The 2020 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the stranger ones in recent history. Almost every player destined for the lottery has an asterisk next to their name for various reasons, and there is currently no clear No. 1 pick. Teams will have their work set out for them in June, but here are 10 of the top talents who will be on the board, ranked.
10. Precious Achiuwa
Precious Achiuwa was already going to be a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but James Wiseman’s exit from Memphis may have opened the door for him to break into the lottery. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound freshman forward probably has the most athletic potential of any player in the draft, but his lack of shooting ability will cause some teams to have second thoughts. Achiuwa is putting up 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field for the Tigers, but he’s taken just 11 threes on the season, making five. He’ll need to expand his range during the second half of the season in order to move up the board. Nonetheless, Achiuwa will have many suitors in June.
9. Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey might be this draft’s most pure scorer. The 6-foot-3 freshman guard from Kentucky possesses a shifty handle and a dangerous change-of-pace game that has freed him up for tons of scoring opportunities so far this season. Maxey is averaging 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists for Kentucky, although those numbers would likely be much higher if he were playing somewhere else. He can be streaky, but that can be attributed to his inexperience and the need for his talented backcourt mates to get their touches as well. Maxey’s 27.9 percent mark from three reveals the inconsistency in his production, but his breakout performances in wins against Duke and Louisville will convince an NBA team to select him based on his scoring potential alone.
8. Jaden McDaniels
Jaden McDaniels is this lottery’s wild card, but that’s never stopped NBA teams from picking similar prospects. McDaniels, a 6-foot-9 lengthy wing, has contributed on both ends for Washington this season, putting up 13.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. On defense, his 6-foot-11 wingspan allows him to bother ball-handlers, contest shooters, and obstruct passing lanes. On the offensive end, he’s raw but has shown flashes of potential. His 36.4 percent mark from three could improve, and he’ll need to add some muscle to score in the paint against NBA defenders, but he has all the tools to succeed at the next level. A more-established team will surely take a chance on him in the hopes he achieves his potential.
7. Obi Toppin
Obi Toppin has flown under the radar so far, but there’s no doubt he’ll get his due in June. Toppin, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward at Dayton, improved his game in a major way this season. He’s currently averaging 19.5 points and 7.7 assists for the Flyers, and he’s shooting a ridiculous 63.2 percent from the field. Toppin has always been an athletic finisher who can create havoc by driving the lane, but the real reason he’ll end up a top pick is his newfound shooting ability. Toppin attempted just 0.6 threes per game last season, but he increased that number to 2.6 this year and is connecting on 35.9 percent of them. An NBA team searching for an athletic stretch four will be quick to take Toppin off the board.
6. Nico Mannion
Arizona’s Nico Mannion has one of the most pro-ready games of any guard in college right now. The 6-foot-3 freshman from Italy has a soft shooting touch but can also break his defender down to create for himself and others. He’s putting up averages of 14.3 points and 6.3 assists so far, and his 34.8 percent mark from three will likely improve as he finds his rhythm in the college game. Mannion’s ceiling may not be as high as his lottery counterparts, but he’s a safe choice due to his polished game. That will be enough for someone to snatch him up in the top 10.
5. Vernon Carey, Jr.
Though he’s not getting much recognition from the media for it, Vernon Carey, Jr. is dominating college basketball right now. The 6-foot-10, 270-pound center is leading Duke’s charge towards the Final Four to the tune of 18.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Not only that, but he’s shooting an incredibly efficient 61.2 percent from the field and blocking two shots per game. Carey has owned the paint in every game he’s played in for the Blue Devils, using his size and strength to muscle away rebounds and finish at the rim with power. He lacks an ability to stretch the floor, but that can be developed in the NBA. Carey is too talented to pass up.
4. Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony, who some projected as the No. 1 overall pick prior to the start of the season, will likely not return until February due to surgery on his meniscus in December. But the Tarheels got nine games out of their star point guard and he made the most of them. The 6-foot-3 do-it-all floor general averaged 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists over that stretch, reinforcing the fact that he can affect the game in every way. Anthony, always a triple-double threat, showcased his ability to score at all three levels and finish at the rim with NBA-level athleticism. However, he shot just 36.8 percent from the field and would occasionally force ill-advised jump shots and passes. If Anthony was healthy, he would be a top-three selection. Team with picks outside of that range won’t mind scooping him up a little later in the lottery.
3. James Wiseman
Despite leaving Memphis due to issues with his NCAA eligibility, James Wiseman arguably has the most potential of any prospect in the 2020 class. He’s 7-foot-1, 240 pounds and has a 7-foot-6 wingspan to go with his athletic frame. Wiseman scored 59 points, grabbed 32 rebounds, and blocked three shots in his three collegiate appearances. Though he needs to develop an outside shot and a more polished post game, Wiseman’s ability to play bully ball inside and protect the rim will make him a valuable asset in the NBA.
2. LaMelo Ball
Who would’ve thought we’d see LaMelo Ball at the top of mock draft boards? But here we are, and the 18-year-old point guard for the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL is backing up the hype with real production. The youngest Ball brother now stands at 6-foot-7 and has transitioned from a score-first approach that included a lot of three-point jumpers to a facilitating role in which he seeks to set up his teammates first. NBA scouts have noticed his growth, and they’ve also noticed his averages of 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in Australia. Ball has transformed into a crafty, do-it-all player before our eyes and has displayed a maturity that indicates he’ll be able to contribute right away to whichever NBA team picks him.
1. Anthony Edwards
There will be no obvious choices in the 2020 draft, but Georgia’s Anthony Edwards might be the closest thing to one. The 6-foot-5 freshman guard has led a historically poor program to a 10-4 start while showcasing all the reasons why he was so highly touted in high school. Edwards is a freak athlete and can also pull up for jumpers off of the dribble with ease, two weapons that are invaluable in the NBA. He’s averaging 18.7 points and is shooting 41 percent from the field, but his 31 percent three-point percentage needs work. Still, it will be hard for any team to pass on his impressive shot-creating and athletic potential on draft day.