NBA Mock Draft 2020: Opening-Round Predictions and Rising Prospects to Watch

Theo SalaunContributor IIIOctober 3, 2020

Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. plays against Vanderbilt in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Every NBA draft has prospects that exceed expectations. The No. 13 pick of the 2019 class, Tyler Herro, is averaging 16.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 threes per game in a playoff run that has led him and the Miami Heat to a duel with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers.

Further down the board, the No. 41 pick, Eric Paschall, was one of the Golden State Warriors' lone bright spots all season—putting up 14 points per game in an All-Rookie campaign.

Here, we're looking at a first-round mock of this year's draft and picking out a few players who could take a major leap up the rankings or at the NBA level.


2019 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

4. Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

6. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm

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

9. Washington Wizards: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova

10. Phoenix Suns: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

11. San Antonio Spurs: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

12. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

14. Boston Celtics: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

15. Orlando Magic: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State

17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

18. Dallas Mavericks: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

19. Brooklyn Nets: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

20. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

21. Philadelphia 76ers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

22. Denver Nuggets: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

23. Utah Jazz: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Desmond Bane, SG, TCU 

26. Boston Celtics: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

27. New York Knicks: Cassius Stanley, SG, Duke

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

29. Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

30. Boston Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona


Rising Prospects to Watch

Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama

The knocks on Kira Lewis Jr. are that he was fairly inefficient in college, light for his frame (he was listed at 6'3" and 165 pounds) and, perhaps most importantly, struggled against Alabama's tougher opponents. Those question marks have kept him from the lottery and pinned him in the lower half of most analysts' mock drafts.

But his upside is astronomical. 

Lewis Jr. averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, which are impressive numbers even considering his 45.9-percent clip from the field and 36.6-percent clip from deep. The unpredictable, dynamic manner in which he piled up those numbers is eye-opening, as he couples everything from a comfortable, sharp handle and a slick pull-up (from range, too) to a playground finishing package and scorching speed—the fastest of this entire class.

Frankie Vision @Frankie_Vision

Kira Lewis Jr. (@Mr_Lewis3) Alabama Season Highlights. Lewis is a guy that people should be talking about heading into Draft Season 👀. He is one of the fastest players in this years class. Full Video 🎥: https://t.co/SuBRnBF45L https://t.co/MQQS7n41ps

The most common comparison is De'Aaron Fox, another speedster with a long, 6'3" frame, but the now-esteemed Fox was around 20 pounds heavier than Lewis Jr. in college and proved his worth against some of the NCAA's most highly touted prospects.

Still, Lewis Jr. is already a better shooter than Fox (who only shot 24.6 percent from three in college), has reportedly added about 15 pounds of muscle since his Alabama season ended and, thusly, could fly up draft boards even for the chance that he can trend in his comparison's direction.


Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

Like Lewis Jr., Jalen Smith has some knocks as a prospect, but not to his game. He's not particularly explosive as an athlete despite fitting the profile of a modern big at 6'10" and 225 pounds, but he has shown flashes of practically everything you want from such a player—banging on people, dropping threes and swatting shots.

Even if he's not notably fast, quick or bouncy, the guy can both move fluidly into a catch-and-shoot three and rise up for a two-handed hammer in the paint. The pinned shots down low are nice, as are his powerful moments from the post, but the shot is what makes a guy of his size so alluring as a prospect. 

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

Joining us for an ESPN Film Session later this week, potential lottery pick Jalen Smith. The Maryland standout was one of only 3 players in the NCAA to finish the season with 70-plus blocked shots and over 30 made 3s. Really looking forward to this one. https://t.co/wpaNQT8rYX

As a sophomore, Smith averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, with shooting averages of 53.8 percent from the field, 36.8 from three and 75.0 from the line. Banging at the four and the five, he only took 2.8 threes per contest, but his ability to space and rise into a three with such a clean gooseneck helped Maryland's offensive dynamism all season.