The 2020 NBA draft is fast approaching with teams set to take their pick of the next batch of prospects on November 18.
With no clear consensus number one pick, the night is sure to be full of twists, turns, and surprises with rumors swirling that many teams could be looking to trade up, down, or out of the first round completely.
In our first mock draft, NBA writer Dan Bennett gives his thoughts on how events could unfold should each pick stay with its currently assigned team.
Read on to find out more about this year’s possible first-round prospects.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards
With D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns already on the roster, the Minnesota Timberwolves now have the chance to add another exciting talent as the team tries to find a way back into the playoffs next season. While Edwards is not the accomplished defensive player the team likely needs to make big leaps forward, he is the most exciting prospect in the draft.
The 19-year-old shooting guard possesses tremendous athleticism, strength, and great scoring ability, averaging 19.1 points per game for the Georgia Bulldogs last season. There are concerns over his shooting ability having made just 29.4 percent of his three-point attempts while he was also not the most efficient with 40.2 percent of field goal attempts made. But he already has the physicality to make an immediate impact in the NBA and showed how effective he can be when driving to the basket and finishing with contact.
His playmaking, defense, and shooting needs work but Edwards has all the tools to become a high-level NBA player. Obvious comparisons between his game and that of Andrew Wiggins have led many to claim he will follow the same path and not make the developments needed to become a top player but that should not work against Edwards. If the young guard can develop his perimeter game, learn to stay locked in defensively, and improve his decision making he will be a huge asset for years to come.
2. Golden State Warriors – Obi Toppin
The Golden State Warriors are in a great position heading into next season. Injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson caused Steve Kerr’s team to struggle enormously last year but both are set to return for next season while the team also has the second pick. There is plenty of speculation that the Warriors could use the pick in a trade to secure players ready to help them contend for a championship again but should they keep it, Toppin would be an excellent choice.
At 22, Toppin is one of the older players in the draft which could, but should not, put teams off selecting him. He is immensely talented and can score in a number of different ways whether beyond the arc, shooting 39 percent from three, or close to the rim and boasted a tremendously efficient 63.3 percent field goal percentage last season for the Dayton Flyers. Toppin is arguably the most complete player in the draft and for a team looking to compete for a championship, Golden State would be getting someone who can come in and have an impact straight away.
There are question marks over the level he can get to given that he is already 22, while there are also doubts over whether he can become a top-level defender, but Toppin’s talent on offense, particularly in the pick and roll, means he will be a top pick in this year’s draft.
3. Charlotte Hornets – LaMelo Ball
Many expect point guard Ball to be the top pick in the draft given the playmaking ability he has displayed so this pick would be something of a coup for the Charlotte Hornets. Michael Jordan’s team was widely expected to struggle last season and despite not making it to the postseason again, still managed to surprise a few people. The Hornets already have talented guards in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham but Ball could help take the team back into the playoffs.
Ball is an elite creator on offense. His passing is excellent while he possesses a superb ability to handle the ball and can dazzle defenses with his unpredictability. The 19-year-old took the slightly unusual route of going to play in Australia’s NBL for the Illawarra Hawks where he won Rookie of the Year and averaged 17 points and 6.8 assists per game. He is great one-on-one and can create space for himself to score, helped by his large 6’7 frame.
Teams will be taking a risk with Ball due to his shooting, however. His jump shot needs to be significantly worked on if he is to reach his potential and he shot a wasteful 37.5 percent during his time in Australia. Defensively there are enormous concerns over his commitment which could harm his time on the court should he not play to his best on offense. Ball’s upside will likely see him taken in the top three but there are certain issues that need ironing out.
4. Chicago Bulls – Killian Hayes
The Chicago Bulls were another big winner of the draft lottery. The appointment of Billy Donovan as head coach has created plenty of positivity and hope that they can break their three-season spell out of the playoffs and the fourth pick in the draft will certainly help. There are plenty of ways the Bulls could go with this pick but we could see the front office take a risk on a young guard in Hayes that has incredible potential.
The 19-year-old has been playing his basketball in Germany’s Bundesliga for Ratiopharm Ulm and has seen his draft stock continue to rise. The 6’5 guard has proven himself as a talented scorer that thrives in isolation situations, even drawing comparisons to the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. He continues to perfect his stepback jumper and is confident shooting off the dribble, something which NBA teams value highly, while also creating for his teammates. He is still a raw talent and needs to refine his game while improving on defense but could well be worth the risk for a Bulls team looking for a star.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – James Wiseman
Wiseman could well end up going higher in the draft but teams are having to deal with a small sample size given he only managed three games for the Memphis Tigers last season because of a 12-game suspension. He impressed in high school and has long been on the radar of NBA teams because of his incredible length and athleticism at the center position.
Wiseman has a diverse range of skills. He can score, rebound, block shots, and has the potential to become a dominant player in the paint, averaging 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over his three college games. The league is moving towards more focus on wing players and guards but a center with the length and skillset of Wiseman is difficult to ignore. Andre Drummond could stay with Cleveland next season if he takes up his option while Tristan Thompson is set to become an unrestricted free agent meaning there could be an opportunity for Wiseman to get valuable minutes. If Wiseman is available at five, the Cavs should take him.
6. Atlanta Hawks – Tyrese Haliburton
With an exciting core of young talent and an All-Star guard in Trae Young, Atlanta needs to find a way of making it back into the postseason. There has been speculation the front office could trade the pick for players but selecting Haliburton at six would provide some excellent depth in the backcourt.
Haliburton averaged 15.2 points per game for Iowa State last season, shooting an impressive 50.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three. He is also a talented playmaker with 6.5 assists per game to his name. The 20-year-old is another player with great size for the point guard position at 6’5 and has also shown plenty of potential on defense to partner his unselfishness and court vision.
7. Detroit Pistons – Deni Avdija
Detroit needs help on both offense and defense, especially given the injury history of Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, and Avdija is a player who could provide on both ends of the court. The 19-year-old has been playing his basketball for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and was the youngest ever player to be named the Israeli League MVP.
The forward has excellent playmaking ability for his position and is also capable of scoring in a number of different ways. He has been praised for his high basketball IQ and has shown plenty of promise on defense, playing with passion and aggression. The versatility he possesses will make him an asset for any team and while there is work to be done when it comes to his shooting, Avdija is one of the most intriguing and exciting talents in the draft.
8. New York Knicks – Isaac Okoro
New York will be entering this draft likely hoping to find a point guard and primary ball-handler. But having fallen to eight in the lottery, that task becomes increasingly difficult. Should Haliburton and Hayes be selected before the Knicks get their turn then it will simply be a case of selecting the best available player.
Okoro is an excellent two-way player and is regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the draft. At a time when NBA teams are searching for talented wing players, Okoro could be an effective player for years to come. He displayed great athleticism and explosiveness while at Auburn and regularly finished well at the rim while establishing himself as a top college perimeter defender.
9. Washington Wizards – Onyeka Okongwu
With John Wall set to return for the Wizards next season to make up a strong backcourt with Bradley Beal, the team needs more depth elsewhere on the court including at center and Okongwu would be an intriguing prospect to take. The 19-year-old possesses good offensive and defensive ability and has impressed while at USC.
He averaged 16.2 points per game last season with an efficient 61.6 percent shooting, providing a consistent lob threat while being an effective post and pick-and-roll scorer. On defense, he has shown he can be a productive shot-blocker and rebounder with the capacity to play above his 6’9 size, much like the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo.
10. Phoenix Suns – Devin Vassell
The Phoenix Suns may have plenty of good options at the wing positions with Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Kelly Oubre Jr but Vassell looks like the best option at number ten should this mock draft materialize on the night. He played a key role for Florida State in his sophomore year, averaging 12.7 points per game while establishing himself as a great defensive prospect.
His length at 6’7 helps him to cut off passing lanes and he can contest shots effectively. Vassell defines the 3 and D wing tag, knocking down shots at an impressive rate of 41.5 percent from beyond the arc over 30 games. He also averaged 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 5.1 rebounds and is a top all-around talent who could provide a valuable contribution to Phoenix.
11. San Antonio Spurs – Patrick Williams
The San Antonio Spurs entered the draft lottery for the first time since 1997 after failing to qualify for the playoffs and will be looking to use their pick to ensure they are not in this position again next season. With Vassell already taken by Phoenix, the Spurs could look to draft another exciting wing player out of Florida State in Williams.
Williams is a strong two-way player which would appeal to Gregg Popovich. At 6’8 he has great size for the position and possesses the explosiveness and power to make an impact in the NBA. He also showed the ability to score and knock down threes despite not always having the ball in his hands while his tenacious defense could be utilized effectively under a top coach like Popovich.
12. Sacramento Kings – Saddiq Bey
Last season’s failure to make the playoffs means it has now been 14 years since the Kings have had a run in the postseason. Sacramento supporters are desperate for a return to playoff action, making who they draft extremely important in trying to make that happen. While the 12th pick is unlikely to give the team the star it needs, Bey is one of many talented wings in the draft that could help the team out on both ends of the court.
Bey is a comfortable three-point shooter, making 45.1 percent of his threes and averaging 16.1 points per game last season for the Villanova Wildcats. He spaces the floor well and is a clever player, regularly finding himself with good looks at the basket. Bey guarded some of the better college players at his position and despite lacking some athleticism looks a solid pick at 12.
13. New Orleans Pelicans – Aaron Nesmith
With new head coach Stan Van Gundy appointed, the focus for the Pelicans is on harnessing the talent of Zion Williamson in order to become a strong playoff contender. Putting the right players around him will be key and at 13, the Pelicans could secure a talented rotation player capable of helping the team finish in a playoff spot. Despite a smaller college sample size of 14 games to go off, Nesmith is widely regarded as one of the best shooters in the draft and would be a welcome addition to the roster.
Nesmith’s second season for Vanderbilt was ended prematurely through injury but before that, he averaged a very impressive 23 points per game off a staggering 52.2 percent three-point shooting. The 21-year-old is a natural shooter and is very effective in catch-and-shoot situations. He simply cannot be left open and would be a very reliable option on offense for New Orleans though will likely need to expand his offensive game over time, including his ball-handling and assist numbers.
14. Boston Celtics – Precious Achiuwa
With three first-round picks, it is likely that the Celtics will trade at least one away in order not to clog up the roster with young talent. After acquiring the Memphis Grizzlies’ 14th pick, the Celtics could look to use it in a deal to help the young, exciting core of players they have to better contend for a title but should they keep it, Achiuwa looks an intriguing option.
The 6’9 power forward boasts tremendous athleticism and physicality, averaging 15.8 points per game for the Memphis Tigers last season and is also a very strong rebounder with 10.8 per game last year. While his decision making needs to improve, he showed plenty of potential on defense and could become a good scorer in the NBA, providing a persistent lob threat and scoring plenty of second-chance points. Becoming more consistent will be key but Achiuwa could be a steal at 14.
15. Orlando Magic – Kira Lewis Jr.
The Orlando Magic could end up needing some more depth at point guard to help out the promising Markelle Fultz due to the expiring contracts of D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams and Lewis Jr. would provide that. He is an intriguing talent who averaged 18.5 points per game last year at Alabama and stuffs the box score, including for turnovers which he needs to focus on lessening.
16. Portland Trail Blazers – Cole Anthony
Portland loves a point guard that can hit deep, difficult shots and Anthony is just that. Anthony has split opinion among scouts and analysts and there is still much debate over whether he can become an effective playmaker and well-rounded point guard but his potential is clear. He possesses great pace and can create his own shot so could be another dangerous offensive weapon in Portland.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves – R.J. Hampton
Should the Timberwolves select Edwards with the first pick then it could make sense to draft someone that is not a guard. However, you should ultimately select the best available prospect, and at this point that appears to be Hampton. The 19-year-old had a mixed season playing for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL but his tremendous quickness and length as a guard means he should be chosen between 15 and 20.
18. Dallas Mavericks – Tyrese Maxey
For Dallas, it is about establishing a strong supporting cast for star guard Luka Doncic. It is difficult to find an effective rotation player at 18 but Maxey could be just that. He is an explosive burst scorer that can hurt opposition teams in a number of different ways with his on-ball creativity. Maxey must focus on becoming more consistent shooting from beyond the arc but could be an effective bench player for the Mavs.
19. Brooklyn Nets – Tyrell Terry
Brooklyn will be hoping to contend for the title next year with the return of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant but will need others to contribute if they are to bring a championship to Brooklyn. At 19, guard Terry could be a good option with his tight handles and ability to shoot from deep. He has work to do defensively and could do with adding some strength but has the potential to be an offensive threat in the NBA.
20. Miami Heat – Jalen Smith
Miami will be looking to go one better next season and win a fourth NBA Championship. Smith out of Maryland looks the best option at this point. He is very versatile with the ability to play as a forward or center and can score inside or outside while being an asset on defense, averaging 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last season.
21. Philadelphia 76ers – Desmond Bane
Bane has plenty of experience with four years at TCU and has improved over that time. The guard established himself as a good shooter, something the 76ers need more of, knocking down 44.2 percent of his threes last year and scored 16.6 points per game.
22. Denver Nuggets – Aleksej Pokusevski
Pokusevski still has plenty to work on but his raw talent and potential could see him taken before the second round. The 7-footer can knock down threes as well as provide assists for his teammates but would likely require time to get used to the physicality of the NBA.
23. Utah Jazz – Josh Green
The Jazz could use some more forward depth and Green would provide that. He is a strong defensive player with excellent length and lateral quickness, averaging 1.5 steals per game at Arizona last season. His shooting requires improvement but Green could be a good rotation option in Utah.
24. Milwaukee Bucks – Leandro Bolmaro
Barcelona’s Bolmaro has shown plenty of promise during his time on the court. The versatile forward displayed great passing ability and defensive potential with the ability to handle the ball. He would be a long-term project but we know this is not a problem for Milwaukee, given how they were able to develop Giannis Antetokounmpo.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Theo Maledon
With Chris Paul’s future in OKC unclear, the team could look to draft a promising young guard in Maledon. The Frenchman has a good court vision and a smooth shot which allows him to make buckets from beyond the arc while possessing impressive footwork.
26. Boston Celtics – Nico Mannion
Another promising young guard in this draft class, Mannion is a good shot maker and playmaker that could play a helpful role on a strong team like Boston, though the 26th pick could end up being traded to another team.
27. New York Knicks – Tre Jones
The Knicks need a point guard and while they may be unable to take one of the top guard prospects, Jones would provide the team with good defense while his offensive game has continued to develop with an average of 16.2 points per game for Duke last season.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Tyler Bey
A talented defensive prospect, Bey was named PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year and in doing so followed in the footsteps of 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle. He averaged 13.8 points per game and nine rebounds last season, playing with great energy and enthusiasm.
29. Toronto Raptors – Cassius Stanley
Another Duke youngster that could go late in the first round, Stanley is an effective wing player with good speed which helps him on the defensive end. He did not have a big role on offense at Duke but has plenty of athleticism making him a strong transition player.
30. Boston Celtics – Jaden McDaniels
Another Boston pick which could end up elsewhere, McDaniels averaged 13 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for the Washington Huskies last season. He has the potential to be a solid all-around forward but needs to become more consistent.
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