NBA Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Projections and Top Sleeper Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 3, 2020

Arizona guard Josh Green (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 83-62. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft class doesn't have the greatest reputation, but that doesn't make it a shallow.

The issue is more the absence of a can't-miss star like Luka Doncic or Zion Williamson. That's different than a lack of depth.

In fact, one look at the board shows potential complementary starters or featured role players lasting into the second round. We'll spotlight three of the top fringe first-rounders after running through our most recent mock.


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: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

8. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

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: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland


Fringe 1st-Round Sleepers

Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona

Green has a good chance to go in the first round and a strong argument he belongs there. But if evaluators get caught up on his numbers (or lack thereof), it might drop him out of the first 30 picks.

That same stat line (12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists), though, might be what allows Green to be a sleeper in plain sight. Maybe he didn't set the world on fire at Arizona, but he's a former top recruit with NBA tools and production that was arguably held back by his teammates. Zeke Nnaji and Nico Mannion both took more shots and had higher usage rates than Green.

The 6'6" Green needs a little work on offense, but if he is properly developed, he can make an impact at both ends.

"Green is a consistent jumper away from being a guy that can stick in the league as a role player for a decade," NBC Sports' Rob Dauster wrote. "He's really athletic, he's terrific in transition and he's a willing defender that gives effort."

College careers—especially those only spanning one season—don't always accurately depict what kind of career a prospect can have. Devin Booker was a shooting specialist at Kentucky. Zach LaVine was a reserve with a single-digit scoring average at UCLA. It wasn't until an NBA team let these players spread their wings that they really soared, and the same could happen to Green.


Paul Reed, PF, DePaul

It isn't hard to see why Reed might be overlooked.

The fact he's a junior isn't helping his case, since the draft so often becomes obsessed with youth. Playing at DePaul probably didn't bring him much shine, either, since the Blue Demons were a sub-.500 team over his career.

But, as The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote, Reed could make a case as the best defender in this draft:

"A long-limbed 4 who moves well laterally, flashes tremendous hands, and has great instincts, Reed can guard 1 through 5 and has All-Defense potential. He's a rim protector too, a quick leaper who can block shots, and he's an outstanding rebounder for his size—which may allow him to play 5 as his body fills out. Statistically, Reed had the highest steal rate of any player in my top 60, guards included, and had the highest block rate of any non-center."

In addition to the defense, Reed averaged 18.2 points per 40 minutes and shot 53.5 percent over his three seasons. The 6'9", 220-pounder may not be much of a shot-creator, but that shouldn't diminish his stock. There could be significant value in a versatile, disruptive defender who cleans the glass, scores in transition and converts interior scoring chances as a cutter and roller.


Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon

Evaluators like length, youth and athleticism, and Pritchard checks exactly none of those boxes. But the proof of his potential lies in the production, and letting the 6'2", 190-pounder slip away might mean missing out on the next Fred VanVleet or Jalen Brunson.

Pritchard's stat sheet is so loaded, it's a tad surprising he isn't a first-round lock, even with the physical questions. His 2019-20 output included 20.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and a 46.8/41.5/82.1 slash line. He claimed the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year awards, and he became the Ducks' first consensus first-team All-American in 80 years.

"[Pritchard] understands how to control the game with his dribble and his voice," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "He's a team leader and could slide into a spark-plug point guard role and provide scoring and reliable playmaking."

Teams that target athleticism won't take a second look at Pritchard. It could easily be their loss. He has NBA skills as a pick-and-roll creator, a spot-up sniper and an off-screen shooter.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.