2020 NBA Mock Draft: Which Lottery Team Lands LaMelo Ball?
Two months after the original date for the 2020 NBA draft, the lottery order is finally set. Teams now have seven more weeks to finalize their boards and come up with trade scenarios.
The No. 1 pick will go to Minnesota Timberwolves after they entered the lottery with a 14.0 percent chance. But unlike last year, they won't have an obvious prospect to choose with that top overall selection. Limited access to players and information only further complicates their draft decision.
No consensus top prospect also means president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas figures to explore trading down.
NBA teams are ultimately expecting this draft to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory due to both the pandemic and opinions on prospects varying dramatically from one organization to another.
Non-lottery projections here are mostly the same as the ones from Wednesday's mock draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
Between Anthony Edwards' age (19), physical profile, explosiveness, advanced shot-creation and three-level shot-making, he possesses the draft's most favorable mix of talent, upside and skill. And teams can't seem to have enough creators and wings.
The Minnesota Timberwolves could see Edwards as both the draft's best player and a strong fit next to D'Angelo Russell.
The Wolves could now have one of the league's most potent backcourts and, including Karl-Anthony Towns, three star-caliber scorers.
No. 1 Pick Odds: -110
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
After landing the No. 2 pick, the Golden State Warriors figure to be active looking for a trade partner who's interested in moving up for James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball. A team like the New York Knicks may be looking to offer Mitchell Robinson and the No. 8 pick for a chance to land the latter.
But if the Warriors stay put, they'll likely settle on Wiseman. Few NBA centers can match his 7'1", 240-pound frame, 7'6" wingspan and athleticism, which should create an enormous finishing target and serve the Warriors well in rim protection with proper defensive coaching and development.
Golden State will be hoping Wiseman's flashes of grab-and-go ball-handling, post moves and jumpers from high school eventually become more routine in the NBA.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +200
3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)
We've projected LaMelo Ball as a soft No. 1 all season, contingent on how the draft order shakes out. Teams haven't viewed him far enough ahead of the pack to ignore his questionable fit in certain lineups.
And with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors picking Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, Ball could slip to the Hornets, who can't afford to pass on talent for a need.
Despite Devonte' Graham's breakout season, Charlotte will try to make it work with Ball, who brings 6'7" size and elite passing skills to the point guard position. He'll benefit from having a shooter like Graham, and Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington could start seeing better looks with Ball pushing the pace and setting them up.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)
Viewed as a potential top-five pick for most of the season, Deni Avdija solidified his case in July, earning MVP honors of the Israeli BSL while helping power Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Winner's League championship.
Along with his success in every setting overseas, certainty over his impressive physical profile and well-rounded skill set to handle, pass and shot-make have begun to outweigh skepticism over whether he offers star potential.
With Otto Porter Jr. potentially entering his last year in Chicago, new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas should be drawn to Avdija's versatility and fit between Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +1300
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Left off the 2019 NBA combine line, Obi Toppin turned scouts into believers this season, and now he's on the verge of cracking the 2020 draft's top five.
Despite having questions about his defense, teams are buying his offense and are willing to bet on it leading to star production.
After trading for Andre Drummond, general manager Koby Altman seems interested in expediting the team's rebuild. Of all the rookies, Toppin, the 22-year-old National Player of the Year, comes off as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
He'd give Cleveland an immediate scoring presence around the key, as well as an improved shooter and pick-and-pop target. And if other teams start to show interest in trading for Kevin Love, Cleveland could feel a little more comfortable moving on with the knowledge that Toppin is waiting.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +1300
6. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Tyrese Haliburton leapfrogged Cole Anthony and Nico Mannion on boards during the season, emerging as the most desirable NCAA point guard in this draft.
Given Trae Young's massive workload in Atlanta, the Hawks should be interested in adding a secondary playmaker like Haliburton.
He'd give Atlanta another elite-level passer to take pressure off Young and find teammates. After he shot 49.3 percent on spot-up jumpers, it's easy to picture him working off the ball alongside Young.
Maturity, IQ and shooting should also help Haliburton make a quick transition, another selling point for a team looking to start winning games.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +5000
7. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Onyeka Okongwu has convinced teams to look past his 6'9" size for a center and lack of shooting range. They've fallen for his athleticism around the basket, post footwork/touch and defensive upside.
At the least, the Detroit Pistons should be able to bank on Okongwu for easy baskets off rolls, cuts and missed shots. And given his length, mobility and 2.7 blocks per game, they should feel excited about his potential to protect the rim and guard effectively in space.
But Okongwu flashed enough skill with his short-range creation and shot-making to hint at another level of scoring upside. Continuing to develop at his current rate could mean featured touches as a top option in the offense.
8. New York Knicks: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Bad luck dropped the New York Knicks to No. 8, but they could still add a core piece in Devin Vassell.
With a nucleus built around RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, New York could use shooting and perimeter defense, and Vassell has established himself as the draft's most desirable three-and-D wing.
The Knicks will look at French point guard Killian Hayes and stopper Isaac Okoro, but limited jumpers may turn them off. They can't go wrong with Vassell, an exciting athlete who can stretch the floor and guard multiple positions, even if he doesn't show any improvement.
On the optimistic side, he did make an encouraging jump with his pull-up game, a potential sign of more scoring upside for the Knicks to unlock.
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Washington Wizards ranked No. 29 in defensive efficiency, and Isaac Okoro would give them a needed wing stopper next to Rui Hachimura.
He's powerful, quick and disciplined with the ability to guard big or small. And though more limited on offense, he still shot 60.7 percent inside the arc, showing a good feel for scoring off the ball by driving past closeouts and cutting.
He'd be a safe, low-maintenance option for an offense that runs through ball-dominant guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal.
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
The Phoenix Suns' bubble run could lead the front office to believe they're closer to competing than initially thought. It wouldn't be surprising if they looked to trade this pick for a veteran who could help them win next year.
Otherwise, it wouldn't hurt for Phoenix to add another ball-handler and potential long-term replacement for Ricky Rubio.
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. All three, plus Deandre Ayton, would benefit from Hayes' signature passing and playmaking.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The draft class gets cloudy outside the top eight or 10 players, 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): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
The Celtics could look at Achiuwa to inject their frontcourt with athleticism and defensive versatility. Despite lacking polish offensively, defensive versatility could be his NBA moneymaker, though flashes of face-up moves and spot-up threes indicate he has more scoring potential to reach.
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): 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.
18. Dallas Mavericks: 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. 18 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.
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: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
The Heat would catch Anthony's fall and value his creation ability. 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.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): 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.
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: Josh Green (Arizona, SG, Freshman)
At baseline, it's easy to picture Green contributing 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.
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.