2020 NBA Mock Draft: Lottery Simulation and 1st-Round Predictions
The Chicago Bulls, who will enter the lottery with a 7.5 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, came out as the big winners in our simulation. Considering the NBA flattened the lottery odds ahead of the 2019 draft, don't be surprised if a long-shot team lands the first pick.
Once the order is set, teams will begin focusing on specific prospects and deciding whether to trade up or down. General managers are expected to be especially open for business this year with so much uncertainty around the draft class and no consensus ranking of prospects.
1. Chicago Bulls: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
The New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery last year with a 6.0 percent chance, so the Chicago Bulls winning it with 7.5 percent odds is a realistic outcome. And unless they were offered an NBA star in a trade, it would be hard to imagine the Bulls selecting anyone other than LaMelo Ball with the No. 1 overall pick.
While Ball has a legitimate case as the draft's top prospect, he would also fill a need for a Bulls lineup that doesn't have a natural setup passer. Chicago could play to Ball's strengths as a setup man and playmaker without having to force the tough shots he took as the Illawarra Hawks' No. 1 option.
Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. would take pressure off the rookie. Chicago could also use Coby White to bring scoring and shot-making firepower off the bench.
The Bulls finished their season ranked No. 27 in offensive efficiency. The addition of Ball should lead to more open rhythm shots and layups.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
With Ball off the board, the Minnesota Timberwolves would presumably look straight to Anthony Edwards, whose explosiveness and scoring would fit alongside D'Angelo Russell.
The Wolves could also be drawn to Deni Avdija's versatility and Isaac Okoro's defensive toughness, though they'd likely explore trading down a few spots for either.
Nineteen years old today (August 5), Edwards would give Minnesota a third weapon capable of generating his own offense. He may need time to adjust to a third-option role, but it's Edwards' ability to create shots and hit tough ones that separates him.
Getting him to apply his special physical tools (6'5", 225 lbs) on defense would also become a top priority for Minnesota's coaching staff.
3. Washington Wizards: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
With the Washington Wizards moving into the top three, it's easy to picture them focusing on James Wiseman, who they could deem best player available and a fit for the lineup their building.
He'd provide needed rim protection behind Rui Hachimura, as well as a high-percentage finishing target who still has enormous room to grow as a scorer.
To match No. 3 overall value long term, the flashes of grab-and-go takes, post work and mid-range touch need to become more routine. But that type of skill set is in place for Wiseman to continue polishing. And in the meantime, he's a lock to give Washington more easy baskets and shot-blocking, regardless of how he develops.
4. Golden State Warriors: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Even if the Golden State Warriors fall to No. 4, there will be qualified prospects available who'll fit the team's system and needs. The front office can make a case for Deni Avdija or Onyeka Okongwu, but with the Warriors reentering win-now mode, they could have a tough time passing on college basketball's National Player of the Year.
The nation's leader in dunks, Obi Toppin would immediately give Golden State's guards an elite finisher, and unlike Okongwu, he could allow coach Steve Kerr to continue spreading out the offense. Toppin shot 39.0 percent from three this past season, taking another step forward with his shooting range.
Kerr may want to go small, playing Toppin at center, where the Warriors can try and mask some of the big man's struggles defending away from the basket. Though it seems unlikely he'll ever develop into a plus-defender, at least around the basket, he can use his athleticism to block shots and make plays at the rim.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
Unless the Cleveland Cavaliers see an obvious best player available, easiest fit could be a tie-breaker. That could put Isaac Okoro in play for his defense. But Deni Avdija may have become too likable over the past six weeks leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Winner League championship while earning league MVP honors.
Although his jumper still needs work, it's ahead of Okoro's. Avdija would fit at the forward spot between Collin Sexton and Kevin Love, giving the lineup a needed dimension of versatility fueled by transition ball-handling ability, pick-and-roll playmaking, post offense and spot-up shooting.
And though not the quickest around the perimeter, Avdija brings competitiveness and basketball IQ, which help him contribute defensively with reads, rotations and physicality.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Atlanta Hawks figure to be drawn to Isaac Okoro's defensive-stopper potential. At 6'6", 225 pounds with powerful legs, quick feet and discipline, teams see a player they can bank on to guard and make the game tougher for opponents' top scoring guards and wings.
And despite some promising stretches of defense from De'Andre Hunter, he wasn't as convincing as he appeared to be at Virginia.
The Hawks ranked No. 28 in defensive efficiency, but they should also value Okoro's efficient offense game (60.7 percent 2PT) that wasn't always fully showcased. He'll give Atlanta's lineup a physical driver, sharp post player, timely cutter and smart passer with untapped playmaking potential. At19 years old, he's shown enough shot-making ability to indicate likely improvement as a shooter.
7. Detroit Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
While the Detroit Pistons will give serious looks to Onyeka Okongwu and Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton could have the edge.
He'd give the Pistons a special passer and decision-maker to run an offense that's missing a facilitator. But at 6'5", Haliburton shot 49.3 percent off the catch and graded in the 99th percentile out of spot-ups, numbers that suggest he'll be capable of playing the 2 and creating lineup flexility during Detroit's rebuild.
Haliburton could work as a secondary playmaker next to Derrick Rose before eventually taking over full time. Either way, the Pistons have a lot more pieces they need to add, and Haliburton should fit with whoever they sign or draft down the road.
8. New York Knicks: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
If the New York Knicks fall in the lottery and miss out on Ball and Haliburton, the front office will spend the next two months debating Cole Anthony versus Killian Hayes.
Devin Vassell deserves a serious look as well for his shooting and defense. But it seems more likely president Leon Rose goes after star power. And just reading the situation, with a new decision-maker in the front office making his first ever pick, a general manager in Scott Perry on a one-year deal, plus the addition of Tom Thibodeau, whose had success coaching a scoring point guard in Derrick Rose, our sense is they'd deem Anthony the safest bet.
Drafting Hayes would also mean adding another below-average shooter to a core that features RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
Anthony brings credible perimeter shot-making and plus-athletic ability to New York's backcourt. Though he was inefficient at North Carolina, he also dealt with a season-disrupting knee injury, poor spacing and a monster workload.
The Knicks could ultimately build an identity around their ability to put pressure on defenses with an Anthony-Barrett duo.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
The Charlotte Hornets could luck out if teams with centers like the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks look past Onyeka Okongwu. He'd be a dream target this late and a strong fit next to PJ Washington, given his improved shooting and need for backup defensively.
Okongwu gives the Hornets an active rim protector, but he's also developed into a skilled post scorer Charlotte can feature.
Even if his offense and jump shot plateau, his athleticism and tools should continue translating to rim-run buckets, easy finishes, shot-blocking and switchability.
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
The Phoenix Suns could see both the best player available and an easy fit in Killian Hayes.
An excellent ball-screen guard, he and Deandre Ayton would make for a strong pick-and-roll duo. And Phoenix could mask Hayes' three-point limitations by surrounding him with shooters.
But after starting the season known mostly for playmaking, he took an encouraging step forward with his scoring skills in terms of shot-creation and shot-making.
Having turned 19 years old on July 27 and struggled with shooting and decision-making, Hayes may need time, so beginning his career backing up Ricky Rubio sounds like a good situation.
11. Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophmore)
The Kings could use a wing prospect like Vassell, whose athleticism, shooting and defensive IQ hint at an easy NBA fit. His three-and-D skill set points to a high floor, but an improved pull-up game and flashes of tough shot-making suggest there could be more offensive upside for Sacramento to unlock.
12. New Orleans Pelicans: Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The Pelicans would use Bey, who shot 45.1 percent from three this season, to play the 4 and create more space for Zion Williamson. His off-ball shot-making would be useful to a rotation that has enough creators and scorers who draw attention.
13. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Spurs have a promising group of guard prospects, but they could add more forward depth with Williams. The youngest NCAA prospect in this year's class has climbed boards with his mix of power, shooting, pull-up flashes, pick-and-roll passing and defensive playmaking.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
A foot injury cut Nesmith's season short, but his 52.2 percent three-point mark could be enough for the Blazers to buy his shooting. Solid 6'6" size and the ability to shot-make off movement makes it easier to believe his offense will translate, at least in a complementary role.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
After drafting a scoring guard in Edwards at No. 2, Minnesota could focus on strengthening its frontcourt. Achiuwa possesses an exciting defensive foundation with 6'9", 225-pound size, quick feet, a motor and athleticism to average 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. But he also teased scouts with flashes of grab-and-go ball-handling, buckets on the move and spot-up shooting.
16. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
The Celtics won't mind adding wing depth and perimeter defenders. Green possesses special quickness for containing penetration and closing out. And though his athletic ability is ahead of his offensive skills, he graded in the 78th percentile out of spot-ups and 79th percentile in transition. Those are the areas he'd be asked to generate offense in for Boston.
17. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
A three-level scorer, Maxey could be the first guard Orlando takes in the first round since it traded for Elfrid Payton in 2014. The Magic should bet on his shooting being better than the numbers at Kentucky suggest. They could groom Maxey to eventually replace Evan Fournier, who has a $17 million player option for 2020-21.
18. Dallas Mavericks: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
In this spot, Dallas would deem Hampton the best player available and worth picking for his explosiveness and potential versatility. He's missing one signature or bankable skill, which could lead to a mini-slide down to No. 18. But between his transition game, downhill attacking, playmaking and set shooting, there is enough in Hampton's bag for Dallas to bet on at this point of the draft.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF/C, 2001)
Instead of settling on one of the non-lottery NCAA prospects, the Nets may prefer to gamble on Pokusevski's youth (he turns 19 in December), 7'0" size, fluid shooting, skilled passing and shot-blocking. Without any obvious college standouts on the board this late, it's a good spot to roll the dice.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
An improved body and three-ball strengthened Smith's credibility as a pro prospect, with teams now having an easier time picturing his NBA fit. Despite a limited face-up game and handle, he'll find a role outworking bigs inside and burying jumpers as a spot-up, off-screen and trailer shooter.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG, Freshman)
Terry may have received some positive feedback before announcing he's staying in the draft. With 6'1'", 160-pound size and limited athleticism, he didn't start the season viewed as a one-and-done first-rounder. He's now in line to draw serious looks in the 20s after shooting 40.8 percent from three, 42.1 percent on spot-up jumpers, 11-of-19 off screens, 89.1 percent from the free-throw line and 61.5 percent at the rim.
22. Utah Jazz: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Lewis could allow Utah to limit Mike Coney's milage while giving the second unit a burst of speed. For now, a change-of-pace role off the bench seems better suited for the 165-pound guard, who can put a lot of pressure on defenses but still needs to fine-tune his decision-making and execution.
23. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
There will be teams willing to look past McDaniels' freshman inefficiency for long-term potential fueled by positional size, ball-handling for creation and shooting range. A patient organization with strong player development would be the right one for the 6'9" forward who'll need time to sharpen his offensive execution, feel for the game and defensive awareness.
24. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)
Bolmaro has earned the point-wing label with a unique mix of 6'7" size, ball-handling and flashy passing skills. The big question is whether he'll be able to score without as much self shot-creation or a pull-up game, but playmaking, a capable set three-ball and pesky defense could be enough to help Bolmaro become a valued NBA role player.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Nnaji's floor has become the selling point over his ceiling. Teams are comfortable about his size, mobility, touch, motor and instincts translating to efficient offense and rebounds, even if no ball-handling, passing or defensive upside means his best-case scenario is a replicable role player.
26. Boston Celtics: Daniel Oturu (Minnesota, C, Sophomore)
Production (20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) and signs of shooting touch (19 made threes) have pushed Oturu into the first-round discussion. Though he's still mostly a post-up player, flashes of mid-range jumpers and drives past closeouts point to more potential scoring versatility.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
Looking for upside and shooting, the Knicks could be drawn to Ramsey, who turned 19 in June and shot 42.6 percent from three as a freshman. This late, New York would look past his tough shot selection and defensive lapses and instead bet on his mix of strong physical tools, self creation and shot-making translating to on/off-ball scoring.
28. Toronto Raptors: Grant Riller (Charleston, PG/SG, Senior)
Riller's age (23) and strength of schedule shouldn't matter too much this late. The eye test on his quickness and skill level for creation/shot-making back up the numbers: consecutive years averaging 21.9 points on better than 60 percent true shooting.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
Mannion's stock has slipped to the point where he could enter value-pick territory if he's still on the board this late. While teams started questioning his tools and separation ability, Mannion still possesses passable size and sharp shot-making and playmaking skills.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Xavier Tillman (Michigan State, PF/C, Junior)
Limited scoring ability creates the perception that Tillman doesn't offer much upside. But his passing and defensive IQ create steal potential for a team that can optimize his strengths. Tillman was the only player in the country to average at least 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals.