College basketball season will get underway on Tuesday. This is not a drill. That means the scouting process for the 2020 NBA Draft will begin in earnest this week as freshmen see their first action at the college level. As for upperclassmen, the commencement of the season is important but perhaps not as impactful; only one projected top-10 player in our preseason mock draft is a sophomore, and none are juniors or seniors. Three play overseas.
Eight players in this mock draft will be playing under one roof Tuesday when No. 1 Michigan State battles No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Kansas faces No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Consequential days are ahead for the young crop of college's next stars. As we enter this season, there is no surefire No. 1. At least not yet. There is, however, a handful of top prospects believed to be in contention for the No. 1 pick, which may ultimately be decided by team need. So with team need in mind, the final mock draft of the preseason for the 2020 draft has arrived.
2020 NBA mock draft
Order determined by SportsLine's projected 2019-20 records for each team
James Wiseman | Memphis | Fr | C | 7-0, 210We wait to see how Cleveland's young core develops like this season, but on paper a 7-foot center with defensive upside and a versatile offensive game may be the safe pick for the Cavs. With first-round picks expended on point guards in consecutive years, Wiseman is an obvious fit in Cleveland's rebuilding efforts.
Cole Anthony | North Carolina | Fr | PG | 6-3, 185It doesn't appear as if the Knicks have their point guard of the future on the roster. They can hit refresh here by getting a do-it-all guard in Anthony to pair with RJ Barrett as their backcourt building blocks.
Anthony Edwards | Georgia | Fr | SG | 6-5, 215Atlanta's got to get as many weapons to surround Trae Young with as possible. Even with an already-stacked backcourt, Edwards gives the Hawks a prolific scoring option alongside Young. He should help alleviate some ball-handling duties in spurts as well.
Scottie Lewis | Florida | Fr | SF | 6-5, 185Chicago could benefit from an addition of Lewis' athletic caliber. He's a gifted leaper and projects as a mulit-positional defender in college, and, at the NBA level. He could erase some glaring defensive deficiencies the Bulls' backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine are sure to present.
LaMelo Ball | Illawarra Hawks | CG | 6-6, 165No one can predict which direction Sacramento would go here, but LaMelo Ball presents a tremendous amount of upside as a scorer and playmaker. Sacramento's been a consistently solid 3-point shooting team over the last few years and plopping Ball into this situation, even with a potentially odd fit alongside De'Aaron Fox, is worth the big swing.
Nico Mannion | Arizona | Fr | PG | 6-3, 180Minnesota's glaring roster weakness right now is at point guard; conversely, its glaring roster strength right now is Karl-Anthony Towns. So to maximize Towns' potential, an upgrade at point guard is in order. Mannion may not be the immediate fix, but his scoring and passing could give the bench a desperately-needed boon.
Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois | Soph | PG | 6-5, 185With John Wall's immediate playing future still uncertain, the Wizards look to upgrade their point guard position with a complementary backcourt piece to Brad Beal in Dosunmu. He's a score-first lead guard who could fit well alongside Beal in the short-term while also giving Washington a long-term solution at a position of weakness.
Tyrese Maxey | Kentucky | Fr | CG | 6-3, 185Guard play (outside of Devin Booker) has been Phoenix's Achilles' heel, and they finally address it here by getting a combo guard in Maxey. Like Booker, he's capable of playing on or off the ball and could fit like a glove alongside Booker in the backcourt.
RJ Hampton | New Zealand Breakers | SG | 6-5, 18 (Pick via Memphis)
Theo Maledon | Villeurbanne | PG | 6-5, 174Despite GM Mitch Kupchak's belief that free agent acquisition Terry Rozier might've been a lottery pick in the 2019 draft, the Hornets need to address their point guard situation. Rozier has played fine this season and Devonte' Graham has been better-than-expected, but in Theo Maledon they can get a scoring lead guard as a long-term cornerstone to build around.
Jaden McDaniels | Washington | Fr | PF | 6-9, 185General manager Sam Presti sees length, and he sees potential. In McDaniels he gets both. The Washington forward may be able to play either forward spot and has the long, wiry frame that fits the mold of prospects the Thunder typically desire in the draft.
Deni Avdija | Maccabi Tel Aviv | SF | 6-9, 215Using the 2019 draft as a guide, the new Pelicans regime appears to prioritize playmaking and versatility. The 6-9 Avdija provides exactly that as a hybrid forward who can score and make passes better than any other prospect at his position. Yet another weapon to surround Zion Williamson with.
Precious Achiuwa | Memphis | Fr | SF | 6-9, 215Golden State's roster is a patch work. Klay Thompson is likely to miss the season and Stephen Curry will reportedly miss three months, so there are plenty of holes to plug. When they're back, though, the most obvious of those could be solvable with Achiuwa. He's an oversized wing who could give the Warriors more defensive versatility and glue-guy potential for a core still capable of winning titles at full strength.
Isaiah Stewart | Washington | Fr | C | 6-9, 245Brooklyn's frontcourt is going to come at you in waves. Stewart could give an already solid DeAndre Jordan-Jarrett Allen-Nic Claxton position group a change of pace as a high energy, versatile, floor-stretching big. With Durant in the fold he could even operate as a small ball center with Durant at the four.
Josh Green | Arizona | Fr | SG | 6-6, 190An athletic shooting-guard, Green projects as a solid two-way player and could give Detroit -- a team without much depth at shooting guard -- an injection of youth and athleticism.
Kahlil Whitney | Kentucky | Fr | SF | 6-6, 190With a reliable jump shot, Whitney could work his way into top-5 consideration this class given his athleticism and defensive upside. He's the perfect Spurs project. When the jumper eventually becomes an asset he'll be viewed as the steal that slipped to San Antonio.
Tyrese Haliburton | Iowa State | Soph | PG | 6-5, 172Orlando can no longer put off addressing the point guard position. Even if the Markelle Fultz gamble pays off -- which at this point remains a big if -- it'd be unwise to pass on a talent the caliber of Haliburton if he's available. The Iowa State star is remarkably efficient with his touches and was one of the best young 3-point shooters in all of college basketball last season.
Patrick Williams | Florida State | Fr | SF | 6-8, 225
Jordan Nwora | Louisville | Jr | SF | 6-8, 225
Matthew Hurt | Duke | Fr | PF | 6-9, 215Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk will become unrestricted free agents over the next two seasons, and Miami could look to hedge with potential departures with a young and talented floor-spacer in Hurt. He's a great shooter and underrated facilitator who could maximize those skills on a Heat team that could benefit from the addition of another initiator on offense.
Obi Toppin | Dayton | Rs. Soph | PF | 6-9, 220If it's one position Boston should prioritize in this draft, it's power forward, one of the clear weak spots (along with center) on this current Celtics roster. Toppin has pogo sticks for legs and has shown real potential at Dayton as a versatile offensive player.
Devon Dotson | Kansas | Soph | PG | 6-2, 185 (Pick via Indiana)Losing Malcolm Brogdon this past offseason in a sign-and-trade to Indiana was a significant blow. He was a reliable secondary ball-handler and initiator who could mesh with Giannis Antetokounmpo and create his own looks when action stalled. In Dotson the Bucks get a player cut from a similar cloth capable of initiating the offense and playing well off of Antetokounmpo as a scorer and playmaker.
Trendon Watford | LSU | Fr | PF | 6-9, 230PJ Tucker has proven his value time and again for Houston as a small ball big man, but let's get this man a breather. He sat a total of 47 minutes in Houston's six-game series against Golden State in the West Semifinals last season. Watford could be Tucker's tag-teammate to give Houston a change-of-pace big man with a dynamic offensive arsenal.
Tre Jones | Duke | Soph | PG | 6-2, 183 (Pick via Denver)Neither Chris Paul nor Dennis Schröder appear to be part of Oklahoma City's vision to rebuild on the fly in a post-Westbrook world. So surrounding arguably the most important piece of that vision -- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- with a weapon he can grow and develop with over time is key. Jones could be a killer sidekick, too. He had the third-best assist/turnover ratio as a freshman last season at Duke while showing himself to be a lockdown perimeter defender.
Kira Lewis | Alabama | Soph | PG | 6-3, 167Toronto's books are set to be wiped next offseason with Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet entering unrestricted free agency. And with Lowry nearing 34, it might be time for the Raptors to hit reset with a player like Lewis. He remains a project but he was plenty productive as college basketball's youngest player last season, averaging 13.5 points and 2.9 assists per game.
Ashton Hagans | Kentucky | Soph | PG | 6-3, 192 (Pick via Philadelphia)
Jalen Smith | Maryland | Soph | PF | 6-10, 215 (Pick via Milwaukee)Yes, Boston needs to bolster its frontcourt this badly. Smith could be a defensive anchor for the Celtics at center. He's still blossoming as an offensive player, but his rebounding and rim-protecting could do wonders for a Boston team that's feeling the ill effects of life without Al Horford.
AJ Lawson | South Carolina | Soph | SG | 6-6, 172LeBron's championship window isn't closed just yet, so acquiring ready-made players via the draft is imperative. Lawson brings experience as a multi-year college player with upside to play early as an off-ball scoring threat. He shot 35.8% from 3-point range as a freshman and is a high IQ player -- two ingredients needed to mesh with James.
Xavier Tillman | Michigan State | Jr | C | 6-8, 245On a Michigan State team that enters the season as the favorite to win it all, Tillman is perhaps overlooked but vastly under-appreciated. He runs the floor well, battles on both ends for boards, and seemingly always finds a way to come up with put backs on the offensive glass.
Wendell Moore | Duke | Fr | SF | 6-6, 213At this point in the draft, Moore's worth more than a flier for a franchise that has everything it needs to win now. He can handle the ball, attack off the dribble and jump passing lanes. In a Clippers system he may fit in well as a bench swingman who can disrupt defensively, with a larger role as he develops behind two of the most talented small forwards in the NBA -- Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.