But with some prospects, views are so split that different scouting reports feel like they're written about different players. A guard might be an offensive leader to one analyst and a no-defense, shot-chucker to another. One scout could paint a big man as an interior anchor while another focuses on the same player's perimeter limitations and the restrictions they put on his team.

After our mock first round, we'll spotlight three of the most polarizing players in this draft.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

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

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

5. Detroit Pistons: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

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

7. Chicago Bulls: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

8. Charlotte Hornets: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

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

10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

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: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

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: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova

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


LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

Like we said above, the polarity with this draft starts right at the top.

Some evaluators have LaMelo Ball as the highest-ranked prospect in this draft. The Athletic's John Hollinger is one of them. The former Memphis Grizzlies executive lauds Ball for having "the ability to do things most NBA players simply can't" and points to everything from his passing, handle, rebounding and size as reasons for the ranking.

Yet, even while putting Ball at the top, Hollinger lays out "the warts." More specifically, Hollinger dubs Ball a "poor shooter...that will take some adventurous long-range shots" who gives "half-assed efforts" on defense and "definitely will drive his first coach insane."

Ball's passing, size and rebounding should all translate, but he needs some serious skill improvements in other areas to make good on his potential. If he doesn't develop his jumper or rev up his defensive motor, there's a universe in which he's Ricky Rubio without the defense—that's not an NBA starter, and it might not be a long-term NBA player.


James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Between the drool-worthy physical tools and towering potential as a rim protector, James Wiseman seems like a plug-and-play rim-runner.

But interior bigs are going out of style, and it's hard to tell how he'll adapt. His skills and awareness aren't on par with his tools and athletic traits. He could have trouble defending in space, and while he's shown some promise as a shooter, there's no guarantee he ever stretches out to the three-point line.

Big and athletic players still have value in this league, but teams can't decide what that should mean for Wiseman's draft stock.

"I've spoken with NBA executives who have Wiseman first, and others who have him ranked outside of the top 10," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote.


Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

A lot of times, split opinions won't show through the stat sheet. This isn't one of those times.

Cole Anthony's one-year run with the Tar Heels was a blend of really good and pretty bad. For the former, the teenager supplied 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 threes per night as the leading member of one of the ACC's marquee programs. For the latter, he shot just 38 percent from the field, averaged 3.5 turnovers and played the starring role in coach Roy Williams' first losing season.

Scouts are still sorting out what they watched.

One said, "I just don't think he wins you games," per Zach Braziller of the New York Post. Another praised his competitiveness and said, "If he was around better players, he wouldn't have made the mistakes he did."

Anthony is a natural scorer who can find his own shots and bury them off the bounce. But the questions about his decision-making, shot selection and distributing all cloud his NBA outlook.