The 2020 NBA Draft is here! Follow along as I track all the picks, providing live draft grades and analysis for each player selected.
2020 NBA Draft: First Round Grades
1) Minnesota Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards (Guard, Georgia)
Despite his questionable comments earlier today, Minnesota was not dissuaded from selecting Edwards with the first overall pick. The fit is fairly questionable, pairing his defensive inefficiency alongside D’Angelo Russell. You can’t fault them (yet) for making the pick based on upside and scoring ability, but it remains to be seen how two volume scorers in the backcourt will work out in Minnesota.
2) Golden State Warriors – James Wiseman (Center, Memphis)
Wiseman is a solid pick here. The athleticism and defensive ability should greatly benefit a Golden State team that hasn’t had a go-to big man in a while. If Klay Thompson’s injury from earlier today keeps him out for the beginning of the season, a presence down low could be extremely helpful to take attention off Steph Curry. Wiseman was projected to be the pick to Golden State, and they stick with their plan here. I have questions about how the offense will run with Steph, Wiggins, and Wiseman, but I’m sure Steve Kerr can draw up a scheme that works for everyone. The added rebounding Wiseman provides is also a plus.
3) Charlotte Hornets – LaMelo Ball (Guard, Australia)
This was the best possible scenario for Charlotte. Their playmaking and star factor are both negligible. LaMelo provides both. His development may be hurt by being in Charlotte, but he’s been able to develop pretty well on his own thus far. His playmaking will certainly translate, and once his shooting efficiency catches up, he will be a special player. Hopefully, Charlotte will put the pieces around him to succeed.
4) Chicago Bulls – Patrick Williams (Forward, Florida State)
Wow, this is such a classic Bulls pick. Patrick Williams was the ACC Sixth Man of the Year, and most projected him to go in the late lottery. However, he is nowhere near a top 5 player in this class. With wings like Deni Avdija or Isaac Okoro available, I don’t see how the Bulls justify this pick.
5) Cleveland Cavaliers – Isaac Okoro (Forward, Auburn)
Cleveland makes a very smart pick here. Okoro is a hard-nosed player who is probably the best defender in the class. He also has the offensive upside and athleticism to be a solid contributor in the NBA. Having drafted Collin Sexton and Darius Garland over the last two seasons, I love that Cleveland went with a wing here.
6) Atlanta Hawks – Onyeka Okongwu (Forward/Center, USC)
Okongwu is an extremely versatile big man after the mold of Bam Adebayo. He’s very athletic, and has great instincts on both offense and defense. He should be an effective lob threat for Trae Young that also protects the rim. With all the shooters already in Atlanta, this is a fantastic pick for them that also helps their defensive issues.
7) Detroit Pistons – Killian Hayes (Guard, Germany)
On our 2020 NBA Draft livestream, at least three of us picked Hayes to be the biggest bust in the draft. I guess if you’re looking for a guy who could somehow develop into an elite playmaker, this pick is okay, but Tyrese Haliburton is much more of a known quantity than Hayes is. Adding a pass-first guy like Hayes is also questionable with no real scorers on the Detroit roster to distribute the ball to. Jeremy correctly put him much lower than 7th on his Big Board.
8) New York Knicks – Obi Toppin (Forward, Dayton)
Toppin was an electrifying player at Dayton with his athleticism and high-flying dunks. I can’t fault the Knicks for the pick here, but they probably would have been better off selecting a playmaker like Tyrese Haliburton. Their guard depth is pretty terrible right now, so adding another forward to the rotation might not have been the best move. Toppin is still a decent pick, but it’s a little questionable based on team needs.
9) Washington Wizards – Deni Avdija (Guard/Forward, Israel)
I love the pick for Washington. Avdija is an extremely versatile player with great instincts. He needs to improve his efficiency and decision-making on offense, but he’s a natural passer and smooth shooter with a high basketball IQ that slides in nicely to the Washington roster. His defensive smarts and free throw shooting need to improve, but overall a really smart pick for the Wizards.
10) Phoenix Suns – Jalen Smith (Forward, Maryland)
I doubt many people expected Jalen Smith to go this high. He’s still a solid pick for Phoenix, although they probably could have traded down and still gotten him. The fit alongside DeAndre Ayton could be fun to watch, and Jalen Smith can stretch the floor well enough to give Ayton enough space down low. He still needs to improve in a lot of areas, including his defense and physical strength, but he could turn into a nice piece a couple years down the line.
11) San Antonio Spurs – Devin Vassell (Guard, Florida State)
We all expected the Spurs to take a 3-and-D guy, and they followed through with the guard out of Florida State. Vassell projects as a solid NBA role player who can guard multiple positions and hit some shots. The value here is good at pick 11, and his two-way game will be a good fit in San Antonio.
12) Sacramento Kings – Tyrese Haliburton (Guard, Iowa State)
It’s a little surprising Haliburton fell this far considering where many had him before the draft. He’s definitely more of a known quantity in the 2020 NBA Draft class, and he’s above average in a lot of areas. This is a good value pick for the Kings, and Haliburton should be a good playmaker in the NBA.
13) New Orleans Pelicans – Kira Lewis Jr. (Guard, Alabama)
Kira Lewis is a solid high-motor player who can help out the Pelicans’ second unit with his passing and improved shooting. At worst, Lewis is a scrappy, high-energy point guard who works well in transition and hits the open man. At times, he is prone to turnovers, but overall it’s a good fit and decent pick for New Orleans.
14) Boston Celtics – Aaron Nesmith (Forward, Vanderbilt)
The Boston rotation was going to be crowded no matter who the Celtics decided to take here. That being said, Nesmith is a sharpshooter who won’t start, but should be a great guy off the bench for Boston. He’s also really good on defense and can guard multiple positions. Love the pick for the Celtics based on their need for a true sniper.
15) Orlando Magic – Cole Anthony (Guard, North Carolina)
I had Anthony going to the Magic in both of my previous mock drafts. He’s a true bucket-getter who will serve their team well and knock down some shots. The Magic don’t really have a go-to scorer, and Cole Anthony can certainly be that. The fit here is as good as it gets.
16) Detroit Pistons – Isaiah Stewart (Center, Washington)
I don’t like this pick at all. Stewart probably would have been available in the late first or early second round. He’s more of a traditional center who can knock some bodies around down low, but he doesn’t currently have an outside shot. At 6’9″ he might still grab some rebounds, but this is a really bizarre pick for Detroit.
17) Oklahoma City Thunder – Aleksej Pokusevski (Center, Serbia)
OKC has been having a fire sale over the last few days, loading up their draft capital and trading larger contracts away. Pokusevski is definitely a project, but presents an interesting combination of size, shooting, and skill. In a few years, he could be a central building block of a newly developed OKC Thunder team. This is a good move for GM Sam Presti as he figures out where to go next.
18) Dallas Mavericks – Josh Green (Forward, Arizona)
Josh Green is a good defender and decent prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft, so this isn’t a terrible pick. He’s not a fantastic shooter, and mostly relies on an inefficient midrange game, so this isn’t a great pick either. He probably would have been available much later on, so the Mavericks should have looked at a higher upside pick.
19) Detroit Pistons – Saddiq Bey (Forward, Villanova)
Saddiq Bey is a really good selection at 19. He’s a fantastic shooter and good defender. After trading away Luke Kennard, a three-point marskman like Bey will be a great piece for a rebuilding Detroit team. In terms of value, this is the best pick they’ve made all night.
20) Miami Heat – Precious Achiuwa (Forward, Memphis)
This is a fantastic pick for the Heat, who have done a great job building out their brand with their last few draft selections. Achiuwa was given a chance to show his value in the absence of James Wiseman. He’s a good rebounder, defender, and offensive performer. He’s very versatile and athletic, so he should fit in well with the Heat.
21) Philadelphia 76ers – Tyrese Maxey (Guard, Kentucky)
Philadelphia clearly wasn’t concerned with fixing their spacing issues in the 2020 NBA Draft. Maxey is a decent player and shot creator, but he shot 29% from three last year and I’m not sure how he’ll fit into the offense at all. He’s not super consistent on either end of the floor, and won’t get the shot volume necessary to justify the pick.
22) Denver Nuggets – Zeke Nnaji (Center, Arizona)
The Denver Nuggets are in contention now, so they can take a flyer on a guy who should be a solid backup to Jokic. He’s a good rim protector and is solid in the pick-and-roll. Assuming his outside shot has developed to the point scouts have said, the Nuggets should have gotten a projectable, versatile stretch big here.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves – Leandro Bolmaro (Guard, Spain)
This is a weird selection for the Timberwolves to make (via the Knicks). They need depth now, and Bolmaro will be a draft-and-stash guy who might not even be ready to go after the year is up. He needs to gain some weight and improve his shot to be a passable NBA player.
24) Denver Nuggets – RJ Hampton (Guard, Australia)
I’m not very high on RJ Hampton, as my last couple mock drafts indicated. He’ll have time to develop behind their more seasoned guards, but he needs to improve his outside shooting and finishing at the rim. Denver is good enough now to let him develop and come into the relatively high upside he has.
25) New York Knicks – Immanuel Quickley (Guard, Kentucky)
New York needs some scorers, and Quickley fits the bill. He’s an efficient shooter and solid playmaker who should get a decent amount of minutes in the Knicks guard rotation. He could develop into a good player, but I’m a little confused why Desmond Bane or Tyrell Terry weren’t selected here.
26) Boston Celtics – Payton Pritchard (Guard, Oregon)
I’m a big Payton Pritchard fan. He’s a leader and was a walking bucket for Oregon. Although the Boston guard rotation will be pretty crowded, I like Pritchard’s chances to carve out a role for himself with his high work ethic and competitive nature. Bottom line: he plays hard and hits shots. Good pick at 26, although his development may be capped at where he is right now. He also might have been available much later on in the 2020 NBA Draft.
27) Utah Jazz – Udoka Azubuike (Center, Kansas)
Azubuike is a very capable rebounder and presence around the rim. However his endurance isn’t great and he fouls a lot. He’s a horrible free throw shooter and has no three-point shot to speak of. As a backup big, he’ll probably be serviceable, but there are question marks regarding how he fits in to the modern NBA.
28) Minnesota Timberwolves – Jaden McDaniels (Forward, Washington)
McDaniels has a lot of upside as a stretch four, but there are plenty areas of his game that need to be cleaned up. He was second in the nation in technical fouls as a freshman and seventh in turnovers among forwards. Decision-making aside, he’s a good shooter when he takes smart shots, and he has a good foundation for development. I’m not high on him, but I can’t knock the pick for Minnesota.
29) Toronto Raptors – Malachi Flynn (Guard, San Diego State)
Malachi Flynn reminds me a lot of Fred VanVleet. They have very similar college numbers and are around the same size. Toronto has gotten the best out of VanVleet, so picking Flynn may be insurance for if he walks, but he could also be a solid backup should VanVleet decide to stay. Based on where the Raptors are right now, this is a good pick. Flynn is a good ball-handler and has a high basketball IQ.
30) Memphis Grizzlies – Desmond Bane (Guard, TCU)
This is the steal of the draft. Incredible decision by Memphis to trade into the 30th pick. Desmond Bane is a knockdown shooter, great playmaker, and has a high motor that fits well into the Memphis culture. He should be able to contribute right away as a combo guard behind Ja Morant.
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