After months in the wilderness, the 2020 NBA Draft order is (finally) set. Though the draft itself was originally scheduled for June, the fallout from COVID-19 put things on hold and, while most of the attention remains on the league’s bubble in Orlando, all 30 teams can now move forward with the knowledge of the 60-pick order.
In the coming days, trade winds will blow and (often conflicting) intel will emerge, particularly when it comes to the top picks in the lottery. Now that the order is in place, however, it is time for a post-lottery mock draft, with the Minnesota Timberwolves now holding the ace of the deck in the form of the No. 1 overall pick.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards (G, Georgia)
This is the consensus choice in the hours after the lottery and, honestly, it is easy to see why. The Wolves already have key pieces at point guard (D’Angelo Russell) and center (Karl-Anthony Towns), with Edwards as a consensus top-three pick to slide into the shooting guard spot long-term. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, though, if Edwards isn’t the choice when the draft arrives, as Gersson Rosas is a Daryl Morey disciple that won’t be shy about taking another player (i.e. LaMelo Ball) if his board doesn’t reflect Edwards as the top player. As for last year’s first round pick, while Jarrett Culver plays on the wing, he could theoretically play the 3 alongside Edwards.
2. Golden State Warriors – James Wiseman (C, Memphis)
Can I go ahead and project a trade? No? Okay, it’s too early to do that, but I firmly believe a trade is the most likely outcome with this choice. Candidly, LaMelo Ball is my No. 1 overall player and the Warriors should at least consider him, but there isn’t much buzz about that potential pairing. Moreover, the Warriors don’t have a center of the future (or the present, really) and Wiseman’s upside is tantalizing. This is not what I would do, even if the pick isn’t traded, but there is at least some smoke around Wiseman for the Warriors.
3. Charlotte Hornets – LaMelo Ball (G, Illawarra Hawks)
With all respect to Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier, neither should dissuade the Hornets from taking the best player available at this pick. As noted above, things could shift, either with Ball going to Minnesota or in the No. 2 spot after a trade, but Charlotte lands my No. 1 overall player at No. 3 overall. That would obviously be a big win for MJ and company.
4. Chicago Bulls – Deni Avdija (F, Maccabi Tel Aviv)
This is the first pick on the board in which things are far less clear. Among intel-based evaluators, there certainly isn’t a consensus about Chicago will do and, with a first-time general manager at the helm, there isn’t a track record to follow, either. The Bulls, like almost any team in the NBA, could use a two-way player with some creation equity, and Avdija is a highly regarded prospect in many circles. This isn’t a home run swing in my view, but he makes sense for a team that doesn’t have many options in this mold.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – Onyeka Okongwu (C, USC)
It’s something of an open secret that the Cavs might have interest in Avdija but, with the Israeli forward off the board, Cleveland still has to make a selection. They could (and should) consider Auburn wing Isaac Okoro as an on-ball defensive ace, but the Cavaliers should be open to a number of avenues. Cleveland does have the Andre Drummond conundrum and Kevin Love remains under contract, but Okongwu is a talented, versatile big man with a high floor and tangible upside to be a high-end starting center.
6. Atlanta Hawks – Isaac Okoro (G/F, Auburn)
The most popular mock draft choice for the Hawks is Tyrese Haliburton, and that wouldn’t be a bad option for Atlanta. Still, Okoro is a player the Hawks are thought to favor, and he is a local product for good measure. Okoro’s biggest question comes with his jump shot but, even if that doesn’t develop in full, he can rely on being the best on-ball defender in the draft and a hyper-athletic player who can attack the rim and get to the free throw line. You can never have too many wings, and the Hawks add another option that can pair with Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter in a potentially stingy defensive combination.
7. Detroit Pistons – Killian Hayes (G, Ulm)
Somewhere in the shadowy corners of the league, there is skepticism on Hayes that I don’t fully understand. He slips out of the top-10 (!) in some post-lottery mock drafts and, as a player ranked in my top-5, that is tough to parse. Alas, the Pistons have a long-term need for a primary creator and I think Hayes is the best bet available to fill it. Detroit could certainly evaluate other options like Tyrese Haliburton, but Hayes is more of an on-ball threat and, with only Derrick Rose to operate in that role effectively at the moment, the Pistons land on the best player available that also plugs a hole.
8. New York Knicks – Obi Toppin (F/C, Dayton)
It is unquestionably brutal for the Knicks to be sitting at No. 8 overall, especially with a glaring need for a primary offensive initiator. New York could reach for someone like Cole Anthony or Kira Lewis, and that shouldn’t be ruled out. However, Toppin would help New York’s offense and he is a big-name player that is worthy of this draft slot. Toppin’s defensive profile is genuinely worrisome, but his offense might be the safest thing in the entire draft, and he would give R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson a running mate with offensive versatility and skill.
9. Washington Wizards – Devin Vassell (G/F, Florida State)
The best-case scenario for the Wizards might be Okongwu falling to No. 9, as Washington desperately needs a competent long-term option at center. That isn’t available here, though, and Vassell is both the best player available and a snug fit. The Wizards are hoping that John Wall comes back at full strength to pair with Bradley Beal and fuel a high-powered offense. Vassell isn’t going to be a primary offensive option in all likelihood, but he is a 3-and-D player with great instincts and the Wizards don’t have many players like that.
10. Phoenix Suns – Tyrese Haliburton (G, Iowa State)
This is a great landing spot for Haliburton and a good pick-up for the Suns. While many refer to Haliburton as a point guard due to his passing and absurdly high basketball IQ, he isn’t an explosive on-ball player by any means. In Phoenix, he doesn’t necessarily have to be, with Devin Booker serving as the No. 1 option offensively. Haliburton can function as a ball-mover, use his strong off-ball defensive play-making ability, and knock down shots as a catch-and-shoot three-point marksman.
11. San Antonio Spurs – Patrick Williams (F, Florida State)
There is major buzz on Williams as a riser during the pre-draft process, even if that might sound funny due to the virtual nature of the proceedings. He is a 6’8 combo forward with an NBA-ready frame and genuinely explosive athleticism. Defensively, there is a lot to like, and perhaps the Spurs can unlock some of his utility on the offensive end. Williams has real upside to explore if you can plug him in to the right situation, and Gregg Popovich can be trusted to do that.
12. Sacramento Kings – Saddiq Bey (F, Villanova)
I promise I’m not trying to make a KANGZ joke, but Sacramento could do just about anything here. Obviously, the Kings aren’t in the market for a pure point guard with De’Aaron Fox on board, and Sacramento does have a bit of a back-log at shooting guard with Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic, although the latter is a restricted free agent this offseason. The rest of the roster is ripe for addition, though, and Bey is a prospect that NBA teams seem to like. Defensively, there are real questions, but he was a knock-down shooter at Villanova and there is some relative safety in what he can bring.
13. New Orleans Pelicans – Tyrese Maxey (G, Kentucky)
Much like Sacramento, the board is wide open for New Orleans. Maxey is a player that scouts are split on and, in my view, he is getting the Kentucky treatment of a player that wasn’t optimally utilized in college. Maxey was a top-flight high school prospect for a reason, however, and he would give the Pelicans another secondary ball-handler with a fun in-between game and the ability to defend both guard spots.
14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis) – Precious Achiuwa (F/C, Memphis)
Achiuwa is a prospect that is hard to get a hold on, especially with NBA teams seemingly (much) higher on his prospects than outside observers. I have faith in Boston to maximize his skill set, though, and that includes plenty of work as a hyper-athletic, rim-running small-ball center in certain looks. The Celtics could go a number of directions with three picks in the first round, but Achiuwa is widely seen as a lottery pick in league circles, and he slides in under the wire.
15. Orlando Magic – Cole Anthony (G, North Carolina)
This would be a big fall for Anthony, and I’m not wholly comfortable with that. For one, Anthony was in a brutal situation at North Carolina without much help, and his efficiency numbers suffered for it. On the other hand, this would be a soft landing spot for his skill set, with the ability to potentially play with Markelle Fultz and/or operate as Orlando’s primary ball-handler. The Magic still need to add another guard to the mix, and this is a great value.
16. Portland Trail Blazers – Aaron Nesmith (G/F, Vanderbilt)
Nesmith isn’t the size of a full-blown small forward (he’s listed at 6’6, 213 pounds) and, as virtually everyone has noted, the Blazers do need someone in that mold. With the way this mock is moving, though, that player isn’t really available without a reach, and Nesmith is a strong value. His appeal is his three-point shooting, with off-the-charts numbers this season, but Nesmith is also a capable, strong defender in a supporting role.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn) – Jalen Smith (F/C, Maryland)
There is real buzz that Smith is now entrenched as a top-20 guy in the eyes of many. While he might be a center long-term, the fit is interesting in Minnesota, with Smith able to back up Karl-Anthony Towns and potentially play alongside him in certain looks. The Wolves might also look to use this pick in a trade but, if they stay put, this would be reasonable.
18. Dallas Mavericks – Aleksej Pokusevski (F/C, Olympiacos B)
Pokusevski is perhaps the most interesting player to monitor in the entire draft. Our own Brian Schroeder recently extolled his virtues and, from an upside perspective, few can match what he brings to the table. On the flip side, he hasn’t played against a high level of competition and it would take some gall for a team in the lottery to pull the trigger.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia) – Josh Green (G/F, Arizona)
This is a touch high for Green, but Brooklyn is in a fascinating spot. The Nets should probably try to turn this pick into a ready-made NBA player via trade but, if they don’t, Green is perhaps the best remaining player to slide into a pure supporting role around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
20. Miami Heat – Kira Lewis (G, Alabama)
Lewis is much higher than this on my big board, but he’s a one-position player and there aren’t that many teams that have glaring point guard needs. For Miami, Lewis is a coup, with tangible upside as a starting-level point guard and Goran Dragic set to hit the free agent market, whenever free agency actually begins.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City) – Tyrell Terry (G, Stanford)
This is probably a bit higher than some have Terry, but the fit is snug in Philadelphia. The 76ers have a desperate need for shooting and, while Terry has some limitations in terms of size and the ability to get to the rim, they would be mitigated next to Ben Simmons.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston) – Theo Maledon (G, ASVEL)
It would be easier to send a full-blown wing to Denver but, with Josh Green already off the board, the options are few and far between. In Maledon, the Nuggets get an offensively gifted combo guard to potentially pair with Jamal Murray long-term.
23. Utah Jazz – R.J. Hampton (G, New Zealand Breakers)
I honestly don’t think Hampton will slide this far, but there is some buzz that he could be drafted lower than many believed a few months ago. This is definitely an upside-based pick for the Jazz but, at No. 23, it is a lot more palatable if it doesn’t work. Hampton could work with Donovan Mitchell as a combo guard with size and athleticism, and he wouldn’t be tasked with a huge workload in the early portion of his career.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana) – Desmond Bane (G/F, TCU)
The Bucks don’t have a ton of needs, but the track record of Mike Budenholzer-led teams points to a ready-made, older contributor in the draft. Budenholzer isn’t the central decision-maker, of course, but Bane is a high-level 3-and-D prospect that could genuinely help a team in a small role immediately.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver) – Jaden McDaniels (F, Washington)
It feels like at least one team will fall in love with what McDaniels could be. That team is Oklahoma City in this mock, with the Thunder having a long track record of targeting tools-y pieces with defined weaknesses.
26. Boston Celtics – Leandro Bolmaro (G, Barcelona)
This could be a draft and stash for the Celtics, with Bolmaro still under contract at the highest level in Europe. Ultimately, Bolmaro profiles as a tenacious on-ball defender with some creation equity and, well, Boston probably isn’t using three first-round picks on players they will roster in 2020-21.
27. New York Knicks (via LA Clippers) – Nico Mannion (G, Arizona)
After not getting a point guard in the lottery, the Knicks may target a backcourt option with their second pick. Mannion’s star has faded after being a projected lottery pick a year ago, but he still has fans in the league. This isn’t an upside swing, but it would be appropriate value.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Malachi Flynn (G, San Diego State)
The Lakers should be in the market for another guard that can run an offense and defend. Flynn checks both boxes, and he is a highly competitive player that won at a high level in college. There are other options, from Grant Riller to Cassius Winston, but this is an archetype that plays for Los Angeles.
29. Toronto Raptors – Isaiah Stewart (C, Washington)
Stewart is a tough player to profile, in part because his fit in the modern game is potentially tenuous. Toronto finds a way to maximize big men, though, and the Raptors may have a role in the future as Marc Gasol and/or Serge Ibaka age or leave in free agency. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Masai Ujiri invests in a center here, even if it’s not Stewart.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee) – Xavier Tillman (C, Michigan State)
The Celtics don’t seem likely to use all three picks but, if they want to pair Precious Achiuwa with someone else in the frontcourt, Tillman would be a great option. He is a tremendous defender with a sky-high basketball IQ, and Tillman can be utilized effectively as a short-roll threat offensively. It certainly isn’t an upside swing but, in a scenario in which they’ve already taken a swing on Achiuwa and a stash in Bolmaro, a player with a high floor isn’t a bad thing.