NBA Mock Draft 2020: Bold Predictions for Low-Profile Prospects

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

Florida State forward Patrick Williams (4) slams a dunk against Louisville in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

It's been a season full of uncertainty, but we finally have an order for the 2020 NBA draft after Thursday's lottery, providing a small amount of clarity for a class that still has a lot of question marks.

LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman have dominated much of the headlines and each could go off the board early during October's draft. However, there are several more players who might not be household names but could make significant impacts at the next level.

After the first few picks, teams are always seeking high-upside options as well as players who can play a role within a rotation. This class features prospects who fit both of these definitions to help fill out an intriguing class.

Here is a mock draft along with a breakdown of some players who are still too under-the-radar.


2020 NBA Mock Draft

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

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

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra

4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

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

7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Ulm

8. New York Knicks: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

10. Phoenix Suns: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State

11. San Antonio Spurs: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

12. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

14. Boston Celtics (from Grizzlies): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

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

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, PF, Villanova

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Nets): Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

18. Dallas Mavericks: Tyrese Maxey, PG, Kentucky

19. Brooklyn Nets (from 76ers): Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington

20. Miami Heat: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

21. Philadelphia 76ers (from Thunder): RJ Hampton, PG, New Zealand Breakers

22. Denver Nuggets (from Rockets): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiakos B

23. Utah Jazz: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

24. Milwaukee Bucks (from Pacers): Leandro Bolmaro, SG, Barcelona 2

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Nuggets): Theo Maledon, PG, Villeurbanne

26. Boston Celtics: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

27. New York Knicks (from Clippers): Josh Green, SG, Arizona

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

29. Toronto Raptors: Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

30. Boston Celtics (from Bucks): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech


Bold Predictions

Patrick Williams Is the First ACC Player Off the Board

There were six ACC players in the first nine picks of the draft last season, including three from Duke and two from North Carolina, totals we have come to expect. However, the first ACC pick this year could come from Florida State with Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams both considered top prospects.

Though Vassell was the go-to option for much of the season for the Seminoles, look for Williams—a bench player who averaged just 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game—to be the first off the board.

Williams is exactly what teams are looking for in the modern NBA, a 6'8" forward with a large wingspan who can defend multiple positions. Though his offensive game is raw, he has plenty of upside with the ability to both attack the paint as well as knock down open shots.

ACC Digital Network @theACCDN

Patrick Williams' versatility & potential is up there with the best of them, making him one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft. 🍢👀 #ACCMBB | @FSUHoops @patricklw4 https://t.co/PynarTPzjR

A scout predicted to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman that "when we look back in a few years, we'll question how and why Williams wasn't a top pick more than any other prospect."

There is too much risk to select Williams with one of the first few picks, but he should go in the lottery with several teams potentially having openings for him.

The Phoenix Suns makes a lot of sense as the team is still looking to add stars alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton who can contribute early on the defensive end. He could replace Dario Saric while joining Mikal Bridges in an impressive defensive duo at the forward spots.

If he lives up to expectations, the Suns could have one of the top young cores in the NBA.


Jalen Smith Sneaks into the Lottery

John Minchillo/Associated Press

NBA teams always need rim-protectors and players who can make three-pointers. Jalen Smith can do both of those things.

The Maryland product averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last season, making 36.8 percent of his three-point shots at more than one made three-pointer per game.

He had a double double in 13 of his final 14 games against the loaded Big Ten and finished fourth in the country in box plus/minus.

While he still needs to add strength, the 6'10", 225-pound forward has natural instincts as a rebounder and shot-blocker, while his range will easily translate to the next level.

Any contender that needs immediate contributors should target Smith, but the Boston Celtics could be an ideal fit with the need for depth in the low post. He could slide into the rotation right away and play significant minutes for a playoff team.

Although there is still room for Smith to improve as a shot-creator, this skill set won't be needed with plenty of other go-to options on the Celtics roster. 


Kira Lewis Jr. Goes Ahead of Bigger Names at PG

Cole Anthony and Tyrese Maxey dazzled at times during the college basketball season, but consistency was an issue for both of them, as well as wondering if they can do more than just score.

Kira Lewis Jr. was not as well known to college basketball fans but is certainly a hot name for NBA scouts with a skill set more suited to the NBA.

First of all, Lewis can contribute in a number of ways on the court, including as a creator, playmaker, rebounder and defender:

Alabama Men’s Basketball @AlabamaMBB

Moments of the Decade | February 12, 2020 10 pts, 13 asts, 10 rebs — Kira Lewis Jr. (@Mr_Lewis3) becomes only the second player in program history to record a triple-double #RollTide | #BlueCollarBasketball https://t.co/GZz9XypDkg

He finished last season with averages of 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and was especially good down the stretch. In February and March, the guard averaged 21.8 points and 6.1 assists in 11 games.

The 6'3" guard also has excellent quickness to allow him to penetrate into the lane, paired with a reliable outside shot that will make him difficult to guard.

LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes will likely be the top three point guards taken in the draft, but Lewis can lead the next tier of candidates, including top high school prospects like Anthony, Maxey and RJ Hampton.

The Orlando Magic make perfect sense for Lewis as an immediate replacement for D.J. Augustin, who is set to enter free agency. 


Washington Beats Blue Bloods in First Round

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

This isn't just a down year for teams like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina at the top of the draft, we might not see more than one player from each team in the entire first round.

Duke could get up to three players taken in Round 1 between Tre Jones, Vernon Carey and Cassius Stanley, but there's as good a chance none of them go until Round 2. Jones is arguably the most likely thanks to his defensive ability, and Carey is tough to fit into the modern NBA.

Washington has two more big men who can be picked ahead of Carey in Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart.

Stewart was considered the No. 3 recruit in the 2019 class by 247Sports composite rankings and played to that level as a freshman with an average of 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He will have to improve his outside shooting to be a true threat in the NBA, but he has a high floor thanks to his work in the paint on both ends.

McDaniels is more of a stretch-4 who can make perimeter shots as well as rebound and block shots, potentially giving him a long professional career. It's enough for both players to be quality first-round options.

The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are two teams looking to contend for a title next season and could use help down low, making them ideal fits for the two former Huskies who can contribute early in their careers.