LaMelo Ball to T-Wolves, Obi Toppin to Knicks in ESPN Pre-Lottery NBA Mock Draft

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney.  LaMelo Ball's bone bruise on his left foot is expected to keep him out of the Illawarra Hawks lineup for the remainder of the National Basketball League season in Australia. The 18-year-old American, who joined Illawarra as part of the NBL's Next Stars program, is expected to be a first-round pick in this year's NBA draft.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft lottery will take place Thursday, at which point we'll have a better idea of who will ultimately wind up where come October.

For now, though, ESPN's Jonathan Givony got in one last mock before the order was set. Givony has Georgia guard Anthony Edwards still locked in at the No. 1 spot to the Golden State Warriors, with James Wiseman (Cleveland Cavaliers) going No. 2 and LaMelo Ball (Minnesota Timberwolves) settling in at No. 3.

Deni Avdija, the top international prospect in the class, went to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 4, followed by the Detroit Pistons landing big man Onyeka Okongwu and Obi Toppin going No. 6 to the New York Knicks.

It's hard to put a solid analysis into the draft until the lottery is set, but Edwards is the clear-cut favorite to go No. 1 overall. The powerful guard spent one frustrating season at Georgia, averaging 19.1 points but shooting a paltry 29.4 percent from three-point range and failing to get the Bulldogs into the NCAA tournament conversation.

While Edwards would probably be more of a top-five selection in a typical class, his relative safeness and upside make him attractive in a class full of players with clear flaws.

Wiseman's career at Memphis barely got off the ground before an impermissible benefits scandal ended his collegiate career. Ball's odyssey from being a high school dropout playing Lithuanian basketball at age 16 to a failed startup league run by his father and then back overseas for a short stint in Australia's National Basketball League has been well documented.

Ball's name carries by far the most cache among fans, and the point guard has a chance to be a better pro than his older brother, Lonzo. That said, his experience against top-flight competition is limited, his shot needs a lot of work, and he's maybe the worst defender among lottery picks. 

Teams may wind up gravitating toward safer picks like Toppin, who is already 22 years old but projects as a solid-if-not-spectacular starter in the league.