2020 NBA Mock Draft: Analyzing Team Fits for LaMelo Ball, Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 11, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney.  LaMelo Ball's bone bruise on his left foot is expected to keep him out of the Illawarra Hawks lineup for the remainder of the National Basketball League season in Australia. The 18-year-old American, who joined Illawarra as part of the NBL's Next Stars program, is expected to be a first-round pick in this year's NBA draft.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Nothing gets an NBA career off on the right foot faster than landing in the ideal environment.

Some prospects need the spotlight. Others operate best as part of an ensemble cast. Some need the longest leash possible. Others benefit from earning chunks of minutes here or there. Some need a wide-open offensive system. Others are better when plugged into a more scripted scheme.

After running through our updated mock first round, we will examine the projected fits for our top three prospects.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

4. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

5. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

7. Chicago Bulls: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

8. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

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


Projected Team Fits for Top Prospects

Anthony Edwards: Golden State Warriors

If the Golden State Warriors land the top overall pick, they will surely look to see what the trade market has to offer. But if they can't find a deal to their liking and opt to stay at No. 1, they will likely target Anthony Edwards, according to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Edwards should be overjoyed if that happens.

Golden State has the strongest nucleus of any lottery team—if healthy, the club should launch right back into title contention next season—so Edwards can ease into his role. Rather than being shouldered with too much too quickly, he can grow at his own pace. That might mean focusing on his defense (where he has the tools to be a menace) and becoming more selective (and ideally, more efficient) at the other end.

But the Warriors aren't so deep that they would block Edwards' development if he's ready for more. He won't get the marquee treatment, but there's a scenario in which he climbs all the way into the third scoring role. That would allow him to either freelance when he's feeling it or play off the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green when they are rolling.


LaMelo Ball: Cleveland Cavaliers

Even after spending back-to-back top-10 picks on point guards, the Cleveland Cavaliers shouldn't let their roster construction keep them away from LaMelo Ball. He arguably has the highest upside in this draft, and Cleveland isn't far enough into its rebuild to draft for anything other than talent.

Besides, his best skill is moving the basketball, and that doesn't seem to be the greatest strength of Collin Sexton or Darius Garland. Having Ball around should allow those players to play their games since he can handle the distribution while they focus more on finding and finishing their own shots.

"Cleveland could easily plug in Ball as their starting lead guard and then start either Sexton or Garland, who are both solid off the ball, beside him," Forbes' Evan Dammarell wrote. "... It seems Sexton and Garland would actually [complement] Ball beautifully and act as secondary playmakers alongside him."

Ball could also create scoring chances for Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr., who aren't exactly self-sufficient scorers, as well as give the Cavaliers a draw at the gate they haven't had since LeBron James bolted for L.A. in 2018.

There are better fits for Ball—an expert passer would ideally have better scoring threats around him—but this is probably as good as it gets for Cleveland.


Obi Toppin: Minnesota Timberwolves

Ignoring Obi Toppin's defensive question marks aren't easy—unless you're the Minnesota Timberwolves. In that case, you're already leaning into an offense-driven system co-chaired by Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, so you might as well make this force as unstoppable as possible.

Toppin could be a brilliant third option in the Gopher State. While it's fair to question whether he can be as effective in the NBA as he was in college, the Timberwolves aren't asking him to be a featured star. Instead, he can let his versatility shine in a complementary role. Since he can shoot, finish, create and move the basketball, he can change his role on the fly to best fit whatever is around him.

Assuming Minnesota brings back Malik Beasley in restricted free agency, it could have good-to-great shooters at every position and the chance to play 5-out offense. That's perfect for Toppin, as he would have rim-running lanes, chances to create in space and all the open looks he can handle.

The defense could be a disaster—there are questions about the Dayton product's ability to protect the rim and defend in space—but that's true with or without Toppin. At least if he's in the mix, this offense has a much better chance to become elite.