2020 NBA Mock Draft: Updated Lottery Simulation and 1st-Round Predictions
The NBA is officially making its return, and dates are tentatively set to get the draft process moving. The lottery is expected to be held Aug. 25, with the draft following Oct. 15, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Among teams currently out of the playoff picture, the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers will join the 16 projected playoff teams at Disney World for a chance to reach the postseason.
But until then, we're projecting the draft using the current standings and Tankathon's simulator, which created this edition's order.
1. Detroit Pistons: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
This mock draft edition's simulator rewarded the Detroit Pistons, who'll enter the lottery with a 10.5 percent chance of winning, not far off from the 14.0 percent odds of the three favorites (Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves).
And with the first pick, the Pistons would grab their new franchise point guard. Derrick Rose has one year left on his contract and would serve as a useful mentor to LaMelo Ball, who'd give Detroit a young star to build around long term.
In the short team, despite an underwhelming Pistons roster, Luke Kennard and Svi Mykhailiuk can still give Ball important shooting targets to hit and space the floor. And if Blake Griffin gets back to full strength, he'd make a strong partner for LaMelo in some two-man actions.
2. Atlanta Hawks: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Anthony Edwards would give the Atlanta Hawks another scorer to create and take pressure off Trae Young.
It's also a good fit for Edwards, who'd receive a nice balance of touches and supporting talent.
With Clint Capela under contract until 2023, Atlanta would seem to favor an explosive athlete and shot-making wing over centers James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu.
Between Capela, Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter, the Hawks have a promising defensive 3-4-5 core. With Young and Edwards, they'd also have one of the league's most exciting offensive backcourts.
3. Washington Wizards: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Invited to Disney to finish out the season and compete for the playoffs, the Washington Wizards will have a long shot to escape the lottery. But chances are they'll still miss out on the postseason. And in this mock draft edition, Washington caught a break in the lottery simulator, moving into the top three.
The franchise should just be looking for talent in the draft, regardless of position, though James Wiseman happens to fill a need at center.
Few NBA starters could match his 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan and bounce around the basket, where he'd give the Wizards a big-time finisher and shot-blocker behind Rui Hachimura.
The upside for Wiseman kicks in if he's able to gradually build on previous flashes of post scoring and mid-range touch.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF, Sophomore)
Teams have started to view Obi Toppin as one of the draft's surest bets. They'll overlook his defensive question marks for his offensive floor and ceiling in this particular draft that lacks star power and certainty.
There is too high of a likelihood in Toppin's scoring carrying over, based on his special leaping ability for finishing, coordination and touch around the key and 39.0 percent three ball.
Minnesota could explore trading down for a needed three-and-D wing like Devin Vassell. Deni Avdija figures to earn consideration for his versatility at both forward spots. Isaac Okoro will be a defensive prospect to consider as well.
But Toppin's scoring potential could look too enticing when put up against Vassell's, Avdija's and Okoro's likely role-playing outlooks.
5. Golden State Warriors: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
The rest of the league may be rooting for the Golden State Warriors to fall in the lottery, but the Warriors might not care. Even if they do win the lottery, trading down seems like a possibility. And Tyrese Haliburton, a low-maintenance guard with special IQ at both ends and catch-and-shoot range, figures to be a target for how easily he can fit and immediately contribute.
An elite passer who also ranked in the 99th percentile out of spot-up situations, Haliburton could run the point or play off Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. He should be able to add value to both the starting lineup and second unit.
Athletic limitations raise questions about his upside, but the Warriors have enough stars, and finding one at No. 5 in this draft seems unrealistic, anyway.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Onyeka Okongwu should be a target for the Cleveland Cavaliers, regardless of where they wind up in the lottery.
The NBA's worst defense could use his athleticism and aggression in rim protection, while Cleveland's guards would benefit from having another elite finishing target and rim runner.
For the Cavaliers, drafting Okongwu likely means not paying Andre Drummond long term after the season, assuming he opts into the final year of his deal. As a more skilled post scorer with greater defensive potential, the USC big man could even look like the more attractive fit for the Cavaliers by the end of his rookie season.
7. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
The New York Knicks will be preparing for a scenario where LaMelo Ball isn't available, so they've likely done plenty of homework on Cole Anthony. The question is how they feel about Anthony versus French point guard Killian Hayes, who also deserves consideration.
After drafting teenagers in three consecutive lotteries, this front office may opt for Anthony, who's 20 with superior athleticism and shot-making skill. Hayes could wind up the more complete player, but the Knicks might not want to chance waiting on his development, particularly since they can't provide him with much proven talent to play off.
Anthony needs to improve his decision-making, but he was also forced to carry a heavy workload at North Carolina. With plenty of shot-creation and pull-up shooting ability, his scoring should translate, while he's flashed enough glimpses of playmaking to feel optimistic in his potential to improve as a facilitator.
8. Chicago Bulls: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
Though injuries have held the Chicago Bulls back, their No. 27-ranked offense has still sputtered. The front office should jump on Killian Hayes to give the lineup a natural playmaker, instead of relying on scorers like Zach LaVine and Coby White to facilitate offense.
Chicago could slide White to sixth man, where his streaky scoring is better suited.
An excellent ball-screen guard and passer, Hayes is a better fit in a lineup with LaVine and developing young bigs. But after making notable improvement as a shot-creator and shooter while continuing to finish with paint touch and body control at impressive rates, Hayes, 18 years old, could wind up blossoming into the draft's most complete lead guard.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
The Charlotte Hornets are still in talent-acquisition mode. Needs shouldn't factor heavily into the equation, particularly if centers James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu are gone. They could still use Deni Avdija's scoring versatility, which should also allow him to fit alongside any of the team's current wings and forwards.
He'll come over to the U.S. with unique experience for a teenager, as he played minutes in Euroleague after winning MVP of last summer's U20 European Championships. He's excelled in different roles, having starred for the Israeli FIBA team as a No. 1 option and lead initiator, and then efficiently produced playing off the ball for Maccabi Tel Aviv, contributing with his transition game, spot-up three-ball, finishing and defensive IQ.
From an NBA standpoint, the biggest questions for Avdija center around his ability to create separation or shoot with consistency.
10. Phoenix Suns: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Phoenix Suns could see Isaac Okoro as a small-ball 4 to bring defensive toughness alongside Deandre Ayton.
Scouts sound split on his offensive upside, given his suspect shooting and limited creation ability. Okoro still shot 60.3 percent inside the arc, capitalizing on his strength and athleticism off drives, cuts and post-ups.
Early on, his NBA value will revolve around his versatility to guard multiple positions and ability to lock down opposing scorers. But for a 19-year-old, flashes of pick-and-roll ball-handling and spot-ups threes point to untapped scoring potential.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
Despite Williams' limited production relative to other lottery picks, there is a lot of intrigue tied to his unique mix of 6'8", 225-pound size, shooting touch, passing and defensive playmaking. His potential trajectory at 18 is extremely appealing if he can continue to build on the flashes he's shown at Florida State.
12. Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
After shooting over 40 percent from three in both college seasons and regularly standing out for his defensive playmaking/IQ, Vassell should have plenty of suitors. Athleticism plus three-and-D point to a high floor and value, while a vastly improved pull-up game could take his scoring to a higher level. He'd be a textbook fit with De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
Unless an unexpected prospect slips to the Pelicans, they seem likely to prioritize shooting. Nesmith's numbers—52.2 percent from three, 51.0 percent off screens, 48.5 percent spot-ups—have created a strong case for the 6'6" wing to earn top shooter in the draft honors. He doesn't create or make plays, but he shouldn't need to in a lineup with Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
Hampton needs time for his skill level to catch his athleticism, which pops on drives and finishes around the basket. He puts pressure on defenses with his ability to explode through gaps. At this stage, he's a capable set shooter and threatening secondary playmaker off ball screens. At 19 years old, Hampton will spend the next few seasons developing his range, pull-up game and reads at both ends of the floor.
15. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
With opinions varying on Maxey's NBA upside, it seems possible he could fall to the Magic. As a best-player-available candidate, he'd also add needed scoring and depth to Orlando's backcourt. Despite shooting poorly and sharing the ball with SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans, Maxey still managed 14.0 points and 3.2 assists. Plus, the eye test and an 83.3 percent free-throw mark suggest his 29.2 percent three-ball was somewhat fluky and easily improvable.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Minnesota could focus on shooting with its second pick, which it will only get if the Nets make the playoffs. Bey should pop here to the Wolves after the 6'8", 216-pound forward shot 45.7 percent from three and a scorching 48.8 percent off the catch. Though a limited athlete, Bey would have a simplified role in Minnesota that calls for spot-up shooting and ball moving.
17. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
A limited shot-creator, Green could still have teams willing to reach on his athleticism, elite quickness and flashes of shot-making that hint at probable improvement. Teams with scorers and playmakers figure to look past Green's inability to run pick-and-rolls (16th percentile) and struggles finishing in the half court (37.5 percent) for his explosive transition offense (79th percentile), spot-up shooting potential (43.9 percent), soft floater touch (39.1 percent) and awesome foot speed for defending guards and wings (2.8 steal percentage).
18. Dallas Mavericks: Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)
Though most of Bolmaro's production came in the LEB Silver League, Spain's third division, Dallas should see through the suspect competition. His ball-handling and passing skills are special for a 6'6" 19-year-old. The Mavericks, who are tightly plugged into the international scene, should buy into Bolmaro's creation and unique playmaking and ultimately gamble on his shooting development (27.9 percent 3PT combined with Euroleague, ACB).
19. Milwaukee Bucks: Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
At 6'9", 225 pounds, Achiuwa used his physical tools, mobility and motor to average a double-double, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. His skill development is lagging, and the Bucks would value his defensive versatility over his offense early on. Flashes of face-up play and shooting ability create some hope for his scoring potential.
20. Brooklyn Nets: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
The Nets could be looking for immediate contributors to help Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant win now, and Smith checks the right boxes. After improving his jump shot and body, he just hit 32 threes in 31 games while averaging 10.5 boards and 2.4 blocks. His floor-spacing shooting and energy would be useful to a rotation that should have enough creators and scoring threats.
21. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Theo Maledon (France, PG/SG, 2001)
Experienced with plenty of Euroleague minutes, Maledon has been a useful 18-year-old overseas with skill versatility over athleticism or any one specialty strength. Though not explosive or too disruptive on defense, Maledon delivered enough consistent flashes of ball-screen passing, body-controlled finishes, pull-up shooting and spot-up threes. The Nuggets could use another point guard, and Maledon figures to earn a serious look at No. 21.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)
Terry just shot 40.8 percent from three and 89.1 percent from the line to register a 58.9 true shooting percentage. With a 6'1", 160-pound frame, he hasn't sold everyone, but he has some of the draft's softest touch along with dangerous shooting range. Despite being limited physically and athletically, he still shot 61.5 percent at the rim.
23. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Lewis would bring a different element of speed to Miami's backcourt. A flash in transition, he also totaled 70 field goals at the rim in the half court. He's limited physically and athletically, which hurts his ability to create separation. But Lewis' playmaking ability, pull-up shooting and spot-up jumper are strong enough to buy when paired with his elite quickness for a 19-year-old.
24. Utah Jazz: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF/C, 2001)
Pokusevski may be able to get a team to bite earlier if he's allowed to work out for NBA executives before the draft. Regardless, one general manager figures to gamble on the 7-footer who averaged 1.6 threes, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks in Greece's second division. A skinny frame and limited rips against quality competition suggest he's risky, but Pokusevski's shooting fluidity, passing instincts, defensive activity and effectiveness in FIBA and HEBA A2 could look enticing in the 20s.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
An athletic scoring guard, Ramsey has fans around the league thanks to his picturesque shooting mechanics and a 42.6 three-point percentage to back it up. He settles for jump shots and isn't advanced running pick-and-rolls, but his shot-making and isolation scoring are good enough for him to lean on in the right role.
26. Boston Celtics: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Nnaji has earned support for production and efficiency fueled by his 6'11" size, mobility, effort and touch. Nothing about his game screams upside, but this late, playoff teams like Boston may put more stock into his floor and purpose in a simplified role that calls for finishing, offensive rebounding and hustle plays.
27. New York Knicks: Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
The Knicks' first pick could dictate the direction they go at No. 27. But if Mannion slips, New York may have a tough time passing, even if it takes a point guard in the lottery. Scouts started jumping off Mannion's wagon as his percentages gradually fell at Arizona. He's turned into a potential value pick, still with plenty of ball skills, passing IQ and shooting versatility. It's his limited blow-by burst and defense that raise the most questions.
28. Toronto Raptors: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
McDaniels' inefficiency at Washington was a turnoff, but for a 6'9" forward, he's still a skilled shot-creator and shooter worth betting on in the 20s. There is enticing scoring and shot-making for coaches to unlock, though he'll have to overcome questionable feel, motor and defensive issues.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
The Lakers could view Jones as a rookie who'd immediately help with his passing IQ and defensive pressure. Teams aren't sold on his improved production translating to NBA scoring, but there is still confidence in his potential to carve out a role, running a second unit, making good decisions and guarding his position.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Isaiah Stewart (Washington, C, Freshman)
Interior bigs like Stewart have become less desirable in today's NBA, so he could slip past teams more willing to gamble on guards, wings and versatility. Still, a team could see an enforcer and energizer in Stewart, a physical 250-pounder whose role will call for low-post finishing, offensive rebounding and inside toughness.