Before the NBA draft arrives, all 30 of the league's teams do extensive research on the incoming prospects who they could select during the two-round event. And sometimes, all that preparation can lead to several teams getting a steal by drafting a sleeper prospect at some point in the draft.
Although the draft is likely going to occur much later than most years (not until October if the NBA is able to complete the 2019-20 season), there are still sleeper prospects who may not be getting as much attention as they deserve during the buildup to the draft.
Here's a mock for the first round of the draft, followed by a look at some of the top sleeper frontcourt prospects in this year's class.
NBA Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
5. Detroit Pistons: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
7. Chicago Bulls: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
8. Charlotte Hornets: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
11. San Antonio Spurs: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
15. Orlando Magic: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
18. Dallas Mavericks: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
23. Miami Heat: Vernon Carey Jr., PF/C, Duke
24. Utah Jazz: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos
26. Boston Celtics: Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado
27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tre Jones, PG, Duke
28. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
If you're looking for one of the most high-risk, high-reward prospects in this year's NBA draft class, look no further than Jaden McDaniels. The former Washington forward has an exciting skill set and a ton of potential. But there are also reasons to believe he could disappoint in the NBA like he did in his lone college season.
In 31 games for the Huskies, McDaniels averaged 13 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest. However, he also committed 3.2 turnovers per game and had six technical fouls, the most in the Pac-12 Conference. So, while The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor praised McDaniels' "size, shooting ability and defensive versatility" in his scouting report of the 6'9" forward, he also acknowledged some of the risks that will come with drafting McDaniels.
"Lacks playmaking skills," O'Connor wrote. "Coaches will be frustrated by his bad decisions; it seems like every quarter he hurls his body into a crowd rather than looks for a simple kick-out pass."
A positive? McDaniels is only 19, so there's time for him to improve in those areas and maximize his stronger attributes, giving him plenty of sleeper potential.
Because of his skills and that potential, McDaniels will likely be drafted in the middle of the first round, probably not too long after the lottery portion of the draft. And a team like the Nets, who will be picking in that range, could be a great fit as they'll give him time to learn and develop under a superstar player in Kevin Durant.
Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado
After spending three seasons at Colorado, Tyler Bey has developed his game to the point that it may not take long for him to make solid contributions at the NBA level. And because he isn't likely to be drafted until late in the first round (with the potential to even fall into the second), one team could be getting one of the biggest steals of the draft by selecting the former Buffalo.
Bey averaged 13.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in 31 games as a junior this season. His numbers were similar to his sophomore year, except for the fact that he showed considerable improvement from three-point range, raising his percentage behind the arc from 22.7 percent to 41.9. And that's not the only reason he could be a sleeper pick in the draft.
"Bey is one of the most underrated players in this year's draft class," Rob Dauster of NBC Sports recently wrote. "At 6'7", he's an exceptionally springy athlete that has proven himself to be an impact rebounder at the collegiate level throughout his career."
The Celtics will have a pair of selections late in the first round, and if they're in position to get Bey, it would be an intriguing fit for both sides. Boston is already a strong team, and by adding Bey, who might contribute quickly from a bench role, it would add a solid forward to its great rotation.
Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State
Bey is one of the few upperclassmen prospects in this year's draft class who could be selected in the first round. Michigan State's Xavier Tillman is another.
Tillman continually improved over his three seasons with the Spartans, capping his college career with an impressive showing in his junior year. Over 31 games, Tillman averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest, all of which were career highs, while shooting 55 percent from the field.
"He's extremely polished and fits the modern game on both ends of the floor," The Athletic's Sam Vecenie wrote. "... He was one of the five best defenders in all of college hoops this year, capable of holding his own on the perimeter while also locking down the interior."
Because Tillman will likely have a smooth transition to the NBA, he should be a steal for a team late in the first round. One potential fit could be the Raptors, who could add Tillman to a frontcourt rotation that includes Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol (if both re-sign with the team for next season). Then, Tillman could potentially take over a starting job down the line and be a strong contributor in Toronto for years to come, if he continues to develop along the way.