The tiers of the 2020 NBA draft may not be as rigidly defined as some recent talent grabs, but there are degrees of separation between the prospects.
Players like Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball occupy the early spots on most mock drafts. Another tier sits just behind them and inside most mock top 10s. Skip past the lottery, and there might be 30 different dart throws who occupy the final slots of the opening round.
But maybe the most interesting portion of the draft board hovers around that 10th spot. These players have enough upside to warrant lottery consideration but also enough red flags to potentially push them out of those spots.
After laying out our mock first round, we'll examine the projected landing spots for three fringe-lottery prospects.
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
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
Cole Anthony: San Antonio Spurs
Anthony's one-and-done run with the Tar Heels had an eye-of-the-beholder feel to it.
Some were surely impressed that a freshman could take over an ACC offense and turn in nightly averages of 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Others would have a hard time looking beyond his unsightly 38.0 field-goal percentage, the 3.5 turnovers he committed per game or the fact he played the leading role on the first losing team Roy Williams has coached at the NCAA level.
"I've gotten the complete spectrum," ACC Network analyst and Anthony's assistant coach at Oak Hill Academy Cory Alexander told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. "Some people love him, and some people would not want him on their team for whatever reason."
The Spurs seem like the kind of organization more interested in Anthony's strengths than his weaknesses, especially because their long-term nucleus lacks a go-to scorer. If he can fill that role, he could be ideal alongside defensive-minded Dejounte Murray, and once San Antonio surrounds the pair with shooters, the franchise would have its blueprint for the future.
RJ Hampton: Sacramento Kings
Like LaMelo Ball, Hampton skipped the college ranks to spend this past season in the NBL, where he didn't necessarily enhance his NBA outlook.
His physical tools looked elite, as was expected. He's 6'5" and athletic with a quick first step, so his good stretches are easy on the eyes. But he didn't display a standout skill while competing against defenders who aren't exactly NBA-caliber. He could have trouble finding his niche in the Association.
"The more I watch RJ Hampton, the less convincing his NBA acumen becomes, and many scouts I've spoken to feel similarly," SI.com's Jeremy Woo wrote. "... He's got talent but should embrace the prospect of spending time in the G League next season."
The Kings, who need to upgrade their talent around De'Aaron Fox, might see Hampton as their best roll of the dice. His athleticism and open-court attack fit their up-tempo system, and the fact he should work on or off the ball means he can play alongside Fox and back him up.
Aaron Nesmith: New Orleans Pelicans
If there's a way for an off-the-radar prospect to get noticed by the NBA, it might look a lot like Nesmith's sophomore season.
A shooting-obsessed league had no choice but to notice his scorching sprint through 14 outings before a foot injury forced him off the floor. Even without a massive sample, his numbers look great. The fact he averaged 4.3 triples per game is absurd; that he also converted them at a 52.2 percent clip is downright silly. It's why he's on the lottery radar now after not even appearing in a June 2019 mock from Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek.
"No prospect in the draft can top Nesmith's distance shooting numbers," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "... He did his damage off the catch out of spot-ups (95th percentile) and off screens (97th percentile)."
The Pelicans need all the snipers they can find to help maintain optimal spacing alongside Zion Williamson. Nesmith can eventually take the torch from JJ Redick and should offer a more diverse skill set than a shooting specialist like Darius Miller.