2020 NBA Mock Draft: 3 Trades That Would Turn Lottery Upside-Down
One month away from the 2020 NBA draft, the conversation among scouts and executives includes heavy trade gossip and mixed beliefs on who goes when and where.
While a lot of trade speculation involves the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors, NBA front office members and agents believe it's more realistic to expect action from teams in the Nos. 6-12 range.
So we executed three trades in the mid-lottery from teams who should be actively working the phones.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball (NBL Hawks, PG, 2001)
The Minnesota Timberwolves will come up with a handful of trade scenarios, but they could have a tough time finding the right partner. The level of interest in Anthony Edwards isn't overwhelming, and point-guard-needy teams hoping for LaMelo Ball don't seem to have the right assets for a trade.
Most scouts and executives we've spoken with believe that Ball would have the edge if Minnesota stays put. Sources also tell Bleacher Report that the Wolves like Obi Toppin, but it's unclear if they'd be willing to take him at No. 1.
Ball is perceived to possess the most star potential in the draft with his 6'7" size for a ball-handler, special playmaking ability, creative paint scoring and confident shot-making. Instead of overthinking about his fit, the Wolves could just take the best player, whose passing would help no matter what.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
While the Golden State Warriors will explore moving down, the Chicago Bulls won't have much motivation to move up once LaMelo Ball is off the board. Unless Golden State could convince the Cleveland Cavaliers to take back Andrew Wiggins' contract, a deal between them seems unlikely as well.
Odds are, the Warriors stay put despite all the trade chatter, and we're hearing there is more support for James Wiseman than Anthony Edwards in Golden State's front office. Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin and Tyrese Haliburton figure to remain in play, but it's presumed they're more trade-down targets.
Though Wiseman isn't considered as NBA-ready as others, the game would come easier to him in Golden State, where he could play off the team's shooters and passers and work exclusively as a rim-runner and finisher. He'd give a rotation fueled by skill a useful jolt of athleticism in the middle.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
With Wiseman off the board, the Charlotte Hornets will debate whether to take Anthony Edwards or Obi Toppin.
Roughly three years younger, Edwards figures to have the edge. With Devonte' Graham at the point, Charlotte's backcourt could put pressure on defenses with high-level shot-making.
Given Edwards' 6'5", 225-pound frame and athleticism, he should be interchangeable at the 2 and 3 spots, meaning the Hornets could play Terry Rozier, Graham and Edwards together.
They could use No. 32 and Malik Monk to try to move up, but the Hornets are in a good spot at No. 3, where they can guarantee themselves either Ball, Wiseman or Edwards.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
Unless the Chicago Bulls put Lauri Markkanen on the block, it's tough to picture them moving up for LaMelo Ball. It seems unlikely the Minnesota Timberwolves want to reunite with Zach LaVine via trade, and assuming the Bulls aren't willing to take back Andrew Wiggins from the Golden State Warriors, a deal with them seems unlikely as well.
The Bulls figure stay put at No. 4 if they believe Deni Avdija will be there. Rival teams have told Bleacher Report they think Chicago could be interested in Tyrese Haiburton. But Avdija sounds equally valued around the league. And his two-way versatility at the forward spots and success in Israel and Euroleague could give him the edge.
Aside from his driving, passing and shot-making skills, Avdija brings a sense of toughness and defensive competitiveness that could entice new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan. He'd also serve as a potential replacement for Otto Porter Jr., who'll presumably opt in to the final year of his contract.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Though Obi Toppin doesn't fill a hole in Cleveland, the Cavaliers can't afford to limit their search to just small forwards. They need talent, and practically every scout and executive we've spoken to ranks Toppin ahead of the remaining players on the board.
There is a lot of optimism about his offense translating and the potential to mask his struggles defending away from the basket. No matter who the Cavaliers take, the roster will need some changing. They need to approach the draft as if they're still in Phase 1 of a rebuild, given the uncertainty about Darius Garland's trajectory, Andre Drummond's future and Kevin Love's place on a team that's years away from competing.
Isaac Okoro may come off as the best fit, but his lack of shot creation and shooting suggests he's a reach at No. 5. Between Toppin's production, athleticism, three-ball and passing, he could convince Cleveland he's the best player available.
TRADE at 6. Orlando Magic (via Hawks): Tyrese Haliburton (ISU, PG/SG, Soph.)
Orlando Magic receive: No. 6
Atlanta Hawks receive: No. 15, Mohamed Bamba, Al-Farouq Aminu
The Orlando Magic likely feel optimistic about Markelle Fultz's progress, but they could still use another passer. Even with Fultz in the plans for Orlando, Tyrese Haliburton makes a lot of sense as an interchangeable guard, secondary playmaker and accurate spot-up shooter.
Bamba became expendable once the team signed Nikola Vucevic through 2023. And the Hawks, who struggle defensively, could be interested in his shot-blocking.
Haliburton would give the Magic a second ball-handler, good decision-maker and floor-spacer off the ball when Fultz is running pick-and-rolls.
TRADE at 7. Portland Trail Blazers (via Pistons): Isaac Okoro (Auburn, F, Fr.)
Portland Trail Blazers receive: No. 7
Detroit Pistons receive: No. 16, No. 46, Anfernee Simons
The Blazers could use a defensive wing/forward, and Isaac Okoro could be the top option in the draft.
Meanwhile, Gary Trent Jr.'s emergence in the bubble should help make Anfernee Simons more expendable. Simons would hold more value to a Pistons team that lacks scoring firepower and ball-handlers.
Okoro projects as a fit for Portland with his comfort level and efficiency scoring off the ball. He can immediately contribute to Portland with his powerful frame, which he uses for attacking and locking down positions 2-4.
TRADE at 8. Boston Celtics (via Knicks): Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Boston Celtics receive: No. 8
New York Knicks receive: No. 14, No. 26, Tremont Waters
Nobody expects the Boston Celtics to walk away from the draft with three first-round rookies. "It feels like they're up to something," one scout told Bleacher Report.
Among the class' perceived premier group of prospects, Onyeka Okongwu jumps out as a fit and potential target for the Celtics, who can afford to trade multiple picks and a point guard they don't use.
Meanwhile, the Knicks could be hesitant to take Okongwu with Mitchell Robinson already at center. And between Kira Lewis Jr., Tyrese Maxey, Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams and RJ Hampton, they could think there will be equally attractive options available in the late-lottery range.
For Boston, Okongwu gives the lineup an explosive finisher and rim protector with far more offensive skill than Robert Williams III.
9. Washington Wizards: Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)
If the Washington Wizards choose to favor defensive prospects, they'd be looking at Precious Achiuwa and Devin Vassell.
Achiuwa's versatility could give him the edge here, based on his ability to protect the rim and switch onto wings and forwards with his 6'9", 225-pound size and standout athleticism for a big.
While he remains raw offensively, he still adds scoring value by sprinting the floor for easy baskets, crashing the glass and finishing. However, flashes of open-floor ball-handling, line-driving and spot-up shooting create hope regarding his potential.
10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
Rival scouts have mentioned the Phoenix Suns showing interest in making a trade at No. 10, but it's difficult to see them having the right assets to move up. If they're unable to land an established veteran for the pick, they'd stay put and draft the best player available, regardless of position. In this case, it would be Killian Hayes, who would give the Suns a point guard prospect to groom and develop behind Ricky Rubio.
Phoenix would be a strong landing spot for Hayes. He'd have less pressure to immediately produce, a mentor in Rubio and plenty of shooters to optimize Hayes' playmaking and help mask the limited range on his jump shot.
He figures to get looks as high as No. 4, with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks likely to show interest as well.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
With DeMar DeRozan potentially entering his final year in San Antonio, Williams' combo-forward versatility and upside should interest the Spurs. While his long-term potential is fueled by a unique set of skills that include pull-up shooting and live-dribble passing, Williams could contribute right away with his powerful athleticism for finishing, offensive rebounding and defensive playmaking.
12. Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Vassell has a case as the draft's top three-and-D wing, a title that should draw the Kings' attention. Bogdan Bogdanovic will be receiving plenty of interest in free agency, and Vassell could offer more pop athletically and defense than Harrison Barnes.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
Teams are high on Smith's shooting, defense and character. And the Pelicans figure to value all three, especially his potential to stretch the floor and protect the rim next to Zion Williamson.
TRADE at 14. New York Knicks (via Celtics): Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
The Knicks move down six spots for Lewis, who'd give the lineup needed pace and creativity. He was on a tear when the pandemic hit and cut the season short, executing a full package of scoring, playmaking and shooting just before his 19th birthday. The Knicks don't have a ball-handler who can put pressure on defenses like Lewis, a speedster with a well-rounded skill set that just needs fine-tuning.
TRADE at 15. Atlanta Hawks (via Magic): Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
The Hawks get Bamba and Aminu to move down nine spots and draft the class' potential top shooter. After finishing last in the NBA in three-point percentage, the Hawks could set their eyes on Nesmith, who was hitting 52.2 percent of his threes before injuring his foot, drilling jumpers off spot-ups and screens at scorching rates.
TRADE at 16. Detroit Pistons (via Blazers): Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The Pistons need weapons, and by trading down, they can add two in Simons and Bey. Simons, who just turned 21 years old this summer, would add shot-making and athleticism to Detroit's backcourt. Bey would give the Pistons a knockdown shooter, but also a potential secondary playmaker with his pick-and-roll play and passing.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Josh Green (Arizona, SF, Freshman)
After taking Ball, the Wolves should focus on defense at No. 17. Green's lateral quickness and closeouts impressed Arizona, where he also scored with explosive transition offense, spot-up shooting and soft touch on floaters.
18. Dallas Mavericks: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
Explosiveness and combo-guard versatility hint at upside for Hampton, who's all over draft boards. Skeptics question a lack of a signature skill. Believers sound enticed by the flashes of athletic driving ability, ball-screen playmaking and set shooting.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
Ball-handling and shooting skills could help Brooklyn look past McDaniels' inconsistency. He's earned a boom-or-bust reputation by some, but at No. 19 overall, the potential reward tied to his scoring versatility could be worth the risk.
20. Miami Heat: Malachi Flynn (San Diego State, PG, Junior)
Playoff teams could see a rookie contributor in Flynn, one of the nation's premier pick-and-roll operators with deep shooting range and defensive toughness. Athleticism hasn't been a recent requirement for NBA point guards to succeed, and Flynn has the skill level and IQ to overcome his physical limitations.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)
Terry comes off as a fit and potential target for the Sixers, who could use another ball-handler and off-ball scorer. He has some of the most convincing touch and range in the draft, important for a guard with limited size and athleticism.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets:): Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Nuggets can use the draft to add to their depth, and Maxey would give them a combo guard who's willing to defend. Though his shooting numbers were disappointing at Kentucky, he should receive plenty of open looks in Denver, as well we a suitable role for his scoring ability.
23. Utah Jazz: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
With Anthony potentially slipping outside the lottery, Utah could be a strong landing spot. He'd spend his rookie year learning under Mike Conley while still adding needed scoring and shot-making off the bench, particularly if the Jazz lose Jordan Clarkson in free agency.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)
The Bucks could focus on acquiring win-now pieces through free agency and trades. They can use the draft to add a prospect with exciting long-term potential, and few offer more than Pokusevski, the 7-footer with fluid shooting skills, flashy passing and high shot-blocking rates.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Nnaji's finishing, post skills and offensive rebounding motor seem likely to translate. But he figures to crack the first round by convincing a team he's a better shooter than what he was able to show at Arizona. He's currently working out in Las Vegas, and the tape we've seen looks encouraging.
TRADE at 26. New York Knicks (via Celtics): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)
After acquiring a third first-round pick by moving down, the Knicks could try to package Nos. 26 and 27 to move up. Or they could use one of these late first-rounders to draft-and-stash Bolmaro, a 6'7" playmaker and defensive energizer. The Knicks could give him another season with Barcelona to work on his shooting before bringing him over.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)
The Knicks could go safer with an older guard at No. 27, or they could they could chase upside with Ramsey, an athletic scoring freshman who just needs to cut down on lapses at both ends. Regardless, it's easy to buy his shot-making carrying over based on his 42.6 three-point percentage and sweet-looking stroke.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Payton Pritchard (Oregon, PG/SG, Senior)
There have been whispers about Pritchard going in the first round, and the Lakers would make sense as a team to show interest. He seems capable of contributing as a rookie with shooting, passing, IQ and toughness.
29. Toronto Raptors: Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)
Scouts have already talked about Winston in the steal conversation, given the likelihood of him going somewhere in the 20s or 30s. The Raptors could look past his age (22) and physical limitations for his shooting and playmaking skill, IQ and character.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)
A consistent shooter and improved playmaker throughout college, Bane has emerged as a potential first-rounder, with translatable strengths and intangibles that can attract both contenders and rebuilders.