2020 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions, Prospects Who Are Safest Bets

Theo SalaunContributor IIIAugust 19, 2020

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton drives up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

On August 20, the order of selections for the 2020 NBA Draft will take shape during the lottery, but the actual picks should remain unclear.

There is no Zion Williamson, no obvious consensus top pick, in 2020. Anthony Edwards may be close, but no one would bat an eye if a team went for the upside of James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball instead. 

As teams toe the line between ceiling and floor, two top-10 picks stand out as remarkably safe selections: Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton. Below, you'll find a mock of the first round, based on standings and dependent on player fit, followed by analysis of the two aforementioned safe bets.


2020 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

4. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

5. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

6. New York Knicks: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

7. Chicago Bulls: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

8. Charlotte Hornets: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

10. Phoenix Suns: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova

11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

12. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

13. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

14. Boston Celtics: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

15. Orlando Magic: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington

16. Portland Trailblazers: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State

17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

18. Dallas Mavericks: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

19. Brooklyn Nets: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

20. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

21. Denver Nuggets: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

22. Philadelphia 76ers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

23. Utah Jazz: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State

25. Oklahoma City: Desmond Bane, SG, TCU 

26. Boston Celtics: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

27. New York Knicks: Cassius Stanley, SG, Duke

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

29. Toronto Raptors: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona

30. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington


Prospects Who Are Safest Bets

Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

Bookended by some minor injuries and the decision to withdraw from college basketball, Wiseman only played three games for Memphis in 2019—engendering legitimate uncertainty. Meanwhile, shooting 37.5 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from three and 72.3 percent from the free-throw line, Ball's jumper is concerning—a phrase that evokes 2017 deja vu from his brother Lonzo.

Edwards played 32 games for Georgia this season, a sample size greater than Wiseman's by 29 and Ball's by 20. And he averaged 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on 40.2 percent shooting from the field, 29.4 percent from three and 77.2 percent from the line. The efficiency isn't inspiring, but it feels surer than Ball's and partially excused by his 50.4 percent clip from within the arc and the uncomfortable amount of triples he hoisted per game: 7.7.

Most importantly, he passes the eye test with flying colors. The NBA lists Edwards at 6'3", 225 pounds and with a 6'10" wingspan, but other measurements have him at 6'5". On the court, that size is inflated by explosiveness and confidence.

SEC Network @SECNetwork

Anthony Edwards is putting on a show 🍿 https://t.co/jhZzlkzCFZ

On offense, he can handle, change speed and bully to the rack. His efficiency could be worrying, but he had games when pull-up threes, including his slick step-back, flashed in big games from the deep—including a match against Michigan State in which he knocked seven of 16 from beyond the arc. On defense, he has lapses but boasts obvious tools to be a plus-defender, at least, in the league. 

Golden State may prefer Wiseman's fit, New York may prefer Ball's upside, but, despite some efficiency and size concerns, Edwards has a clear shot at going No. 1 given a high ceiling and consistent proof of 2020's highest floor.


Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

Haliburton's shot looks wonky, and his frame seems unfilled, but in a draft full of intriguing point guards, no one seems safer at the position. At 6'5" and just 175 pounds, Haliburton shoots from the top of his chest with a little bunny hop. It's not very pretty and doesn't seem hard to defend, but the Iowa State guard averaged 4.2 attempts from deep over 57 college games and knocked in 42.6 percent of them. 

Iowa State Men’s Basketball @CycloneMBB

It is 🌧 3⃣ in Hilton, including 5⃣ first half threes from Tyrese Haliburton! https://t.co/zNwk3rFLHV

Couple that with an 82.2 percent rate from the free-throw line this season and you have a surprisingly capable shooter. He may need more space at the professional level, but he is this class' steadiest creator of it. In college, he averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. Toss in 2.5 steals per game and a 50.4 percent rate from the field for statistical proof of his comfort navigating on hardwood.

Haliburton projects as a more consistent shooter than Ball, while his handle and passing aren't miles behind—as he can legitimately make every pass. Whether it's a full-court toss off the rebound, an off-the-dribble lob inside of the paint or a mid-drive sling to an open shooter on the other side of the court, Haliburton's frequent flashiness is a product of his capacity to get the ball where he wants, whenever he wants.

Evan Sidery @esidery

Tyrese Haliburton is the best passer in the 2020 draft class. His fit in Phoenix would be seamless alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Haliburton is one of my favorite fits for the Suns. https://t.co/wEbOk6HI7S

Ball is one of the most polarizing prospects in recent history and will go higher than Haliburton because his potential, granted by length and feel, is frightening. Later, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony both have undeniable scoring upside. But Haliburton outpaces all in safety, having shown more consistency against the most visible competition.