2020 NBA Mock Draft: Top Prospects with Highest Ceilings at Pro Level

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 5, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

There's a reason the word "upside" buzzes like no other during the buildup to the NBA draft.

As much as some teams might crave safety and instant impact, a number of them—particularly those with early selections—are swinging for the fences and hoping to connect on the Association's next star.

That's tricky in 2020, because there isn't a can't-miss elite in the Luka Doncic or Zion Williamson mold. But there are players with potential paths to stardom, provided they land in the right spot and are properly developed.

After running through a mock first round, we'll examine the prospects with most upside 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: 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


Prospects with Highest Ceilings at Pro Level

LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

LaMelo Ball isn't the most popular prospect mocked at No. 1, but given his best-in-class potential, maybe he should be.

Even though his older brother, Lonzo, is a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, the league hasn't quite seen a player like LaMelo. He's unique enough as a 6'7" playmaker, never mind that he should be a top-10(ish) passer as soon as he hits the hardwood. He has the vision, creativity and passing ability to elevate his teammates, and his handles are tight enough to further the manipulation of opposing defenders.

The 18-year-old shines as a quarterback in transition and the half court. He's always reading the floor in front of him, which allows him to thread needles at exactly the right moment. He's raw—and sometimes wildly ambitious—as a scorer, but the foundation is in place for three-level point production with nearly unlimited off-the-dribble shooting range.

Even his biggest weakness, anything related to defense, could be turned into a positive with the right coaching and development. His advanced basketball IQ should lead to consistently on-time rotations, and his length should give him some switchability at that end.

Ball has enough red flags to keep him out of the No. 1 spot, but if we're talking strictly about potential, he's the best this draft class can do.


Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

Want to know a good sign that a player has significant potential? When that player emerges as close to a consensus No. 1 choice despite shooting 40.2 percent overall and 29.4 from three in college.

Anthony Edwards' collegiate output clearly could have been better, but front offices seem willing to give him a free pass. When an 18-year-old has an NBA-ready body and flashes explosive athleticism and advanced shot-making maneuvers, the entire hoops community takes notice.

"Catch Edwards on the right night and he looks like a superstar," The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks wrote. "There isn't much a defense can do when a player with his size and athleticism gets hot from the perimeter."

There are plenty of scenarios in which he doesn't fully develop, but if he realizes his full potential, he can offer a lethal blend of power, explosion, self-sufficient scoring, secondary playmaking and defensive versatility.

Edwards might not be the kind of star who makes everyone better around him, but if he's a high-scoring wing who locks down the other end, no one will be complaining.


James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Big men have a high bar to clear for stardom in the modern game. Owning the interior is no longer enough. Teams basically want five-tool players at every position, so the best current bigs combine the traditional skills with passing, shooting and the ability to defend in space.

James Wiseman isn't adding a ton right now in any of those categories. But he's already shown some comfort as a shooter, and with the right coaching, he might find the awareness and footwork needed to contribute in the other areas.

If those skills never come around, the 19-year-old won't offer exceptional value as a likely top-five pick. That said, he won't be a bust, either. His physical tools are off the charts, and he could slide into a rim-running role tomorrow.

The upside comes from the possibility Wiseman will build onto this foundation. If he's a pick-and-roll terror who can also hit outside shots, anchor a defense and survive the occasional perimeter switch on defense, he could have the best career of anyone in this class.