The 2020 NBA Draft is officially in the books and as expected, many of the selections made were not anticipated. There wasn’t a ton of movement at the top of the draft, but as the night went on more and more trades occurred. Here are the grades for each pick:
Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards is one of the most talented prospects in the draft. A 6’5”, 230 pound specimen that has elite strength and explosiveness, can score from all three levels, and elite defensive potential. He will fit well alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. The reason this pick wasn’t an A for me is simply because I personally think Lamelo Ball is the best prospect in the draft and even though the fit between he and D’Angelo Russell is questionable, you always go for best player available when you have the top selection. Edwards is still a heck of a talent with all the upside in the world.
Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman
For James Wiseman sake, going to the Warriors was ideal for him. He gets to play for an elite coaching staff and hall of farmers that will help develop his untapped guard skills and basketball IQ. He can slide to the 5 and immediately protect the rim, gobble rebounds, and finish inside. Especially because of Klay Thompson’s chilled injury, I would have heavily considered taking Lamelo Ball to play alongside Steph Curry then sign a rim running big in free agency, but this could be a home run pick if he maximizes his upside.
Hornets: Lamelo Ball
The Charlotte Hornets got the best player in the draft. They get a 6’7” genius playmaking guard with scoring instincts they can utilize their cap to build around. Sure, they have Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, but those aren’t dudes that make you pass on Lamelo Ball. With PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, and the cap space they possess, they can build around Lamelo and give him the keys to the franchise fast. This is the best talent Charlotte has had since Alonzo Mourning.
Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams
This selection is more a TBD. Patrick Williams was easily the biggest riser during this unique draft process. Rumors were circulating that a team like Detroit made a promise, which locked him at the top half of the lottery. Him going #4 was a reach and there were better available players such as Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, Isaac Okoro, and etc… but Patrick Williams has amazing tools that give him a lot of potential long-term. People deemed Jaylen Brown a reach when he went #3, similarly to Patrick Williams, but if he can maximize his upside like what Brown is doing, hee could be a brilliant pick.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro is easily the best wing defender in the draft. He is an elite defender with great physical tools, intangibles, and two-way upside. With Colin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Kevin Love sharing the court, the Cavaliers need to infuse defense and Okoro can slide in the starting lineup and do that. His jump shot scares me and if he can’t figure that out, it really minimizes his potential, that’s why the pick isn’t quite an A.
Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu
The Atlanta Hawks were able to strengthen both their front court depth and defense with Onyeka Okongwu. Okongwu is the best defensive big in the draft; He can switch on the perimeter, guard bigs, and protect the rim. Even if he doesn’t start because of Capela, his defense is going to have a very positive influence on the Hawks, who were 27th in defensive efficiency. It is to be seen whether the Hawks move or deal Capela because of Okongwu, but regardless of what they do, they are headed in the right direction with Okongwu.
Detroit Piston: Killian Hayes
The Pistons lacked a franchise point guard and they may have gotten that with Killian Hayes. The 6’5” 176 pound point guard may need to improve on his turnovers, shooting, and ability off the ball, but Detroit under Dwayne Casey is a good destination for him to grow and learn from his mistakes. Potentially playing behind Derrick Rose isn’t the worst either. Killian Hayes ability to play make and create his own shot gives the Detroit roster the upside they desperately needed.
New York Knicks: Obi Toppin
Obi Toppin is showtime. Somebody as versatile and dynamic around the rim Toppin is, he is made for Madison Square Garden. He will be a great compliment to RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson offensively, he will come in as a main offense done option, and get fans in the seats. The Knicks desperately needed someone to bring hope to the franchise and despite falling in the lottery, they got that dude in Obi Toppin.
Detroit Pistons: Deni Avdija
The Wizards drafted the biggest steal in this draft in my opinion. I had Deni Avdija as a top three prospect this year and he fell to #9. Deni is a super versatile prospect that can defend multiple positions, get others available, be a threat in transition, and bring a sense of maturity the Wizards could use in their locker room. Deni can slide in at the small forward position which gives the Wizards a ton of versatility and some star potential.
Phoenix Smith: Jalen Smith
Jalen Smith going #10 was the second surprise of the night. The only reason I only have this grade as a C is because I think Phoenix could’ve traded back and received more assets while still getting Smith. But when looking at his game, he’s what you want in a modern big; He shoots it and blocks shots at a high level. He has the chance to be a really nice front court compliment to Ayton. The C isn’t about Smith necessarily, I just think Phoenix could’ve moved back for him instead of reaching at 10 for Smith.
San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell
Devin Vassell is widely regarded as the top 3 and D prospect. His defensive prowess and intangibles makes him makes him someone incredible fitting to the Spurs culture. The Spurs could have take a player with more upside such as a Kira Lewis Jr. to embark the rebuild but Vassell will be a big part of the Spurs young core for years to come.
Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton
Tyrese Haliburton is another guy that fell much further than expected and Sacramento benefitted from that as a result. Haliburton is as flexible and low maintenance as it gets, he functions on and off the ball, can pass, defend, and shoot, there’s not a team he can’t fit on. If the Kings end up losing both Bogdonivic and Hield, they won’t have an issue at the two spot since Haliburton can slide right next to De’Aaron Fox and take some weight off his shoulders.
Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr.
Kira Lewis was the best player available and it was wise of David Griffin to snag him here. Alongside Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes, Lewis Jr. is going to bring even more excitement and athleticism to the Pelicans core, which should be exciting to watch. A valid question with this pickup is if New Orleans is the right situation for him as they are flooded with guards? On the bright side since Eric Bledose, Lonzo Ball, J.J Redick, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are there, Lewis Jr. wont need to contribute immediately and can develop at his own pace.
Boston Celtics: Aaron Nesmith
With Gordon Hayward now going to Charlotte, it now makes total sense why the Celtics took Aaron Nesmith, who’s the best shooter in the draft. He will be able to come in immediately for Boston and be a flame thrower off the bench. The ceiling of Aaron Nesmith has been debated between fans, but it’s hard to imagine him not being at least a rotational sniper for the foreseeable future.
Magic: Cole Anthony
The Magic needed an infusion of offense and Cole Anthony has a chance to provide that. He was at one point a projected top three pick but a poorly constructed roster around him as well as a meniscus tear dramatically hurt his stock to the point of him falling out of the lottery. The Magic have a chance to get an offensive juggernaut at this spot, but equally a chance of just getting a not super impactful rotational volume scorer. At this spot in the draft, drafting a talent like Cole Anthony is worth it for Orlando.
Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Stewart
Ever since Troy Weaver got awarded the General Manager job of the Pistons, he’s been aggressive. Stewart is a solid prospect with a NBA body, good motor, good finisher around the basket, and defensive upside. The problem I have with this pick is since Stewart was selected, the Pistons have flooded their roster with front court players such as Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, and Jerami Grant, so it seems redundant to draft a front court player alongside an already crowded front court. 16 was a reach to me as well, a reasonable spot for Stewart was in the 20s.
Thunder: Aleksej Pokusevski
Grade: C (TBD)
The Thunder have officially began their rebuild by essentially trading every asset not named Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Luguentz Dort, and Darius Bazley for as many picks as possible and Aleksej Pokusevski is a part of that rebuild. Pokusevski is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the class as a 7 footer that can create off the dribble, facilitate, shoot threes, protect the rim and moves like a guard, his ceiling is high. The problem is his floor is as low as his ceiling is high, his body is nowhere near NBA level, needs to refine his jumper, and get more physical. If Pokusevski maximizes his talent, he’s the steal of the draft, if not, he won’t play much in the league and wasn’t worth trading up for.
Dallas Mavericks: Jalen Green
Jalen Green projects to be an ideal role player in this league. He’s a good perimeter defender with a strong motor, finishes in transition, and hits threes at an above average clip. Green is going to be a nice rotational piece that can strengthen up the perimeter defense next to Luka and provide an athletic option in transition that can hit an open shot. The upside isn’t substantial with this pick, but Dallas will get an impact guy at this spot.
Detroit Pistons: Saddiq Bey
To me, Saddiq Bey is the best 3 and D prospect in the class. He can hit threes at a 40%+ clip, has life off the dribble, and can defend multiple positions. The Pistons dealing Luke Kennard for the 19th pick is ambitious but they ended up getting awesome value at this spot. For some reason, these Villanova guys seem to usually work well, I don’t see any reason why Bey won’t continue that tradition.
Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa
Precious Achiuwa is a seamless fit in Miami. The Heat needed upside in the front court off the bench and previous provides that. He’s also a rough rider that defends, rebounds, has some offensive versatility, and has a motor that a Pat Riley would appreciate. Home run pick for Miami.
76ers: Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey falling all the way the 21 was maybe the biggest surprise of the draft. Maxey is a lottery caliber talent, in my eyes. He has real talent as a shot creator and defender, he will be a microwave scorer on the bench for Philly early on and can develop into one of the better players from this draft in the future. Maxey isn’t a seamless fit next to Embiid and Simmons but he’s too talented to pass on at 21.
Denver Nuggets: Zeke Nnaji
Zeke Nnaji wasn’t a bad pick. He’s a high motor big that has both upside as a shooter and defender. His maturity and character will quickly be a fit in any locker room he ends up in. I was surprised he went this high, Denver could’ve probably gotten more value if they moved back and got more assets in return while taking Nnaji.
Timberwolves: Leondro Bolmaro
Leondro Bolmaro is one of the biggest sleepers in the draft. He’s a 6’8” point forward who’s a creative playmaker, scrappy defender, and plays with confidence. He fits the modern space and pace offense as a versatile playmaker that can give them ball to open shooters while being a positive defensively. He probably won’t play on an NBA court till next year since he’s still on Barcelona, but he’s still worth it, he can function as the 2021 1st round pick Minnesota likely won’t have due to the D’Angelo Russell trade.
Nuggets: RJ Hampton
RJ Hampton at 24 was a good value pick. He was one of the highest ranked recruits in the class of 2019 due to his athleticism and ability in transition. Even though he underwhelmed in the NBL, somewhat, the upside is still there. For Hampton sake, going to a with an elite Develpment staff and doesn’t need him to contribute right away. Hampton could be a real contributor for the Nuggets down the road.
New York Knicks: Immauael Quickley
The New York Knicks need spacing around RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson and Obi Toppin and Quickley fix that as one of the best shooters in the draft. Quickley provides a combination of elite shooting and leadership which will be a big addition to the young Knicks core. There reasons why this didn’t get an A is because I thought Tyrell Terry was the better option at this spot as a sharpshooter because he has more room to grow, Quickley could’ve easily been there at #33, and I thought New York should of had to add another facilitator in the draft and they didn’t at this spot.
Celtics: Payton Pritchard
Payton Pritchard was one of the best players in all of college basketball last season at Oregon. He is able to hit shots from anywhere within the half court, he’s a legit three level scorer, and he provides the confidence you want from an NBA athlete. He isn’t the best athlete or has the highest ceiling, but his shooting ability and confidence should translate to the NBA sooner than later.
Utah Jazz: Udoka Azubuike
I was not a fan of this pick by the Utah Jazz. Firstly, you could’ve most likely had him in the late second round, why massively reach on Azubuike in the first round? His play style also doesn’t fit in the modern game. Traditional bigs that shoot below 45% from the league and can’t shoot tend to struggle getting real minutes on a playoff team. I’m not convinced Azubuike will be playable in modern offensive schemes. Azubuike will need to drastically improve his free throw shooting if he wants to become playable, offensively.
Timberwolves: Jaden McDaniels
The Timberwolves had a very busy and successful night and they capped it off by selecting Jaden McDaniels with the 28th pick. Other than Aleksej Pokusevski, Jaden McDaniels is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the class. You can’t deny the talent, at 6’9”, He has shown the ability to score and create from all three levels, he can defend, and he is a very fluid athlete. What’s scary about McDaniels is he led all of college basketball in technical fouls and he still needs a lot of refinement in his game. If the Wolves can develop him as a player and maturity wise correctly, he is a big time steal.
Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn
Malachi Flynn was the leader of one of the best basketball teams in college in San Diego State. He’s a fierce competitor that isn’t afraid to to take big shots and puts in energy on both ends. The raptors were in risk of losing Fred VanVleet, so they ended up taking a potentially younger model. Flynn won’t like we get a lot of minutes early on, but as Kyle Lowry ages, opportunities should be there soon.
Memphis Grizzlies: Desmond Bane
Desmond Bane Is one of many great shooters in the first round. He is able to get his shot off in catch and shoot situations and off the dribble. He projects as a guy that will be able to hit shots and defend at a serviceable level early on. If he was was 19 or 20 years old and was as productive as he was in his senior year as TCU, he’d most likely a lottery pick. He is a good fit in that up-and-coming Grizzlies core.