NBA Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Predictions and Prospects with Highest Ceilings

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 11, 2020

Georgia's Anthony Edwards brings the ball down the court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The NBA draft is the birthplace of basketball's next stars.

While it's not always clear where and when these stars will rise, there are prospect profiles that lend themselves to that level of potential. Shot-creators are arguably the easiest players to project having super-sized impacts in the modern game, even if their volatility adds some risk to the equation.

After updating our mock first round, we'll look at the three prospects with the most potential in this draft.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

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

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks

4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

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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: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

10. Phoenix Suns: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

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: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova

15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

18. Dallas Mavericks: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

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 II, SF, Mississippi State

22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

23. Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

24. Utah Jazz: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

28. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington


Prospects With Highest Ceilings

Anthony Edwards

If your mind etches a rough sketch of an archetypal NBA star, Anthony Edwards probably comes closest to matching the image among this year's draft class.

The 6'5", 225-pound swingman has an Association-ready body and bounce. He's a smooth shot-creator who's comfortable (if not always capable) shooting on the move. And while his defensive motor has a tendency to stall, he has the tools to be a pesky, disruptive, versatile stopper.

"There's a strong argument that Edwards boasts a better combination of physical ability and shot-creation potential, relative to his age, than any other prospect in the draft,"'s Jeremy Woo wrote. "Those are three critical factors when trying to evaluate a player's ceiling, which philosophically is the primary determinant behind who to draft first."

Edwards' game needs work. He barely cleared 40 percent from the field and didn't reach 30 percent from three, while his assists and turnovers were almost identical. But if he irons out his weaknesses and pumps up his strengths, he could be the best player to come out of this draft by a healthy margin.


LaMelo Ball

While history doesn't show as many roads to stardom for LaMelo Ball as it does for Edwards, the former might be best equipped to dominate the modern game.

He's a jumbo-sized playmaker—6'7", to be exact—who should enter the league as a top-10 passer. His vision is absurdly advanced for an 18-year-old, and he can make any pass with either hand. The rest of his arsenal isn't nearly as potent (not yet, at least), but his feel as a floor general might be the single sharpest skill of any player in this class.

"You cannot teach his basketball IQ, his passing savvy, his understanding of the game," NBC Sports' Rob Dauster wrote. "And in a draft where there is no one that is a clear-cut NBA superstar, I think that makes him worth the risk at No. 1."

There are a lot of risks. Ball's jumper is funky, his shot selection is wildly ambitious and his defensive energy is uninspiring (to put it nicely). But if you are strictly discussing upside, he arguably has the most to offer.


Killian Hayes

The most potential debate gets tricky past the aforementioned duo, particularly if you think James Wiseman will struggle to become more than a rim-runner. But if you're a believer in Killian Hayes, then his ability to run offense, find his own shots and shoot off the dribble might be enough to get him the third spot.

His fancy footwork gives him a deep bag of shot-creating tricks, and he can almost dislodge a defender at will with step-backs and pull-ups. He can carve up defenses out of pick-and-rolls, and he will have defenders looking foolish in isolations. If he's not a three-level scorer on opening night, he could get there sooner rather than later.

"At just 18, he's already hard to contain, and he's still only starting to figure things out," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "... There's a lot to like about Hayes, with his playmaking, scoring and defensive ability at such a young age."

Hayes has his own red flags, most notably an extreme left-hand dominance, limited explosiveness and some careless decision-making. But his footwork, feel and improving shooting touch all point toward potential stardom, and that's enough to stand out in a draft like this.


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