NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has postponed the NBA season until at least May 1, and many league insiders believe he may cancel it soon. But no matter what he decides, the NBA will still hold the 2020 draft sometime this year.
While the NBA’s new lottery odds could result in another anomaly like the Pelicans winning last year’s number-one overall pick, for the sake of this exercise, the lottery teams will be organized by the bottom 14 teams’ records.
Drafting has never been a perfect science, but here are the best fits for the first seven teams.
14. Portland Trailblazers (29-37)
Best Fit: Devin Vassell (F)
Florida State’s Devin Vassell might be the most underrated player in this year’s draft, and the Trailblazers could have the opportunity to snag him with the last pick of the lottery. Vassell, a lengthy do-it-all wing, averaged 12.7 points per game in his sophomore campaign and shot 49 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three.
Not only did he have some show-stopping dunks, but he flashed his potential against Virginia Tech when he made all seven of his three-point attempts. By picking him up, Portland would add another weapon to draw defenses away from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (28-36)
Best Fit: Saddiq Bey (F)
Despite their roster transformation, the Pelicans still don’t have many dangerous three-point shooters. Villanova forward Saddiq Bey could solve that problem and more. The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 boards per game in his sophomore year and shot an efficient 47.7 percent from the field and 45.1 percent from three. Like most Nova products, he chooses his shots carefully and has a high basketball IQ. New Orleans could insert him into the rotation right away and reap the benefits.
12. Sacramento Kings (28-36)
Perfect Fit: Jalen Smith (C)
The Kings’ have a crowded backcourt, and they would benefit from drafting a big man to play inside with Marvin Bagley III. Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-10 lengthy center from Maryland, fits the bill. The sophomore averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game while improving his three-point percentage from 26.8 percent as a freshman to 36.8 percent this season. He’s already a highly-skilled player and has the potential to develop into a real weapon on both sides of the ball.
11. San Antonio Spurs (27-36)
Best Fit: Tyrese Haliburton (G)
The Spurs could use another high-volume shooter to play alongside DeMar DeRozan, and Haliburton would fulfill that need. He was incredibly efficient in his sophomore year at Iowa State, putting up 15.2 points and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three. His smooth game and his tendency to make smart decisions with the ball make him the perfect prospect for San Antonio’s system.
10. Phoenix Suns (26-39)
Best Fit: Xavier Tillman (F)
The Suns filled out their roster over the course of the 2019-20 season, but they could still use a backup power forward to compete for minutes with Dario Saric. Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman is a prototypical four—a 6-foot-8 forward who utilizes his size and strength in the post and can stretch his game to the perimeter when needed. He doesn’t excel in any single area, but he would bring a winning pedigree and a refined game to a young Phoenix team.
9. Washington Wizards (24-40)
Best Fit: Jordan Nwora (F)
Washington will have John Wall on the floor with Bradley Beal again soon, and they’ll need a perimeter threat to take the focus off of their backcourt. Nwora, a junior forward out of Louisville, would be able to contribute immediately on the offensive end. He’s arguably the most polished player in the draft due to his three years in college, and he’d bring a dangerous shooting stroke to a team in need of outside threats.
8. Charlotte Hornets (23-42)
Best Fit: Onyeka Okongwu (C)
The Hornets desperately need rim protection, and USC’s Onyeka Okongwu fits the bill. A former Chino Hills High School star alongside LaMelo Ball, Okongwu had a dominant freshmen season and looks ready for the next level. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game while becoming known as one of the best defensive big men in the nation.
Part two of this series will go up tomorrow at noon.