NBA Draft 2020: Predictions for Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Top Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2020

Georgia's Anthony Edwards brings the ball down the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft is approaching. While there is not yet a set date for the annual selection event, the league is looking at a July return to play, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburn. Presumably, the draft will take place shortly after the postseason wraps.

This means that teams picking high in the draft order had better start zeroing in on their top targets. This will largely be up to each individual team, as there isn't a consensus best prospect in this year's class. NBL star LaMelo Ball is the most recognizable, but he is far from a lock to go No. 1.

According to NBA insider Chad Ford (h/t HoopsHype), Georgia guard Anthony Edwards is also in the mix to be the first player off the board.

"Lot of teams that I've spoken with, they don't have LaMelo No. 1. Edwards is the guy that is often the other guy that you hear at No. 1, his range was exactly the same as LaMelo's. I heard him as high as one never heard him lower than five," Ford said on his NBA Big Board podcast.

It does seem that one of these two will kick off draft night. Here, we'll examine how the rest of Round 1 might unfold, using record and a spin of Tankathon's Lottery Simulator to determine draft order.


1. New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

4. Chicago Bulls: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

5. Golden State Warriors: Onyeka Okongwu, PF, USC

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

7. Atlanta Hawks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

8. Detroit Pistons: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

10. Phoenix Suns: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

11. San Antonio Spurs: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

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

15. Orlando Magic: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

17. Boston Celtics (from Memphis): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

18. Dallas Mavericks: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

19. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington

20. Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

21. Denver Nuggets (from Houston: Vernon Carey Jr., PF/C, Duke

22. Philadelphia 76rs (from OKC): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

23. Miami Heat: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos

24. Utah Jazz: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver): Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

26. Boston Celtics: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

27. New York Knicks (from LAC): Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State

28. Toronto Raptors: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

30. Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee): Grant Riller, PG, Charleston


1. New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

If the New York Knicks wind up winning the lottery—as they did in this simulation—then there's a good chance that Ball does go No. 1. At least, this appears to be the preferred outcome for Ball's camp.

"Some league sources believe the Ball camp will try to steer the 18-year-old point guard to the Knicks, though such a maneuver will seem difficult if Leon Rose's club doesn't rise into the top four in the lottery," Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote.

In terms of pure fit, this is a pairing that makes a lot of sense. The Knicks are hungry for star power, and Ball provides that. More importantly, he should mesh well with the current group. A potential franchise point guard, Ball projects as a great teammate alongside rookie star RJ Barrett.

If Ball or the Knicks could handpick the outcome of the draft, this might be it.


2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, PG, Dayton

With Ball off the board at 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers pull the trigger on Dayton's Obi Toppin here. While Edwards is a tempting choice, Cleveland already has a budding shooting guard in Collin Sexton. Topping provides a potential eventual replacement for Kevin Love at forward or Andre Drummond at center.

The reigning AP Player of the Year, Toppin is both experienced—he played in 31 games as a sophomore—and productive. Last season, he averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

As is the case with Ball and the Knicks, Toppin would also provide the Cavaliers with a little bit of pizazz. While it's a far cry from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, a young core of Toppin, Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. would be intriguing.


5. Golden State Warriors: Onyeka Okongwu, PF, USC

In this simulation, the Golden State Warriors—who own the league's worst record—fall to the fifth pick. Fortunately, the selections of players like Ball, Edwards and Toppin leave USC's Onyeka Okongwu there for the taking.

This would be a nearly ideal scenario for the Warriors, who already have eyes on Okongwu, according to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Believe it or not, the Warriors are actually higher on Southern Cal's Okongwu than James Wiseman. If they end up taking a big man in the top five, it'll almost definitely be the 6'9" Okongwu. His game is well-suited for the Warriors' style. Unlike Wiseman, Okongwu can shuttle between multiple positions with ease."

Adding some size to the lineup would make a ton of sense for Golden State, especially if they expect to face the bigger and more physical Los Angeles Lakers at some point in the 2021 postseason. Okongwu would be a terrific fit.