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2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions, Breaking Down Prospects on the Rise

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv's Deni Avdija controls the ball during the Euro League basketball match between Olimpia Milan and Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft will start to come into greater focus Thursday, when the lottery sets the order for the first half of the opening round, including the coveted first overall pick.

Although the coronavirus pandemic delayed the conclusion of the 2019-20 season and postponed the lottery, the format remains the same, with the 14 non-playoff teams owning a chance at winning a top-four selection. The draft is scheduled to take place Oct. 16.

Let's check out an updated mock draft for the first round before the ping-pong balls shake up the order. That's followed by a closer look at some prospects whose stock is on the rise.

                    

1st-Round Mock Draft

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

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2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, F, Dayton

5. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

6. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

7. Chicago Bulls: Onyeka Okongwu, F, USC

8. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

9. Washington Wizards: Aaron Nesmith, F, Vanderbilt

10. Phoenix Suns: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis

11. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

12. New Orleans Pelicans: Devin Vassell, G, Florida State

13. Sacramento Kings: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn

14. Boston Celtics (via MEM): Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky

15. Orlando Magic: Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN): Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL

18. Dallas Mavericks: Jahmius Ramsey, G, Texas Tech

19. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI): Josh Green, G, Arizona

20. Miami Heat: Devon Dotson, G, Kansas

21. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Tyler Bey, F, Colorado

22. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

23. Utah Jazz: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina

24. Milwaukee Bucks (via IND): Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN): Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky

26. Boston Celtics: Nico Mannion, G, Arizona

27. New York Knicks (via LAC): Isaiah Stewart, F, Washington

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Kira Lewis, PG, Alabama

29. Toronto Raptors: Vernon Carey, C, Duke

30. Boston Celtics (via MIL): Filip Petrusev, C, Gonzaga

Draft order based on the latest projections from Tankathon.

                  

Analyzing Prospects Trending Upward

Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Deni Avdija was already on a rapid rise before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season in March. His across-the-board skill set, length and athleticism are highly intriguing, and he was able to put his NBA talent on display while winning the Israeli Basketball Premier League MVP award this past season.

Having that much success at the pro level domestically at 19 bodes well for his chances of making a quick transition to the NBA. His versatility adds to that since he's capable of playing anywhere from the wing to a stretch 4 depending on the system.

Don't rule him out of being taken with the No. 1 overall spot by the time the draft happens in October. It's unclear how many in-person draft activities will take place—it could slow his rise if he's not able to compete directly with other prospects—but his peak upside is a true franchise cornerstone.

                   

Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

Tyrese Haliburton's offensive output increased exponentially during his second season with the Cyclones. His shot attempts went from 4.8 to 11.1 per game, but his efficiency remained strong, as he shot 50.4 percent from the field, including 41.9 percent on threes.

That type of scoring ability, without being one-dimensional (6.5 assists per game), would have made him a fringe first-round pick. But he's also showed himself as a multi-position defender who can handle an opponent's top outside scorer at the collegiate level.

Given the whole package, it's a bit surprising he was been projected as more of a fringe lottery selection early in the process. He's now pretty much a lottery lock, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he slides into the top five.

               

Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova

Perhaps the biggest question Saddiq Bey faced heading into his second year at Villanova was whether he could continue his development toward a high-end outside shooter. He responded by shooting 45.1 percent from outside the arc while knocking down 2.5 threes per game.

Nothing else about the 21-year-old's game stands out as elite heading to the next level, but he's a reliable rebounder and a solid defender. Those factors, combined with his outside shot—a crucial element in the modern NBA—should allow him to make a late push for the lottery.

Bey is the type of prospect who will likely be a role player initially, providing an offensive spark off the bench, and steadily develop into a full-time starter. Given the lack of guaranteed stars in this year's class, that's well worth a pick in the middle of the round.