It may not seem like it now, but the revised NBA draft date of October 16 is fast approaching. With eight teams already out of the playoff picture and all but eight teams set to be eliminated by September 1, we'll be approaching full-blown draft season in due time.
While players and fans are gearing up for the league's return, it seems most general managers, coaches and front-office personnel have used the last few months to brush up on draft research. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said as much a few months ago when he divulged his recent study of LaMelo Ball's film.
Though there's a relative drought of information, given that sources haven't been able to talk with journalists in person since March, the rumor mill is still finding a way to churn out speculation and buzz from teams around the league. So, today, we're unveiling a new mock draft, making selections for all 30 teams and analyzing specific rumors from a select few squads.
NBA First Round Mock Draft 2020
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, Australia
4. Atlanta Hawks: Deni Avdija, SF, Israel
5. Detroit Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, France
7. Chicago Bulls: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
8. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
9. Washington Wizards: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
10. Phoenix Suns: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
11. San Antonio Spurs: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
12. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis
14. Portland Trail Blazers: RJ Hampton, PG, USA
15. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN): Saddiq Bey, PF, Villanova
17. Boston Celtics (via MEM): Cole Anthony, PG, Boston Celtics
18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, SG, Arizona
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via IND): Leandro Bolmaro, SG, Argentina
20. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI): Tyler Bey, PF, Colorado
21. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
23. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
24. Utah Jazz: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
26. Boston Celtics: Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
27. New York Knicks (via LAC): Xavier Tillman, C, Michigan State
28. Toronto Raptors: Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
30. Boston Celtics (via MIL): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State
Warriors in a Strange Spot
Because it's impossible to predict draft-pick trades, most mock drafts don't try to—this one included. But if we had to hazard a guess, the Warriors will do their darnedest to trade down in the 2020 draft.
Per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, Golden State is particularly focused on role players projected to go later in the first round, including Florida State's Devin Vassell and Villanova's Saddiq Bey.
However, he also stated that if push comes to shove, the Warriors will likely take Anthony Edwards at the top of the draft.
Barring a surprise Onyeka Okongwu selection, virtually all of the top prospects project strangely on Golden State's current roster, and Edwards is no exception. The fact that he's a slashing two-guard who's reliant on getting to the basket and drawing fouls is a recipe for a more stilted offense than we're used to seeing from the Warriors.
With the integration of Andrew Wiggins already a top priority, Kerr will face perhaps his most difficult coaching challenge yet if Golden State were to select and keep Edwards.
Cavaliers All Over the Place
From an outsider perspective, the 2020 NBA draft doesn't seem to have a clear-cut top prospect, and it seems that at least one team feels the same way.
Per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers' front office is split in three different directions over who to take with their presumed top-five pick.
Some believe in Ball, some have Edwards atop their individual boards, and another contingent is highest on Memphis center James Wiseman. We've assigned Wiseman to Cleveland here because of the respective presences of youngsters Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr.
Like with Edwards and Golden State, Wiseman will be an odd fit on the Cavaliers, at least at first. Two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond recently stated he'll be picking up his near-$29 million player option this offseason, and with Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and potentially even Tristan Thompson in tow as well, Cleveland will have a crowded frontcourt even if it doesn't select Wiseman.
But the team shouldn't be in any rush. It'll be rebuilding for the next few seasons no matter what, Thompson and Drummond could both be gone by next summer, and despite serious positional imbalance, the combination of productive and potential-laden players on the roster creates more avenues through which to make a splashy trade.
There's no guarantee the Cavaliers are a playoff team at any point in the next five years. But betting on Wiseman's long-term upside over established, role-playing veterans is a gamble worth taking in that regard.
A New Day For Detroit Basketball
The Pistons haven't been true contenders in the Eastern Conference in over a decade, but when Blake Griffin underwent knee surgery, it revealed perhaps the worst roster the team has ever had.
If not for Derrick Rose, Christian Wood and two weeks of standout play from Sekou Doumbouya, Detroit would be contending for the first overall pick right alongside Golden State and Cleveland.
All this is to say that the Pistons are in desperate need of a fresh start, and it seems they're finally recognizing that. Per Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press, coach Dwane Casey said on a recent conference call that Detroit needs to acquire a starting point guard via either free agency or the draft. And while a savvy free-agent acquisition often provides short-term excitement, it would be a mistake for a team in the Pistons' position to zero in on a quick fix.
We've got Detroit picking Tyrese Haliburton here both because he's likely to be available at the fifth pick and because his high basketball IQ virtually guarantees he'll succeed no matter the circumstances. But most of the top point guards in this draft could be of use to the Pistons.
Low-efficiency gunners like Ball and Cole Anthony would have time to work through rookie mistakes, while a raw, high-ceiling prospect like Killian Hayes could thrive under the tutelage of a battle-tested coach like Casey.
There are no guarantees in the NBA, but as long as the team fully commits to a rebuild, Detroit will be on the right path for the first time in years.