It’s mock draft season baby! We’re still a little over three months away from the 2020 NBA draft, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot start speculating who goes where. There isn’t necessarily a can’t miss number one pick this year like Zion Williamson, so it all depends on how the Lottery goes as to who will be drafted first. If the season were to end today and everyone drafted according to their rank, here’s how the draft might turn out. There’s always the possibility of trades, and outside of one that I think could easily happen, I (for now) will stick to strictly having teams stay put until after the Lottery and we officially see where teams are.
1) Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman (C/Memphis)
If Golden State does land the first overall pick, should they try to groom another young wing/guard or go with a big? There will be some, but not many, bigs available in free agency. Many are vets who’d do well, but Wiseman is a prospect who could be brought in for his defense and have his offensive skills groomed in the meantime. With a potential lineup of Curry/Thompson/Wiggins/Green, the Warriors need a big that can develop into a modern NBA big. Wiseman will be able to battle for boards and get the ball out on the fastbreak.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Edwards (SG/Georgia)
The Cavs cannot past on Edwards. Unless Golden State lands the number one pick, Edwards has a good chance of going in Wiseman’s sted. Edwards is an amazing athlete who can be slid to the SF position and can be effective in attacking the rim. I know the Cavs have picked guards in the previous two drafts, but Edwards is can’t miss. Period.
3) TRADE! New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball (PG/New Zealand)
Ball has ballooned into a 6’8 PG that is setting fire to the New Zealand league. The Knicks need to do something, anything, that makes it look like they are actually attempting a legitimate rebuild. Giving up the number five pick and one of their many guards or PFs could get this deal done. If not, sweeten the pot with a couple of second-rounders. Maybe New York’s draft woes end and they can Ball without making a trade, but if not, they need to do whatever it takes to move up.
4) Atlanta Hawks: Deni Avdija (SF/Israel)
The Hawks already passed on one Euro-star, do they do it again? I don’t think so. If it’s decided that Clint Capela will stay with the Hawks, then going for a scoring wing who can help spread the floor even more. Avdija has tremendous upside and has the makings of a great young NBA talent. His defense is really the only slightly concerning part of his game, but there are many NBA stars that suck at defense. Atlanta needs to take a chance on the young star from Israel.
5) Minnesota Timberwolves: Onyeka Okongwu (PF/C USC)
The Timberwolves have plenty of guards, especially after acquiring Russell. In a guard-heavy draft, Okongwu seems like a viable big-man option for the Wolves to pair alongside Towns. Towns can stretch the floor, while Okongwu is more of a traditional PF, like a Tristian Thompson but with better post play. The biggest drawback is his inability to stretch the floor, which is desired in the modern NBA. However, it is his shot-blocking ability and rebounding that make him an attractive pick.
6) Detroit Pistons: R.J. Hampton (PG/SG New Zealand)
Hampton is another young kid that decided to take his talent outside the US to get paid now and later. Unfortunately for Detroit, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel. Blake Griffin has missed most of a disappointing season, allowing the Pistons to grab a potential high lottery pick. Hampton is an explosive playmaker that was super hyped up coming into this year. He’s recently been sidelined with hip problems, but this shouldn’t scare Detroit.
7) Chicago Bulls: Isaac Okoro (SF/ Auburn)
Coby White has deserved a spot on the starting squad. With that said, the Bulls need a defensive wing to go along with the White/LaVine scoring machine. Okoro may be the best defender in the draft and can become the go-to guy to put on the opposing team’s best scorer. The more I think about it, the more I love Okoro to Chicago. His impact will not be in stats, but in effort, hustle and peskiness.
8) Charlotte Hornets: Cole Anthony (PG/SG North Carolina)
Anthony has had a rough go at it this season. He’s had knee troubles and for the first bit of the season just could not find his groove. However, that has changed in recent weeks and he now looks like what we all thought he would. Anthony is putting up good numbers, but not necessarily at an efficient rate. I don’t care much for Terry Rozier, but perhaps Anthony could benefit from playing alongside him. Anthony, to me, has the biggest chance of being a bust, but his upside keeps him in the top 10.
9) Washington Wizards: Obi Toppin (PF/Dayton)
There is a good chance Toppin gets taken earlier, but for now, I have him here with the Wizards. The Wizards need a big that has the ability to stretch the floor and open the driving lanes for John Wall. Toppin can do just that. He is a huge asset for any team; a big that can bully his way to the rim or shoot from the outside. He can pass pretty well and continues to show improvement as the college season goes on. If Toppin can transition his game to the NBA, he may very well be one of the better pickups of the draft.
10) Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (PG/ France)
Ricky Rubio or Jevon Carter are not the long term answers at PG. The Suns have some good scorers, but what they need is a PG with excellent court vision and a natural ability to find his teammates. Enter Killian Hayes. Another Euroleague prospect, Hayes has shown tremendous ability to find the open man as well as play good defense. Pairing Hayes alongside Booker could make for an intriguing backcourt for the Suns, who will need to do something fast if they want to keep Booker around.
11) New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Haliburton (PG/Iowa State)
Frank Jackson is not my first choice for backup PG. When looking at the Pelicans roster, their biggest need is off the bench. Josh Hart has shown flashes, but they need a consistent ball handler that can manage the floor for 15-20 minutes a game. Haliburton can do just that. His high basketball IQ makes him a solid pick for whoever lands just short of the top 10.
12) San Antonio Spurs: Jaden McDaniels (SF/PF Washington)
The Spurs need to go into rebuild mode. I do not know if there wasn’t a market for DeRozen and Aldridge or if they were asking too much. Drafting McDaniels is a positive step towards the future. Standing 6’10, it’s hard to find someone else in the draft as tall as him who can run the floor just as well. He will need some polishing and refining and will need to build muscle. McDaniels could help fill the eventual hole left when DeRozen is gone.
13) Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell (SF/Florida State)
Vassell is the typical 3-D wing. Vassell can’t really create off the dribble for himself, but he won’t need to with Fox running the point. He could right away step in and do Barnes’ job but better. Tenacious on the defensive side and shooting the three efficiently, Vassell should be at the top of the Kings’ draft board in the late Lottery.
14) Portland Trailblazers: Saddiq Bey (SF/Villanova)
Another 3-D wing, Bey could benefit greatly from a deep Tournament run. Bey is shooting lights out from three and is great at slashing towards the rim. He is an excellent defender, something that Portland desperately needs. All aspects of his game fit in well with the Trailblazers and will be an excellent pick.
15) Orlando Magic: Precious Achiuwa (PF/Memphis)
Achiuwa has too much upside to continue sliding. Though he is not much of a shooter, the Magic will take great value in his defense and ability to attack the rim. He could make a nice piece to squeeze alongside Vucevic and will help in the rebound game. Achiuwa has a lot to improve on but has enough in his arsenal to impress scouts.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Tyrese Maxey (SG/Kentucky)
What Maxey brings to the Wolves is a score-first guard who has the ability to shoot in high volume from three. He’s cooled off in recent weeks, but Maxey has shown flashes that could be attractive for teams. If anything, Maxey will become a solid rotation piece as the Wolves are trying to figure out their identity.
17) Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Theo Maledon (PG/France)
The Celtics, once again, have numerous first-round picks. While there are some attractive bigs around, the Celtics first need to look into getting a good backup to put behind Kemba Walker. Maledon is a solid combo-guard who can be paired alongside Marcus Smart off the bench and be given much of the ball-handling responsibilities with the second unit. It may be in the best interest of the Celtics to package a few of their picks this draft and try to move up to get a better playmaker, but if they stay and Maledon is on the board, then the Celtics couldn’t go wrong with grabbing him. The Celtics need good rotational players and Maledon fits the mold.
18) Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Patrick Williams (SF/Florida State)
What is the biggest need for the Nets? Next year we will finally get to see the duo of KD and Kyrie, and many of their best players this year will be coming off the bench for the Nets next season. If they can secure Dinwiddie to a new contract, they’ll pretty much have everything. Drafting Williams gives Brooklyn some insurance if they are unable to sign Harris to a reasonable deal. Williams is strong when driving to the basket and an excellent defender on the perimeter. He’d come in with no pressure and would be able to work on his shot with arguably the best shooter in the NBA in KD.
19) Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Jalen Smith (PF/Maryland)
The Bucks need more scorers on the floor, someone who can hold his own and spread the floor for Giannis. Smith can do all those things pretty well. A 6’10 forward that can stretch the floor is attractive to any team. His only weakness is just that, he’s not very strong right now. But his defense has really begun to pick up and he has consistently shot the three well. Not too shabby of a pickup at 19.
20) Dallas Mavericks: Aaron Nesmith (SF/Vanderbilt)
Nesmith is the perfect type of player to let sit in the corner or on the wing while Doncic goes to work. Before a foot injury sidelined him for the season, Nesmith was shooting around 8 threes a game and making a little over half. Insane numbers at an insane volume. His driving and playmaking will come as he gets more comfortable at the NBA level, but his amazing three-point ability makes him a steal as we move into the 20s.
21) Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Zeke Nnaji (C/Arizona)
Nnaji fills most of the needs the 76ers have. They need a better big to backup Embiid and they need a scorer off the bench. Why not draft Nnaji and get both? He’s far from perfect and the later we get in this draft the more “prospects” we will really start to see. Nnaji is a 6’11 big who fits the mold of the modern NBA and can contribute on limited minutes.
22) Utah Jazz: Vernon Carey Jr. (C/Duke)
Duke players usually do well in the Draft thanks to the Tournament. Carey is more of a classic back-to-the-basket big, something that the NBA is moving away from. There still can be value in his defense and being the main rebounder on the second unit once Gobert takes a break. Perhaps an outside shot can be worked on and developed for the future, but current Carey will have to prove his defense is worthing drafting him this high and immediately finding minutes.
23) Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Josh Green (SG/Arizona)
Nothing really jumps off the page about Green. His strength comes in the transition game and is fairly athletic. There have been some positive signs of playmaking during the season, which should allow scouts of teams in the latter part of the first round to at least work him out some. There’s upside in there somewhere, and maybe the Nuggets can get it out of Green.
24) Miami Heat: Daniel Oturu (C/Minnesota)
A slightly lesser version of Adebayo is what the Heat would get in Oturu, which isn’t a bad thing. Oturu is physical and is scoring at a higher volume as the season progresses. He’s the type of player that really needs to show up come Tournament time, as his draft stock could rise tremendously. Oturu would bring more defense and a good low-block presence to the Heat.
25) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Mamadi Diakate (PF/Virginia)
There needs to stop being this stigma around drafting guys who’ve played four years in college. Brandon Clarke and Eric Paschall are prime examples of players immediately contributing after having played four years in college. Diakate can do the dirty work on defense for the Thunder and has started to develop a jump shot. He also has championship DNA, something that can be extremely valuable for a young talent to have. It could be enough to convince a team to use a first-round pick on him.
26) Boston Celtics: Isaiah Stewart (C/Washington)
Stewart is another classic-styled bigs, but there are signs of a jump shot in his game. Boston needs better bigs than Theis and Kanter, making Stewart an ideal pick late in the first. Boston has guards for days. They need to grab a big or two here in the latter first-round who can contribute now defensively and maybe offensively later. Stewart has offensive skill, it will just need some refining.
27) New York Knicks (via Clippers) Isaiah Joe (SG/Arkansas)
If the Knicks get their future PG in Ball, then they should take a chance and grab one of the better pure sharpshooters in Joe. Arkansas has a good chance of missing the Tournament, and an early-season knee injury could cause Joe to slide in the draft a bit. But the kid can shoot lights out from deep and has good bounce. R.J. Barrett can slide to the 3 spot, or Joe can be one of the first guys off the bench. Either way, Joe can contribute now.
28) Toronto Raptors: Jahmi’us Ramsey (SG/Texas Tech)
Ramsey could be a nice insurance package if Fred VanVleet is offered a nice contract and walks. He’s another pure sharpshooter that should get people’s attention. He plays at a high energy level and is always looking to make a play. His upside mixed with Toronto’s ability to develop players gives Ramsey the best chance of becoming a rememberable name in the league.
29) Los Angeles Lakers: Cassius Winston (PG/Michigan State)
Winston is not flashy by any means. But he is a great shooter, which is what the Lakers need. If Ramsey and Joe are gone by 29, then the Lakers should take Winston. He has the ability to run the offense, but they could mostly morph him into a spot up shooter. Winston is already a good spot-up shooter and would thrive in an offense controled by LeBron.
30) Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Aleksej Pokusevski (PF/Serbia)
Pokusevski is another 7’0 unicorn that can drive to the basket and shoot the three very well. Picks this late are ones where chances can be taken, and Boston needs to take a chance on this guy. Adding more size and incredable three point shooting in one player could make this a bargin pick. If Boston misses on this pick, it’s no big deal. But if they hit, then they may have gotten the steal of the draft in Pokusevski.