It’s strange doing a 2020 NBA mock draft in November but here we are in this new normal. Most of these kids would be a few months into their freshman or sophomore college seasons. Instead, they are preparing for their first jobs in the game of basketball. It’s important to note the amount of time these kids have been under the microscope. The last time we’ve seen most of them play was last February. We missed seeing them perform under the bright lights of March Madness and we haven’t got a lot of tape on them between then and now. I’m not sure if the extra time has been good or bad for player evaluations but no NBA organization can say they didn’t have adequate time to prepare.
The Top 5
Author’s Note: For my 2020 NBA mock draft, I’m going to go through the lottery and pick who I personally think is the best fit. I won’t be looking at potential trades, just making the picks as they sit currently. Without further ado, let’s get to it…
“With the number 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…“
Anthony Edwards is a “big guard” who would be a perfect fit next to D’Angelo Russell. He’s not a playmaker in the truest sense but he won’t need to be with Russell dominating the ball. Edwards is a physical, bruising guard who can capitalize on the spacing of playing on a team with Russell and Karl Anthony-Towns. Edwards isn’t a great shooter but he’s competent enough to be dangerous. His ability to cut and score at the rim will be a huge asset to a Timberwolves team looking for a 3rd scorer. Edwards also projects as a good defender with the athleticism to disrupt passing lanes and chase down blocks. He has the tools to succeed and thrive on the next level, but can he put them all together? Minnesota will bet that he can.
“With the number 2 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Golden State Warriors select…“
Wiseman would be the perfect fit for the Warriors. He’s a versatile big man with enough shooting chops to stay on the floor with Golden State. At minimum Wiseman will be a rim-running, screen setting big a la past Warriors centers such as Javale McGee. Ideally though, Wiseman could offer the Warriors so much more. He projects as an interior presence with the ability to score in the post and enough shooting ability to eventually extend his range. That’s a type of player the Warriors have never had. Defensively, he’ll be good enough to immediately make an impact on the floor. A lot of experts believe Golden State trading away this pick is their best option but if Wiseman is on the board, I’d take him every time. This would be a steal for the Warriors and another step towards another championship run.
“With the number 3 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Charlotte Hornets select…“
USA, Born 2001
The Hornets were one of the worst teams in the NBA this season (hence their spot here at #3). They have gaps to fill at every position but also zero leeway to make a mistake. Some might see Lamelo Ball as a risk but I think he’s one of the most polished prospects in this draft. He’s proven he can play among men and excel as he proved in New Zealand. He has the ability to be an elite guard with his size, overall skill level and vision. His shot is better than his brothers and his defensive impact on the floor could be immeasurable with the right coaching. The Hornets may have other guards on the roster but none of them project as the answer for Charlotte. Ball’s floor is as a quality starting NBA guard but his ceiling could end up being much, much higher.
“With the number 4 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select…“
Israel, Born 2001
The Bulls have an intriguing mix of young players to pair with new coach Billy Donovan. The 6’9 Avdija could be just the piece to continue that rebuild. Avdija is an elite playmaker plain and simple. Putting him with a scorer like Lavine could be deadly while also allowing Coby White more room to operate. Avdija is also a capable and disciplined defender. With Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen ensconced inside, the 6’9 Avdija would fit nicely on the perimeter next to Lavine giving Chicago a long and disruptive starting 5. Avdija’s shot is a concern but his mechanics are good and he’s young enough to where you assume it will improve with coaching. Avdija is somewhat of an unknown but he really could end up being the best player from this draft class.
“With the number 5 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…“
It seems like so long ago that Obi Toppin was the most exciting player in college basketball. The Dayton sophomore was dropping thunderous dunks on Sportscenter seemingly every night while leading Dayton to a 29-2 overall record. The Cavaliers need a win in this draft and selecting a player like Toppin may not move the needle much in terms of winning, but it’s the safe pick here. Cleveland needs to continue to build around their young guard tandem of Sexton and Garland and giving them a lob threat like Toppin would help them out tremendously. Whether or not the Cavs move on from big men Tristsan Thompson, Kevin Love or Andre Drummond; Toppin can be paired with any of those bigs and be a contributor right away.
“With the number 6 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks select…“
France, Born 2001
At 18 years old, Killian Hayes is a relatively risky prospect but one who could be worth it for Atlanta. The Hawks obviously have an elite point guard in Trae Young but in today’s NBA, having two ball handlers is almost a necessity. With the presence of Jeff Teague, this would give the Hawks a 3 headed monster to deploy a la the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even though the Hawks would love to make a playoff push this year (thus making this pick a trade possibility), they still have the luxury of taking it slow with Hayes and bringing him on slowly with the presence of Teague. Eventually, I could see Hayes acting as a secondary ball-handler to Trae Young to maximize Young’s shooting ability off the ball. Hayes also has enough size so that a lineup that pairs him with Young wouldn’t lose much defensively.
“With the number 7 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons select…“
Iowa St., Sophomore
The Pistons need to rebuild. Right now they have Derrick Rose at point guard and he’s played well but they need a long term answer. In my opinion, Tyrese Haliburton is the best point guard in this draft. He’s a calm, steady presence on the court and is an incredibly gifted passer. Even if the Pistons decide to keep Rose, Haliburton will have the chance to learn under him and that could prove vital to his development. Detroit hasn’t hit on a draft pick in a few years but a pick like this would point them in the right direction moving forward whether they hold onto their veterans or opt for a full rebuild this season. Haliburton is a gritty and steady point guard who fits the mold of what “Detroit basketball” used to mean.
“With the number 8 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select…“
The Knicks are in a tough position at number 8. All of the flashy prospects are gone. In this spot, I think Isaac Okoro would be the best fit. He’s a big, athletic wing who could fit nicely alongside RJ Barrett. He projects as a good defender which would give the Knicks another defensive building block to pair with Mitch Robinson. Knicks fans would probably hate this pick as Okoro isn’t a player who’s going to light up the score sheet but he brings a brand of hard-nosed basketball that New York should eventually learn to love. The Knicks also just need solid players and Okoro fits that to a T.
“With the number 9 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Washington Wizards select…“
The Wizards seem likely to stand pat and see how John Wall looks in his return from injury. In that case, a versatile big to play off Wall and Bradley Beal would be the move here. Okongwu moves well and is a strong finisher inside with either hand. He’s powerful and quick and can do all the things a modern NBA big man is asked to do. Defensively, he’s capable of manning the middle or switching out onto smaller guards and wings on the perimeter. The Wizards were terrible on defense last year and adding a versatile big man like big O would go a long way to addressing that issue.
As this process has gone on, Okongwu’s stock has risen. Some experts see him as the best big in this draft, even going as high as number 3. If the Wizards can still snag him at 9, they would be getting a player who they can plug in with their current core or a building block for the future if they decide to rebuild.
“With the number 10 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns select…“
Florida St., Sophomore
Phoenix needs to build off their strong performance in the bubble last season with a playoff push this season. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are the “stars” but the Suns need to find role players who can fit around them. They’ve done a good job of it so far and drafting Vassell would be another step in that direction. He does all the little things on the floor and would be a nice fit on the wing next to Devin Booker. Even in lineups where Book is the primary ball handler, Vassell has the size to play as a big guard or at the forward. Playing off a big like Ayton would also allow the Florida State product to showcase his ability to cut off the ball and put pressure on a defense. If the Suns can get a player of this caliber at 10, it would be a steal.
“With the number 11 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the San Antonio Spurs select…“
Florida St., Freshman
Patrick Williams could end up being a quintessential Spurs pick here at #11. He’s an unpolished project but the coaches in San Antonio should be able to get the most out of his considerable talent. Williams is smart and prides himself on defense and under Greg Popovich, that should get him plenty of opportunities. He’s a strong driver and finisher around the rim and if he can get his shot more consistent, he could be a huge addition. San Antonio seems like they are on the verge of a rebuild and if DeRozan ends up leaving, Williams could fill that role immediately.
“With the number 12 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings select…“
The Kings need a reliable big man to pair with De’Aaron Fox. This decision comes down to two players: Jalen Smith and Precious Achiuwa. Ultimately I’m going with Smith because of his shooting ability. Pairing a long, shot-blocking big with a good shot seems like a good idea for this young Kings team. Smith is raw but if he develops in the way we think he will, he would be a perfect fit for an uptempo offense built around De’Aaron Fox.
With the number 13 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the New Orleans Pelicans select…
Nesmith is the best shooter in this draft which just so happens to be the Pelicans biggest area of need (especially if Redick goes elsewhere). Surrounding Zion (and Lonzo) with shooters seems to be their best route towards improvement. Nesmith also projects as a good defender and has the size to be the perfect 3-and-D player for today’s modern game. Nesmith isn’t a creator or a flashy player but he’s smart, efficient and would be the perfect compliment to these young Pelicans. Imagine Ball, Zion and Brandon Ingram running the floor with Nesmith spreading out defenders with his shooting ability. Stan Van Gundy has gotta like his chances with that group.
“With the number 14 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics select…“
USA, Born 2001
The Celtics could go a number of ways with this pick but I think it’s most likely they select a guard. RJ Hampton’s talent is undeniable but a weak showing in New Zealand has lowered his stock quite a bit. His shooting is a concern but he’s so young that I think it’s a safe bet it will improve. The Celtics already have Tremont Waters and Carsen Edwards from last year’s draft but neither has the talent that Hampton does. RJ would come to the Celtics in a scoring role and should be able to contribute immediately.