2020 NBA Draft: Top Prospects and Pre-Lottery 1st-Round Order

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks shoots during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

In a matter of hours, one team will discover it's on the clock for the 2020 NBA draft.

The draft lottery is typically in late spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to delay the event until Thursday night. The draft itself is slated for Oct. 16, which is typically when teams are in training camp ahead of the regular season.

Instead, team personnel will spend part of the summer and early fall doing what they can to evaluate the top players in the 2020 draft class. In addition to the fact the pandemic cut the 2019-20 college basketball season short, it's unclear how much teams will be able to look at players in person during traditional workouts.

Compounding matters, many have argued the incoming group of prospects lacks a true standout talent such as Zion Williamson or Ja Morant last year.

The final 16 picks of the first round are already locked in—pending any trades between now and draft night—since they're based on the regular-season standings. The first 14 selections will be dependent upon the results of Thursday night's lottery.


Projected First-Round Draft Order

1. Golden State Warriors*

2. Cleveland Cavaliers*

3. Minnesota Timberwolves*

4. Atlanta Hawks*

5. Detroit Pistons*

6. New York Knicks*

7. Chicago Bulls*

8. Charlotte Hornets*

9. Washington Wizards*

10. Phoenix Suns*

11. San Antonio Spurs*

12. Sacramento Kings*

13. New Orleans Pelicans*

14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies)*

15. Orlando Magic

16. Portland Trail Blazers

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets)

18. Dallas Mavericks

19. Brooklyn Nets (via Sixers)

20. Miami Heat

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder)

22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets)

23. Utah Jazz

24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers)

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets)

26. Boston Celtics

27. New York Knicks (via Clippers)

28. Los Angeles Lakers

29. Toronto Raptors

30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks)

Order via Tankathon.


Top 2020 Draft Prospects

LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

Spurning college to play in Australia has worked out pretty well for LaMelo Ball, even though a foot injury ended his season in January.

Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists over 12 NBL appearances for the Illawarra Hawks. His standout performance came last November, when he finished with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 114-106 win over the Cairns Taipans.

Ball's shooting remains a work in progress. He hit 37.5 percent of his total attempts and 25.0 percent of his three-pointers.

That's something that can improve with enough work and repetition. Ball doesn't need to be Stephen Curry in order to have a positive impact on the floor. He's a dynamic playmaker whose 6'7" frame will cause obvious matchup problems against smaller guards.


Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman listed former Georgia guard Anthony Edwards fourth on his big board in July and profiled his play:

"At 18 years old, Edwards hit the 25-point mark seven times in 32 games, demonstrating an ability to take over stretches with a deep pull-up game that sets up his driving. He ranked in the 72nd percentile out of isolation, hitting defenders with crossovers into jumpers, rise-and-fires, step-backs and blow-bys.

"On the other hand, Edwards was one of 75 college players to attempt at least four pull-ups per game, and his 28.6 field-goal percentage on those shots was tied for 71st."

As with Ball, shooting is a concern with Edwards. He went 29.4 percent from beyond the arc. Unlike Ball, he only dished out 2.8 assists per game. A big chunk of Edwards' offensive value is likely to stem from his scoring, which puts an emphasis on being an efficient shooter.

It's not hard to see why teams would value a player who averaged 19.1 points and was the SEC Freshman of the Year. Edwards carries a level of risk, however, given where he's generally slotted on draft boards.


James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

James Wiseman headed to Memphis with massive hype as the No. 1 overall recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings for 2019.

Fans got to see him three times before he was handed a 12-game suspension from the NCAA and subsequently left the Tigers altogether. As a result, Wiseman is one of the bigger wild cards in the draft.

Gleaning anything from his college career is almost impossible. He faced South Carolina State and UIC in his first two games, and his numbers (5-of-8 from the floor, 14 points, 12 rebounds, one block) in an 82-74 defeat to Oregon were good but nothing spectacular.

The worry with Wiseman is that his skill set will be too limited at a time when all but a select few traditional centers are basically interchangeable in the NBA. He attempted one three-pointer during his brief Memphis career, and it's hard to know whether his nine blocks is a reflection of the rim protection he'll provide or more a result of his 7'1" frame.


Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

Obi Toppin turned 22 in March, which makes him an elder statesman in this year's class.

When the NCAA canceled the NCAA basketball tournament, one of the bigger downsides was that Dayton lost the chance to fully savor what was shaping up to be one of the best seasons in program history.

Nobody was more instrumental in the Flyers' success than Toppin, who collected almost every major individual award for 2019-20. He averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while displaying an impressive scoring touch. He shot 63.3 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from the perimeter.

Toppin may not have the same kind of ceiling as players who are two or even three years younger in this draft. Jayson Tatum, De'Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball are all the same age as Toppin but have three seasons in the NBA under their belts.

The trade-off is that the Dayton star might have a more immediate impact compared to some of his draft peers.