There are plenty of talented NBA Draft prospects as we look ahead to 2020, but none are more well-known -- or more polarizing -- than LaMelo Ball. The younger brother of Pelicans guard Lonzo and former UCLA guard LiAngelo, LaMelo has matured in time from an undersized guard who shoots too much into a bonafide NBA prospect ... whose shot volume and selection remains questionable.
Still, Ball's an enigma everyone wants more intel on in part because his game has largely been hidden from the public eye. His father removed him from high school at Chino Hills in 2017 when he was bursting on the scene as a five-star prospect, and took him to play professionally overseas. While he spent the past season playing stateside, he's set to spurn college this upcoming season in the NBL over in Australia. It's hard to get a read on how good he can be, and just how his game projects to the NBA.
What we know is this: while Ball's exposure to high-end competition has been mostly hidden from the public eye, and while his father, LaVar, might be certifiably nuts, he'll still likely enter the pre-draft process next spring as a potential first-round draft pick. For all the question marks that follow him, he's got size, shooting and sizzle that will earn him plenty of buzz over the next year. Will he be a top-10 pick? Will he be a second-rounder? The answer depends on who you ask, but the talent and frame alone is enough for him to land inside the lottery in our first NBA mock draft for 2020.
2020 NBA mock draft
Order determined by SportsLine's projected 2019-20 records for each team
Cole Anthony | North Carolina | Fr | PG | 6-3, 185
New York should lock in on upgrading its point guard position, and Anthony is the perfect solution. He's going to put up huge numbers at North Carolina this upcoming season, and his refined skills as a scorer, distributor and A-plus ball-handler will be on full display.
Anthony Edwards | Georgia | Fr | SG | 6-5, 215
The early favorite to be this year's Zion Williamson -- the player who absolutely takes the college world by storm with ferocious dunks and flashy highlights -- is Edwards. He's a high-flier with a mean streak who also possesses a pretty polished offensive game. He and Coby White in Chicago's backcourt could be dynamic.
RJ Hampton | New Zealand Breakers | SG | 6-5, 185
Hampton's reclassification to the Class of 2020 class wasn't a surprise, but his decision to spurn college altogether certainly was. Nonetheless, he's still going to be a favorite to be drafted in the top five next year no matter how he fares overseas. Hampton's a two-way guard who can handle it well and has shooting versatility to boot.
James Wiseman | Memphis | Fr | C | 7-0, 210If Cleveland gets Wiseman at No. 4, I'm calling it now -- it'll be labeled the steal of the draft. He's a 7-foot center with guard skills who can really shoot it, and he has defensive potential to be a superstar. If he falls to the Cavs it'd be more about team needs for those in the Nos. 1-3 slots.
Nico Mannion | Arizona | Fr | PG | 6-3, 180
Minnesota opted not to address its point guard situation via the draft this year, but 2020 could be a different story. In Mannion they could get an electrifying talent who pushes the pace, puts pressure on defenses with his driving skills, and plays with no fear.
Tyrese Maxey | Kentucky | Fr | CG | 6-3, 185
As New Orleans builds around Zion Williamson, surrounding him with strong guard play and shooting will be vital. Maxey is a combo guard who has star potential and strong scoring instincts. At Kentucky, he could emerge as its alpha dog in a hurry.
Pick acquired via trade with Memphis
Scottie Lewis | Florida | Fr | SF | 6-5, 185
Boston at this point might be overflowing with small forwards, but Lewis' talent and upside as a defensive stopper shouldn't dissuade Danny Ainge from making this pick. He can be a defensive eraser in the Celtics' defensive backcourt who could minimize any shortcomings from whoever winds up taking the point guard reins in Boston.
Theo Maledon | Villeurbanne | PG | 6-5, 174
Having just turned 18-years-old in mid-June, Maledon could give the Wizards a dynamic point guard prospect to develop and nurture. With John Wall fast approaching 30 and with his injury history, it would be prudent for Washington to consider planning for what life in a post-Wall world may look like. Maledon's a good shooter with an impressive frame; there's enough for the Wizards to bet on his high-end ceiling.
LaMelo Ball | Illawarra Hawks | CG | 6-6, 165
Atlanta seems to place a premium on long, rangy athletes -- at every position. At 6-foot-6, LaMelo Ball checks the length box and brings another trait general manager Travis Schlenk loves: shooting. Ball can fling it -- and make it -- from anywhere on the floor. It could make for one of the most exciting, and potentially maddening, backcourt pairings in the NBA if he and Trae Young teamed up.
Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois | Soph | PG | 6-5, 185
Where Charlotte looks to address its roster in next year's draft is dependent on what Kemba Walker chooses to do this offseason as a free agent. If he walks, Illinois sophomore Ayo Dosunmu could be a fit here as a lead guard already proving to be an instinctively brilliant scorer.
Jaden McDaniels | Washington | Fr | PF | 6-9, 185Brooklyn addressed its frontcourt via the draft this year by adding Georgia center Nic Claxton, but power forward could be a point of focus next year. McDaniels is the highest-upside player available in this range. He's 6-9 who fits the positionless mold of the NBA and has huge boom potential.
Deni Avdija | Maccabi Tel Aviv | SF | 6-9, 215With terrific size, Avdija is a skilled wing who can operate at a high level on or off the ball -- a prerequisite for joining a team led by De'Aaron Fox. His innate feel for the game should afford him an opportunity to be a high-level role player for years to come.
Josh Green | Arizona | Fr | SG | 6-6, 190
Dallas did not have a draft pick this year, so it must make this one count. Green is a high-upside gamble with NBA athleticism who can finish above the rim and plays well off the ball. Putting him in the same backcourt as Luka Doncic could unlock his talents and instincts as a slasher and cutter.
Isaiah Stewart | Washington | Fr | C | 6-9, 245
Washington is getting a bundle of energy the size of a 6-9, 245-pound man in Stewart. He is going to be a monster next season on both ends of the floor. Drafting Stewart here could be a replacement for Montrezl Harrell, who will be hitting the free agent market next offseason.
Precious Achiuwa | Memphis | Fr | SF | 6-9, 215There aren't many 6-9 forwards with Achiuwa's skill set. He fits where the NBA is moving as a positionless forward who, with length and smarts, should be a productive two-way player at Memphis. The Heat could use depth at the position even after selecting a project in KZ Okpala in this year's draft.
Tre Jones | Duke | Soph | PG | 6-2, 183
Orlando essentially kicked the can down the road in this year's draft, taking injured Chuma Okeke, who will likely redshirt this year. But 2020, the draft could break right with the steady-handed Jones. He could solidify a notoriously weak spot on Orlando's roster with his defensive smarts and top-end decision-making; Jones ranked No. 3 in the NCAA last season in assist/turnover ratio.
Kahlil Whitney | Kentucky | Fr | SF | 6-6, 190
Sekou Doumbouya, a combo forward likely to play power forward in the NBA, was Detroit's first-round pick this year. It won't be long before small forward will be the team's primary focus. Whitney is a high-ceiling bet with all the athletic gifts and only some of the scoring and handling to go with it. If he can put it all together at Kentucky, or down the road in the NBA, he's going to have a chance to be an All-Star wing.
Jordan Nwora | Louisville | Jr | SF | 6-7, 225
Louisville's star pulled out of the draft this year and is in line to be a candidate for national player of the year this season. With his scoring ability and ideal size from the wing, Nwora fits what the Celtics and Danny Ainge prioritize in the draft.
Bryan Antoine | Villanova | Fr | SG | 6-4, 168The former teammate of Scottie Lewis, Antoine is more of a sure-thing in terms of his scoring ability; he's a knockdown 3-point shooter who can shoot off the catch or off the bounce. His scoring touch should be an immediate booster to the Spurs, who could potentially be preparing in advance for DeMar DeRozan's free agency in 2021.
Devon Dotson | Kansas | Soph | PG | 6-2, 185Golden State's depth at point guard is shot. Shaun Livingston's in his career twilight, Quinn Cook is a backup who has shown to be more productive as an off-ball scorer. Dotson can alleviate those depth concerns to give the Warriors a capable second-unit floor general with his scoring and playmaking ability.
Pick acquired via trade with Oklahoma City
Matthew Hurt | Duke | Fr | PF | 6-9, 215Proper floor spacing for Philadelphia as it is currently constructed is key. Ben Simmons needs driving lanes, Joel Embiid needs isolation post touches. Getting a floor-spacing four-man in Hurt could maximize that NBA spacing and give them another offensive threat.
Trendon Watford | LSU | Fr | PF | 6-9, 230Al-Farouq Aminu is headed for free agency this offseason and Meyers Leonard is set to meet the same fate next offseason, leaving Portland with potential holes to plug at power forward. Watford, who can play either forward spot, can be an athletic upgrade to both with potential to be great because of his ball-handling and scoring skills. He can break defenses down off the dribble and could be a mismatch nightmare in the NBA.
Obi Toppin | Dayton | Rs. Soph | PF | 6-9, 220
The high-flying act of Toppin and his flashy dunks have caught the eye of many, but his potential as both a floor-spacer and rim-runner are impressive. In a limited sample size, he shot 52.4% from 3-point range as a freshman, shot an efficient 66.6% from the floor, and posted 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes. His energy and intangibles could mesh well in Denver where Jokic could enjoy tossing him lobs from the other side of the Rockies.
Kira Lewis | Alabama | Soph | PG | 6-3, 167The youngest player to participate at the Division I level last season was Alabama's Kira Lewis, who didn't turn 18-years-old until two days before the college basketball national title game. His production at the college level at 17 -- from his 3-point shooting to his fearless and attacking style -- should translate well to a Pacers team in need of point guard depth.
Tyrese Haliburton | Iowa State | Soph | PG | 6-5, 172
Houston needs to invest in a young point guard of the future, and Haliburton is a perfect fit on the Rockets, where James Harden primarily dominates the ball, for this reason: He was in the 91st percentile as spot-up shooter and rated in the 95th percentile in transition opportunitie as a freshman last season. His game should translate well to the NBA -- and particularly to a fit like Houston.
Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | Soph | SF | 6-5, 210
After nearly redshirting last season as a freshman, Ochai Agbaji emerged as a potential star in the second half of the season for Kansas. He's an athletic wing with good ball skills and good defensive instincts -- a potential two-way player who could complement the Jazz in their quest to the top of the West.
Killian Tillie | Gonzaga | Sr | PF | 6-10, 220The Lakers' championship window -- and LeBron's championship window -- is right now. Veteran forward Killian Tillie out of Gonzaga can be an immediate impact player to fit that timeline as a career 47% 3-point shooter and offensive mismatch. Health is perhaps the only factor that kept him in school this year and out of being a first-rounder.
Pick acquired via trade with Philadelphia
Jalen Smith | Maryland | Soph | PF | 6-10, 215
Brooklyn has made a pointed effort to upgrade its frontcourt and can continue doing so by getting Smith, a long and wiry big whose mobility and energy could allow him to compete early on a team expected to hit big in free agency this offseason.
Xavier Tillman | Michigan State | Jr | C |6-8, 245
Marc Gasol is 34, Serge Ibaka is nearing 30: Toronto's two bigs aren't getting any younger. The franchise could look to rebuild with a blue-chip talent in Tillman, who flashed some tremendous talent and upside last season in a limited role. This season, as a junior, he should get shine on a Michigan State team that could win it all.
Pick acquired via trade with Milwaukee
AJ Lawson | South Carolina | Soph | SG | 6-6, 172
E'Twaun Moore is set to come off the books next offseason, and Ian Clark is hitting the market this offseason. So shooting guard could be a position of need for the upstart Pelicans. Lawson at South Carolina has played up and down the lineup at the 1, the 2 and the 3 -- the type of versatilty New Orleans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has shown he clearly values with recent decisions to draft Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Zion Williamson.