The NBA draft is tomorrow night and there's a ton of excitement in the air. While there isn't a clear-cut number one pick in this crop of players, all signs are pointing to LaMelo Ball, the brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, being the first pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves. James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards are likely to follow, but after that, nobody really knows what's going to happen.
Fellow writer Ben Masterson and I worked on this together and came up with our consensus for the first round. Be sure to let us know what you think your favorite team is going to do with their pick. With that out of the way, let's get into our 2020 NBA mock draft.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball - G, Illawarra Hawks (NBL)
It comes down to preference here at #1 between Ball and Georgia G Anthony Edwards, but I’ll go LaMelo here. Melo’s the best passer in the draft and has great size and a high basketball IQ. He will need to improve his shooting and defense but has sky-high potential.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman - C, Memphis
If LaMelo goes #1 as reports indicate, Wiseman is the clear-cut #2. While the Memphis big man only logged three games in his college career (his last game was over a year ago from draft night), he made it abundantly clear that he was worth the hype he was receiving leading up to last season. In those three games, Wiseman averaged 19.7 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 3 blocks per game. He is a true shot-blocking, athletic big man that will fill a frontcourt need for the Warriors in the short term, and could potentially provide the star power necessary to extend their dynasty in the long term.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Edwards - G, Georgia
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ball and Edwards flipped. Edwards is a phenomenal athlete and finisher at the two-guard. He struggled shooting in college, only managing 40% and 29% from three. If he’s able to become an effective mid-range and three-point shooter, he’ll be an extremely nice building block for the Hornets.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija - F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israeli League)
Avdija is a 6’9” playmaking forward and solid defender. Like a few other top prospects, he struggles to shoot the three-ball. Bulls fans: think of a Toni Kukoc-type player on the offensive side of the ball.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro - G/F, Auburn
Okoro is a great defender that will immediately help out Cleveland’s piss-poor backcourt defense. Decent offensive player, but guess what he needs to work on? Yup, shooting. He should slide right into the starting lineup, moving either Collin Sexton or Darius Garland to the sixth man role.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton - G, Iowa State
Tyrese Haliburton is a tremendous playmaker that would fit nicely with Trae Young for Atlanta’s backcourt of the future. The Iowa State sophomore made solid strides during his second year in college and has proven to be an effective two-way player. On offense, the Hawks would benefit from his effectiveness in the pick and roll, which not only would benefit Capela and John Collins but will also open up the floor for Trae Young. Defensively, his court awareness and off-the-ball defense will help clean up the Hawks’ atrocious backcourt defense.
7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes - G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Basketball Bundesliga)
Hayes is a bigger guard who can absolutely pour it in. He can score from all three levels. Also, he can pass, as he averaged 6.2 assists per game in the French League. Hayes is left-hand dominant and really struggles with his right, so look for him to develop that skill at the next level. With Derrick Rose likely on the move, Hayes is a nice piece for the Pistons to build around.
8. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin - F, Dayton
The reigning college national player of the year is certainly the type of splashy pick that fits well with the Knicks’ culture. Obi Toppin has been regarded by many as the most polished prospect in this year’s draft and would add some much-needed potential star power to a team full of odds and ends. He needs to improve his three-point shooting slightly and needs to develop more as a defender in order to fully reach his potential, but his playmaking and scoring ability is hard to pass up with this pick.
9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu - F/C, USC
One of my (Ice) favorite players in the draft. I’ve been following his career since he was at Chino Hills, and I’m extremely impressed with the way he’s been able to develop. He’s a little undersized for the five, but has superb athleticism and is able to cover 1-5 and protect the rim. His offensive game needs to improve, but he should be able to use that athleticism to score off of lobs and offensive rebounds. If the Wizards don’t blow it up, he’s a very nice addition and puts them back into the playoff picture in the back end of the Eastern Conference.
10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Maxey - G, Kentucky
While the Suns have their starting backcourt covered with Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker, Rubio is 30 years old already and there isn’t much depth behind these two guys that provide promise for the future. Maxey would be a great addition off the bench for this team that could come in and really contribute, especially on the defensive end. While he is an effective scorer, especially on the drive, he still has quite a bit of work to do in order to improve his offensive game, but coming in as a backup to two established veterans would provide a perfect opportunity for him to learn while not being thrown into the fire.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell - F, Florida State
This offseason, the Spurs need to address their impending holes in the frontcourt. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are both in their 30s and most likely won’t be around this franchise much longer, and Jakob Poetl is a restricted free agent that San Antonio may need to pay up for in order to retain. While Vassell doesn’t necessarily fill that big-man void, he is arguably the best defender in this draft and would allow the Spurs some more flexibility on the wing, should Demar Derozan decide to opt-out of his player option. His 6’10" wingspan and solid off-the-ball defense would also allow him to play the small-ball four as Derozan did during their time in the Bubble, making him a versatile option for a team that needs to sure up their defense.
12. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Williams - F, Florida State
Heading into the draft, the Kings need to address their weakness at small forward. Yes, Harrison Barnes is still on the Kings and is still making around $21 million a year (poor Kings), but it is clear that he isn’t the long-term solution. Patrick Williams, however, could be just that. Williams is a raw prospect that needs to develop his game on both ends in order to become a consistent NBA contributor, but he has the versatility and hustle to be the spark plug next to De’Aaron Fox that the Kings have been searching for.
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith - G/F, Vanderbilt
Nesmith is one of the best pure shooters in the draft. Also, he can defend his position pretty nicely. He will be a nice addition to the team, especially if the Pelicans decide to move on from Jrue Holliday. He fits very nicely next to Lonzo Ball. He should be able to make an impact under new head coach Stan Van Gundy in his rookie season.
14. Boston Celtics: Saddiq Bey - F, Villanova
The Celtics have made it widely known that they are shopping their three first-round picks, but since they haven’t had any takers yet, we’ll assume this will remain their pick. The Celtics need to consider the possibility that Gordon Hayward will opt out of his player option this summer, leaving the team with a hole at small forward that they may not find the answer for in this year’s free agent class. While Saddiq Bey isn’t the most exciting choice at #14, he’s a solid three-and-D wing that would fit nicely into the Celtics' gritty culture. Bey is a great on and off-ball defender that would certainly help the Celtics on that end of the ball, and on offense, he would be a nice complementary playmaker and shooter that could open things up for Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker.
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr. - G, Alabama
He's a very good athlete and extremely quick with the ball in his hands. Good scorer and a decent shooter. He only weighs 165 pounds, which is a slight concern. He’ll definitely need to bulk up to at least 185-190. Orlando struggled to score at times last season, so he could provide valuable scoring off the bench along with Terrance Ross.
16. Houston Rockets: Isaiah Stewart - PF/C, Washington
This pick was just acquired by the Rockets, in exchange for forward Robert Covington. It seems like Houston is fully cleaning house, with James Harden and Russell Westbrook being thrown around in trade rumors. The Rockets could go a ton of different directions with this selection, but Isaiah Stewart has the potential to be a quality big man in this league. Great rebounder, very skilled post scorer, above-average shot blocker, he could be a nice first building block for the Rockets.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Precious Achiuwa - F, Memphis
Achuiwa is one of the best, if not the best, pure athletes in this class. He blocks shots and can handle his own when covering 1-4. He still has a raw offensive game, especially when it comes to shooting, but he gives Minnesota some help on their near league-worst defense. He reminds me a lot of Raptors All-Star forward Pascal Siakam.
18. Dallas Mavericks: R.J. Hampton - G, New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
Regarded as the best prospect out of the Australian League (by me), RJ Hampton landing in Dallas is a scary thought. Hampton is a very raw prospect that does need to develop a more consistent jumper, but the playmaking ability and athleticism he possesses will allow for him to be a solid bench contributor on a team that doesn’t need him at his fullest potential immediately. With the 18th pick, the Mavs should be looking for the player with the most upside that can help push them into Western Conference contention in the near future. If Hampton can take the next step in his development, he would be a nice complement to Luka in that backcourt.
19. Brooklyn Nets: Theo Maledon - G, ASVEL (LNB Pro A)
Here's another big combo guard. He’s not the most athletic, but he’s a very smart player who can do everything at a decent level. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a name that’s come up in trade talks. If he gets dealt, Maledon would be a solid third guard behind Kyrie Irving and Caris Levert.
20. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels - F, Washington
Jaden McDaniels is far from a complete prospect, and he probably would have benefitted from staying another year at Washington, but the Heat don’t need a finished product yet as they have their rotation pretty much set. What McDaniels offers the Heat is a potential two-way stud that could be a crucial piece in another playoff run down the road. He’s a great ball-handler for being 6’9" and is a knockdown spot-up shooter. On the defensive end, it would be nice if he could add some muscle, but as it stands, he’s very versatile because of his length and his quickness.
21. Philadelphia 76ers: Desmond Bane - G, TCU
Philadelphia needs shooting, plain and simple. This guy can shoot. It looks like the 76ers are going to hold their roster together, which makes Bane a perfect "win now" fit.
22. Denver Nuggets: Xavier Tillman - F/C, Michigan State
The Nuggets could potentially lose both Paul Millsap (Unrestricted Free Agent) and Jerami Grant (Player Option) this offseason, which could cause some problems for their frontcourt. They also have quite a bit of money tied into their core, so they don’t have a ton of financial flexibility down the road. With this information, the Nuggets need to address their frontcourt situation in this draft. The reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year would make a nice addition for Denver with this pick. While he isn’t projected to go in the first round by many mock drafts, Tillman has a very high basketball IQ on both ends of the court and has a very Paul Millsap-style of play. He was a key contributor to Michigan State during his tenure there, and his experience and knowledge of the game could make him a solid contributor on a team that could be lacking frontcourt depth heading into the season.
23. Utah Jazz: Cole Anthony - G, North Carolina
One of our favorite picks so far. Utah’s a very good team, but they definitely are in need of some guard depth. Cole Anthony practically falls into their lap as a guy who was widely considered a top-ten pick before getting hurt during the season.
24. New Orleans Pelicans: Paul Eboua - F, Victoria Libertas Pesaro (Lega Basket Serie A)
This pick was traded to New Orleans in the Jrue Holliday deal. The Pelicans have a ton of assets and have the option to go with a potential home run pick. Insert Paul Eboua, a Cameroonian forward who oozes potential. He's 6'8" with a 7'2" wingspan and is freakishly athletic. Eboua is still incredibly raw and needs to work on shooting and ball-handling at the next level. With New Orleans having a really deep roster, this pick makes a lot of sense. he could develop in the G-League or stay overseas for a few years and come back ready to contribute.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Aleksej Pokusevski - F, Olympiacos
We don’t know much about him. From what we're seeing, he’s similar to Deni Avdija, but is a better shooter and is taller. He's still incredibly raw, so this is more of an upside pick. With Danillo Gallinari likely moving to a new team in free agency, this gives Oklahoma City nice forward depth with potential.
26. Boston Celtics: Leandro Bolmaro - G/FC, Barcelona Lassa (Liga ACB)
Leandro Bolmaro feels like a nice use of Boston’s pick if they’re unable to trade it away. He just signed on for another year with Barcelona, so this would be a draft stash and there’s no team better suited for that than Boston. This team has pretty solid depth in their backcourt and could afford to wait a year for their third draft pick of the first round to join them. Bolmaro has a glaring weakness in his jump shot, and if he can’t develop a more consistent shot, it will significantly cap his upside. However, Bolmaro is a tremendous playmaker on the offensive end and is capable of making incredible passes, especially considering that he’s not primarily a point guard. The big reason for this pick, however, is that Boston most likely will not want to add potentially four rookies to their already crowded roster.
27. New York Knicks: Malachi Flynn - G, San Diego State
This is a Thibs-type pick here. He loves his veteran college players, and Flynn is one of the best in the class. He's a strong player on both sides of the ball, and gives the Knicks another quality piece next to Obi Toppin.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Green - G/F, Arizona
This pick was originally owned by the Lakers before they moved this pick as part of a deal to acquire Dennis Schroeder from the Thunder. Oklahoma City also traded Chris Paul away to Phoenix, leaving them with limited options in the backcourt. Josh Green is a quality three and D player who should be able to contribute right away for a team that's likely headed for a rebuild with the number of picks that they've accumulated.
29. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Smith - F/C, Maryland
A two-way big man with great shot-blocking ability and a nice touch from the three-point line. With Marc Gasol leaving to play in Spain, Smith is a very good fit in this spot and should thrive next to Pascal Siakam.
30. Boston Celtics: Zeke Nnaji - F/C, Arizona
With Boston’s last pick of the first round, they should address their need in the frontcourt. The 6’11", 240 lb Arizona big man would fill this need quite well. Nnaji has the framework to become the next great NBA big man; he’s an effective rebounder, a solid finisher from inside, and is incredibly athletic. He does need to work on his defense, but he has all the athletic tools to improve on that end. He’s still working on extending his range, and if he can become a consistent shooting threat, the sky's the limit for him.