NBA Draft 2020: 1st-Round Mock Predictions for LaMelo Ball, Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

The prospects atop the 2020 NBA draft board haven't been given the most glowing reviews, but they do hold that status for a reason.

LaMelo Ball has serious quarterbacking skills and should be a top-10 passer the first time he hits the hardwood. Anthony Edwards combines an NBA frame with advanced shot-making. James Wiseman is an athletic 7-footer who will live above the rim and possibly stretch his game past the perimeter sooner than later.

Each might have more question marks than no-brainers on the level of, say, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, but the upside is nevertheless towering.

So, who will be the first to come off the board? And which prospect ranks the highest? We'll answer both questions with a mock first round followed by a ranking of our top three players.


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


Top Three Prospect Rankings

1. LaMelo Ball

Look, the red flags are obvious and worrisome. His shot selection is absurdly aggressive, which is maddening when combined with the fact his shot itself needs plenty of work. His defensive motor is overly prone to stalling, and there's no guarantee that will ever be fixed.

But the passing alone could be a generational gift. As a 6'7" floor general, he sees every inch of the floor, and he can fire a pass to any point of it with either hand.

"I'm buying him as a top setup man capable of racking up 10 assists whenever he wants," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "His feel and creativity are too good out of pick-and-rolls, and he has the height and IQ to continue executing as a facilitator against NBA defenses."

Assuming Ball's shot comes around—his brother, Lonzo, boosted his three-point percentage from 30.5 to 37.5 over his first three seasons—his willingness to launch from distance could make him a scoring threat from anywhere.

He doesn't have the highest floor among the top prospects, but his ceiling reaches all the way to franchise-focal-point stardom.


2. Anthony Edwards

Edwards looks the part of a two-way star—and resembles some former flameouts.

His natural gifts are next-level, but as history has reminded us, those don't always translate to actual production. This all hinges on his ability to polish his skills once he no longer has such an athletic advantage.

Believers, like the folks at NBADraft.net, put Edwards comparisons as Dwyane Wade and Donovan Mitchell. Skeptics paint far less flattering portrayals. The Athletic's John Hollinger mentioned shades of Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Green in his evaluation of Edwards.

His need for development is clear, but his current size-skill-athleticism combo is maybe the best in class. He can create separation, convert scoring chances from the paint to the perimeter and set the table as a secondary distributor. Volume production seems nearly guaranteed, and his better-than-decent chance of finding efficiency lands him in our second spot.


3. James Wiseman

While Wiseman usually lands among the first three picks in mock drafts, he isn't always afforded such prime real estate on prospect rankings. Wasserman, for instance, had Wiseman ninth on his latest big board, while The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor put the big fella seventh.

Clearly, there are concerns with Wiseman, including his feel, instincts and offensive skill. Plus, his position works against him in the modern game. There just aren't many successful teams built around bigs.

Saying that, Wiseman's basketball IQ and offensive arsenal can both be coached up. What can't be taught, of course, are his elite measurables, which reach maximum potency when he also races in the open court and has moon-boots bounce around the rim. Oh, he also might have the mechanics and touch to add a three-ball to his arsenal.

So, you might be looking at an athletic, rim-running, 7-footer with a three-point shot. That's the unicorn combination every club should want in its frontcourt. Letting him slip past the top three when he holds that kind of potential seems like a mistake.