2020 NBA Mock Draft: 2 Weeks to Go, Who Goes No. 1?
With two weeks until NBA draft night, scouts and executives still sound unsure about who will go No. 1.
We continue to gather intel on prospects' workouts and teams' targets. But the Minnesota Timberwolves control the top of the board, and their decision could have a significant domino effect.
As one executive put it, this could be one of the most unpredictable drafts in the past 20 years.
It should make for an interesting night on Nov. 18. Until then, teams still have a lot of work to do forming their rankings and coming up with trade proposals.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball (Hawks, PG, 2001)
It's a small step—but a step nonetheless—toward the front office familiarizing itself with the 6'7" point guard and person behind the flashy highlights.
By all accounts, Ball isn't the type to charm his way through an interview. But unless he completely turned the Wolves executives off, the meeting was presumably just a formality, and his words and answers shouldn't factor too heavily into their overall evaluation.
In terms of finding a trade partner, there aren't easy ones to identify, particularly if Minnesota is hoping to land an established star or veteran for the pick.
If the Wolves are too hesitant about Ball's fit and weaknesses, they might just hope the Charlotte Hornets are focused on landing James Wiseman and fear the Golden State Warriors would take him No. 2. That scenario sounds like the most realistic. The Wolves could acquire an additional asset or two to move down for a player like combo forward Deni Avdija, who fits cleaner in a lineup with D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
But in all likelihood, the Wolves will end up sticking at No. 1 and drafting the best player available, regardless of fit. Two weeks to go before Nov. 18, Ball stands out as the class' most attractive talent for his positional size, special passing (a lock to translate) and confident shot-making.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)
The Golden State Warriors will explore trade scenarios until draft night. According to multiple sources, they absolutely like players who'll be available in the mid-to-late lottery range. The question is how much more they like Ball and James Wiseman.
They're expected to meet with Ball before the draft, and sources say the Warriors are higher on Wiseman than Anthony Edwards. General manager Bob Myers showed up to Wiseman's game against Oregon back in November, and given the team's need for frontcourt help, it's become easier to picture Golden State drafting an athletic center who can immediately play to his strengths, finishing off the lineup's shooters and passers.
Sources say the Warriors are also high on Deni Avdija and Devin Vassell, wings/forwards who'd fill a need. But if Golden State sticks at No. 2, Wiseman still sounds like the favorite.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)
If the Charlotte Hornets stick at No. 3, they'll presumably take whoever falls from the group of Ball, Wiseman and Edwards.
It's unclear how Charlotte ranks them. It wouldn't be shocking to learn the Hornets covet Wiseman to fill their hole at center. And if he's their target, they could send a proposal to the Minnesota Timberwolves, using some combination of picks and players (No. 32, a future first-rounder, Malik Monk or Miles Bridges) to move up.
In this case, the Hornets sit tight at No. 3 and add Edwards, who'd give them a three-level scorer to pair with Devonte' Graham. It's tough to beat his physical profile for a guard—6'5", 225 pounds, explosive. But he's also highly skilled in terms of creation and shot-making.
Charlotte also figures to look at Obi Toppin given its need for offense. But Edwards, roughly three years younger, should have the edge.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)
At No. 4, Deni Avdija could check boxes as both the best player available and a fit for the Chicago Bulls.
Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes will earn consideration given the team's need for passing. But Avdija offers secondary playmaking, as well. He'd immediately serve as a versatile role player, and it's safe to assume he'd replace Otto Porter Jr. long-term in the starting lineup.
Regardless, between Avdija's 6'9" frame and athleticism, ball-handling in transition and pick-and-roll situations, perimeter shot-making, strong finishing, defensive toughness and reputation as a worker, he's a top-five prospect for the majority of teams to which we've spoken.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
If there is a long shot to crack the top three, it's Obi Toppin since teams sound confident in his scoring and offensive fit.
For a Cleveland Cavaliers team that doesn't know what it has given Darius Garland's shaky rookie season, the one year remaining on Andre Drummond's contract ($28.8 million player option) and Kevin Love's uncertain future at 32 years old, the front office needs to prioritize talent over fit.
Toppin's defensive concerns may lead to hesitation for a team that finished last in defensive efficiency. But even a good defender at No. 5 wouldn't move the needle much for the Cavaliers, and their roster could look completely different one season from now.
The Cavaliers figure to feel too confident in Toppin's ability to deliver easy baskets, space the floor with his three-ball and pass. There are also scouts who seem hopeful he can become capable enough defensively in terms of moving his feet and blocking shots.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
The Golden State Warriors could still trade down for Tyrese Haliburton, and the Chicago Bulls are a possible suitor at No. 4. But no trades or reaches could mean the Iowa State guard goes to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 6.
They'd want him to take pressure off Trae Young and give the lineup a secondary playmaker. And after he graded in the 99th percentile as a spot-up player, per Synergy Sports, Haliburton has proved comfortable and effective off the ball, spacing the floor with his catch-and-shoot three-point stroke.
Onyeka Okongwu is another name to watch for the Hawks at No. 6 given his potential to improve the team's defensive identity.
7. Detroit Pistons: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Detroit Pistons are looking at point guards in Haliburton, Killian Hayes and Kira Lewis Jr. But multiple sources tell Bleacher Report that Patrick Williams has become a coveted target for Detroit, and it's easy to picture the Pistons talking themselves into his upside.
At 19 years old and 6'8", 225 pounds, Williams flashed a unique package of spot-up and pull-up shooting, live-dribble passing and powerful finishing. And there is plenty of defensive potential to unlock from his strength, mobility and athleticism.
Finding a ball-handler may seem like the priority, but needs shouldn't factor into Detroit's decision. The Pistons need talent, and Williams' combination of physical tools and versatility creates an enticing best-player-available case.
8. New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)
There should be debate within the New York Knicks front office about how much stock to put into their lottery pick's fit on the roster. Our guess is that new president Leon Rose will recognize that the Knicks are too far away from being able to worry about anything other than drafting the best talent available.
The team is looking at Devin Vassell and Kira Lewis Jr., but Isaac Okoro could have the edge here at No. 8. He figures to win New York over with defense and toughness, and though there are questions about his shooting, his athleticism, scoring efficiency (60.7 two-point percentage) and passing are persuasive selling points.
There is also hope that his jump shot can reach an acceptable level. Okoro did make 20 threes in 28 games, won't turn 20 until January and owns a reputation for being professional and hard-working.
9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)
Onyeka Okongwu falling to No. 9 sounds like a dream scenario for the Washington Wizards. Rival teams have mentioned they expect Washington's sights to be set on the athletic center.
He'd give the Wizards needed rim protection behind Rui Hachimura. But he also surprised this season with his skill level in the half court, creating shots off advanced footwork and converting them with both hands and soft touch.
If Okongwu is long gone by this point, Devin Vassell and Precious Achiuwa would be names to watch for the Wizards.
10. Phoenix Suns: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)
Kira Lewis Jr. is gaining steam, earning workouts for the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. Sources tell Bleacher Report the Phoenix Suns have a lot of interest as well.
He'd give Phoenix an element of speed and dribble penetration that Ricky Rubio does not, even though Rubio would continue to run the first unit. In the short term, Lewis could provide a spark off the bench, putting pressure on defenses in transition, turning the corner off ball screens and knocking down jumpers.
He could use a few seasons to fine-tune his decision-making, but he just turned 19 years old in April. Along with his quickness, Lewis' well-rounded skill set, which includes driving and playmaking ability, shooting versatility and floater touch, points to starting point guard potential.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell (Florida State, SF, Sophomore)
Vassell is getting looks from teams in the top 10, including the Golden State Warriors. But Williams and Lewis moving up the board could lead to Vassell falling to the Spurs. And they could use a three-and-D wing for a core that features ball-handlers and scoring guards.
12. Sacramento Kings: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)
League sources say the Kings are putting extra stock into analytics, and Hayes could be their target. While he's not a clean fit next to De'Aaron Fox, he has a case as the best player available with 6'5" size, advanced passing skills, a soft floater and pull-up game, improved shot-creation moves and promising defensive instincts.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Bey made plenty of NBA fans this season by shooting 45.1 percent from three, but he has even more support heading into the draft after interviews. His shot-making off spot-ups and screens could be useful to a lineup that already has creators and scorers.
14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, C, Freshman)
With three picks in the first round, the Celtics could put together some creative trade proposals. But if they stick at No. 14, Achiuwa makes sense as a target given the team's history of going after highly rated high school prospects and its need for frontcourt athleticism and defensive, switchable bigs.
15. Orlando Magic: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)
Some scouts see the draft's top shooter in Nesmith, who could be a target for Orlando if a point guard doesn't fall. He'd have a chance to play immediate minutes in a lineup that could use more wings and shot-making.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)
One team figures to find Pokusevski's potential worth the risk, and we're hearing Portland could be interested. At 7'0", he projects as a forward with unique shooting and passing skills, as well as active shot-blocking ability.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)
Assuming the Wolves grab a guard first, Smith should be an attractive option at No. 17 for his frontcourt shooting and defense. He doesn't provide much off-the-dribble ability or passing, but teams are believers in his valuable mix of strengths carrying over to the pros.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)
The interest in Bane seems to be contagious. Word around the league is that Dallas is trying to trade this pick for a wing and immediate help. But the Mavericks are also high on Bane, and they could draft him to add shooting and high-IQ passing and defense.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
Scouts across the league acknowledge McDaniels' talent and potential fueled by his 6'9" size, ball-handling skills and shooting range. Inconsistent execution and energy have caused teams to hesitate. Brooklyn would be a fitting land spot since McDaniels could take it slow and receive mentorship from its stars and veterans.
20. Miami Heat: Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
Generating interest from teams in the teens, Nnaji is using workouts to show off a jump shot he didn't display much of at Arizona. Up to 247 pounds, he's a strong finisher and skilled post player with touch, but he can go top-20 by selling Miami on a vision of an interchangeable stretch 4/5.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG/SG, Freshman)
Receiving looks in the teens, Terry also has teams in the 20s hoping he falls. We've heard the Sixers are interested in Terry, who'd give them another ball-handler, as well as a shooter capable of firing from deep in transition and off screens.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Teams sound split on Maxey, with some buying his scoring and believing his shooting is sharper than the numbers suggest. Skeptics question his shot mechanics and playmaking for a 6'3", below-the-rim guard. The Nuggets have a history of buying low and not overreacting to stats or predraft developments.
23. Utah Jazz: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Once viewed as a top-10 pick, Anthony seems to be sliding down boards. The question is who'll be willing to catch his fall. Utah would be a good fit for Anthony, who could focus on scoring and shot-making off the bench without having as much early responsibility running an offense.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, PG/SG, 2001)
Hampton's shooting remains a key swing skill, but the Bucks could deem it worth betting on this late given what a jump shot could do for an explosive, 6'5" ball-handler. Until his three-ball and pull-up jumper improve, he'll add value by attacking in transition, getting downhill off ball screens and adding secondary playmaking.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Josh Green (Arizona, SG/SF, Freshman)
Reviews for Green vary, with multiple teams telling Bleacher Report they project a late first-round pick. We've mentioned him as a potential steal in this draft, undervalued because of concerns over his creation. His explosiveness, spot-up shooting, floater touch and defensive quickness could work well in a supporting role.
26. Boston Celtics: Malachi Flynn (San Diego State, PG, Junior)
Flynn seems to be viewed by teams as a first-rounder after flying under the radar during the season. He doesn't pop physically or athletically, but between his ball skills, shooting range, IQ and pesky defense, he appears easy to trust and ready to handle a backup role sooner than later.
27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)
If the Knicks don't get Haliburton and pass on Lewis and Hayes, they could focus on Flynn or Mannion as point guard targets at No. 27. Mannion's stock fell despite him finishing as the only freshman in the country to average at least 14 points and five assists. It's a worthwhile gamble on a skilled, competitive ball-handler who may wrongfully slip due to poor percentages caused by a few shooting slumps.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Payton Pritchard (Oregon, PG/SG, Senior)
Teams are looking at Pritchard as a value pick capable of adding shot-making, passing and toughness on a rookie contract. The Lakers could look past his limited tools and athleticism, focusing instead on his skill level and intangibles.
29. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Bey (Colorado, PF, Junior)
A 43.5" max vertical highlights Bey's athleticism, which he uses for finishing and covering ground defensively. Showcasing enough shooting touch in workouts could lead to first-round interest from the Raptors, who worked out Bey last week and may need frontcourt depth.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)
Though the Celtics are expected to be busy exploring trades with their three first-round picks, drafting and stashing Bolmaro would make sense if they keep No. 30. He's been quiet with Barcelona's senior team over the past month, but he's drawn NBA attention over the years with his playmaking and defense for a 6'7" wing.