2020 NBA Mock Draft: 3 Trades That Would Blow Up the Lottery
The 2020 NBA draft could spark a trade frenzy.
Teams are willing to discuss deals right at the top, and despite what you may have heard about this class, there are prospects worth moving up to get.
What that means for the actual talent grab on Nov. 18 is something we'll all discover next week. What it means for now is that it's time to get creative with our mock drafting.
To mimic what might be on the hoops world's horizon, we're green-lighting three big, landscape-shifting deals to dictate the direction of our latest mock.
TRADE at 1. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Timberwolves): LaMelo Ball, PG, NBL Hawks
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: No. 1, Jarrett Culver
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: No. 25 (via Nuggets), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
A 6'7" preternatural passer, LaMelo Ball remains the likeliest prospect to land at No. 1. But he'd be an awkward on-court fit with D'Angelo Russell—another ball-dominant guard prone to defensive indifference—which is why executives think several teams, including the Thunder, could make a bold trade for Ball, per ESPN's Jonathan Givony.
The cost is steep, but OKC might view Ball's distributing and deep shooting range as more face-of-the-franchise material than Gilgeous-Alexander's all-around game. Culver, last summer's sixth overall pick, helps cushion the blow, and the two new guards would team with Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley to lead the Thunder into their next chapter.
While OKC has a plethora of future picks, those may not be of much interest to a Minnesota team hoping to build a winner around Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Gilgeous-Alexander is a more natural fit for their timeline, plus his ability to shape-shift however necessary could help him dazzle in a third-wheel role.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
As easy as it is to assume the Warriors want to move this pick, it's much harder finding a viable trade offer. Yes, they need an instant-impact contributor to help Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green chase the 2021 championship, but they also need a bridge to what's next.
Enter James Wiseman.
He'd hit the ground in Northern California sprinting as a bouncy and mobile 7'1" rim-runner. He'd be a turbo-charged version of the above-the-rim presence JaVale McGee used to provide and a much more encouraging option than hoping Kevon Looney suddenly gets healthy or Marquese Chriss stumbles upon consistency.
The specialized role should get Wiseman off on the right foot, and over time, the Warriors would hope his flashes of comfort along the perimeter manifest as reliable weapons in a fully loaded arsenal.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Despite the occasional curveball report suggesting otherwise, the top three picks still seem likely to feature Ball, Wiseman and Anthony Edwards in some order. That's how it's looked from afar, and that's apparently the same way it's perceived inside Charlotte's (virtual) war room.
"Sources say the Charlotte Hornets ... have not seriously considered picking any prospects outside the top group of Ball, Wiseman and Edwards," Givony reported.
Some may note that Edwards would do nothing to alleviate Charlotte's long-term concerns at the 5, but guess what? The Hornets have long-term concerns along the perimeter, too.
Plug in Edwards, a 6'5", 225-pound package of athleticism and shot-making, and the Hornets should pack a powerful scoring punch between him, Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
With changes in the front office and a new head coach, Chicago could eventually shift its attention toward reworking the roster. But the Bulls' new brass probably wants to see this group in action first before making any major moves.
To accurately assess this roster, Chicago needs to correct some roster imbalances. The team is desperate for depth at the forward spots and in dire need of a pass-first playmaker.
Deni Avdija would scratch both itches.
A 6'9" forward who can move the ball, attack the rim and defend a variety of players, Avdija would fit with virtually any frontcourt combination that head coach Billy Donovan puts on the floor. Avdija's desire to push the pace, share the ball and stay active as a timely cutter all could jolt Chicago's 29th-ranked offense.
TRADE at 5. Washington Wizards (via Cavaliers): Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
Washington Wizards receive: No. 5, Cedi Osman
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: No. 9, No. 37 (via Bulls), Troy Brown Jr.
Onyeka Okongwu may prove to be the perfect antidote to Washington's ills. His defense fits the modern mold of Bam Adebayo—the blueprint Okongwu is hoping to follow—with switch-everything versatility and the ability to protect the paint. In fact, he averaged more boards (11.3 to 10.6) and blocks (3.5 to 2.0) per 40 minutes than Adebayo tallied during his one-and-done stay at Kentucky.
Okongwu seems like such an obvious fit for Washington that the franchise could decide it's too risky to hope he falls to No. 9. This swap would force the Wizards to sacrifice the intriguing Troy Brown Jr., but Okongwu is a big enough prize to justify the cost. Plus, Cedi Osman offers more polish and perimeter shooting than Brown, both of which should appeal to a team trying to win big with a Wall-Beal backcourt.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton, PG/SG, Iowa State
The Hawks are open for business and willing to discuss moving this pick for veteran help, per ESPN's Zach Lowe. But it's hard to find a deal that would move the needle more than standing pat and selecting Tyrese Haliburton.
This pick isn't fetching a star in trades, and Atlanta wouldn't gain much by adding a complementary player to move down the board.
Instead, Haliburton could help the Hawks take flight as a do-it-all backcourt contributor. He offers the spot-up sniping (career 42.6 percent from three) and defensive malleability to serve as Trae Young's sidekick.
Haliburton could also steer the second-team offense, which was non-functional last season (15.5 points worse per 100 possessions without Young). He's always looking to push the pace, and he encourages off-ball activity by getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
TRADE at 7. Phoenix Suns (via Pistons): Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
Phoenix Suns receive: No. 7, Luke Kennard
Detroit Pistons receive: No. 10, 2022 first-round pick (top-seven protected)
Phoenix likely needs to leave this draft with either a floor general or a combo guard, which in turn would free it to invest its free-agent funds in a power forward. Check both boxes, and the only undefeated team in the bubble's seeding games could become next season's most improved squad.
But once the Hawks grab Haliburton, the Suns could get antsy, especially if they aren't big believers in Kira Lewis Jr. or Tyrese Maxey. That could have Phoenix making an aggressive move for Killian Hayes, who works on or off the ball and therefore can coexist with Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio. Hayes is already a clever creator off the bounce, and if he can elevate his shooting rates, he'd be a potent offensive weapon.
The Suns would also snag Luke Kennard, who they discussed acquiring at the trade deadline, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Assuming Kennard can get his knee tendinitis behind him, he'd add another shooter and secondary playmaker to the mix, which is more important to a playoff-hopeful than a future first-rounder.
8. New York Knicks: Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Florida State
With Ball, Hayes and Haliburton all off the board, the Knicks can't find a solution to their point guard problems. Maybe that's just as well if they're considering spending on Fred VanVleet in free agency or trading for Chris Paul.
That would free New York to shop in the other aisles, and while several interesting options are on the board, the fast-rising Patrick Williams might outrank them all. He's a 6'8", 225-pound supplier of length, athleticism and two-way versatility, not to mention the second-youngest player in this class.
His ability to handle multiple roles could be what gets him the edge over Obi Toppin (an offensive force with defensive question marks) and Isaac Okoro (a defensive force with offensive question marks). Williams seems the easiest to imagine in an impact role alongside RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, especially if he can turn his flashes of off-the-dribble shooting into a consistent feature on his offensive menu.
TRADE at 9. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Wizards): Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
This would almost certainly qualify as a best-case scenario for Cleveland.
Should the Cavaliers use the fifth overall selection, they might spend it on Obi Toppin. He might have some defensive limitations, but he's a brilliant player at basketball's most glamorous end. If his shooting holds up—he splashed 32 triples at a 39 percent clip in 2019-20—he could approach unguardable territory given his finishing, soft touch, comfort in the post and passing.
He'd be a little redundant on the roster for now with Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. all still residing in Northeast Ohio, but all three could be gone sooner than later. Our projected trade also delivers Troy Brown Jr., who would instantly address Cleveland's voids in the passing and perimeter-defending departments.
TRADE at 10. Detroit Pistons (via Suns): Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
The Pistons are in the early asset-accumulation stage of their rebuild, so they'd do well to add a future first-rounder while collecting a top-shelf prospect.
Isaac Okoro might be the early favorite to emerge as this draft's top defender. He can silence scorers on the ball and disrupt actions away from it. He's more of a mixed bag on offense—his jumper needs serious work—but he can finish at the basket and provide secondary playmaking.
He offers both safety and upside. For a Pistons team needing keepers and hope for the future, that would be a tough package to ignore.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
Whether the Spurs plan to chase a final playoff run with their veteran core or fully shift their focus to the future, Vassell would help either way. He's a low-maintenance role player who splashed 41.7 percent of his threes over two seasons with the Seminoles and handles defensive assignments of nearly all sizes and styles.
12. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton, PG/SG, New Zealand Breakers
The Kings could play it safe with a higher-floor forward, but they might get the most mileage out of Hampton's upside and potentially ability to thrive alongside De'Aaron Fox long term. If they could collectively squeeze out enough shooting, they'd be a hyper-athletic pairing who could wreak havoc in transition and share offensive control in the half court.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland
Smith seems factory-designed to share a frontcourt with Zion Williamson. Smith's unicorn combo of spacing and shot-blocking would slot in perfectly alongside New Orleans' young energizer.
14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
Remember when Boston couldn't find a physical answer for Bam Adebayo in the Eastern Conference Finals? Achiuwa would be a step in the right direction. The 6'8¾", 234-pounder provides switchability and rim protection, although his offensive role will be confined to screen-setting and rim-running.
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
The Magic are perpetually searching for offense, and Lewis would provide plenty. The 19-year-old sprinted to the finish line of his collegiate career, averaging 23.2 points and 6.7 assists with a 49.0/46.3/75.5 shooting slash over his final nine outings.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova
Bey wouldn't bring about the end of Portland's ongoing hunt for two-way wings, but he'd at least ease some of that concern. He's a lethal spot-up shooter who offers some defensive versatility and complementary playmaking.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
After building a Big Three of Towns, Russell and Gilgeous-Alexander, the Timberwolves could supplement their stars with perhaps the draft's top shooter. Nesmith buried 60 triples at a 52.2 percent clip across 14 games before a foot injury prematurely ended his sophomore season.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
Dallas has star power and depth, so it could go any number of directions here. Rather than focusing solely on upside or instant impact, the Mavs might split the difference with Maxey, a defense-driven guard who might be the next Wildcat to show substantial growth at the NBA level.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Josh Green, SF, Arizona
Not even a team featuring Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and (for now, at least) Caris LeVert should plan on outscoring everyone, so the Nets could get defensive with the athletic Green. His defense would get him on the floor, and his slashing, cutting and spot-up shooting could balloon his role quickly.
20. Miami Heat: Desmond Bane, SG, TCU
The Heat are always searching for #culture, but they also need optimal spacing in support of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Bane, a willing defender who moves the basketball and makes open shots, would be an easy addition to Miami's locker room and its 2020-21 rotation.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrell Terry, PG/SG, Stanford
Need and value could align if the sweet-shooting Terry is still around when the Sixers are on the clock. He offers a wealth of shot-making and underrated distributing, and Philly has the length and bulk to cover for his lack of size and athleticism.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Depth isn't an issue in Denver, which could free the Nuggets to bet big on upside. Ramsey lacks several coats of polish, but if approaches his best-case scenario, he'd inject the backcourt with shot-making, explosion and multi-positional defense.
23. Utah Jazz: Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
McDaniels is slightly less raw than fresh-picked fruit, but if the Jazz can afford to be patient—their playoff run could've gone a lot differently with a healthy Bojan Bogdanovic—McDaniels might reward them in the end. He isn't short on physical tools, and he has flashed encouraging handles and shooting mechanics.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
The Bucks could see this selection as a way to expand the rotation or bulk up their trade assets, and either mindset could steer them toward Anthony. A disappointing season with the Tar Heels stripped lots of his luster, but he still boasts an intriguing blend of shooting, handling and athleticism.
TRADE at 25. Timberwolves (via Thunder): Tyler Bey, SF, Colorado
Desires to upgrade defense and athleticism could lead Minnesota to the bouncy Bey. He plays with a jetpack on his back (43.5" max vertical) and can cause chaos defensively on the ball or away from it. If his shooting keeps trending up, he'll be a steal.
26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos II
Unable to consolidate picks in this mock, Boston could instead use one of its three first-rounders to land the (literally) biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this class. He's a 7-footer who can handle, create, block shots and hit on-the-move threes, but he's also problematically thin (201 pounds), inconsistent on defense and prone to forcing things offensively.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State
The same positional need and desire for a culture-changer potentially pushing the Knicks toward Chris Paul could also, on a lesser scale, nudge them Winston's direction. He lacks upside as an athletically limited 22-year-old, but he seems among the safest choices for shooting, distributing, instincts and leadership.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State
Point guard seems like a natural aim for the Lakers here, and Flynn could be on the radar as an early contributor. He may not have blow-by burst or highlight handles, but he runs a clean offense, shoots off the dribble or the catch and competes defensively.
29. Toronto Raptors: Zeke Nnaji, PF/C, Arizona
The Raptors will almost surely need some frontcourt reinforcements with Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Chris Boucher all bound for free agency. Nnaji will be an early source of energy, interior activity and rebounding, but he needs a lot of defensive development.
30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Grant Riller, PG/SG, Charleston
Boston lacked second-team scoring last season, and Riller could provide tons of it so long as his game translates against much stiffer competition than what he faced over four years with the Cougars. If it does, the C's would be getting ambidextrous finishing, dynamic handling and enough off-the-dribble shooting to demand plenty of defensive attention.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.