NBA Mock Draft 2020: Latest Projections for 1st-Round Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

Stanford guard Tyrell Terry prepares to shoot a free throw during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

From Kawhi Leonard to Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler to Fred VanVleet, the 2020 NBA playoffs are sending nightly reminders that superstars aren't only found in the lottery.

Leonard was the highest-drafted player of that quartet, but he was only the 15th pick in 2011. Jokic fell out of the first round in 2014. VanVleet wasn't even among the 60 players selected during the 2016 talent grab.

While every draft is capable of delivering a future star from any spot on the board, ones lacking can't-miss elites—as the 2020 draft appears to—are even more likely to see their best players rise from later picks. After running through our mock first round, we'll spotlight three of the non-lottery prospects with the highest ceilings.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

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

4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

5. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC

6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

7. Chicago Bulls: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

8. Charlotte Hornets: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

10. Phoenix Suns: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

11. San Antonio Spurs: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

12. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova

14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

18. Dallas Mavericks: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Josh Green, SG, Arizona

20. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Grant Riller, PG/SG, Charleston

23. Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Leandro Bolmaro, SG/SF, Barcelona

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Robert Woodard II, SF, Mississippi State

26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

29. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State


Non-Lottery Prospects with Most Potential

Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

Armed with blink-and-you-missed-him burst and an improving outside shot (47.5 percent from deep his final 10 collegiate contests), Lewis is quietly among the most interesting prospects in this entire draft.

He functions like a one-and-done player only with more polish. He reclassified to the 2018 class, which gave him a head start on his peers. Now, he's NBA-bound with two seasons of college ball under his belt even though he's just 19 years old (and nearly a full calendar year younger than actual one-and-done prospect Cole Anthony).

"It's instructive to compare Lewis against this year's highly touted freshmen guards, because he's the same age and had a better season than (checks notes)...all of them," The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote.

Lewis needs to improve as a decision-maker and a shooter, and he'll only get so far on the defensive end without bulking up his 165-pound frame. But he has the sky-is-the-limit upside of a freshman, plus more evidence that he might eventually realize it.


Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

The deep, off-the-dribble three-point shooting from players like Stephen Curry, Trae Young and Damian Lillard does more than fill up highlight reels. It forces defenses to pay attention to these snipers at all times, and therefore simplifies the game for their teammates by widening cutting lanes and giving them more room to launch.

If a player in this draft has that effect on defenders, it might be Terry, which makes it seem like it should be impossible for him to slip outside of the top 10 (let alone the top 20). But his warts—no size (6'1", 160 lbs), limited athleticism, non-elite passing and handles—are big enough to push him down the draft board.

Of course, that also puts him into draft-heist territory should he make good on his absurd potential. As The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor noted, Terry is "potentially a game-changing shooter with limitless range." That's a description modern NBA teams shouldn't take lightly, and it could propel him to stardom if everything breaks right.

Terry needs to tighten his handle, sharpen his passing and add strength to ever dream of approaching his ceiling, but if he checks those three boxes, in five years we might all be wondering how he ever slipped this far in the draft.


Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B

Only the boldest of the mock-drafting world need take notice of Pokusevski.

The Serbian 7-footer is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this class, and it's not particularly close. As Hollinger noted, there isn't another player in this draft like him:

"Pokusevski is one of the most unusual players you'll see—a rail-thin seven-footer who shoots clean-looking threes on the move, shows skill for dribbling and passing and snags steals on the perimeter. He also gets absolutely mashed inside the paint and struggles enough with lower body strength that it even impacts his two-point percentages offensively. He still can protect the rim, though, with a staggering 14.2 percent block rate in the Euro U18 championships in 2019."

Pokusevski might be the Association's next impact stretch big. Or he may not develop enough functional strength to ever fill a rotation spot.

His highlights are drool-worthy, but his style lacks substance. It will be a while before we even have an idea of whether he will pan out. But if he does, his ceiling is as fascinating as any in this class.