After months of uncertainty and postponements of the NBA draft due to COVID-19, the 2020 NBA draft is finally upon us. Even though this draft is uncertain at the top, this class has a lot of depth where playoff caliber teams will be able to retrieve players that contribute to winning for years to come. Even though teams haven’t had draft combines or the same amount of film on these prospects due to the majority having their season cut short, they’ve had an extra 5 months to dive into these prospects’ games and character. This class is certainly one that will expose the truth about the quality of teams’ scouting departments since there’s so much uncertainty. Let’s take a look at my first round mock draft which I included mock trades and some that have actually happened.
1. Timberwolves: Lamelo Ball (PG, Illiawra Hawks, 19 years old)
Lamelo Ball is one of the most talented prospects in the draft. A 6’8” guard with incredible vision, creativity, instincts, and confidence. There have been rumors about Anthony Edwards possibly going first, which is not surprising either, but these are times of smokescreens and Minnesota has made it clear they’re taking best player available, to me that’s Lamelo Ball.
2. Golden State Warriors (James Wiseman, C, Memphis)
It’s so rare for a contending team like the Warriors to have the opportunity to select in the top three, but because of their injuries last year, the rich get richer. Wiseman can slide in at the 5 for the Warriors to protect the rim, gobble up rebounds, be a lob threat, he also has untapped guard potential. With Wiseman, the Warriors have a project who’s skillset fits what they need now, but eventually has the tools to develop into a franchise player.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards (SG, Georgia, Freshman)
The Charlotte Hornets were super fortunate in the lottery this year as they jumped 5 spots to ultimately land the third pick, which is the first time they’ve moved up in the lottery since 1991. Edwards is easily the most effortless scorer in the draft who can do it from all three levels. He’s also a freak athlete with awesome defensive upside. He needs to improve his efficiency as he only shot 40.4% from the field but that’s a product of shot selection and not his actual skillset. The Hornets would have a first option in Anthony Edwards day one.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv, 19 years old)
Deni Avdija is the most versatile prospect in the draft. At 6’10”, he can defend multiple positions, handle it in transition, make players around him better, and get his own shot off the dribble or as someone running off the ball. Deni can slide in at the 3 for Chicago as the primary playmaker. He brings a set of intangibles, versatility, and moxie that Bulls roster could use. Truly one of my favorite prospects in the class.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin (PF, Dayton, Sophomore)
Obi Toppin is the most polished offensive player in the class. He’s an explosive athlete that’s dynamic around the basket, can hit threes, score in the post, and a very underrated passer. He will likely come in as the most immediately dominant rookie. What holds him back from being a top tier prospect is he will be 23 in December and is one of the worst defenders in the class, without the tools to improve that.
6. Boston Celtics: Onyeka Okongwu (C/PF, USC, Freshman)
Celtics receive: Pick #6, pick #50
Hawks receive: Gordon Hayward, #14
There have been rumors circulating that Hayward is interested in going elsewhere so it would be a massive win if Boston can use this as an opportunity to free $34,000,000 in cap while being able to move up in the lottery. Okongwu would give them a super versatile defensive big that can protect the rim at an elite level and guard players on the perimeter. He also is a great athlete that is a really gifted post scorer. Okongwu would have the potential to become the third star alongside Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
7. Detroit Pistons: Patrick Williams (PF/SF, Florida State, Freshman)
Patrick Williams is the biggest riser in this draft. Rumor has it the Pistons have made a promise to Patrick Williams or at least are incredibly interested in him. Williams is a gifted athlete with an NBA ready body that can defend multiple positions, handle it, finish around the basket, and has potential as a shooter. His ceiling is one of the higher ones in the class.
8. Tyrese Haliburton (PG, Iowa State, Sophomore)
Haliburton is as complete of a basketball player as there is, almost no weakness in his game. He is a great rebounder, playmaker, defender, can function on and off the ball, and is a career 42.6% shooter from three, despite his funky release. Haliburton makes a ton of sense with Tom Thibodeau and RJ Barrett.
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro (SF/SG, Auburn, Freshman)
Isaac Okoro is the best perimeter defender in the draft. He is an explosive athlete with an NBA body that gives max effort on both ends and simply can lock down anybody. His offensive game is basic, not a good shooter yet, but a great straight line driver that can pass at an underrated level. Okoro would immediately help the poverty Wizards’ defense and slide at the small forward spot next to John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Rui Hachimura. Okoro is a great character guy, if he ends up with a team that allows him to develop at his own pace, he should be able to reach his high ceiling.
10. Phoenix Suns (Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm, 19 years old)
There’s no official report, but it seems like Hayes’ stick might be slipping to the point where he could easily not be a top eight pick. Yes Phoenix just acquired Chris Paul, but there’s only two years remaining on his deal and he’s 35. Hayes vision in the pick and run as well as his 3-way scoring potential at 6’5” makes it hard to pass up on a talent like him at #10. Chris Paul would be a fantastic mentor for Hayes.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Kira Lewis (PG, Alabama, Sophomore)
Even though Kira Lewis Jr. is a sophomore, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft since he started his freshman year at only 17 years old. He’s the fastest player in the draft that’s elite in transition, solid passer, and shot at a 37% clip last year from three. The Spurs have a lot of young guards but in the beginning of their rebuilding process, they need to take prospects with upside and Lewis Jr. has a lot of it.
12. Kings: Tyrese Maxey (SG, Kentucky, Freshman)
With bogged down Bogdanovich getting traded to Milwaukee and buddy Hield wanting out of Sacramento, the shooting guard position seems like a clear hole of the Sacramento kings and Tyrese Maxey would make a lot of sense. His ability to defend as well as get a zone shot off the dribble give them a great chance to Apple form his draft slot.
13. Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith (SF, Vanderbilt, Sophomore)
The Pelicans could use more wing depth and they would fill that need by drafting Nesmith. Nesmith is one of the best shooters in the draft, he shot 52% from deep in 8 attempts in 14 games. Some people question if that shot is legit though because he only played 14 games and in the year prior, he shot 33.7% from deep. If he is indeed nearly as good of a shooter as his numbers suggested last year, would provide more spacing for Zion Williamson.
14. Atlanta Hawks: Devin Vassell (SG/SF, Florida State, Sophomore)
Devin Vassell raised a lot of eye brows when he released a video of him shooting in a workout. The shot looked slow and the release point was excessively far back, which might concern people. But Vassell still shot over 40% from deep and is one of the premier perimeter defenders in this class. Vassell would be a great value pick at 14 for Atlanta and he’d provide more perimeter defensive help for Trae Young.
15. Magic: Cole Anthony (PG, UNC, Freshman)
Cole Anthony was in the conversation for the #1 pick just a year ago now but after an inefficient season in which he experienced a meniscus tear, his stock slipped to him perhaps falling out of the lottery. The Magic need a spark on the offensive end and Anthony could provide that for them as a combo guard.
16. Rockets: Zeke Nnaji (C/PF, Arizona, Freshman)
Rockets receive: Trevor Ariza, #16, protected 2021 1st round pick
Trailblazers receive: Robert Covington
The Rockets have spent time interviewing potential stretch bigs such as Zeke Nnaji, which says a lot because they didn’t have a draft pick till the recent Robert Covington trade. Nnaji is a high character player with a great motor and is projected to be a solid shooter from the perimeter.
17. Magic: Precious Achiuwa (PF/C, Memphis, Freshman)
Magic receive: Jarrett Culver, #17, James Johnson, Omari Spellman
Timberwolves receive: Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon has been in trade rumors for a while now and the Magic in return get multiple young players with some inside in Jarrett Culver and Omari Spellman, an expiring deal in James Johnson, as well as #17 in a draft with strong depth. Precious Achiuwa is a versatile defensive big that has great rebounding instincts and hustle. He would be able to get minutes to develop immediately without Gordon or Jonathon Isaac playing.
18. Mavericks: Saddiq Bey (SF, Villanova, Sophomore)
Saddiq Bey is one of the best 3 and D prospect in the class. He shot over 45% from deep last year, he can defend multiple positions and has shown some life off the dribble. The Mavericks are lucky here to get a lottery talent that can contribute right away. For some reason, the Villanova guys always seem to work, why would Bey be an exception?
19. Rockets: Tyrell Terry (PG, Stanford, Fresgman)
Rockets receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Jarret Allen, #19, 2021 pick swap, 2022 1st, 2023 pick swap, 2024 1st,
Nets receive: James Harden
It is no secret James Harden wants out of Houston and hopes to land in Brooklyn. In this trade, The Rockets would get a haul of young players and draft picks to start their rebuild. Tyrell Terry is an elite shooter that is able to get his shot off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations running off screens, not a bad passer either. Rumor has it that Terry has grown 2 inches since last year and if true, it should help his stock.
20. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith (C, Maryland, Sophomore)
The Heat would benefit from having a young big off the bench and Jalen Smith makes total sense. Smith is exactly what you want from a modern big, he is a good perimeter shooter than protects the basket at a really strong level. Smith needs to add muscle, especially in his lower body, but the Heat would be a good situation for him to develop.
21. Philadelphia 76ers: Malachi Flynn (PG, San Diego State, Junior)
Malachi Flynn is a major riser in this draft after leading the Aztecs to a 29-2 record that saw him average over 17 points on 37% from deep. Flynn is a confident guard that’s capable of scoring from anywhere on the court and provides a flare and confidence despite his 6’1” frame. Flynn can contribute right away and is known as a grinder, which would make him a great fit in the Philly culture.
22. Denver Nuggets: Josh Green (SG, Arizona, Freshman)
The Nuggets are known as one of the best player development organizations in the league and if Josh Green gets drafted by them, that would be a massive win for him. Green is a very good athlete and defender that’s strong in transition and as a spot up shooter. Green would blend in well playing off of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
23. Utah Jazz: RJ Hampton (PG, New Zealand Breakers, 19 years old)
Every year somebody slips in a draft and RJ Hampton happens to be one of those guys in this mock draft. Hampton is a project with really good physical tools as a 6’5” point guard that’s lightning fast and explosive. Hampton needs to improve on his jumper but it seems like he’s made progress in that aspect over the summer. Hampton would benefit in a situation where he doesn’t have to contribute right away and Utah would be a good spot for him.
24. New Orleans Pelicans: Aleksej Pokusevski (PF, Olympiacos Piraeus, 18 years old)
Aleksej Pokusevski is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft. He’s 7’0”, moves incredibly well, creative playmaker, can create off the dribble and has shooting potential, giving him massive upside. The problem is his body is as non-NBA ready as anyone in this draft and he needs to refine his shooting and decision making. He will need a couple years to develop before entering an NBA court but New Orleans can be patient with him since they already have handfuls of talented young players.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden McDaniels (SF/PF, Washington, Freshman)
Jaden McDaniels is one of the most talented prospects in the draft, but to his underwhelming season and clear signs of rawness, he will likely not be taken with a high first round pick. There aren’t many fluid 6’9” wings that can naturally get their own shot off the dribble and space the floor like McDaniels, giving him one of the higher ceilings in the draft. He also has a bust chance since he has a long way to go before being real impact player. OKC is officially in rebuild mode after the Schroder and CP3 trades so they should be fine with waiting for McDaniels to develop.
26. Boston Celtics: Cassius Winston (PG, Michigan State, Senior)
Cassius Winston is one of the most slept on prospects in the draft. He’s not overly big or athletic as a 22 year old, making it understandable why he isn’t a projected high pick, but he’s one of the most skilled guards in the draft. He’s a career 43% shooter from deep in his college career, super creative off the dribble, good passer, and provides leadership and intangibles on both ends of the court. Winston is ready to help contribute to a contender like Boston.
27. New York Knicks: Isaiah Stewart (PF/C, Washington, Freshman)
Isaiah Stewart might have the most NBA ready body in the draft, at 6’9” and 250 pounds, he’s a man amongst boys. He uses his body super well when scoring in the paint and when protecting the rim. He’s also a good rebounder with strong maturity. Isaiah Stewart would be another good pick fit for the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tre Jones (PG, Duke, Sophomore)
Tre Jones is one of the best defensive point guards in the draft, he’s physical and shares great instincts/coordination when going for steals and deflections. He also exceeded expectations as a shooter by shooting 36% from downtown and is an efficient facilitator. Tre Jones has a chance to be better than his older brother Tyus Jones in the league.
29. Desmond Bane (SG, TCU, Senior)
Desmond Bane is one of the best shooters in the class. As a 44% shooter from deep, he’s confident shooting from anywhere and provides hustle on both ends. Desmond Bane would be a good addition to a really deep Toronto Raptors situation.
30. Boston Celtics: Leondro Bolmaro (SF/SG, Barcelona, 20 years old)
Leondro Bolmaro is one of the most intriguing European prospects in the draft. At 6’7”, he’s a very intelligent playmaker that plays hard on both ends and can finish inside. Bolmaro will be playing in Barcelona so Boston would take him as a draft and stash asset, which makes sense for a team that’s contending for a title that may not want to add three rookies to their roster this season.