B/R Staff: Last-Minute 2020 NBA Draft Predictions
The word "unpredictable" has been used on more than one occasion to describe Wednesday's NBA draft.
We're going to put that to the test.
Bleacher Report's NBA staff is here to make the tough predictions. Who will the Minnesota Timberwolves take with the No. 1 overall pick—if they keep it at all? Where will LaMelo Ball land? Maybe most important because you know there's always one team: Who screws this thing up the worst?
With the league's first draft in almost 14 months finally upon us, here's what our team sees on the horizon.
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Warriors Play the Upside Game with James Wiseman
Few teams have sent out more smokescreens than the Golden State Warriors. But once the air clears on draft night, James Wiseman will be theirs at No. 2.
No trades, no convoluted packaging of that second selection with their $17.2 million TPE—just Wiseman in a Dubs hat, a rim-protecting, hard-rolling center who'll fit in at first and then—eventually, hopefully—develop into a bridge between the Stephen Curry era and whatever comes next.
2020 Playoff Team Trades into Top 10
Everyone is going to assume this means the Boston Celtics. It might. They have Nos. 14, 26 and 30 in the draft. They are natural trade-up candidates and only need to facilitate a four-spot jump. But don't write off the Oklahoma City Thunder.
OKC is entering a rebuild and has Nos. 25 and 28, plus some win-now players in Steven Adams, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio, to sell off.
With a stuck-in-the-mud timeline and Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross all on the books, not to mention No. 15, the Orlando Magic are another squad worth watching.
Whatever the team, someone from the 2020 postseason will trade into the top 10. Book it. Probably. I think.
Trend of the Night: Expect Big Risers and Fallers
Since teams could only visit 10 players before the draft, Wednesday might feature several prospects who are seen as big "risers" or "fallers." Teams are generally unsure of how the draft will unfold, specifically in the Nos. 3-10 range.
More players than ever—keep an eye on RJ Hampton—have wide ranges for where they could fall on draft night.
LaMelo Will Go Top 3...But Not to the Wolves, Warriors or Hornets
All the buzz right now suggests that LaMelo Ball has solidified his spot in the top three, and I believe he will go in that range—but not to one of the three teams currently picking there.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors are known to be fielding offers for the top two picks, and one of them will pull the trigger on a deal from a team looking to move up and take Ball. Maybe it will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have countless future picks they can package, or the Chicago Bulls, who currently hold the No. 4 pick and need a lead ball-handler.
There will be a move at the top, and it will be for LaMelo.
Pistons Take an 'L'
The temptation to go with the New York Knicks taking the draft's biggest 'L' is strong. After all, they are, well, the Knicks. But it doesn't feel fair to put their many curses on Leon Rose ahead of his first draft.
Instead, we'll go with the Detroit Pistons, whose recent draft history has yielded little value. Their four first-round selections in the last half-decade have combined for minus-3.2 wins over replacement player with Detroit. Two aren't even on the team anymore, and Luke Kennard is the only one who's in the black in that particular metric.
The law of averages suggests they might get one right in 2020, but the No. 7 pick in this particular draft is a long shot.
Boston Celtics Get a Big
The Boston Celtics will trade Gordon Hayward, Vincent Poirier and Nos. 14 and 26 in the draft to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner, Doug McDermott and TJ Leaf.
The Celtics would solve their size issue with Turner, sending Hayward (a Brownsburg, Indiana, native) back home. The Pacers would split up the Domantas Sabonis-Turner frontcourt for a former All-Star in Hayward, who they’d look to keep long-term, along with two firsts.
Anthony Edwards Becomes Timberwolves' Third Cornerstone
The Wolves have been rumored to like LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman while also expressing interest in trading down. Instead, they'll wind up sticking and settling on Anthony Edwards, the best fit on paper among the candidates to go No. 1 overall.
After trading for D'Angelo Russell, the Wolves will hesitate to give the keys to a rookie ball-handler in LaMelo, and there are obvious fit concerns with centers Wiseman and Karl-Anthony Towns. Anthony has a best-prospect-available case with his physical tools, explosiveness, skill and production, and it's easiest to picture him sliding into the lineup and avoiding clashing with Russell or Towns.