Seemingly as soon as the NBA Championship was awarded to the Los Angeles Lakers, the draft will be upon us.
There has been plenty of buzz about what the Golden State Warriors will do with the No. 2 pick and whether the New York Knicks will pass on any selection at No. 8, where one NBA executive told the New York Post's Marc Berman that the team doesn't think it can grab "a home run guy."
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman recently wrote that one league executive believes this year could bring "one of the wildest, most unpredictable drafts in over 20 years."
Here's what to look for when the NBA draft gets underway Nov. 18.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, NBL Hawks
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte Hornets: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, SF, Israel
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
6. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
7. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
9. Washington Wizards: Killian Hayes, PG, France
10. Phoenix Suns: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State
11. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State
12. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Precious Achiuwa, SF, Memphis
14. Boston Celtics: Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama
15. Orlando Magic: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
18. Dallas Mavericks: Jalen Smith, C, Maryland
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
20. Miami Heat: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
21. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
23. Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon, PG, France
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
26. Boston Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, Barcelona
27. New York Knicks: Desmond Bane, SG, TCU
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington
29. Toronto Raptors: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee): Zeke Nnaji, PF, Arizona
If Minnesota Stays Put, Ball Goes No. 1
In a draft class that boasts strong talent across an array of positions at the top of this year's board, there hasn't been a consensus top pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have the No. 1 pick for the first time since they took Karl-Anthony Towns first overall in 2015.
Per Wasserman, the Timberwolves are exploring trades for the top pick, and The Athletic's Sam Vecenie reported that Minnesota president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is pursuing "every conceivable trade avenue."
But maybe after a 19-45 season that ranked them toward the bottom of the league on both sides of the ball, the Timberwolves should re-evaluate their strategy and select LaMelo Ball, who can be trusted over the other highly rated players in his class to bring his skills to the league right away alongside D'Angelo Russell and Towns.
Even in a long-term scenario, the 19-year-old provides options for Minnesota. Vecenie wrote that if the T-Wolves select first, they will draft "the player they think has the best chance of maintaining long-term trade value."
Former NBA executive John Hollinger noted on the Holinger & Duncan NBA Show that Ball should be considered "the best talent available" and that Minnesota should focus simply on the task at hand, which is to "build up enough talent to have a halfway decent team."
The Case for James Wiseman and the Warriors
As Golden State prepares to welcome back Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from injuries in an effort to rebound from their league-worst 15-45 season, there's another missing piece it will need in order to compete with its in-state to the south, the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony Davis posted 25 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2 blocks and 1.3 steals alongside LeBron James to help clinch the Lakers' 17th NBA title, and the presence of a big man like Davis is something the Warriors lack.
Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported that league executives have caught on to something missing up front:
"Just in the past week, multiple executives from different teams have texted me to say that the Warriors had better find a big in order to get by the Lakers. It's a fair concern, but maybe nothing will change. Maybe teams will continue to emphasize small ball, signing more guards and wings to get perimeter skill and shooting on the floor. After all, teams can choose only from the pool of players available, and there really aren't all that many big guys who check lots of boxes on both ends of the floor."
That being said, there have been murmurs of a trade coming out of Golden State since September, when ESPN's Tim Bontemps noted "people around the league are unanimous in thinking that the Warriors will do their best to pull off a trade," though there were slim pickings available in terms of the ideal player available to bring to the West Coast.
If that trade can't be done, the Warriors will get some help up front from the 7'1", 235-pound James Wiseman.
"Agents and executives around the league consider Memphis big James Wiseman the most likely selection if the Warriors keep this pick," ESPN's Mike Schmitz wrote.
Obi Toppin to the Hornets
With the 23-42 Charlotte Hornets having posted their worst winning percentage (.354) since they finished 21-61 in 2012-13, it's clear they need to focus on one thing: adding strength to their roster.
Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and Cody Zeller are at the forefront of a team that just needs an extra push, and Obi Toppin is the one who can help them reach the pinnacle of their rebuild faster.
The 2019-20 AP Player of the Year finished his redshirt sophomore season as the only player in the country to average 20 points and seven rebounds while shooting more than 60 percent from the field. He also led the country in points per possession at 1.20, and he is Dayton's record-holder in dunks (190), single-game dunks (10) and career field-goal percentage (.6473).
Toppin has climbed NBA draft boards as of late, with ESPN ranking him at No. 9 in February, when one executive said he he would be a "top-five pick." In this mock draft, he is the No. 3 pick and heads to the Hornets.