Worst Landing Spots for Every Top 2020 NBA Draft Prospect

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterAugust 26, 2020

Worst Landing Spots for Every Top 2020 NBA Draft Prospect

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Landing with the wrong team out of the draft could derail an NBA prospect's development. 

    Going to a franchise without talent to play off could make the game tougher for certain players, like it's been for Kevin Knox with the New York Knicks. Others needs the reps. Mo Bamba hasn't had an opportunity to play regular minutes in Orlando, and now he's two years in with little to show. 

    Based on the weaknesses of the players who appear to be locked in to the 2020 lottery, we picked the least desirable destinations for each one.                  

Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Draft range: Top three

    Worst landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    Anthony Edwards would get to win and have talent to play off in Golden State. He'd work as a go-to scoring wing between D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. In Charlotte, he'll share the ball on a team that doesn't have an easy path toward escaping the lottery.

    Edwards could likely produce more in Charlotte, but inefficiency would cast a cloud over his scoring average.

    He'd be joining a team whose top offensive threat in Devonte' Graham shot just 38.2 percent from the field. Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington won't be enough to overpower opposing frontcourts. The Hornets would wind up being overly reliant on Graham, Edwards and Terry Rozier, which doesn't sound like a sustainable recipe for winning or competing with playoff-caliber teams. 

    Georgia finished 13th out of 14 SEC teams running through Edwards, who can get into bad habits with his shot selection as a top option. For his development and his teammates, he'd be better off going to a squad with more structure and veteran talent.                

James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Draft range: Top five

    Worst landing spot: Minnesota Timberwolves

    James Wiseman should hope the Minnesota Timberwolves don't believe he's the best player available at No. 1. Karl-Anthony Towns would have to play power forward for Wiseman to start. But neither bigs are known for guarding around the perimeter. And Minnesota already has enough problems defensively.

    Playing behind Towns off the bench wouldn't be ideal for Wiseman either. He needs the reps after getting in just three games at Memphis.

    Unless Minnesota winds up trading Towns, Wiseman's first few years in the league could mirror Mo Bamba's with the Magic.                

LaMelo Ball (Illawarra Hawks, PG, 2001)

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    Draft range: Top three

    Worst landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    The Charlotte Hornets are not an attractive destination for an incoming point guard looking to build his brand. 

    LaMelo Ball wouldn't have much of a chance to elevate a roster with a core that features Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges. 

    While Ball and Graham would make for an interesting backcourt, they'd need significantly more help from the wing and big positions for the team to have a chance at becoming relevant. 

    Ranked No. 28 on offense, 19th in three-point shooting and tied for 23rd in defense, the Hornets have no identity or signature strength to build on. Ball would be better playing alongside stars D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota, and he'd be best off going to a contender like the Golden State Warriors and focusing on feeding the team's stars for easy looks.              

Deni Avdija (Israel, SF/PF, 2001)

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Draft range: Nos. 4-8

    Worst landing spot: Detroit Pistons 

    Deni Avdija will want to land with a team that can surround him with scorers and playmakers. He's better playing off talent than being the featured creator. And in Detroit, he may be forced into a role that often requires him to create something out of nothing. 

    It didn't work out great last year for Sekou Doumbouya, who shot 39 percent from the field. 

    In Detroit, Avdija would be forced into tougher shots without enough offensive skill players around him to draw attention or set the table.         

Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Draft range: Top five

    Worst landing spot: Cleveland Cavaliers

    The knock on Obi Toppin focuses on his defensive outlook, and the Cavaliers finished last in the league in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.

    How far can a core of below-average defenders rise up the standings? 

    He'd also have to start his career playing behind Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. But even if we looked a year or two down the road, the offense may still be running through questionable decision-makers and playmakers in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.

    Stuck between trying to rebuild and compete, the Cavaliers don't have an identity, and the 22-year-old Toppin won't want to waste much time.                 

Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Draft range: Nos. 4-8

    Worst landing spot: New York Knicks

    The Knicks can offer Tyrese Haliburton the starting job but not much support. And if there is a knock on Haliburton, it's that he struggles to create for himself and separate one-on-one.

    He'd still play mostly to his strengths as a passer, only he wouldn't have reliable shooters, with RJ Barrett (40.2 percent from the field in 2019-20), Julius Randle (46.0 percent) and Kevin Knox (35.9 percent) the potential starters at positions 2-4.

    And while Haliburton uses spot-up opportunities to score himself, the Knicks don't have many drive-and-kick playmakers.                 

    A team with scorers and shot-makers could ultimately optimize his IQ, and this team doesn't have them.     

Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Draft range: Nos. 4-9

    Worst landing spot: New York Knicks

    The presence of Mitchell Robinson could be the best thing going for the New York Knicks, who also can't afford to pass on the best player available in the draft. Onyeka Okongwu may be hoping New York focuses more on needs.

    Playing with Robinson long term doesn't sound viable. Neither has the perimeter skills to work from outside the paint. Even if New York gives Okongwu the starting job and moves Robinson to the bench, the USC big man wouldn't have space to operate in the post based on the team's lack of shooting.

    And unless the Knicks make a splash in free agency, Okongwu wouldn't have a serviceable point guard to play off in the two-man game. Though Frank Ntilikina has shown signs, he lacks the burst to consistently break down defenses and set the table.         

Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Draft range Nos: 5-14

    Worst landing spot: New York Knicks

    While the Knicks could use Isaac Okoro's defense and his toughness, he needs more shooting and creation around him. 

    He's mostly a complementary offensive player who capitalizes on transition and space to attack. But the Knicks ranked 27th in three-point percentage, 27th in assists and tied for 23rd in pace. Okoro wouldn't have a good setup to score based on his limitations as a creator and shooter.

    The Knicks would value his defense, but it wouldn't be enough to elevate such a weak roster. New York needs too much luck in the upcoming drafts and free agency to become relevant. Meanwhile, there are multiple lottery teams Okoro could elevate soon with his efficiency (51.4 percent from the field) and his toughness.     

Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Draft range: Nos. 4-12

    Worst landing spot: Detroit Pistons

    Devin Vassell should want to land with a team that has offense and needs defense. In Detroit, he'd be a limited creator joining a core that's built around an aging Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose (both 31), plus Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya and maybe Christian Wood if he re-signs. 

    Without the ability to get himself good looks, Vassell could struggle to score in a lineup that lacks playmaking and reliable scoring, especially if Griffin doesn't return to form full-time.

    Fast-forwarding a year, the lineup could be missing a quality point guard and have an offense that runs through a 32-year-old Griffin. It's not a desirable setup for Vassell, who could be an instant-impact player if he lands on a playoff team looking for shooting and defense.         

Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)

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    Draft range: Nos. 4-14

    Worst landing spot: Sacramento Kings

    Killian Hayes wouldn't have much of an opportunity to blossom in Sacramento with De'Aaron Fox handling the ball. 

    He also wouldn't make sense as a combo capable of playing with Fox. Both are on-ball playmakers. Hayes isn't designed to spot up off the ball. Fox needs shooters around him.

    There isn't anything wrong with Hayes coming off the bench to begin his career. But there doesn't seem to be any path to the starting lineup. And despite talent on the Kings roster, Sacramento hasn't been able to make a jump with it.


    Stats courtesy of ESPN.