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

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2020

Dayton's Obi Toppin (1) reacts to teammates in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Aaron Doster/Associated Press

Given basketball's fascination with the next fill-in-the-blank—the next Michael Jordan, the next LeBron James—it's no surprise the NBA draft is always a source of fascinating debate.

It's a two-round search for the league's next stars, starters and role players. And yes, even in a class that lacks a surefire No. 1 prospect as the 2020 crop does, that search will hold the attention of the hoops world from now until the final selection is in the books.

While attempts to find the next star cause the most excitement, most teams would be thrilled to leave the event with at least one plug-and-play starter or reliable reserve in hand.

With that in mind, we'll follow our mock first round with a breakdown of three of the safest prospects in this draft.

                

2020 NBA Mock Draft

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

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

                  

Safest 2020 NBA Draft Prospects

Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton

While it's fair to speculate over how much of Obi Toppin's numbers will translate to the big league, his per-game production was no fluke.

The explosive big man put the Flyers on the map, leading them to a 29-2 record and No. 3 ranking by season's end. He paced the team in points (20.0), rebounds (7.5) and blocks (1.2) and compiled a brilliantly efficient shooting slash line of 63.3/39.0/70.2.

With hops to finish at the rim, touch to stretch out to the perimeter and the IQ to make quick decisions with the basketball, he can perk up an NBA frontcourt right now.

"At the least, he'll add value by getting out in transition, diving, cutting and crashing the offensive glass," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "And with a strong frame and improved skill, he should pose as a tough cover when given space in the post."

Toppin's swing skills include improving as a defender in space and developing a more reliable face-up arsenal. As a 22-year-old, he's already fighting against the clock to fine-tune his development. But those are questions regarding how high his ceiling can climb. His well-rounded offense should ensure he arrives to his NBA destination with a high floor already established.

                 

Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

As a former three-star recruit with a funky shooting form, Tyrese Haliburton doesn't seem like the kind of player who should count instant impact as his biggest selling point. But his exponential growth over two seasons with the Cyclones now has him looking ready to role in an NBA rotation.

The 20-year-old should function like a human adhesive by bringing his team together and elevating the players around him. Typically, that's a skill reserved for superstars and even his best-case scenario doesn't include that kind of outcome, but high-functioning floor generals can pull it off.

As SI.com's Jeremy Woo explained, Haliburton's game is built around consistently making winning plays:

"His advanced on-court intellect, winning-conducive skill set and rapid trajectory are noteworthy, and set him apart in some regard in a lottery where the talent gap between prospects is admittedly narrow. ... What he lacks creating off the dribble or exploding past defenders, he'll compensate for with a diagonal pass or narrowly-threaded drop-off that few of his peers would ever think about making."

While LaMelo Ball deservedly wears the label of best passer in the draft, Haliburton is a close second in the category. He's always looking to push the pace, and his quick-hitters could be the lifeblood of the league's next potent transition attack.

Tack on his ability to convert open shots and defend multiple positions, and he can walk into an NBA locker room and complement most any type of talent it holds.

                

Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

In the modern NBA, the most flattering description for a role player is three-and-D. In a nutshell, it offers both three-point shooting and defensive versatility, two cornerstones of virtually every playoff participant.

Well, Devin Vassell fits that description better than any player in this class. He blends suffocating on-ball defense with disruptive abilities off it, always-on-time rotations and a three-point that yielded a 41.7 percent success rate across two seasons with the Seminoles.

"Devin Vassell checks just about every box you’re looking for in a three-and-D NBA prospect," NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick wrote. "... He looks like a player who can be successful regardless of the environment."

The 20-year-old needs to get stronger to improve his finishing and increase his defensive versatility, and he may not have the burst to blow by defenders off the dribble. But teams shouldn't be asking him to spearhead their offense.

If Vassell has enough shot-creators around him, his elite motor, consistent defense, spot-up shooting and secondary playmaking will be assets from the start.