2020 NBA Mock Draft: Lottery Simulation and 1st-Round Predictions
None of the other three teams with projected top-four picks landed in the top four, and it seems likely the NBA's decision to flatten the odds—which came into effect last year—could lead to more unpredictable results.
The Portland Trail Blazers will no longer participate in the lottery after their bubble run to the playoffs. Instead, the Memphis Grizzlies have joined the lottery, though they'll need to get lucky and move up, or their top-six-protected pick will go to the Boston Celtics.
1. Atlanta Hawks: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Winning the lottery gives the Atlanta Hawks a chance to add another scoring machine next to Trae Young, who'd benefit from having a second shot-creator in the lineup.
A Young-Anthony Edwards backcourt could put relentless pressure on defenses with their attacking and shot-making.
The Hawks will have conversations about LaMelo Ball, but they may have too many concerns about how his ball-dominant style and mediocre defense will work with Young.
Assuming the Hawks grade Ball and Edwards similarly in a vacuum, fit could play tiebreaker and give the edge to the explosive, 225-pound wing who just made 2.3 threes per game.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: -110
2. Detroit Pistons: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
Drafting the best player available to a relatively blank-canvas roster should be the only priority for the Detroit Pistons. But being a point guard and elite passer doesn't hurt LaMelo Ball's case.
Detroit would likely take him No. 1 if it won the lottery. The Pistons need his ability to create quality looks for teammates, which seems guaranteed to translate based on his 6'7" size, ball-handling, unteachable vision and playmaking skill.
The Pistons also have shooters in Luke Kennard, Svi Mykhailiuk and Tony Snell to surround Ball, who could use both the targets and space they provide.
Otherwise, coach Dwane Casey could run a ton of exciting two-man action with his rookie setup man and a healthy Blake Griffin.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +300
3. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
In this simulation, new Chicago Bulls general manager Arturas Karnisovas moves into the top three to make his first pick for the franchise.
He shouldn't have a tough time selling the front office on Deni Avdija, who just led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli League championship at 19 years old. Appearing visibly stronger, he also embraced a heavier workload, delivering more confident flashes of grab-and-go ability, pick-and-roll ball-handling and shot-making.
At the very least, the well-rounded skill set he's developed overseas should translate to role-player versatility Chicago would value in a lineup between Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.
Unless the Bulls are convinced that Memphis' James Wiseman will be a surefire upgrade over Wendell Carter Jr., Karnisovas could favor Avdija's high floor and easier fit.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +1300
4. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Despite Devonte' Graham's breakout and P.J. Washington's strong rookie season, the Charlotte Hornets are still looking for a star to build around. It's easy to imagine they're unable to resist the potential tied to James Wiseman's 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan, athleticism and flashes of scoring skill.
The fact that he's a center should only make him look more attractive to Charlotte.
Ideally, he'd give the Hornets a difference-making rim protector with his massive reach behind Washington. Even if his offensive game never takes off, Wiseman's tools and bounce should still create an enormous finishing target for guards.
The upside could kick in after a few seasons, however, if he's able to continue building on his elbow/short corner game and shooting touch.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +200
5. Golden State Warriors: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Even if the Golden State Warriors pick higher than No. 5, they'd likely put serious consideration into Obi Toppin or the idea of trading down to get him.
The 22-year-old national player of the year comes off as one of the draft's few immediate contributors, a selling point to a franchise that's paying big bucks to stars and trying to win now.
Toppin would fit right in as an elite finisher playing off Golden State's guards and wings. But it's his improved three-point shooting (39.0 percent) for the Warriors' system that could give him an edge over Onyeka Okongwu.
It wouldn't be surprising to see coach Steve Kerr look to play small with Toppin at center.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +1300
6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Without really knowing his roster's identity, general manager Koby Altman can't take positions and needs into account in the draft. It's too early to tell what Darius Garland will be or if Andre Drummond makes sense to sign long-term after he opts in for the final year of his deal.
Altman needs to continue stockpiling talent and worry about sorting it out later. Onyeka Okongwu will have a strong case as the best player available at No. 6.
Compared to Drummond, he possesses more offensive skill and defensive upside. As a rookie, Cleveland can use him for easy baskets, paint touch and shot-blocking. But long-term, he gives Altman an out from having to overpay Drummond and coach J.B. Bickerstaff a more threatening scorer and rim protector for the starting lineup.
No.1 Overall Pick Odds: +4000
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The move to acquire D'Angelo Russell will help the Minnesota Timberwolves offense once Karl-Anthony Towns joins him in the lineup. The next move and priority may be to plug holes with efficient players and defenders, which could lead them to Isaac Okoro.
At 6'6", 225 pounds with tree-trunk legs, he's one of the most convincing defenders in the draft with the tools to guard bigs, wings and ball-handlers, plus the mentality and effort to lock down. But he also shot 60.7 percent inside the arc, and though he isn't known for creating or shooting, he excels at capitalizing on space for drives, cuts and post-ups.
Flashes of set jump shots and high-IQ passing suggest the 19-year-old also possesses more offensive upside for Minnesota to unlock.
No. Overall Pick Odds: +5000
8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
The New York Knicks could be considering a few point guards at this stage of the draft. Tyrese Haliburton should have the edge over Cole Anthony, a scorer and limited playmaker, and Killian Hayes, who just turned 19 and struggles as a shooter.
The new front office will value Haliburton's maturity and IQ for running an offense that has lacked proper decision-making and leadership. Though not an advanced shot-creator for himself, there isn't any debate that his passing and ability to set up teammates will carry over.
His catch-and-shoot ability (49.3 percent) is another selling point to the Knicks as they try to maintain flexibility in building the roster. The 6'5" guard ranked in the 99th percentile out of spot-ups and would be fine playing the 2 next to another ball-handler should the team decide to make an offer for someone like Fred VanVleet in free agency.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +5000
9. Washington Wizards: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
The Washington Wizards have to be thinking best player available, though with John Wall poised to return and signed through 2023, it wouldn't be surprising if they favored the wing and big positions unless they saw a star point guard worth taking.
Killian Hayes or Cole Anthony would be that point guard. However, they may envision too strong of a fit with Devin Vassell, who has a case as the draft's top three-and-D prospect. He's further along as a shooter than Troy Brown Jr. and offers more athleticism for making wow plays on defense.
A Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt requires off-ball shot-makers, and the Wizards ranked No. 29 in the league defensively, per ESPN. Vassell comes off as a puzzle-piece fit between Beal and Rui Hachimura, who struggles from behind the arc and playing both ends of the floor.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +10000
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
The silver lining to missing the playoffs for the Phoenix Suns: They keep their pre-bubble odds of landing the No. 10 pick. They have the chance to land another key addition for a rotation that suddenly looks like one of the league's most exciting.
Though Ricky Rubio has been an important contributor to the Suns' resurgence, it wouldn't hurt for Phoenix to add another ball-handler and potential long-term replacement. Viewed as a potential lottery talent entering the season, Killian Hayes delivered on expectations, finishing third in EuroCup in assists while making notable improvements to his shot-creating and shot-making skills.
Three-point shooting is still his biggest weakness, but the Suns could surround him with Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, while all three, plus Deandre Ayton, would benefit from Hayes' signature passing and playmaking.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +2500
11. San Antonio Spurs: Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The draft class gets cloudy outside the top 8-10, so the Spurs may go with a player they can bank on. The 6'8", 216-pound Bey just shot 45.1 percent from three and offers off-ball shot-making versatility that seems guaranteed to translate.
12. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
The draft's youngest NCAA prospect, Williams flashed unique versatility fueled by 6'8" size, power, touch, pick-and-roll passing and defensive playmaking. The forward spots are Sacramento's weakest, and Williams may eventually be able to log minutes at both, depending on how his perimeter skill develops.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
Smith made a significant impression this year with his improved body and shooting, and scouts are talking as if he won't make it outside the lottery. New Orleans would use him to stretch the floor and bang inside, but teams also believe there is more to his offensive game than he was able to showcase at Maryland.
14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Josh Green (Arizona, SG, Freshman)
At baseline, it's easy to picture Green contributes in a supporting NBA role with his explosiveness for transition offense, elite defensive quickness and 43.9 percent spot-up jumper. How high he climbs will come down to his development off the dribble, creating shots and hitting pull-ups.
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
At some point, the Magic need to focus on strengthening their backcourt. Lewis would give Orlando a different dimension of speed and pace. His 165-pound frame and limited explosion may make it tougher to execute against NBA defenders, but Orlando would value his ability to keep defenses backpedaling.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
Portland could look to add another shot-maker in Nesmith, who shot 52.2 percent from deep before injuring his foot 14 games in. With scorers and playmakers in the lineup, the Blazers could mask Nesmith's limitations as a creator and optimize his off-ball skills of hitting jumpers off spot-ups and movement.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
After taking Okoro, the Wolves can continue to strengthen their defense with Achiuwa. Despite lacking polish offensively, defensive versatility could be his NBA moneymaker, though flashes of face-up moves and spot-up threes indicate more scoring potential to reach.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Mavericks would see Maxey as the best player available and his shooting as better than the numbers might suggest. He needs to improve as a playmaker, but his shot-making, mid-range touch and advanced finishing point to a three-level scoring combo.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)
Unlikely to find an immediate contributor at No. 19, Brooklyn can use the draft to make sure it's taking care of its future. A 6'6" passer and playmaker, Bolmaro just signed a three-year deal with Barcelona, so even if he's not ready to come over to the NBA, he'll continue to develop in a favorable situation overseas.
20. Miami Heat: Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG, Freshman)
Terry's NBA fan club has grown since he started the season off the radar. His high skill level as a shooter, finisher and passer, along with his basketball IQ and competitiveness, have eased concerns over his 6'1", 160-pound frame and limited athleticism.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
The Sixers would catch Anthony's fall and value his scoring. He's lost support from scouts who aren't sold on his decision-making for a lead guard. But in a lower-usage role, his ball-handling, shot-making and scoring could be valuable.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
McDaniels' shooting at 6'9" is his biggest selling point. It became tougher to buy that the flashes of ball-handling and shot-creation will work at the NBA level, but his touch from the 4 spot seems convincing enough for a team that wants additional shot-making and space.
23. Utah Jazz: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF/C, 2001)
Pokusevski may come off as a risk based on his skinny frame and limited reps in Greece's second division. But there wouldn't be any obvious sure things or stars left at No. 23 anyway, and there could be more upside tied to Pokusevski's 7'0" size, shooting versatility, ball skills and rim protection than some lottery picks.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
Teams' level of interest in Hampton has faded, as they've struggled to identify what skill or strength they can bank on. His combination of explosiveness and backcourt versatility remains intriguing, however, as Hampton is a jet in transition, a ball-screen playmaker and a capable set shooter.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Daniel Oturu (Minnesota, C, Sophomore)
Compared to Steven Adams, Oturu can give Oklahoma City a more versatile scoring threat away from the basket. He lacks discipline with his shot selection, but the Thunder's veteran leadership and coaching staff seem like a good match.
26. Boston Celtics: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, C, Freshman)
Nnaji would have a defined role that values his offensive rebounding and timing as a cutter and post player. But drafting him first-round means buying that his mid-range touch translates and eventually extends to the arc.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Cassius Stanley (Duke, SF, Freshman)
The Knicks lack wings and could be drawn to Stanley's elite athletic ability. He shot 36.0 percent from three at Duke and delivered enough flashes of energetic defense, though the hope would be for Stanley to show more creativity and shot-making than he did in college.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)
Teams love Winston's maturity and leadership, and his shooting makes it easier to look past his athletic limitations. While most may have a tough time drafting a 22-year-old point guard, all it takes is the right team to see a value pick and NBA-ready contributor.
29. Toronto Raptors: Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
The Raptors would look past Ramsey's lapses in shot selection and defense and value his mix of strength and shot-making. A few years of development could lead Ramsey to carve out a regular role as a scoring and shooting specialist.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Sophomore)
The Celtics could see an immediate contributor to their rotation in Jones, who'd add IQ and defensive toughness. While scouts question his ability to score, in Boston, he could focus on passing and pressuring the ball.
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference. No. 1 Overall Pick Odds courtesy of FanDuel.