NBA Mock Draft 2020: Updated 1st-Round Predictions, Analysis for Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 27, 2020

Georgia's Anthony Edwards dribbles while gesturing to teammates during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA draft is littered with question marks, and they start at the very top.

The Minnesota Timberwolves claimed pole position at the lottery, which immediately sparked debate on which direction they should take. Do they plug in Anthony Edwards on the wing? Could LaMelo Ball's passing take their potentially explosive offense to the next level? Should they trade the selection for a player better positioned to assist Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell next season?

These questions and more will be dissected from every angle between now and the draft, but our mock-drafting crystal ball offers a glimpse into the future. After projecting the entire first round, we'll examine the ideal landing spots for our top three prospects on the board.


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: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

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

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

8. New York Knicks: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

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

10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

11. San Antonio Spurs: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

12. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State

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

14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

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

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

18. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B

19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

20. Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

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): Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

26. Boston Celtics: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington

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

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

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

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Zeke Nnaji, C, Arizona


Ideal Landing Spots for Top NBA Prospects

Anthony Edwards: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Goldilocks principle paints a clear path to the Gopher State for Edwards. The Wolves have enough shots available to put him in a semi-featured role, but with Towns and Russell around, they wouldn't need to overwhelm him. Still, they could keep him more engaged than he might be in Golden State, where a much more specialized role might prevent him from spreading his wings.

"The Wolves could offer featured touches without overfeeding Edwards and allowing him to get into his bad habits of taking contested pull-ups," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "He'd still get to create, but he'd also have to start developing his spot-up game next to Towns and Russell."

If Minnesota can fast-track Edwards' development on defense, it would have a pair of premier stoppers (with Josh Okogie) to limit other teams' top perimeter options and plug some of the leaks that will inevitably surface with Towns and Russell on the floor.

Offensively, Edwards could expand the Wolves' menu as another shot-creator and isolation option. Either Edwards or Russell can orchestrate pick-and-roll plays with Towns while the other spots up at the three-point arc, ideally alongside Malik Beasley, who is headed to restricted free agency but should have played his way into the franchise's future (20.7 points per game on 47.2/42.6/75.0 shooting over 14 contests).


James Wiseman: Golden State Warriors

If Wiseman wants to be a focal point sooner rather than later, he'll prefer not to take a trip to Northern California. Golden State's offense runs through Stephen Curry first (and second), then goes to Klay Thompson and then Draymond Green, who didn't have a great 2019-20 campaign but had his best offensive skill (playmaking) muted by the lack of talent around him.

If Wiseman wants the best developmental option, though, it's hard to argue against the Dubs. He could hit the ground sprinting as a bouncy, 7'1" rim-runner, crushing lobs on one end and blocking shots at the other. As long as Golden State gets enough spacing from other spots (Green breaking out of a four-year funk from distance would be huge), Wiseman should find one runway to the basket after another.

"I feel like that's a great fit," Wiseman said on ESPN's "The Jump," (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area). "I feel like playing with veteran players like them can help me develop my game quickly, but I can also just learn from them because they've been in the league for a really long time, so just me being under their wings will be really great."

Now, just because this makes sense for Wiseman doesn't mean the Dubs will feel the same. Multiple reports have suggested the Warriors aren't high on the big man, and there's a chance (maybe a good one) they don't even keep this pick but rather flip it for established talent. From a positional standpoint, though, Golden State has a pretty glaring need at the 5, and Wiseman's tools and talent could be the best option to fill it.


LaMelo Ball: Chicago Bulls

A great passer, which Ball absolutely is, is only as valuable as the weapons around him. Chicago could offer him a cornucopia of strong receiving options, despite what the team's 29th-placed finish in offensive efficiency would lead you to believe.

The Bulls have many scorers, but they lack a true table-setter. Tomas Satoransky paced the club in assists despite averaging fewer than 30 minutes per game and landing 10th on the team in usage percentage. Both Zach LaVine and Coby White are bucket-getters, and if the Bulls view the latter as a second-team spark plug, that would leave the starting 1-guard spot open for Ball.

As Wasserman previously opined, the structure of Chicago's roster might help Ball maximize his strengths and mask his shortcomings:

"They'd let Ball play to his strengths as a passer, and he wouldn't have to try to create too much or consistently score inside the arc. Given LaVine's usage, plus Markkanen's and Carter's suspected desire for more touches, there wouldn't even be many chances for Ball to develop bad habits when it comes to dancing with the rock."

Selecting Ball might brighten both the Bulls' present and their future, which should be the aim for a club that has some win-now talent but also hasn't booked a playoff trip since 2017. His passing would provide an immediate lift, and if he can eventually fine-tune his shooting and shot selection while becoming a more willing defender, Chicago could nurture his growth from impact rookie to eventual All-Star.