On June 8, 2018, the Golden State Warriors found themselves atop the NBA hierarchy. For the second consecutive season -- and third time since 2015 -- they were NBA champions, this time after besting LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers in a 4-0 Finals sweep. The dynasty of the decade being crowned once more.
A year later, facing a Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors team, people were ready to write the book on the dynasty-that-was. Kevin Durant, already with one foot in New York in the days leading up to his free agency, ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the Finals. Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. Less than six months later, two-time MVP winner Stephen Curry broke his hand just four games into the season. Three fateful events that turned a dynasty in the West into a team that, even with a win over the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day, stands in sole possession of last place in the conference it has ran the last half-decade.
Don't write that book just yet, though. Thompson and Curry will be back, and while Durant won't, the Warriors' abysmal 8-24 start to the season has them in the mix to land a top pick, perhaps a kick-starting talent that can boot this dynasty on life support back into high gear. According to SportsLine's recent projections, they'll be picking at No. 4 overall if they keep sliding in the standings ... just the right spot to pick one of the game-changing talents in this draft class.
Can you imagine a Warriors team with an able-bodied 7-foot-1 center? One who can run the rim, serve as a defensive anchor, and stretch his 7-6 wingspan across the paint, erasing any defensive deficiencies Stephen Curry may have? That's what we're projecting in 2020. With Memphis freshman James Wiseman on the board, Golden State would readily snatch him up and plug him in to a lineup that in 2020-2021 could again be amongst the best in the West. Lookout, NBA.
2020 NBA mock draft
Order determined by SportsLine's projected 2019-20 records for each team
Anthony Edwards | Georgia | Fr | SG | 6-5, 215Point guard should be priority No. 1 for the Knicks, but they can't be picky holding No. 1. And with this pick, they'd have no choice but to take the best player in Anthony Edwards. His shot-making ability on the wing could complement New York's future No. 1 option at PG and give the franchise a cornerstone talent to build with.
Cole Anthony | North Carolina | Fr | PG | 6-3, 185The Hawks may consider trading down if this is where they land, but two names would likely be on their radar if Edwards isn't on the board: Cole Anthony and James Wiseman. Wiseman may be the better fit, but I can see the Hawks betting on Anthony's talent. Even with he and Trae Young's ball-dominant game, this is a boom-or-bust pick that could pay massive dividends if it hit.
LaMelo Ball | Illawarra Hawks | CG | 6-6, 165Three drafts in a row selecting a guard in the top 10 isn't a great look by the Cavs, but they'd be foolish to pass on LaMelo Ball here even with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton on the roster. He's too big of a talent to skip on. Ball's scoring and passing has him in the mix to go No. 1 overall, and he'd be a steal at No. 3.
James Wiseman | Memphis | Fr | C | 7-1, 240After playing in only three college games, Wiseman jumped ship on Memphis. But not without putting up these gaudy per-40 numbers: 34.2 ppg, 5.2 blocks per game, 18.6 rpg. Yowza. I'm not predicting Golden State's dynasty will continue if it lands Wiseman, but a Wiseman-Curry-Klay-Draymond core ... I'm not saying it won't, either.
Tyrese Maxey | Kentucky | Fr | CG | 6-3, 185Efficiency as a shooter hasn't been there, but Maxey's storied history as a microwave-scoring recruit suggests he'll soon regress to the mean and fall back into the good graces of rims. And when shots start falling, he's got that to add to his already-polished attacking mindset. When he gets into the lane, as he often does, good things happen. Minnesota could use his ball-handling and scoring to keep Karl-Anthony Towns satisfied.
RJ Hampton | New Zealand | SG | 6-5, 185The Wizards can't afford to miss on a top-10 pick given their salary tied up with John Wall, and Hampton's size and scoring ability have already translated well to the pros in the NBL for the New Zealand Breakers. This could be a safe pick to give Washington a young, able scorer who has shown flashes of being capable of playing either position in the backcourt.
Tyrese Haliburton | Iowa State | Soph | PG | 6-5, 172The Pelicans have an elite passer already in Lonzo Ball, and could get another here in Iowa State product Tyrese Haliburton, one of the most sure-handed guards in this class. Haliburton has ranked in the top-15 in assist/turnover ratio his first two collegiate seasons, and is one of the best 3-point shooters inside the lottery. A perfect long-term fit alongside Zion Williamson who can set up teammates and knock down open shots.
Onyeka Okongwu | USC | Fr | PF | 6-9, 245My draft darling. I love Okongwu's skill set and think he can be a game-altering front line player with the way he protects the rim. At USC he's been a high efficiency player with some flashes of potential as a post player. He's not a floor-spacing 3-point shooter -- at least not yet -- but the ability to block shots and finish around the rim the way he does should be appealing to the Bulls.
Obi Toppin | Dayton | Rs. Soph | PF | 6-9, 220Similar to Ja Morant last year, Obi Toppin's sophomore rise has been extraordinary -- and for him, monetarily beneficial. He's now a likely lottery pick because of his skill development as a scorer and shot-blocker. The Suns could unleash he and DeAndre Ayton together in the same lineup, with Toppin operating as a rim-runner and floor-spacer to unlock Ayton's skills.
Vernon Carey Jr. | Duke | Fr | C | 6-10, 270With Bismack Biyombo preparing to hit free agency, the Hornets can get a center-of-the-future to pair alongside 2019 draft steal P.J. Washington. Vernon Carey Jr. has outperformed expectations at Duke and already exceeded draft expectations, with his old-school game looking like it will work in a new-school NBA. He plays quick with nimble feet and has good enough feel in the post to hang in the league for a decade.
Jaden McDaniels | Washington | Fr | PF | 6-9, 185 (Pick via Memphis)Consistency hasn't always been there this season, but McDaniels' 6-9 frame and positional versatility is enough to make Danny Ainge look no further. He can put it on the deck and score off the dribble and in the midrange, and he's hitting 36.7% of his 3s on the year.
Isaiah Stewart | Washington | Fr | C | 6-9, 245Assuming Andre Drummond opts in to his player option, he'll enter 2020-21 on the final year of his five-year deal. And Detroit should begin preparing for the possibility that he may be with another team in 2021. Stewart provides elite insurance at worst, a high-floor, high-energy big man with upside. His range is limited but he's leading Washington in scoring and rebounding while playing fewer minutes than fellow freshman teammate Jaden McDaniels.
Precious Achiuwa | Memphis | Fr | PF | 6-9, 225Physically, Achiuwa appears ready to be an NBA player today. His built-out 6-foot-9 frame makes him a hot commodity in the lottery because his upside is still there but he could play substantial minutes early. He has potential to grow into a reliable 3-point shooter, but his cutting to the basket and presence in the paint are plenty valuable on their own merit.
Aaron Nesmith | Vanderbilt | Soph | SF | 6-6, 213There's tremendous value in 6-foot-6 wings in the NBA, and Nesmith is the high-end option of a 3-and-D wing. He's averaging 23.5 points and shooting 48.8% from 3 while rating out in the 93rd and 95th percentile in spot-up and off-screen shots, respectively, per Synergy. He gives the Kings another sharpshooter to pair with De'Aaron Fox for the future.
Nico Mannion | Arizona | Fr | PG | 6-3, 190Whether the Markelle Fultz renaissance is real or not, the Magic need to address the point guard position with D.J. Augustin heading towards free agency. And getting a lottery talent like Nico Mannion outside the lottery is a no-brainer. He's a premium scorer and passer who could potentially overcome his athletic deficiencies in the NBA because of what he brings to the table on offense.
Trendon Watford | LSU | Fr | PF | 6-9, 230Portland bet on Carmelo Anthony to fill its needs at forward, but a down season could allow it to restock with a top-end talent at the position in Watford to pair with 2019 first-rounder Nassir Little. Both have similarly stacked frames with similar statistical profiles, but Watford's game is better-suited to play the 4 in the NBA.
Theo Maledon | France | PG | 6-4, 175The Thunder acquired a cornerstone player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as part of the Paul George trade, but they're not getting any younger at point guard, where 34-year-old Chris Paul and his gargantuan contract appear a moving priority for the front office. Having just turned 18, Theo Maledon fits OKC's rebooting plan and could give the franchise a high-floor guard to pair with SGA for the long-term.
Josh Green | Arizona | Fr | SG | 6-6, 210 (Pick via Brooklyn)
Tre Jones | Duke | Soph | PG | 6-3, 185
Killian Hayes | France | PG | 6-5, 175Could wind up as a top-5 guard in this class by next summer. Hayes is a left-handed point guard who can pass with the best of them in this class and has a developing feel around the rim with a diverse arsenal of pull-ups, layups and ambidextrous finishes. Toronto may look to go young at the position to groom Hayes behind Kyle Lowry.
Jordan Nwora | Louisville | Jr | SF | 6-7, 225 (Pick via Indiana)Milwaukee is in win-now mode in an effort to capitalize on Giannis' prime, and Nwora's in a unique position to jump from college to the pros and make an immediate impact. He's a more polished scorer at Louisville this season than he was last season, and his 41.4% accuracy from 3 makes him an appealing target for the Bucks as they continue to surround Giannis with shooters.
Isaac Okoro | Auburn | Fr | SF | 6-6, 225Miami could turn its good defense into great by adding a big-bodied wing like Okoro, who is already flashing enough positional versatility to garner some lottery looks. After trading away Josh Richardson, Okoro could be a slot-and-go defensive wing who could develop into a valuable offensive weapon with time.
Scottie Lewis | Florida | Fr | SF | 6-5, 185Lewis hasn't met expectations at Florida due to a jumper that remains a work-in-progress, but he's a 6-foot-5 wing with a nearly 7-foot wingspan. Those measurables have thrust him into the spotlight as a premier defender in college, and it should translate to the NBA. If all he has to do is defend and make open shots, the Rockets could be a perfect landing spot for him.
Deni Avdija | Israel | SF | 6-9, 215 (Pick via Philadelphia)On a Brooklyn team stacked with playmakers, Avdija could blend in well as a secondary scorer and playmaker, having already done so in a similar capacity in the Israeli BSL. At 6-foot-9, he projects to be a multi-positional defender that, at the very least, could operate as a 3-and-D type player in the NBA.
Zeke Nnaji | Arizona | Fr | C | 6-11, 240Even with Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber locked in on long-term deals, Nnaji is a boom-or-bust prospect worth betting on given his production this season with virtually no perimeter game to speak of. If his outside game comes together, he'll be a steal as a two-way post player who can protect the rim, run the floor and score in the paint.
Kira Lewis Jr. | Alabama | Soph | PG | 6-3, 165 (Pick via Philadelphia)
Isaiah Joe | Arkansas | Soph | SG | 6-5, 180 (Pick via Denver)Having shown he can play multiple positions in college, the Thunder will love Joe's versatility and what he can bring to the table as a dynamic two-way player. He rates in the 62nd percentile as a spot-up shooter, per Synergy, but he's shooting 39.5% from 3 and 40.1% from the floor in his two seasons at Arkansas.
Matthew Hurt | Duke | Freshman | PF | 6-9, 214Despite underachieving thus far as a freshman, Hurt's still shooting 40.5% from 3 and performing well as a post player when he's had opportunities. He can still make an impact as a floor-spacing forward in the NBA. The Celtics would love his scoring and the fact that he's in the 90th percentile in 3-point jump shots in the half court this season, per Synergy.
Cassius Winston | Michigan State | Sr | PG | 6-1, 185Rajon Rondo's basketball IQ and on-court leadership has made him invaluable to the Lakers, and they can upgrade with youth without losing those qualities in Michigan State guard Cassius Winston. Winston isn't an elite athlete but he's a dead-eye shooter who plays with enough smarts to run an offense around LeBron James and Anthony Davis with competence.
Kahlil Whitney | Kentucky | Fr | SF | 6-6, 210 (Pick via Milwaukee)Whitney's lack of polish and rough-around-the-edges game has sunk his stock, but with three first-rounders, Boston can afford to take a swing on Whitney, who has a blue-chip background but has struggled at Kentucky. He's a dynamic athlete who can play above the rim, though he relies upon his gifts to carry him more than his skill. If the two merge, Boston could have a steal, a gamble worth taking at No. 30 overall.