On the heels of the Los Angeles Lakers beating the scrappy Miami Heat in six games to win the 2020 NBA Finals, the NBA offseason is officially underway, and one of the first pieces of business will be the 2020 NBA draft.
The draft usually takes place during the summer, but with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the end of the 2019-20 NBA season all the way back to October, the draft will occur during the fall as well.
It has now been about seven months since NBA teams last got to see most of the draft prospects play in actual games, and the inability to hold an in-person combine will add another obstacle to the mix.
Despite the imperfect situation, the draft must go on, so here is a full first-round mock draft and a closer look at some of the bigger names to keep an eye on when the draft takes place Nov. 18.
1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, G, USA
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, F, Israel
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, F, Dayton
6. Atlanta Hawks: Killian Hayes, G, France
7. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
10. Phoenix Suns: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State
11. San Antonio Spurs: Aaron Nesmith, F, Vanderbilt
12. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
14. Boston Celtics (via MEM): Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Devin Vassell, G, Florida State
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN): Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, G, Arizona
19. Brooklyn Nets: RJ Hampton, G USA
20. Miami Heat: Theo Maledon, G, France
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
22. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
23. Utah Jazz: Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via IND): Vernon Carey, C, Duke
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN): Elijah Hughes, G, Syracuse
26. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
27. New York Knicks (via LAC): Aleksej Pokusevski, F, Serbia
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Leandro Bolmaro, G, Argentina
29. Toronto Raptors: Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
30. Boston Celtics (via MIL): Jahmi'us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
Breaking Down Top Selections
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been a downtrodden franchise for the better part of the past 15 years, but they finally have a chance to turn things around if they hit on the No. 1 overall pick.
Multiple players have been mentioned as a potential option at No. 1 overall, but based on his all-around skill set and limitless ceiling, University of Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards has to be the pick.
It can be argued that Edwards disappointed to some degree during his only season at Georgia, as he shot just 40.2 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from beyond the arc, but he did manage to average 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
There are some concerns regarding Edwards' shooting ability and how it will translate to the NBA, but Dane Moore of WCCO in Minneapolis doesn't foresee it being an issue:
It also wouldn't be fair to discount Edwards' explosiveness and ability to get to the basket and score when needed:
The T-Wolves have a solid base laid down in the form of center Karl-Anthony Towns and guard D'Angelo Russell, but the rest of the roster remains somewhat suspect.
If Edwards can come in and be an instant contributor, however, Minnesota has a chance to factor into the Western Conference playoff race as soon as next season.
Towns has languished on losing teams for far too long despite being one of the NBA's elite centers, but drafting a player with a complementary skill set like Edwards could be the move that turns around the fortunes of Towns and the franchise as a whole.
Center James Wiseman appeared in just three college basketball games, but he showed enough in those games and during his high school career to warrant consideration near the top of the draft.
In his three games at the University of Memphis before getting suspended for receiving improper benefits, Wiseman shot 76.9 percent from the field and averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.
Wiseman is part of a draft class with some good depth in terms of big men, but there is little doubt that he is the most talented among them and the one with the most potential to be a superstar in the NBA.
In addition to boasting ideal size at 7'1", Wiseman has the type of athleticism and explosiveness that few guards even possess:
Wiseman would be a great fit for any NBA team with a need at center, but he especially makes sense for the Golden State Warriors, who own the No. 2 overall selection.
Golden State has the potential to have one of the best lineups in the NBA next season with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, but there is a glaring hole at center.
The Warriors have often opted to go small under head coach Steve Kerr because of their uptempo style of play, but Wiseman is the rare athlete at center who can give them the size and interior presence they need while also being able to run the floor.
Wiseman seems like a perfect fit for the Warriors in that he fills a position of need while also possessing the skill set required to thrive in Kerr's system.
If the Warriors take Wiseman second overall, they will have all the pieces needed to match up well with essentially any team in the NBA.
In terms of pure potential, it can be argued that no prospect in the 2020 NBA draft can hold a candle to guard LaMelo Ball.
Ball is in the conversation to go No. 1 overall because of his varied offensive skill set, as he can handle the ball, facilitate and shoot at a high level, as seen in the following highlight package:
There are some questions about his defense, but his length at 6'7" gives him a chance to come into his own in that area, plus he already rebounds well for the position.
Perhaps the main thing working against Ball in the eyes of NBA teams is his familial ties. Ball is the younger brother of Lonzo Ball, who has largely been a disappointment in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans despite going No. 2 overall a few years ago.
His father is the outspoken LaVar Ball, who has faded into the background compared to how vocal he was at the start of Lonzo's career, although it isn't outside the realm of possibility that some teams may prefer to avoid his presence.
As far as LaMelo is concerned individually, though, he possesses all the skills teams look for in a high pick, and he brings no shortage of star power to the table as well.
If there is any team in the NBA that could use a star, it is the Charlotte Hornets, as their biggest star is owner Michael Jordan.
The Hornets lost both flair and substance when Kemba Walker left to join the Boston Celtics, but Ball would bring some excitement back and instantly become the face of the franchise.
He would have to learn how to coexist in the backcourt with Terry Rozier, but the Hornets are at a point where they need to go with the best available player, and if Edwards and Wiseman are the first two players off the board, then Ball will fit the bill.