DimeMag

2020 NBA Draft Tracker: Grades For Every Pick

The 2020 NBA Draft will take place on Wednesday night. Like everything that has happened this year, things will look a little differently — the fanfare of a Barclays Center event is replaced with something far more subtle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, this is one of the biggest nights on the NBA calendar, and all 30 teams will assuredly be jostling to try and figure out which first-year player can help their franchise the most.

Helping matters this year is the lack of a no-brainer star. While the 2019 Draft had Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, the 2020 Draft is defined by a number of role players who should be able to help impact winning from day one in the league. Still, there is talent at the top of this Draft, with names like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman expected to go early in the night.

Tonight, we’ll track all of the activity of in the Draft, and you can follow along with us live as we offer updates each draft pick, as well as initial reactions in the form of grades and quick analysis. In an important note, grades are based on how well the team did in their position in the Draft given who was available, not necessarily an edict that the player selected is a sure-fire star or a likely bust.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, Georgia (A-)

There is no A+ pick in this spot, but of the three big names at the top of the Draft, Edwards is the best fit on the Timberwolves. No one in this Draft can score like him, and he has the physical profile to turn into a matchup nightmare. There are questions about his drive that he will need to answer and he has to become a better defender, but he could be a snug fit next to D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. When he is on his game, he is a joy to watch — his tape against Michigan State from last season at the Maui Invitational is breathtaking.

2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, Memphis (B)

The Warriors were served a difficult situation just minutes before the NBA Draft when news came down about Klay Thompson. It doesn’t seem that that changed much for them, however, as they stuck with the guy whose workout seems to have impressed them and who fits positionally quite well with their roster. On the other hand, questions about Wiseman’s motor, decision-making, and how quickly he’ll acclimate to the NBA make him a curious fit for a Warriors team that will have championship aspirations as long as Steph Curry is on the floor.

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks (A)

The best playmaker in this class. The stuff that are question marks — the consistency of his jumper, his willingness to battle on defense, etc. — are real, but he is legitimately a basketball genius with impressive athleticism who will make the Hornets better. While Charlotte has a pair of nice backcourt players in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, it’s good that they decided to go best player available, because Ball has the highest ceiling of any player in this Draft and gives the franchise a potential superstar. Miles Bridges is going to have fun catching lobs from him. And as an added bonus, maybe we can finally have LaVar Ball and Michael Jordan play 1-on-1.

4. Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, Florida State (C+)

This was a pick that gained momentum throughout the week, according to reports, and feels a lot like Chicago almost got worried into taking Williams because the Bulls heard Detroit liked him at No. 7. As a player, Williams appears a strong fit in the modern NBA, particularly if he can work on his mobility in speed at the NBA level and defend forwards. However, with seemingly more promising players like Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Isaac Okoro available, it seems like a reach to grab Williams here, especially considering they have spent top-10 picks on big men in two of the past three drafts heading into this one.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro, Auburn (B+)

Instead of trading down and targeting Okoro later, the Cavaliers decided to play it safe and take their guy here. He fits a roster that desperately needs wing players and is going to contribute in a number of ways. He’s a strong, long, and physical defender who will relish checking dudes from his first day in the league, is quite smart, and is a sound cutter. The big question is whether he’ll be able to shoot at all — if he can’t, he’ll be a respectable rotation player. If he can, though, he’s going to be very, very good.

6. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, USC (A)

You have to give kudos to a team that sticks to its board and takes talent, especially when that team is in full building mode. Okongwu is an ideal modern big, even if he doesn’t quite live up to the athletic heights that the Bam Adebayo comparison puts on him. Though Atlanta already has John Collins on the roster as well as Clint Capela, there’s a place for a versatile big man who can be elite in his role on both ends on any team. Okongwu is like an excellent fit, and has a ton of talent to boot.

7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, ratiopharm Ulm (A)

Detroit desperately needed a point guard and got a very, very good one in Hayes. He turned 19 about four months ago and has already been a pro for a few years over in Europe. He’s not a freak athlete, but his basketball IQ is off the charts, he’s one of the savviest defenders in this Draft, and he is an honest-to-god floor general on the other end, with vision and passing instincts that rival Ball’s. His free throw shooting indicates his jumper could come around, which would be gigantic for his development. Regardless, he fills a big need and is arguably the best player at his position on the board at this juncture.

8. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin, Dayton (B-)

This one will come down to how high each person is on Toppin, who was the Naismith Player of the Year in 2020 as the leader of an awesome Dayton team. The Knicks will get panned because it’s the Knicks and the fact that Toppin’s agency, CAA, used to be run by current Knicks executive Leon Rose. But none of that bothers me. The bigger concern is whether Toppin can survive defensively in the NBA against pro athletes. I’m far less bullish on that, which makes the pick a bit worse by my estimation, though taking a productive and smart player is never a bad option, especially as far down as No. 8 in a flat Draft.

9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv (B+)

Avdija is great value down at No. 9 and gives the Wizards another solid role player developmental project for a roster that currently is hoping to win alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall. However, he is not without upside should Washington rebuild in the near future. If Avdija can develop his shooting and his defensive versatility truly comes through in the pros, he looks the part of a legit modern NBA starter, a great get at the ninth overall pick.

10. Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith, Maryland (C-)

Curious pick. He’s likely not a starter, but he’s a shooting big man, so he has a skill that is useful in the league. Good rebounder, competes like hell, and protects the rim, but he isn’t exactly the most explosive dude and it’s very much a question how much upside is here. Somewhat reminiscent of the team’s surprising decision to select Cameron Johnson last year, but hey, shooting big men appear to be valued by this organization.

11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, Florida State (A)

Fantastic pick. Vassell was built in a lab to be a 3-and-D wing in the NBA, and he’ll get to do it on a team that is really, really good at churning out those sorts of players. He does not turn the ball over, swipes balls from opponents, can protect the rim, and can really, really shoot it — he connected on 41.7 percent of his triples in his collegiate career. There’s a ton to like about his game, and San Antonio is one heck of a place for him to become the best version of himself.

12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State (A+)

This might be the best pick of the first round. Haliburton falling this far is a bit of a surprise, and the Kings were smart enough to swipe him. He’ll be an excellent compliment to De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento’s backcourt, giving the Kings another playmaker and someone who can initiate the offense alongside their standout guard. Haliburton’s basketball IQ and savvy are out of this world, he can shoot the ball, and he’s a menace in passing lanes. Some questions about his athleticism exist, but outside of that, he’s a guy who fill every single gap that pops up on the floor for the Kings.

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis, Alabama (B+)

The Pelicans’ backcourt is in flux after the deal to send Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee, with Eric Bledsoe and George Hill coming back to New Orleans. However, the Pelicans don’t have a primary shot creator at the lead guard spot, and Kira Lewis projects as a potential starting point guard who brings speed and creation upside, David Griffin and the front office probably need to clear the decks with a deal (or two), especially with Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart still on the roster. Still, Lewis is a value at No. 13 overall and a guy with the type of arsenal the Pelicans don’t currently have.

14. Boston Celtics (via MEM): Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt (B)

There’s nothing wrong with Nesmith, unless you’re particularly worried about how his recovery from a navicular fracture in his foot, and nothing yet suggests that’s going to hamper him long-term. But considering those injury questions as well as his relative limitations as a defender in college, plus the fact that right now on offense he’s pretty much only a shooter, and you’re looking at a guy who simply has a pretty low ceiling. Maybe Boston eventually flips this pick as part of a trade or later on Nesmith moves, but if he is headed to Boston, the fit is sensible, as Boston is in need of shooting on the wing.

15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, North Carolina (B+)

Orlando is betting on Anthony’s talent. A former top-5 recruit, Anthony had some injury issues during his one year at North Carolina and wasn’t exactly on the best team in Tar Heel history. His efficiency numbers, both as a shooter (38 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three) and as a ball-handler (88 assists and 77 turnovers), were not good. He’s going to a Magic team that could use an offensive shot in the arm, though, especially on the perimeter, and he’s one heck of a pull-up shooter. If you believe his 2019-20 numbers were a function of injury and a bad Carolina team, this could end up being a steal.

16. Detroit Pistons (via POR): Isaiah Stewart, Washington (C)

Who would have thought, the team in the Motor City is taking the dude with an absolutely off the charts motor. Stewart plays harder than anyone in this Draft and will battle with anyone. This might be a bit high for Stewart — the stuff in his game that is not tied to how hard he plays needs some refinement, although he can shoot a little bit and will almost certainly place an emphasis on hitting threes. Detroit’s frontcourt could use some young talent, and Stewart gives them that.

17. Oklahoma City Thunder (via BKN): Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos Piraeus (A)

There are plenty of analysts and, allegedly, NBA executives/scouts who see Pokusevski as a top-10 talent in this class. It’s no surprise Oklahoma City made a move to go get him here, as he is exactly the type of player with outrageously high upside who you take when you’re rebuilding like the Thunder and are swimming in draft picks. Pokusevski is seven feet tall but plays like he’s 6’4. He can shoot off movement, make plays for his teammates, and sees the game at such a high level you can buy into his ability to improve defensively and as a team player on offense. He’s also the youngest player in the draft. At 17, Pokusevski is a no-brainer to take a chance on and get to work developing.

18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, Arizona (B)

Green is bit of a polarizing prospect after one season at Arizona, largely because of concerns about his offensive game. In Dallas, Green’s primary appeal is likely defense, as the Mavericks are in need of more wing options to join Dorian Finney-Smith. Green does have some potential juice on the offensive end but, with the Mavericks, he can develop slowly in a small-usage role while utilizing his defensive tools. It isn’t a home run, but he checks a box for Dallas.

19. Detroit Pistons (via PHI): Saddiq Bey, Villanova (B)

Many projected Bey to come off the board by the end of the lottery but, after a little bit of a slide, he finds a soft landing spot in Detroit. The Pistons have been quite busy, investing in a lead guard (Killian Hayes) and a big man (Isaiah Stewart), and Bey splits the difference. He is a hybrid forward with potential two-way appeal, but Bey’s claim to fame is his long-range shooting. He is comfortable shooting off movement and was a plus offensive player at Villanova. His defense wasn’t always fantastic, and he isn’t a great athlete, but Bey at the end of the top 20 is a solid value. He should bring floor-spacing to Detroit.

20. Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa (B-)

There may not be a harder player to peg in this class than Achiuwa. Unlike some of the fallers alongside him, Achiuwa did retain much of what made him so interesting, it’s just that James Wiseman leaving Memphis and Achiuwa being forced into a bigger role left him exposed, especially on offense. That seems to be where he’s put in the most work, though, and if he can buy into his role as a switchable backup 5 with elite NBA strength, he can play. And there may not be a franchise you’d trust more to develop his offense than Miami.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Tyrese Maxey (A+)

What a pick. Maxey could have been a lottery pick, but instead, he fell to a team that desperately needs someone with his skill set. He’s a fighter on defense, is quick with the ball in his hands, and can facilitate. The questions with him are twofold: 1. Does he have a position, or is he more of a combo guard? 2. How does his shot translate? On the former, Philly has Ben Simmons, so it can figure out ways to take some of the load off of him if it wants to use him as a one. And the latter, while he hit on 29.2 percent of his threes at Kentucky, his shot is not broken at all, as he hit 40 percent on triples against top-25 teams last year.

22. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Zeke Nnaji, Arizona (C)

I just don’t see it with Nnaji. You could make the case that getting a player with quite a high floor at the 22nd pick is worth it, even if their upside is limited, but the book on Nnaji is wrong there, too. It’s quite possible his lack of athleticism hurts him so badly that he’s not really playable in the NBA. Word has it his shooting has gotten better during the hiatus, and that would certainly help, plus his ability to make solid decisions with the ball make him a clean fit backing up Nikola Jokic in place of Mason Plumlee in Denver. But backup big is the most replaceable position in the NBA right now, and the Nuggets just reached on one in the mid-first round.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (via UTAH): Leandro Bolmaro, Barcelona (C+)

The Wolves paid a relatively lofty price to move up just two spots in this one move, attaching the No. 33 pick for their trouble. However, Minnesota was already busy with the acquisition of Ricky Rubio and multiple selections. That opened the door for what appears to be a draft-and-stash pick, with Bolmaro operating as a talented guard with on-ball equity and impressive defensive ability. It may be a while before he arrives in the NBA, but Minnesota is loaded in the backcourt now, and they can afford to take their time with his development.

24. Denver Nuggets (via IND): RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers (A)

At this point in the draft, Hampton is perfectly good value. There’s really not a great reason he fell out of the top 10, where he sat most of last season, except that he seems to just be unexciting to most teams. That’s likely because his thin frame and creaky shooting make him a risk to bust out of the league if he can’t add legit skill to his game in addition to his athleticism, but overall at 22 to the Nuggets, who have an expensive roster and need to hit on young players, it’s a promising selection with the chance for upside.

25. New York Knicks (via DEN): Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky (C-)

Quickley has an NBA skill in his shooting, which prevents this grade from being lower. He’s got a very, very good jumper, connecting on 39.7 percent of his threes and 89.5 percent of his free throws during his time at Kentucky. Quickley competes, too. The rest of his game needs work, and it is interesting how New York has taken two offense-first players for a team coached by Tom Thibodeau.

26. Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard, Oregon (D)

There’s nothing terrible about Pritchard, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for him to succeed at the NBA level due to his limited athleticism. He has scoring touch, can pass, and plays physically, but his defense is going to be a weakness in the NBA in addition to the fact that he probably won’t be able to create separation at the NBA level like he did in the Pac-12. Shooting should translate for him, but other than that, it’s a long road to NBA impact. Another comparable pick last year, Ty Jerome, who was older and a better shooter, had a really poor rookie season in large part because he couldn’t make these same adjustments.

27. Utah Jazz (via LAC): Udoka Azubuike, Kansas (C)

A true throwback big man. Azuibuike should slot in nicely behind Rudy Gobert in Utah’s frontcourt, and he’s one heck of a low post scorer, shooting 74.6 percent from the field during his collegiate career. He battles on the glass and fights to protect the paint, and at 7’1 with a 7’7 wingspan, he’s a physical force. He can’t shoot to save his life and isn’t exactly going to playmake like Nikola Jokic, but he’s very much someone who is what he is.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (via LAL): Jaden McDaniels, Washington (C+)

Initially it appeared McDaniels was headed to Oklahoma City, an organization that has consistently got solid development from long, athletic wings. That would have been a solid landing spot for the toolsy Washington alum. But landing in Minnesota poses far more questions about his future considering their far less successful track record of getting the most out of young talent. Somewhere inside McDaniels there’s a dominant transition scorer with upside to grow into a shot creator and versatile defender. That player just hardly ever came out at Washington as McDaniels consistently chose to take ill-advised shots and check out of games.

29. Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn, San Diego State (B+)

This is an incredibly Raptors pick in all the right ways. His playmaking took a gigantic step forward after going from Washington State to San Diego State, while his shooting is impressive — 37.3 percent on his triples and 85.7 percent from the free throw line last year. He will battle against anyone on defense, even though he is not the biggest dude on earth. A bit older, and a not an otherworldly athlete, but he might be the best guy in this Draft to serve as a sponge behind Kyle Lowry. There’s some Fred VanVleet in his game, too, which might be good if the Raptors guard moves on this offseason.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (via MIL): Desmond Bane, TCU (A)

There are a few teams here who are doing what many might call “drafting good players,” and continuing their momentum from last year’s draft, the Grizzlies are one of them. It fell perfectly in place that the player who fell in this case was also at a position of need on the wing. The core of Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton and now Desmond Bane is extremely cohesive and checks off all the boxes you’d want, with good size, shooting and the ability to keep getting better together. After four years at TCU, Bane should be able to join the rotation right away on the wing as Memphis competes for the playoffs in 2021.

31. Dallas Mavericks (via GSW): Tyrell Terry, Stanford

32. Charlotte Hornets (via CLE): Vernon Carey, Duke

33. Los Angeles Clippers (via NYK): Daniel Oturu, Minnesota

34. Oklahoma City Thunder (via ATL): Theo Maledon, ASVEL

35. Memphis Grizzlies (via DET): Xavier Tillman, Michigan State

36. Dallas Mavericks (via NYK): Tyler Bey, Colorado

37. Oklahoma City Thunder (via CHI): Vit Krejci, Casademont Zaragoza

38. Utah Jazz (via CHA): Saben Lee, Vanderbilt

39. New Orleans Pelicans (via WAS): Elijah Hughes, Syracuse

40. Sacramento Kings (via PHX): Robert Woodard, Mississippi State

41. San Antonio Spurs: Tre Jones, Duke

42. Charlotte Hornets: Nick Richards, Kentucky

43. Sacramento Kings: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech

44. Chicago Bulls (via MEM): Marko Simonovic, Crvena zvezda

45. Milwaukee Bucks (via ORL): Jordan Nwora, Louisville

46. Portland Trail Blazers: CJ Elleby, Washington State

47. Boston Celtics (via BKN): Yam Madar, Hapoel Tel Aviv

48. Golden State Warriors (via DAL): Nico Mannion, Arizona

49. Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Joe, Arkansas

50. Atlanta Hawks (via MIA): Skylar Mays, LSU

51. Golden State Warriors (via UTA): Justinian Jessup, The Hawks (NBL)

52. Houston Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr., IMG Academy

53. Washington Wizards (via OKC): Cassius Winston, Michigan State

54. Indiana Pacers: Cassius Stanley, Duke

55. LA Clippers (via DEN): Jay Scrubb, John A. Logan College

56. Charlotte Hornets (via BOS): Grant Riller, College of Charleston

57. Brooklyn Nets (via LAC): Reggie Perry, Mississippi State

58. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL): Paul Reed, DePaul

59. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Harris, Nevada

60. Milwaukee Bucks: Sam Merrill, Utah State

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