For a franchise that—coming into Thursday night—had nine lottery picks since it won the 1985 lottery and selected Patrick Ewing, the odds would be that at one point, New York would move above its expected slot at least once. Make it 0-of-10.
The Knicks, who had a 9.0 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, and a 9.6 percent chance of at least landing in the top three. Instead, they'll be selecting from the No. 8 spot, a year after taking RJ Barrett at No. 3, two years removed from passing on Michael Porter Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Miles Bridges to select Kevin Knox and three years since selecting Frank Ntilikina in the same No. 8 spot ahead of Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo and John Collins.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves, a year after trading for Jarrett Culver, the No. 6 overall pick in last year's draft, were gifted the No. 1 overall pick and will have their choice of likely LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman or Anthony Edwards.
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/SG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Chicago Bulls: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
7. Detroit Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
8. New York Knicks: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
9. Washington Wizards: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
10. Phoenix Suns: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn
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
17. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
18. Dallas Mavericks: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
22. Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
23. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
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. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State
Will LaMelo Go No. 1?
As tempting as it might be to take the youngest Ball brother with the No. 1 pick, this is one Minnesota can't afford to take the risk on.
Star center Karl-Anthony Towns has reportedly been unhappy on numerous occasions in Minnesota, but the Wolves finally have a chance to appease him with the addition of the most NBA-ready player in the draft, Anthony Edwards. He, alongside D'Angelo Russell and Towns, makes a formidable trio in an extremely competitive Western Conference.
He doesn't have nearly the amount of flash as LaMelo, and he'll have to learn to play alongside a score-first lead guard in Russell, but Minnesota can't take the chance that Ball never develops past being a special passer with no real ability to score. LaMelo's biggest weakness—defense—is not a speciality of either Russell or Towns, and though Edwards isn't a lockdown defender, he has the build and athleticism to make an impact on that end of the floor.
It seems more likely that Ball ends up in Charlotte, which needs an infusion of star power—even if it's just the appearance of it—more than any team in the league. While the Hornets already have Terry Rozier, the risk-reward on LaMelo seems too high to pass up for a franchise that has missed too often in the draft since taking Kemba Walker in 2011.
What About Wiseman?
If Minnesota takes Edwards at No. 1, it leaves the Golden State Warriors in a precarious position. The draft's other two top prospects—Ball and James Wiseman—have significant question marks around their work ethic and desire to become elite players.
Ball's reputation as a player who only shows up in the spotlight has dogged him for most of his young career, but Wiseman's work ethic—especially after leaving Memphis early last season—has followed him into the predraft process. He doesn't really fit a need for Golden State, which rarely plays with a traditional back-to-basket center in the lineup, but his potential might be enough to take a chance on.
With an aging Draymond Green, and the not-so-defensive-oriented Stephen Curry returning from injury, adding Wiseman to a lineup with those two, as well as Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, could make for an intriguing group.
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