NBA Mock Draft 2020: Latest 1st-Round Rumors and Predictions for Top Prospects

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 18, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney. The point guard from California who bypassed college and played overseas is expected to be one of the top picks when the twice-delayed NBA draft is held in November.  (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Nearly one year after the 2019-20 NBA season began, the offseason has finally arrived, with all 30 teams now focused on their futures.

There's already the potential for major moves at the top of the class. Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Golden State Warriors could move down from the No. 2 pick, with Florida State guard Devin Vassell being the player they are targeting.

Before the Warriors go on the clock, though, all eyes will be on the Minnesota Timberwolves with the top pick. This marks the second time in franchise history that Minnesota will select No. 1 overall—they took Karl-Anthony Towns when they had the pick in 2015.

Looking ahead to the NBA draft on Nov. 18, here's the latest first-round mock projection.


2020 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

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1. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

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

3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, SF, Israel

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Killian Hayes, PG, France

6. Atlanta Hawks: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

7. Detroit Pistons: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

10. Phoenix Suns: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

11. San Antonio Spurs: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

12. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

13. New Orleans Pelicans: RJ Hampton, PG, New Zealand Breakers

14. Boston Celtics: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

15. Orlando Magic: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia

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

18. Dallas Mavericks: Saddiq Bey, PF, Villanova

19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington

20. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City): Leandro Bolmaro, SG, Argentina

22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston): Josh Green, SG, Arizona

23. Utah Jazz: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Theo Maledon, PG, France

26. Boston Celtics: Tyler Bey, PF, Colorado

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahmi'us Ramsey, PG, Texas Tech

29. Toronto Raptors: Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas

30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee): Robert Woodard, SF, Mississippi State


Who Will Go No. 1 Overall?

The Timberwolves have a lot at stake with the No. 1 pick. They have gone all-in on Towns and D'Angelo Russell as their top two players after acquiring Russell from Golden State in February.

They were only able to play in one game together before a wrist injury forced Towns to sit out their final 12 games of the campaign.

Minnesota would likely want to discuss things with Russell beforehand, but there's a strong argument for moving him off point guard to create the room to add a dynamic playmaker like LaMelo Ball. Russell's assist-to-turnover ratio has been under two in four of his five seasons.

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman reported in September that the belief is "Minnesota's priority is to trade" the top pick but that Ball has the "edge" over Anthony Edwards if the team stays put.

In his most recent mock, Wasserman wrote Ball would give the T-Wolves "a playmaker with standout passing skills, vision and creativity that should translate" and that head coach Ryan Saunders' system "could play to his strengths, setting up teammates while D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns carry the scoring load."

The Timberwolves need to think of themselves as needing the best player available regardless of position. They finished last season 19-45 and finished in the bottom 10 of offensive and defensive rating, per Basketball Reference.

Ball wouldn't do much to help the defense, but he's such a skilled playmaker with the ball in his hands that Minnesota could end up having one of the best offenses in the NBA as soon as next season.


Hornets in Prime Position

The Charlotte Hornets fared much better than anyone anticipated last season after losing Kemba Walker in free agency. They still weren't good, with a 23-42 record, but The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor was among those who felt they would be the worst team in the NBA when the 2019-20 season began:

"It's gonna be an ugly year, though tanking sure beats being stuck in the dreaded middle. The Kemba Walker era created wonderful memories, but it's time for the Hornets to start thinking about tomorrow. The team was going nowhere. They'll have high lottery odds whether they tank or just straight up suck. Miles Bridges and PJ Washington have talent, and I'm not giving up on Malik Monk. But this team needs to find a new face of the franchise in the draft. If only they could skip to the draft lottery."

The Hornets did find a number of role players who can contribute in the future. Devonte' Graham had a legitimate case to be the NBA's most improved player after averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 37.3 percent from three.

But Charlotte's problem is an overall lack of star power, which would seem to make its spot at No. 3 in the draft bad news.

Unless it's a deep draft class—and no one seems to think 2020 has much in the way of star power—picking No. 3 would seem like a problem for a team in need of help.

In the Hornets' case, though, the teams ahead of them aren't necessarily looking to go for the best player available.

The Timberwolves will likely end up taking the best player to complement Towns and Russell. The Warriors, meanwhile, don't necessarily need to make their pick if they believe Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green can stay healthy and have at least one more big run in them.

That could leave the Hornets with the ability to select whomever the top player on their board is without having to consider making a trade.


Who Is Rising Up Draft Boards?

Killian Hayes seems to be the player benefiting most from the predraft scouting and analysis.

Wasserman has moved Hayes up to No. 2 on his big board:

"Hayes has been in the top five on my board throughout the year based on his positional 6'5" size, high-level passing, improved shot-creation, soft touch and superior scoring efficiency compared to most NCAA point guards.

"His jump shot remains the big question mark on the scouting report, but for a 19-year-old who made 30 three-pointers and shot a combined 87.6 percent from the free-throw line, his shooting development is worth betting on, particularly given his ball-screen playmaking, mid-range pull-up, floater and finishing effectiveness."

Letourneau reported Sept. 26 that the Warriors might like Hayes more than they do Ball.

Last season with Ratiopharm Ulm of Germany's Basketball Bundesliga, Hayes averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 assists per game. He only shot 29 percent from three-point range, but there's hope he can improve his touch based on shooting 88 percent from the free-throw line.

This year's class isn't particularly deep in point guards, with Ball and Hayes the clear standouts. Cole Anthony has the potential to be on par with them, but he missed 11 games last season at North Carolina because of a torn meniscus.

Even when Anthony did play, he was inefficient with 18.5 points per game on 38.0 percent shooting.

Assuming Ball will be the first point guard off the board, Hayes' size and scoring upside make him worth betting on in a draft class that lacks superstar talent. He may never become a superstar, but there's a higher likelihood of him coming closer to that level than virtually anyone else in the class.