With the lottery drawing complete, we now know the full order of the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled to take place virtually on October 16. This is one of those rare years where there is very little certainly at the top of the draft board.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia – Freshman
Edwards was the highest-scoring freshman in the country, averaging 19.5 points per game, and also led Georgia in made 3-pointers (2.3) and steals (1.4). While he wasn’t nearly as efficient as many scouts would have liked (converting less than 41% of his FG attempts and 30% of his 3-point attempts), he frequently flashed the type of tantalizing upside that few prospects possess. The Wolves will weigh all their options, but a trio of Karl-Anthony Towns (24 years old), D’Angelo Russell (23), and Edwards (19) is a solid foundation on which to build a franchise.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis – Freshman
Standing 7’1″ and weighing in at 240 pounds with a 7’6″ wingspan, this lanky lefty can step outside, knock down perimeter jumpers, and dominate the paint. Still, despite his otherworldly physical gifts, plenty of question marks remain. Furthermore, seven-footers who aren’t accomplished perimeter scorers have seen their value decrease dramatically in today’s NBA. Nonetheless, with a healthy Klay Thompson and Steph Curry set to join Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in the Warriors lineup next season, center is a position of need in Golden State.
3. Charlotte Hornets: 2. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
Point guard is the one spot on the floor the Hornets don’t need to address, as the team’s two leading scorers (Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier) are both PG’s by trade. Still, assuming Charlotte considers Ball the best player available when they are on the clock, it makes sense to get a potential franchise-changing talent and figure out how all the pieces fit later on. Ball significantly boosted his stock in Australia last season, with consistently impressive performances for the Illawarra Hawks before injuring his foot in December. Over his final five appearances, Ball averaged 23.2 points, 9.4 assists, 9.0 rebounds. In the process, he became the first Australian NBL player in the modern era to post back-to-back triple-doubles.
4. Chicago Bulls: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton – Sophomore
Toppin was named the National Player of the Year last season after averaging 20.0 points to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 dimes, while shooting scorching 63.3% percent from the field and 39% from behind the arc. Per Basketball-Reference, Toppin is just the sixth underclassman in the last 25 years to average at least 20 points and shoot over 60% from the floor for a full season. The other five are Andrew Bogut, Blake Griffin, Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton and Zion Williamson. (Bogut, Griffin, Ayton and Williamson all were selected with the No. 1 overall pick in their respective drafts. Bagley went No.2, behind Ayton and one spot ahead of Luka Doncic.) Toppin is a solid pick that can contribute right away for a Bulls squad looking to compete for a playoff berth next season.
5. Cleveland Cavs: Deni Avdija, G, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Unlike American prospects, NBA scouts were able to get an extended look at Avdija this spring, and he left many talent evaluators drooling. A 6’8 combo forward, who is still just 19, Avdija was named the 2019-2020 Israeli League MVP (the youngest player ever awarded the MVP trophy). He finished the season averaging 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 27.1 minutes. The Cavs have a hole at small forward, and Avdija seems like an ideal fit.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC – Freshman
Okongwu was a monster on both ends of the floor for USC last season, as evidenced by his undeniably impressive advanced analytics. He finished the year atop the Pac-12 leaderboard in PER (31.1), Box Plus/Minus (13.6) and True Shooting percentage (.645). The Hawks have John Collins and Clint Capela entrenched as starters at power forward and center, respectively, but that will allow the 19-year old Okongwu to be eased into the rotation, coming off the bench to play either the 4 or 5.
7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm
At 6’5″, Hayes possesses terrific size for a point guard, enabling him to see over the top of defenses and pressure opposing PG’s into turnovers. And at just 19 years of age, he’s still growing, both in stature and skills-wise. Hayes may be a year or two away from making a significant impact, but his upside is exceptional. The Pistons are in the market for a PG and can afford to wait for Hayes to develop patiently.
8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State – Sophomore
The Knicks have desperately been searching for their “point guard of the future” for almost two decades. Fortunately, this draft is teeming with enticing PG prospects, which makes falling back to 8th a bit more palatable. Haliburton’s 2019-20 campaign was cut short when he suffered a season-ending fracture of his left wrist in February; however, he was a feared defender who stuffed the stat sheet offensively before being sidelined. In the 22 games he did suit up for, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists while posting a True Shooting percentage above 63%. In the process, according to Basketball-Reference, he became the first player in NCAA history to average more than 15 points, five boards and six dimes while shooting over 50% from the floor and 40% from 3-point range (while attempting more than five treys per game).
9. Washington Wizards: Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida State – Sophomore
Quality 3-and-D wings are tremendously valuable in today’s NBA, and Vassell projects as one of the most promising such prospects in this class. He shot over 41% from 3-point range in each of his two seasons at FSU and developed a reputation as a feared, versatile defender. He’d fit in well alongside Bradley Beal, John Wall, Rui Hachimura and the rest of the Wizards core.
10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky – Freshman
After stunning the league by winning all eight games they played in the Orlando bubble earlier this month, the Suns are looking to carry that momentum into 2021. They could go in several directions here at 10, so maybe they choose the “best player available route.” Maxey didn’t quite live up to outsized expectations during his lone season in Lexington, shooting below 30% from downtown with an uninspiring 3.2-to-2.2 assist-to-turnover-ratio. However, his combination of versatility (he can play on or off the ball), athleticism and defensive tenacity make him a highly valued prospect.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Isaac Okoro, SF Auburn – Freshman
Incredibly, it’s been 23 years since the Spurs failed to qualify for the postseason and landed in the lottery. On June 25th, 1997 (that was 8,458 days ago), San Antonio drafted Tim Duncan. The rest, as they say, is history… Okoro closed out the season playing well, but his overall numbers aren’t overly impressive (12.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.0 APG). He also converted just 28.6% of his 3-point attempts and 67.2% of his free throws during his lone season at Auburn. On the plus side, he’s a superb, versatile defender with a high basketball IQ and a nonstop motor. Those characteristics are all prerequisites for playing for Coach Pop in San Antonio.
12. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State – Freshman
It is difficult to determine what direction interim executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars might head. The most pressing issue in Sacramento this offseason is deciding how to handle unrestricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic. Assuming the re-sign Bogey, the Kings will likely look to solidify their frontcourt. Despite relatively modest statistical production at FSU, Williams showed flashes of brilliance and possesses a unique combination of size, skill, and strength.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis – Freshman
Achiuwa battled inconsistency at times last season but came on strong to close out his freshman campaign. Over the last month of the 2019-20 season (an eight-game sample size), he’s averaged 18.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.9 swats. And Achiuwa ripped down at least 15 rebounds in each of Memphis’ final three games in AAC play, averaging 20.3 points, 17.7 boards and 3.0 blocks during this stretch. Limiting Zion Williamson minutes will likely continue to be a priority for the Pels in the future, and Precious can slot in anywhere along the front line.
14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama – Sophomore
Kemba Walker, who turned 30 earlier this year, still has three years left on his contract and battled some nagging injuries this season. The Celtics may prioritize securing a backup PG in a draft loaded with promising points. Though undersized, Lewis plays with an intensity that would endear him to coach Brad Stevens. Lewis was also impressively productive down the stretch of the 2019-20 campaign. Over the final month of the season (nine games), he averaged 23.2 points, 6.7 assists, 3.7 boards, 1.8 steals and 2.8 made 3-pointers, while shooting 49% from the field and north of 46% from downtown.
15. Orlando Magic: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt – Sophomore
The Magic were near the bottom of the league in both long-range makes and 3-point percentage this season. As a result, they should be targeting a sharp-shooter on draft day. And Nesmith certainly qualifies. He knocked down a staggering 52.2% of his treys while attempting 8.2 three-pointers a night for Vanderbilt. According to Basketball-Reference, Nesmith is the first player in NCAA history to average more than eight attempts per game and make more than 50% of them.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina – Freshman
The Blazers already have one of the best backcourts in the business, but Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum both logged over 36.5 minutes per game during the regular season (James Harden was the only player in the entire league to average over 36.3 minutes a night). And Anthony would be a great value pick in the middle of the first round. Yes, the precocious freshman had some ups and downs during his lone season at UNC, but his talent and pedigree make him a safe, solid pick.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn): Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova – Sophomore
Bey has shown solid defensive instincts and can put the ball on the floor when needed, in addition to being a terrific long-range shooter. He averaged 16.1 points per game, and 2.5 made 3-pointers (while shooting above 45% from downtown) to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a sophomore at Villanova. The only other player in Big East history to match or exceed those averages in those categories throughout a full season was Ray Allen at UCONN back in 1995-96.
18. Dallas Mavericks: Aleksej Pokuševski, F, Olympiacos
Pokusevski is arguably the hardest player to peg in this draft. Scouts have mixed reviews, primarily because they’ve been unable to get a good look at him. As an 18-year old who measures in at 7-feet tall with a 7’3″ wingspan, Pokusevski possesses the perimeter skills of a guard, but is rail thin. Teams would love to get a closer look at him via individual workouts, but the process is complicated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Might the Mavs, who have had success with a certain recently-drafted wunderkind from Slovenia, roll the dice on Pokusevski (allowing him to learn the ropes from another freak 7-foot athlete in Kristaps Porzingis)?
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): R.J. Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
Hampton was considered a likely lottery pick at this time last year, but inconsistent production against pros in Australia, followed by a hip injury that limited him to just 15 games, has hurt his stock. In those 15 contests, Hampton was inefficient offensively, shooting only 40% from the floor, below 30% from 3-point range, and below 68% from the charity stripe. Would a larger sample size have allowed him to prove he’s talented enough to overcome some early hiccups given his impressive combination of size, skill and athleticism? Nets GM Sean Marks (an Australian native) may feel Hampton’s upside is too promising to pass up at 19.
20. Miami Heat: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland – Sophomore
Smith’s greatest asset is his versatility, which is highly valued by Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley down on South Beach. As a sophomore at Mayland, the bouncy big man averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 boards, 2.4 blocks and 1.0 treys.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford – Freshman:
If the Sixers are serious about shifting Ben Simmons to power forward, they’ll be in the market for a point guard this summer. Terry is a lethal shooter, converting over 40% of his triple tries and nearly 90% of his free throws during his single season at Stanford. Still, there are some doubts regarding his size (6’1″ and 160 pounds) and relatively limited quickness.
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston): Josh Green, SG, Arizona – Freshman
After struggling with his efficiency early on, Green closed out the year in encouraging fashion. Over the Wildcats final five games, Green averaged 13.5 points while shooting 51% from the floor, 84% from the charity stripe, and a scorching 62.5% from downtown. On the season, he also ranks inside the top-10 in the Pac-12 in steals and Box Plus/Minus.
23. Utah Jazz: Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington – Freshman
McDaniels’ stock took a hit after an inconsistent and underwhelming freshman season at Washington. Still, plenty of teams in the 20’s will be intrigued by the 19-year old’s impressive combination of size, athleticism and shooting touch.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana): Desmond Bane, SG, TCU – Senior:
Bane would be a great fit in Milwaukee for two reasons. First, he’s a deadly long-range shooter, and the Bucks rely on surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo with as many marksmen as possible. Over his final three seasons at TCU, Bane knocked down over 44% of his 3-point attempts (219-of-496). Also, at 22 years of age and with four years of college experience under his belt, he’s ready to step in as a rotation player and contribute immediately. That’s ideal for a Bucks team that wants to win right now to convince Giannis to stay.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Leandro Bolmaro, G/F, Barcelona
Bolmaro initially entered his name in last year’s draft, but ended up withdrawing after his representatives weren’t convinced he’d be a first-round selection. He’s 6’7″ with a terrific handle and the ability to facilitate an offense, but he’ll need to prove he can knock down open 3-pointers to develop into an NBA starter.
26. Boston Celtics: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
Scouts are all over the place on Maledon, but the Celtics have three first-round picks this year, so they may feel more comfortable than most gambling on a boom-or-bust prospect. Also, we know Danny Ainge has never been afraid to roll the dice on young European talent.
27. New York Knicks (via LA Clippers): Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona – Freshman
Mannion was projected as a possible lottery selection when he arrived at Arizona last fall. However, his stock took a significant hit due to his offensive inefficacy (he shot just 39.2% from the floor and below 33% from deep). In addition, his defense wasn’t overly impressive. However, Mannion is a phenomenal passer with excellent vision. He finished second in the Pac-12 in assists last season. As noted above, the Knicks are still searching for a point guard, and even if they snag one with their lottery pick, they may look to double-dip later in round one as well. Given his relatively high floor, Mannion would be an excellent value pick at 27.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington – Freshman
Both of the Lakers’ current centers, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, can hit free agency this offseason, meaning LA will likely target a big with their first-rounder. Stewart is a load down low. He’s a bit undersized at 6’9″, but he uses his 250 pounds of muscle to bully opponents on the block. He finished his freshman campaign averaging 17.0 points to go along with 8.8 boards and 2.1 blocks.
29. Toronto Raptors: Tre Jones, PG, Duke – Sophomore
Jones was voted the both 2020 ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 16.2 points, 6.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game this season. He also posted a +2.4 assist/turnover ratio. Yes, there are flaws in his game, but he’s a defensive-minded winner that will be able to contribute from Day One. It’s also important to note that Fred VanVleet will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and 34-year-old Kyle Lowry has just one more year left on his current contract.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State – Senior
The Celtics will enter next season as championship contenders, and Winston is a proven, experienced winner. While he lacks the size and athleticism of the other prospects on this list, Winston has spent four years in the Big Ten making big shots in big moments. He’d be expected to immediately step in and provide Boston with some PG depth off the bench.