The 2020 NBA Draft is set to happen on October 16th! There is a lot of variability in this draft because there is no obvious #1 overall player like there was last year with Zion Williamson. It’s generally understood who the lottery-level talents are, but the mid-first round will likely be a free-for-all. The draft order reflected in this 2020 NBA Mock Draft is based on the current standings prior to the coming NBA restart. For the sake of simplicity, potential draft night trades are not included. Here are my projections for how the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft will shake out:
1. Golden State Warriors – Onyeka Ogonkwu, 6-9 Center, USC
Kicking things off with a hot take. In a draft with no clear number one guy, the Warriors are smart enough to take the best fit with the first pick. Ogonkwu isn’t a reach either, considering that many have him in the top 5. The Warriors are reportedly higher on him than James Wiseman, and the USC product will provide excellent defense, athleticism, and post offense to the Warriors as they reload for next season. While a little undersized to put at the 5, Ogonkwu fits perfectly into the Warriors’ small ball setup and has the frame to hold his own. Plus, the NBA appears to be quickly moving towards smaller, more mobile centers. He’ll pull attention away from the Splash Brothers as a dangerous post player and lob threat.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – James Wiseman, 7-1 Center, Memphis
Many mock drafts have Wiseman slipping down into the lower half of the top 10 if he isn’t picked first overall. I don’t see that happening. The Cavaliers are desperate for defensive assets after having one of the worst defenses in the league, and they don’t need any more young guards after selecting Collin Sexton and Darius Garland over the last two drafts. Wiseman provides instant defense and would create a scary combo on the interior alongside Andre Drummond. His offense will be serviceable as well, and the Cavs will be happy to pick him up at 2.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves – Obi Toppin, 6-9 Forward, Dayton
Coming off an electric season that saw him win Naismith Player of the Year as a sophomore, Toppin should be a player that can immediately contribute to the Timberwolves on the offensive end. He is an excellent athlete and a three-level scorer. Again, the Timberwolves aren’t a team that necessarily needs another guard with Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, and D’Angelo Russell on the roster, so this pick makes sense from a roster standpoint. Toppin will slide in nicely to the forward rotation and could probably get immediate minutes.
4. Atlanta Hawks – Anthony Edwards, 6-4 Guard, Georgia
The Hawks need a shot creator other than Trae Young on their team, and Edwards certainly fits the bill. After an entire freshman season of having to find his own shots at Georgia, the 18-year-old can get a lot of run with Atlanta’s second unit. There are concerns about his poor efficiency and defensive effort, but he’s still very young and has the frame to become a solid defender. Inefficiency in his freshman season can be attributed to having to carry his team, but it is still a legitimate question mark. Here, the Hawks are adding another shooter to their roster of young marksmen.
5. Detroit Pistons – LaMelo Ball, 6-7 Guard, Australia
The Pistons need to lay the foundation for a rebuild and will probably just take anyone they can get. Ball provides notable playmaking and size that will certainly translate to the NBA. His shot selection and defense will need to be worked on, but he has the length to not be totally useless on the defensive side of the ball. After winning Rookie of the Year in the NBL, many have him down as the best prospect in the draft. Ball is a solid choice for any team looking to build from the ground up. Plus, he’ll get fans in the seats.
6. New York Knicks – Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5 Guard, Iowa State
After the failed Dennis Smith Jr. Experiment, the Knicks will be looking for a lead guard who has upside as a facilitator and scorer. Haliburton excelled in his three-point shooting and playmaking while in college. He also proved to be a decent defender. His all-around game makes him a safe choice for the Knicks, who can’t afford to swing and miss on another top draft pick.
7. Chicago Bulls – Deni Avdija, 6-9 Forward, Israel
Avdija projects as a Luka Doncic Lite who has shown promise as a playmaker and shooter. He’ll definitely need some development in a number of areas as his size has not always translated into good defensive play, and he’s an abysmal-at-best free throw shooter. His shot from deep can be streaky as well. However, he has a strong foundation and the upside to be a starter-quality player in the NBA. He could be someone the Hawks look at, but they don’t need another project with all the youth they already have. Avdija fits well on the Bulls because of their lack of wing depth.
8. Charlotte Hornets – Cole Anthony, 6-3 Guard, North Carolina
The Hornets are a disaster. They have a few solid young pieces, but their overall team lacks any sort of direction. They should draft a player like Cole Anthony who has high star potential. They’ll also benefit from having a cheap point guard on the roster after the investment into Terry Rozier has failed to pan out thus far. Anthony, coming off a good statistical season at North Carolina, is a true bucket-getter and was thought to be a top-2 pick in the draft before an injury and poor team season saw his stock slip a little bit. Definitely a great value for the Hornets at the eighth pick.
9. Washington Wizards – Isaac Okoro, 6-6 Forward, Auburn
The Wizards desperately need a good defender and depth at the forward position. Okoro provides both. He can guard pretty much any position he is asked to. He is an effective passer, has a high motor, and can score as a slasher or outside shooter. His versatility on the defensive end as well as his NBA-ready body have some labeling him a top-5 pick. And that’s not a reach.
10. Phoenix Suns – Killian Hayes, 6-5 Guard, Germany
Phoenix could use a young point guard to develop behind Ricky Rubio as they build around Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Hayes isn’t a super-efficient shooter from outside, but he has playmaking ability for days as well as great length for his position. There is certainly bust potential here though, as some aren’t sure if his inefficient jumper, right-hand dominance, or poor defensive IQ warrant taking him in the top 10.
11. San Antonio Spurs – Aaron Nesmith, 6-6 Forward, Vanderbilt
Probably the best pure shooter in the 2020 NBA Draft, Nesmith is coming off a sophomore season where he averaged 23 points on 51% shooting and 52% from three. His season ended early due to injury, but his athleticism and scoring abilities were on full display. Seeing that the Spurs need a scoring specialist on their roster, Nesmith is an excellent option that is as NBA-ready as they come.
12. Sacramento Kings – Devin Vassell, 6-6 Forward, Florida State
Vassell has a simple scouting report: 3-and-D. He’s coming off a season where he shot 41% from beyond the arc and he has the size and length to guard multiple positions. There’s virtually no star potential here, but Vassell can be a solid rotational piece for the Kings and is a low-risk pick considering it’s clear what any team who drafts him will get: threes and defense.
13. New Orleans Pelicans – Saddiq Bey, 6-8 Forward, Villanova
Bey fits perfectly with the Pelicans, a team in serious need of some shooters. Last season, Bey shot 45% on threes with over 5 attempts per game. He entered Villanova as a guard, and has the quickness and defensive ability to guard pretty much anyone. The forward is underrated on a lot of draft boards and could end up being a steal for any team outside the lottery.
14. Portland Trail Blazers – Precious Achiuwa, 6-9 Forward, Memphis
Achiuwa is a lottery-level talent more likely than not. Averaging over 15 points and 10 boards last season at Memphis, he showed what he could do in the absence of James Wiseman. With his high motor and tenacious rebounding, Achiuwa will provide wing depth to Portland.
15. Orlando Magic – Desmond Bane, 6-6 Guard, TCU
Another underrated prospect, Bane brings a high IQ to both offense and defense. He is an excellent overall scorer and a knockdown shooter, which is the type of player the Magic have been needing. While limited athletically, Desmond Bane will be a solid choice for any team looking for a well-rounded, smart basketball player. The Magic, who have one of the worst offenses in the NBA, can get excellent value taking him just outside the lottery.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets) – Josh Green, 6-6 Forward, Arizona
The Timberwolves need anyone who can play defense at this point, which is convenient considering that is Josh Green’s only definitive skill. He is extremely versatile on that end, and can guard a variety of positions well. While very athletic, teams may not view Green as enough of a known quantity, which could cause him to slip into the late 1st round.
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies) – Isaiah Stewart, 6-9 Center, Washington
The Celtics don’t really have a go-to big man down low. Stewart is an excellent rebounder despite his smaller size because he already has an NBA physique. Boston will have to see what Robert Williams III develops into, but Stewart is a good pick to hedge their bets.
18. Dallas Mavericks – RJ Hampton, 6-5 Guard, New Zealand
I’m not super high on RJ Hampton, but some team is going to take him in the lottery or mid-first round. He’s an uber-athletic guard with excellent ball skills, but he is a horrible defender and inefficient shooter who struggles finishing at the rim. The Mavericks are good in the development department, and this pick could prove to be mutually beneficial for both parties.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers) – Kira Lewis Jr., 6-3 Guard, Alabama
Lewis is a terrific offensive point guard. In this past season at Alabama, he averaged over 18 points per game to go with about 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He also showed potential as a next-level perimeter threat, converting often from beyond the arc. While a productive player in college, he will need to fill out a bit more before he can be as effective in the NBA. However, as one of the youngest players in his class, there is certainly time for his development. And considering how good the Bucks are right now, they can afford to give him some time.
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers) – Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4 Guard, Texas Tech
The Nets are at a weird spot in the draft because they don’t really have any pressing team needs. They have a veteran rotation, so anyone they draft will get very few minutes if any. Ramsey is a player whose overall stock has dropped since high school, but he cemented himself as an elite shooter in his freshman year at Texas Tech. Putting him in the G League for a year or two will help him develop the parts of his game that aren’t as exceptional.
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets) – Jalen Smith, 6-10 Forward, Maryland
Jalen Smith took a major step in his second year at Maryland. He addressed two of the main concerns with his game – lack of a three-point shot and wiry frame. He put on noticeable muscle and extended his range while averaging a double-double and helping lead UMD to a Big Ten title. The Nuggets are still looking for a dependable and versatile big man other than Nikola Jokic. Smith is an evolving forward whose best days are still ahead of him.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder) – Patrick Williams, 6-8 Forward, Florida State
The Sixers are already a very deep team without a ton of glaring deficiencies (at least on paper). They can afford to invest in a project like Patrick Williams. An athletic defender who helped Florida State to an ACC title, Williams can become a Draymond Green-esque defensive glue guy. He’s the type of player who you stick in the G League for a couple years and let develop into a solid role player.
23. Miami Heat – Tyrese Maxey, 6-3 Guard, Kentucky
With Goran Dragic set to become a free agent, the Heat could use some guard depth in South Beach. Maxey is an exciting, high-motor player. Questions arose with him this season as he failed to find the shooting consistency his entire play style is predicated upon. If he finds his stroke, Maxey can be a good two-way player off the bench.
24. Utah Jazz – Tre Jones, 6-3 Guard, Duke
Tre Jones isn’t exceptional at anything, but he’s pretty good at a lot of things. He’s a terrific floor general and leader who plays with a high basketball IQ. He proved this past season that his defending and shooting would be good enough to play at the NBA level.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets) – Theo Maledon, 6-4 Guard, France
Maledon has always been described as an “intriguing prospect” after breaking into pro basketball at 16, but he’s never really given people anything to talk about other than his potential. Coming off a shoulder injury, he had a pretty ho-hum season. With an aging Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder’s contract up in a year, the Thunder will be looking for young guards to develop for the future. Buying in on Maledon developing into an NBA-level playmaker might be the best option for them in the late 1st round.
26. Boston Celtics – Daniel Oturu, 6-10 Center, Minnesota
Oturu’s emergence as a dominant Big Ten player this season was remarkable. He was fantastic on both offense and defense, averaging over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. Oturu also fits the mold of the modern NBA stretch bigs, shooting 37% from three this past season. He isn’t high on a lot of draft boards due to his raw play style, but he could be a steal towards the back end of the first round.
27. New York Knicks – Cassius Winston, 6-1 Guard, Michigan State
The Knicks need to completely retool their point guard rotation. They also need to retool their whole team from top to bottom, but first things first. Winston was an extremely dependable player in college, and he makes up for his small size with his shooting, passing, and feel for the game.
28. Toronto Raptors – Udoka Azubuike, 7-0 Center, Kansas
With Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka set to enter the open market after this season, the Raptors will need some affordable size down low. Azubuike is one of the bigger players in the draft who had a solid career for Kansas. He pulls down a lot of rebounds and scores from close as a traditional center who isn’t afraid to knock people around.
29. Los Angeles Lakers – Nico Mannion, 6-3 Guard, Arizona
I put Mannion this far down on the mock draft mostly because I think he’s one of the most overrated prospects in this year’s class. His primary skills are passing, playmaking, and reading the floor. He does those things well, but there are numerous red flags. While hailed as a good shooter, his outside shot was less than impressive this past year. His smaller frame and limited explosiveness are also reasons why I don’t think he can be a long-term NBA player. His physical measurements and general lack of strength will severely hinder his ability to score inside, defend or make reads. Mannion doesn’t have enough bankable skills to warrant a lottery pick. But the Lakers need playmakers for the future, and Mannion could potentially find a way to be just that.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks) – Payton Pritchard, 6-1 Guard, Oregon
Pritchard was an electrifying player in college, finishing his four-year career as one of the best players in Oregon history. He’s a similar archetype to Carsen Edwards in that he can explode for a ton of buckets without warning. Pritchard’s shooting splits over the last season were phenomenal as he went 46% from the field, 41% from three, and 82% from the line. His red-hot shooting makes up for his lack of size on offense. The Celtics already have Edwards and Tremont Waters in the pipeline, but they’ll most likely have addressed their big man needs earlier in the draft.
1st Round Bubble: Cassius Stanley (Duke), Tyler Bey (Colorado), Xavier Tillman (Michigan State), Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke), Jaden McDaniels (Washington), Elijah Hughes (Syracuse)
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