2020 has been a rough year thus far to say the least… the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, and now many of us are bored out of our minds with no sports to be entertained by. Due to this, we can use this moment as the perfect opportunity to look forward to events such as the NBA Draft. Despite many analysts being relatively down on this year’s draft due to the lacking of a “generational talent”, there is certainly a handful of prospects with All-Star potential and beyond as well as many that could play a huge role for your favorite team in the near future. With that being said, let’s look at League Alerts’ 2020 NBA Mock Draft (Lottery Edition):
14. Portland Trailblazers: Josh Green (Arizona, SG, Freshman)
The Portland Trailblazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, they have a 113.6 defensive rating which is good for the 3rd worst in the league. A reason why they’ve regressed so much on that end this season is because of injuries. Zach Collins and Jusif Nurkic have been hurt all season which has significantly hurt the front court depth. Another reason why they took a step back defensively is they lost key wing depth with Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless, and Jake Layman all finding new homes this summer. All of those guys were huge for Portland on the defensive end during their Western Conference Finals run. With Josh Green, you are getting a good defender day one that should be able to improve Portland’s perimeter defense. Green is not going to give you reliable offensive production from the start at least; but with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the Blazers don’t need him to be a star offensively.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
This is a situation where you take best player available. We will probably see some guys slip lower than expected because they aren’t a positional need which is why Cole Anthony is here at 13. He will probably not steal Lonzo’s job as the starting point guard of the Pelicans, but being a score-first guard off the bench may be best suited for Anthony. As a bench player, he wouldn’t have to run an offense to the same degree which he struggled to do at UNC, he also wouldn’t have the pressure to be anything special early on with Zo, Zion, Jrue, and Ingram on his team. If Anthony exceeds expectations early on in his career, New Orleans could potentially use him as trade-bait since there are always teams hungry for a franchise point guard
12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
There have been rumors that the Kings are looking to move on from Buddy Hield, assuming that’s the case… Maxey would be a very good replacement. He is a natural scorer and can do it in a variety of ways. Catch and shoot, off the dribble, and getting to the hole. Maxey plays hard on both ends which makes him a positive on both ends of the court. He is an inconsistent shooter as he only shot 29% from deep, but he has shown flashes of being a knockdown shooter. With the proper training, he could take a Jaylen Brown type step shooting the ball.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State, PG, Sophomore)
If Tyrese never hurt his wrist, he could’ve been in the convo for a top 4 pick. As a point guard, Haliburton does everything. He is an elite passer and defender, good rebounder, and has been able to shoot at the college level. Haliburton gets compared to Lonzo Ball a lot due to their elite size, defense, vision, and their funky forms. Nobody knows if his shot will translate to the next level immediately but fortunately, San Antonio has some of the best shooting coaches in the league. Tyrese alongside Dejounte Murray has a chance to be one of the best defensive backcourts in the game day one.
10. Phoenix Suns: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
Obi Toppin has the highest floor in the draft. If he falls to 10, he would be the steal of the draft as many consider him a top 5 player in this class. Toppin is a freak athlete, he is going to be in the dunk contest someday. He has nice touch, a good jumper, and can create for himself and others. He would be an exciting fit on the Suns with Booker, Ayton, and Oubre. If Toppin is as good from the start as expected, the Suns would have a good chance to make a playoff push.
9. Washington Wizards: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Wizards are in an interesting position at this spot. They are desperate for high-end talent, defense, and depth. Jaden McDaniels is probably the most talented available prospect and fills a positional need. He is very long, versatile, and raw. He could easily become the next Brandon Ingram if you give him the time to develop into his own. He only averaged 13 a night on 42% shooting for a subpar Washington team so don’t expect McDaniels to be a huge day one contributor. If the Wizards are looking to build a playoff team around Beal and Wall, it is very possible they end up moving their pick for someone that can contribute right now.
8. Charlotte Hornets: R.J. Hampton (SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers, 19 years old)
Even though the Hornets have been one of the 8 worst teams in the league this season… there have been positives. Devonte Graham is looking like a franchise caliber point guard from being a G-Leaguer a year ago to a guy averaging 17 and 7 and establishing himself as an elite shooter only in his second season. Due to this, Charlotte probably doesn’t need a point guard. They probably should target a center… but there is a good chance both Okongu and Wiseman are gone before this spot. In that case, Hampton would be a good pick. He needs a lot of work with his outside shooting (29.5% from three) and overall efficiency but he has upside as an offensive star and could be at the very worst a good rotational piece on the Hornets. With Rozier, perhaps they do what OKC did last year with CP3, Schroader, and SGA or they look to move Rozier and build around Hampton and Graham. This is a big offseason for Charlotte.
7. Chicago Bulls: Isaac Okoro (SF, Auburn, Freshman)
If it seems like Chicago has the 7th pick every season, then you’re pretty much right. This would be Chicago’s fourth straight season of having the 7th overall pick, but they could do some great things at this pick. With Isaac Okoro, they would be grabbing the best defender in this draft which is what the Bulls desperately need. He is a good finisher and passer and is not going to take touches away from White, Markannen, and Lavine. Okoro is a raw shooter as he is shooting under 30% from deep and under 70% from the line but has a nice form and is known for his incredible work ethic which could lead to him becoming a solid shooter in the future. Okoro would immediately be a fan favorite in Chicago with his defensive intensity and mentality, the Bulls could be grabbing their next Jimmy Butler.
6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes (PG/SG, Ratiopharm Ulm, 18 years old)
The Knicks have made it clear that they are in search for a franchise point guard in this upcoming draft and with Lamelo expected to go very high in the draft… they can’t go wrong with Killian Hayes. Hayes is a crafty 6’5″ lefty that can score from all three dimensions and make plays for others. He is one of the best passers in this class and draws a lot of D’Angelo Russell comparisons due to his size, vision, ability to score, and also the fact that he is left-handed. If the New York Knicks don’t screw this up, Hayes definitely could eventually become as good as D’Lo.
5. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu (PF/C, University of Southern California, Freshman)
The Detroit Pistons have a ton of holes and with Drummond recently being traded and with Derrick Rose looking like a borderline All-Star caliber player, the most glaring positional need is the center spot. Onyeka is the most complete center in this year’s draft. Great defensive instincts, elite shot blocker, good passer, has upside as a shooter, and is good at rolling to the basket. His ceiling is a question mark to many but he has a lot of similarities to Bam Adebayo which the Pistons would certainly take as they are desperate to acquire any talent that they can.
4. Atlanta Hawks: Lamelo Ball (PG, Illawarra, 18 years old)
With Lamelo Ball, the Hawks would be getting the most talented, electrifying, and polarizing prospect in the draft. Lamelo is an elite passer of the basketball, he can hit every pass in the book and has flare to it. Lamelo is a good rebounder also has a ton of upside as a shot creator. Lamelo struggles with efficiency as he shot 37/25/73 splits in Australia but that has more to do with his shot selection than his ability to shoot… he can shoot it from range and can work on shot selection. People also have concerns with Ball’s defense but he has really good natural instincts and could become a really good defender if you get him engaged on that end. A backcourt of Trae Young and Lamelo Ball would be absolutely box-office.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Deni Avdija (SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Minnesota would be passing on the most talented prospect in the draft in Lamelo Ball but they would also be taking the most versatile prospect in the draft that has as much upside as anybody. Deni Avdija is 6’9″ and can play positions 1-4. He is a really good defender, good passer, can score from all three dimensions, and has gotten better as the year has gone on playing for one of the most competitive professional basketball teams outside of the NBA in Maccabi Tel Aviv. There have been questions about Deni’s jumper but he has a beautiful release and has shot nearly 50% from downtown his past 10 games and has shot well in the Israel League. He needs to work on his free throw as he shoots only 56% from the line on limited attempts. Pairing him with KAT, D’Lo, Beasley, and Culver would give the Timberwolves one of the most promising cores in the league.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Edwards (SG, Georgia, Freshman)
The Cavs would be getting who is believed to be the best player in the draft according to many scouts. The Cavs lack players with legit 2-way potential and taking Edwards would absolutely fill that need. Edwards can give you buckets in bunches, he has shown the ability to be an elite defender at the next level, and is capable of being a secondary playmaker of an offense. He has motor and decision making concerns but he can work on shot selection and good coaches know how to press the right buttons to have a player play at their best. Perhaps J.B. Bickerstaff can be that guy that will develop Anthony Edwards into one of the best two-way players in the game.
1. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (C, Memphis, Freshman)
The Warriors having the worst record terrifies everybody in the league. Their current roster if healthy would most likely be one of the best in the West with Steph, Klay, Green, and Wiggins. But fortunately/unfortunately, they were hurt all season long giving them the opportunity to add another high-end talent in the draft. Wiseman has a lot of holes in his game he has to work on, questionable instincts on both ends of the court, and not a good shooter yet. But on a team like the Warriors… he would fill a need and just focus on his strengths. Wiseman is good rolling to the basket, he is also a great rebounder and shot blocker. For now, he can be a JaVale McGee hybrid for them and with a few off-seasons of work… Wiseman could eventually become one of the best bigs in the game. The Warriors aren’t rebuilding, they’re reloading.
If you guys have gotten this far, comment your thoughts on anything you would change in this mock draft. There will be many more NBA draft related articles in the near future including even more mock drafts… especially after when the lottery happens.