The 2020 NBA Draft was supposed to take place June 25. Given that we are now almost five months removed from that original date, this year’s event should offer more clarity than past drafts, right?
No. Wrong. Very wrong. As of Tuesday morning, there isn’t even a consensus on what the Timberwolves will do with the No. 1 pick Wednesday night, let alone how the first round will play out.
This particular group of prospects doesn’t have any can’t-miss superstars. Multiple teams appear willing to trade picks. Free agency begins later this week. All of these elements have taken the usual draft-related chaos and turned it up to 11.
Still, despite the uncertainty, we forge ahead. This is Sporting News’ best attempt at a 2020 Mock Draft.
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NBA mock draft 2020
1. Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, Georgia, Guard
Ever since the Timberwolves landed this pick by winning the NBA Draft lottery 20 years ago — wait, that was in August? — there have been rumblings about them liking all three of Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball. Then came the reports about Minnesota looking to trade down.
If the T-Wolves do keep the top pick, Edwards seems to be the best fit next to D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. He needs to work on his decision-making and give more consistent effort defensively, but his scoring ability and athleticism are elite.
2. Warriors: James Wiseman, Memphis, Center
Plenty of trade chatter surrounding this selection, too. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently noted that there was a little “buzz” about the Warriors sending the No. 2 pick to the Spurs in exchange for LaMarcus Aldridge, though there hasn’t been much follow-up on that rumor.
Wiseman is a terrific talent and fills a need at center for Golden State, so he should be the Warriors’ guy if they stay put. He may be able to thrive immediately as a rim-runner in Golden State’s offense.
3. Hornets: LaMelo Ball, Illawarra, Guard
Many draft experts consider Ball the top overall player in this class, while others wonder whether he will be a major bust. He is an incredible passer, but he will also launch terrible shots. He is a great rebounding guard, but he will also fall asleep on the defensive end. Ball is polarizing, to say the least.
Regardless of how you feel about Ball, it’s hard to see him dropping too far down the board. The Hornets would be happy to take Wiseman here, but with the Warriors in the way, they go for star potential.
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4. Bulls: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Forward
The Bulls are already hoping to develop players such as Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, so they need someone who will slide into the lineup and not hijack the offense. Enter Avdija.
The 6-9 forward is an oversized creator who’s comfortable operating out of the pick-and-roll and in transition. The biggest issue with him is his outside shooting. Can he eventually force defenses to respect him on the perimeter?
5. Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, Dayton, Forward
Let’s keep the Dayton kid in Ohio.
Toppin was the best player in college basketball this past season, and he gives the Cavs a monster athlete who is capable of running pick-and-pops with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Toppin’s defense is a problem, so it wouldn’t be a shocker if he slips outside the top five.
6. Hawks: Patrick Williams, Florida State, Forward
Atlanta has been involved in a few trade rumors — the Hawks were linked to Timberwolves guard Jarrett Culver and Jrue Holiday before he was sent to the Bucks — so it could end up jumping out of this slot.
For now, the Hawks take Williams, a 19-year-old who is raw offensively but has flashed the kind of defensive versatility playoff teams covet.
7. Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State, Guard
This may be a touch low for Haliburton, but hey, Pistons fans will be happy.
Outside shooting, playmaking, basketball IQ — the 6-5 guard is just solid in a lot of areas. He’s not an exceptional athlete, but Haliburton is a winning player.
8. Knicks: Isaac Okoro, Auburn, Forward
Perhaps the Knicks simply choose the best available prospect on their board at this point. However, if they also consider fit, Okoro is perfect.
While he is a bit of a project offensively, Okoro may be ready to defend NBA guards and wings right away because of his strength, quickness and intelligence. He will only help RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson grow in New York.
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9. Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, USC, Center
Okongwu is a terrific lob catcher, shot blocker and rebounder. Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy noted that he has received some Bam Adebayo comparisons, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him thrive as a small-ball center.
Alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal, Okongwu would have a natural role and be a welcome addition to one of the league’s worst defenses.
10. Suns: Devin Vassell, Florida State, Guard
In order to acquire Chris Paul, the Suns had to give up Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque. They could use a boost at those spots.
Vassell fills the void nicely. He could quickly emerge as the best 3-and-D prospect in the class and log significant minutes for a team chasing a playoff berth.
11. Spurs: Saddiq Bey, Villanova, Forward
Another 3-and-D wing finds a home. Bey seems like a Spur, a smart player who brings the intensity and works well within a team concept.
While Bey makes a great deal of sense, don’t be surprised if San Antonio attempts to move up on draft night.
12. Kings: Killian Hayes, Ulm, Guard
Hayes could serve as De’Aaron Fox’s backup and play alongside him in certain lineups. At 6-5 and over 200 pounds, he could handle multiple defensive assignments.
He didn’t shoot well from deep in all competitions last season, but his form suggests he could improve in that area.
13. Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt, Forward
Nesmith provides instant offense in a variety of ways: catch-and-shoot, sprinting off screens, step-back jumpers. He could realistically go anywhere from No. 10 to No. 20 because his skill set is exactly what most NBA teams want out of their role players.
The Pelicans are no exception. Nesmith would provide spacing for the slashing Brandon Ingram and rolling Zion Williamson.
14. Celtics (via Grizzlies): Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama, Guard
Lewis could provide Boston a spark off the bench whenever Kemba Walker has to take a break. The 6-3 speedster may lack size, but he constantly puts pressure on opposing defenses.
Note: The Celtics hold multiple first-rounders, so we can’t rule out a trade here.
15. Magic: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky, Guard
Orlando has a glut of forwards, so it should be focused on selecting a guard to pair with Markelle Fultz.
Maxey can create offense off the dribble and is excellent as an on-ball defender. While his 3-point numbers at Kentucky weren’t inspiring, Maxey’s form isn’t disastrous, and he has looked comfortable on pull-up jumpers.
16. Trail Blazers: Precious Achiuwa, Memphis, Forward (traded to Rockets)
This pick is reportedly being sent to the Rockets as part of the Robert Covington trade.
Good luck trying to figure out what’s going on in Houston. Let’s go crazy and give the Rockets an actual big man. Achiuwa can prioritize rim running and defense while James Harden and Russell Westbrook carry the offense — that is, if they are on the team when the season starts.
17. Timberwolves (via Nets): RJ Hampton, New Zealand, Guard
Again, the Timberwolves could package their picks in a trade. Everything is on the table.
Assuming Minnesota does choose a player, Hampton could be a decent upside gamble. The 19-year-old is a quick, explosive guard, but he will need some time to develop.
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18. Mavericks: Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos, Forward
An international prospect in Dallas? That will never work.
Pokusevski is a 7-footer, but he’s far from a traditional big. He’s got strong ballhandling skills, and he can catch and shoot off a screen like a wing. However, he only weighs about 200 pounds. Pokusevski can’t be effective in the NBA with that frame.
19. Nets: Cole Anthony, North Carolina, Guard
Once considered a potential top-five pick, Anthony could become a draft-day steal.
Despite a rough year at UNC, Anthony is still a talented offensive player who can break down defenders and get buckets off the dribble. He would offer the Nets a microwave scorer off the bench behind Kyrie Irving.
20. Heat: Jalen Smith, Maryland, Forward
With Meyers Leonard entering free agency — and Kelly Olynyk possibly joining him depending on what happens with his player option — Miami might be searching for frontcourt help.
He’s not elite in terms of speed and agility, but Smith brings size (6-10, 225 pounds) and shooting to either the power forward or center spot. He would be an interesting fit next to Bam Adebayo.
21. 76ers (via Thunder): Desmond Bane, TCU, Guard
Ben Simmons isn’t going to launch 3-pointers. Bane absolutely will.
Arguably the top sharpshooter in the draft, Bane is the kind of floor spacer Philly has been missing. He is limited as a creator, but the Sixers wouldn’t be asking him to be the primary source of offense.
22. Nuggets (via Rockets): Josh Green, Arizona, Guard
Green can spot up along the 3-point line and do a bit of creating as the primary ballhandler. He is tough on and off the ball defensively. He may top out as a role player, but he could be a very good one.
Simply put, Green is built to run alongside Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
23. Jazz: Zeke Nnaji, Arizona, Center
No one is saying Utah is going to lose Rudy Gobert. It just might not be a bad idea to have a backup plan.
Nnaji could be part of an NBA rotation for years to come, as he is a capable finisher and has flashed a nice shooting stroke. He definitely isn’t Defensive Player of the Year material at the moment. That aspect of his game must improve.
24. Bucks (via Pacers): Theo Maledon, ASVEL, Guard (traded to Pelicans)
This pick is reportedly being sent to the Pelicans as part of the Holiday trade.
Even if New Orleans decides to keep Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, it’s worth taking a flier on Maledon, a young floor general who can make the correct reads out of the pick-and-roll. Putting another playmaker on the roster is never a bad thing.
25. Thunder (via Nuggets): Jaden McDaniels, Washington, Forward
This may be far too low for McDaniels. He could go in the lottery. Someone has to fall, though, and in SN’s Mock Draft, he is that guy.
McDaniels can be a versatile scoring force when locked in, but he also turns the ball over and gets called for technical fouls with alarming regularity. The Thunder are in a full-scale rebuild, so they won’t mind taking a chance on him.
26. Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro, Barcelona, Guard
Unless the Celtics execute trades, they’ll have to think about draft-and-stash options. Bolmaro does the trick.
The 20-year-old has the ballhandling, passing, basketball IQ and intensity that would endear him to Boston fans.
27. Knicks (via Clippers): Malachi Flynn, San Diego State, Guard
He’s not the biggest, longest or most athletic guard in the draft, but Flynn is a hooper.
In the pick-and-roll, Flynn has shown that he is equally deadly as a distributor or pull-up shooter. He also really puts in the effort defensively.
28. Lakers: Tyrell Terry, Stanford, Guard (traded to Thunder)
This pick is reportedly being sent to the Thunder as part of the Dennis Schroder trade.
A top-tier shooter, Terry could become a real offensive weapon if he can take another step with his dribble drives and finishes.
29. Raptors: Isaiah Stewart, Washington, Center
Toronto could lose Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in free agency, so here’s a young center ready to step in.
Stewart is the kind of player who will carve out a long career for himself just by outworking those around him. He rebounds like crazy and could eventually be a shooting threat.
30. Celtics (via Bucks): Xavier Tillman, Michigan State, Forward
Much like the Titans, Tillman is mobile, agile and hostile. Sure, the big man has his limitations, but doesn’t it feel like Brad Stevens would figure out a way to make him effective in limited minutes?