Predicting the 2020 NBA Draft’s Top 5 Players

History has proven that there is no perfect formula for drafting NBA players. Of the 26 players in this year’s All-Star Game, 11 were selected 13th or later in the draft. Reserves Nikola Jokic and Khris Middleton fell all the way to the second round. Lottery picks often underwhelm or flame out, while late fliers occasionally transform into role players or even franchise centerpieces.

When drafting, a team must keep in mind its roster’s needs, compare the available prospects, and decide whether they will build for the future or go all-in on the next season. A single choice can alter the future of a franchise.

This year’s draft, whenever it takes place, will offer many intriguing prospects. It’s always difficult to project players’ careers, but here are the five that appear poised for long and productive stays in the Association.

5. Ashton Hagans

Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans could end up being the biggest steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. Most are projecting him to go late in the first round or early in the second, but he has all the tools to be a successful NBA floor general.

Hagans averaged 11.5 points and 6.4 assists per game in his sophomore year thanks to his elite ball-handling and decision-making. The 6-foot-3 guard was also one of the best defenders in the SEC, averaging almost two steals per game.

But it’s his ability to change pace in the open floor that sets him apart. He may not have the best end-to-end speed, but he can break down his defender and create space for himself and his teammates at a high level.

Hagans’ three-point shooting, or lack thereof, will likely make him fall in the draft. He shot just 25.8 percent from deep last year and only attempted 1.4 threes per game. But he has a smooth jumper that looks good when his feet are set, and he’ll have time to expand his range at the next level.

4. Saddiq Bey

Saddiq Bey, Villanova’s do-it-all forward, has been climbing draft boards. The 6-foot-8 sophomore averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Wildcats this year while improving his shooting marks to 47.7 percent from the field and 45.1% from three.

He’s not exceptional in any single area, but he can handle the ball well for his size and score at all three levels. Bey’s coming from a program with a long history of success and has a good chance of following in the footsteps of other Nova alumni who had solid NBA careers.

Most importantly, he’ll bring a polished game to whichever team drafts him. Bey is certainly one of the most NBA-ready players in the 2020 class.

3. Cole Anthony

UNC point guard Cole Anthony has the potential to be a generational player. However, mid-season knee surgery and drop in shooting efficiency may push him out of the top three in the draft. But if Anthony can return to form, he could become the face of a struggling NBA franchise.

In his lone season at Chapel Hill, the 6-foot-3 Anthony averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. He shot just 38 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three, but the struggles of his teammates and rust from the surgery affected those numbers.

Anthony rose to national fame and became the top-ranked point guard in his class thanks to his success as a senior at Oak Hill Academy. While there, he showcased his ability to dominate games in seemingly every way possible. If his freakish athleticism, creative scoring, and elite passing all translate to the NBA, he’ll be an All-Star in the making.

2. Devin Vassell

Devin Vassell, a 6-foot-6 wing from Florida State, deserves much more attention than he’s received so far. His 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game don’t scream superstar, but his tape does.

Vassell has everything an NBA team could want in a perimeter player: height, length, shooting, and ridiculous athleticism. Not only did Vassell put on a show above the rim this season, but he shot an efficient 49 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three.

He’s bursting with potential, and he already has the frame and skill set necessary to improve an NBA rotation. Vassell may drop out of the lottery, but don’t be surprised if he ends up enjoying one of the best careers of anyone in his class.

1. Obi Toppin

It’s still impossible to name a single prospect more NBA-ready than Dayton’s Obi Toppin. The 2020 Wooden Award winner took the college hoops world by storm in his sophomore year, averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from three.

But Toppin likely still has room for development. He’s 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, a frame that will enable him to guard both perimeter and post players. In addition, he’s already proven he can post up, knock down threes, and finish above the rim. When given the chance, he’s even showcased an ability to score off the dribble.

Toppin will thrive in an NBA defined by pace-and-space offenses and increasingly position-less players. He may not go number one in the draft, but he’s destined for a successful career.

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