NBA Draft 2020: Mock 1st Round and Landing Spots for LaMelo Ball, Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 24, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Even with the NBA's return to action, not all eyes are on the bubble in Orlando, Florida.

The eight teams that didn't make the cut are already waist-deep into their offseason. They've likely already made their draft lists and checked them twice at this point.

What will that mean for the incoming batch of ballers? Well, we have peaked into our crystal ball to build a mock first round and take a closer look at the projected landing spots for three of our top 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): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

18. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

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): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

23. Miami Heat: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

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): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State


LaMelo Ball: Minnesota Timberwolves

LaMelo Ball should walk into the NBA and immediately vault into the top 10 of the league's best passer rankings. His combination of instincts and talent is incredible for his age (18) and size (6'8"), and he can make every dish in the book.

"At his best, it feels like Ball plays the game with a hint of clairvoyance, seeing openings and opportunities lesser players wouldn't dare to notice," SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell wrote.

Even great quarterbacks need competent receivers to be successful, though, and Ball would get some good ones in the Gopher State. There aren't many lottery teams with a duo like Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, both of whom have taken All-Star trips on the strength of their offense.

Add Malik Beasley to the mix, assuming he returns as a restricted free agent, and Ball should be surrounded by high-level shooters. The fact Towns and Russell can also run the offense should let Ball develop at a controlled pace, letting him choose his spots as a scorer and perhaps raising his ceiling should he develop some go-to attack strategies.


Killian Hayes: New York Knicks

While the Knicks aren't far enough in their rebuild to worry about team needs, they should probably leave this draft with a point guard. They've needed one forever, and there are so many available that one should line up with whichever draft slot they receive.

In fact, Marc Berman of the New York Post said the club's scouting staff "has been instructed the top priority is a scoring guard."

Killian Hayes could be that player and an identity-setter for the franchise.

He can monopolize touches as a clever creator out of the pick-and-roll and a slippery scorer from isolations. Assuming he can hit the three with regularity—his mechanics look better than his results—he should also be a fit off the ball, meaning he wouldn't step on the toes of RJ Barrett.

The fully developed, best-case scenario version of Hayes is a three-level scorer who also creates shots for his teammates. Basically, it's the player this fanbase has dreamed about for years.


Tyrese Haliburton: Charlotte Hornets

At first glance, point guard may seem a curious position for the Charlotte Hornets to address in this draft. After all, it's the natural position played by both Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier, the team's top two players in minutes, points and assists.

But Charlotte has shown a willingness to deploy two point guards together—Rozier and Graham are the Hornets' fourth-most used tandem—and Tyrese Haliburton would make a much more natural fit along either one. While they both stand 6'1", Haliburton is 6'5" with a 6'7.5" wingspan, and his game is versatile enough to handle either backcourt role at both ends of the court.

"In an era where putting two playmakers side-by-side in the backcourt is becoming more and more valuable, Tyrese Haliburton has all the makings of an ideal, modern 2-guard in the NBA draft," NBC Sports' Rob Dauster wrote.

Charlotte's primary need in this draft is a star, and that scratch may not be itched even if the team hits the draft-lottery jackpot. Haliburton doesn't look like a budding star, but his playmaking, length, shooting and defensive potential would all fill different needs for the Hornets.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.