NBA Draft 2020: Date, Selection Order, Lottery Predictions and Top Prospects

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 15, 2020

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton reacts after making a 3-point basket during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)
Matthew Putney/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft will take place Oct. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the Association to delay the event by nearly four months and move proceedings to ESPN's Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters.

Teams will use videoconferencing to reveal their picks to the league, which will hold its lottery in a virtual setting as well.

The final selection order won't be decided until those lottery results are presented, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday between the first-round playoff games that will air on ESPN.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the top 14 could shake out if the lottery chalk holds. That is unlikely given the many permutations, but most teams won't be straying too far from their pre-lottery slots.

One caveat, though: The lottery teams who participated in the NBA's restart will still be ordered on the lottery odds ledger via their win-loss record up to and including March 11.

In other words, that's why the Phoenix Suns, who finished with a better overall regular-season record than the Sacramento Kings, have a higher draft placement.

The top eight teams, none of whom took part in the restart, are listed in reverse order of their win-loss mark.

The final lottery slot is undecided. That will go to the loser of the play-in tournament between the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies. The winner will earn the Western Conference's No. 8 seed and play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Following the mock draft below, take a look at how three teams in need of some backcourt help could use their selections to improve.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia)

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Onyeka Okongwu (USC)

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: PG LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks)

4. Atlanta Hawks: C James Wiseman (Memphis)

5. Detroit Pistons: PG Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm)

6. New York Knicks: G Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State)

7. Chicago Bulls: SF/PF Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

8. Charlotte Hornets: SF Isaac Okoro (Auburn)

9. Washington Wizards: F Devin Vassell (Florida State)

10. Phoenix Suns: PF Obi Toppin (Dayton)

11. San Antonio Spurs: SF/PF Patrick Williams (Florida State)

12. New Orleans Pelicans:  PG/SG Cole Anthony (UNC)

13. Sacramento Kings: PF Precious Achiuwa (Memphis)

14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis Grizzlies): G RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers)

Draft order via Tankathon.


Minnesota Timberwolves: G LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks)

Numerous draft analysts have pegged LaMelo Ball as the NBA draft's top prospect, including Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman and The Athletic's Sam Vecenie.

However, it's possible the 18-year-old falls to No. 3 even if teams view him as highly as some writers.

The Golden State Warriors won't be in the market for a point guard, with two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry returning from injury, and the Cleveland Cavaliers won't, either, as they look to build around a backcourt featuring the young lottery-pick duo of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.

However, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a backcourt opening next to D'Angelo Russell, and Ball could fill that spot, kicking Russell out to shooting guard.

Ball only played 12 games for the National Basketball League's Illawarra Hawks, but he impressed during that time with 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He needs to work on his shot (37.5 percent from the field), but the 6'7" guard went head-to-head with professionals in Oceania's top league and filled up the stat sheet.

As for the fit, Wasserman classified it as a good one in an April 21 piece:

"Russell has experience playing some 2-guard, so Ball should have the chance to handle the rock with talent to feed. Together, they share a dangerous mix of size, ball-handling creativity, passing and shot-making skills.

"But the main draw to Minnesota for Ball should be Towns, one of the league's most versatile pick-and-roll (or pick-and-pop) weapons. Towns' setting ball screens for Ball could become one of the league's most effective two-man actions."

The Timberwolves have a core duo to build around in big man Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell, but they need to continue filling out their roster as they look to improve upon a 19-45 mark.

The best player available at this point is Ball, and the T-Wolves should lean toward him at No. 3 if he's there.


Detroit Pistons: G Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, Germany)

The Detroit Pistons must take the draft's highest-upside player, one who's capable of becoming the face of the franchise and a core member to build around for years.

That player isn't on the Pistons already; Blake Griffin is still on the roster, but he has a player option for 2021-22 and could be gone this time next year.

Detroit has some pieces who could fit into the future rotation, such as Luke Kennard and Christian Wood, but it needs to add as much talent as possible around them.

Point guard Killian Hayes could be the answer. Wasserman is a big fan of the 19-year-old guard, placing him No. 2 on his big board and writing the following:

"Ranking him in the top three means betting that his three-point-shooting numbers will approach or surpass the 35.0 percent mark. He's still only at 29.4 percent, but for an 18-year-old, the eye test, a 41.4 percent pull-up jumper, an 87.6 free-throw percentage and an uptick in threes made per game (1.5 3PTM per 40) suggest it's a bet worth making.

"Otherwise, he's a convincing passer (6.2 assists per game in Eurocup) and advanced pick-and-roll ball-handler capable of manipulating defenses with his eyes and hesitation. He made exciting strides as a scorer with his shot creation and footwork for separating, as well as his finishing package of floaters and layups in the lane."

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer went one step further and put the 19-year-old No. 1 overall on his list, praising his playmaking as his "best skill" and writing that his game has shades of Russell and ex-San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili.

Hayes should be a clear front-runner for the Pistons at No. 5. The team needs a point guard to guide it through the 2020s, and he's arguably the best at his position available.


New York Knicks: G Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State)

The New York Knicks have a wing player to build around in RJ Barrett. They have an intriguing big man in shot-blocking maven Mitchell Robinson, who could be the long-term answer down low.

Other than those two, more questions than answers exist regarding the team's long-term future, perhaps no more than at point guard, where Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina all handled the ball last season.

The Knicks need to find that answer as soon as possible and use their selection to take their board's best point guard, with all due respect to the best-player-available theory.

Floor general has been an on-and-off problem for far too long, but Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton could be the answer.

Knicks beat writer Marc Berman of the New York Post has notably been connecting the dots from the 20-year-old to the Big Apple this year, placing the ex-Cyclone at No. 6 overall to New York in his mock draft:

"At No. 6, the Knicks are looking at a scoring point guard, and Haliburton checks the most boxes with Ball off the board. He's not even a one-and-done. The Iowa State sophomore has a high IQ, good feel for the game, is a playmaker and his career 3-point shooting percentage is 43 percent.

"He's got a good feel in the pick-and-roll, nice touch on his floater and has good defensive instincts at 6'5"—with a 6'7½" wingspan. ESPN's Seth Greenberg believes this should be the Knicks' guy."

O'Connor called Haliburton a "genius playmaker who can be a major building block of a contending team," comparing him to the Oklahoma City Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and ex-NBA guard Sam Cassell.

The Knicks need a "genius playmaker" to set up Barrett and potentially Robinson for years to come, and Haliburton appears to be the top choice at No. 6.