2020 NBA Mock Draft: From a no-star recruit to the No. 2 pick, Obi Toppin's stock is soaring
Toppin goes to the Cavs at No. 2 after LaMelo Ball goes No. 1 to the Warriors in Gary Parrish's latest mock draft
The NBA announced last week that the NBA Draft Lottery and NBA Draft Combine will both be delayed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic that's ravaged our country. So you know what's next, right?
Yep, the 2020 NBA Draft will probably also be pushed back — reportedly to August or even September. So the gap between the day when prospects declare for the draft, and the night when prospects are selected in the draft, is going to be wider than it's ever been. That's obviously not ideal.
There are more questions than answers
The uncertainty is rough.
But that didn't stop literally every projected first-round pick from declaring anyway. So, sure, the 2020 NBA Draft is widely considered to be a weak draft relative to most drafts — but at least all of the best prospects who could be in it are going to be in it. Such isn't always true. But it's true this year. And the following is a look at the 30 who could go first. Please note, team needs were NOT taken into consideration at all because, at this time, I'm more interested in having a proper order than I am in making sure somebody is a good fit for the franchise theoretically making the selection. That'll come later — but not until the lottery order for the 2020 NBA Draft is officially set.
Round 1- Pick 1
I'm a big believer that the first pick in any NBA Draft should be the player the franchise selecting thinks has the best chance to be a future All-Star. Period. And, in this draft, I believe Ball is that player. The 6-6 point guard, who is still only 18 years-old, has developed into an incredible playmaker and passer who faired well playing professionally in Australia this past season. Some will choose to focus on his perceived negatives and low shooting percentages. But when you focus on what he can do, and how rare it is for somebody his age to do the things he can do, Ball becomes the most sensible option to be picked first.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Obi Toppin PF
Dayton • Soph • 6'9" / 220 lbs
No college player helped himself more this season than Toppin. The former zero-star recruit became the CBS Sports National Player of the Year after averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 63.3% from the field and 39.0% from 3-point range. He's a super-athletic forward who dunks everything — he actually led the nation in dunks — and consistently makes jumpers in pick-and-pop situations. Is his age, the fact that he's already 22 years old, a concern? Sure, on some level. But that shouldn't matter as much as the idea that Toppin has a chance to be the most impactful player selected in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Georgia • Fr • 6'5" / 225 lbs
Edwards is a big, strong and athletic guard who is one of at least four players who could reasonably be selected first overall. The 6-5 freshman averaged 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in his one season at Georgia — but only shot 40.2% from the field and 29.4% from 3-point range. So he was incredible in spots but largely up and down and inefficient. And though I clearly see the same potential for stardom that everybody else sees with Edwards, I simply think Ball and Toppin will have better NBA careers.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Memphis • Fr • 7'1" / 240 lbs
Wiseman's decision to quit on Memphis midseason raised eyebrows with some NBA executives who were left wondering if the 7-1 center is wired to be great. But his natural ability is so overwhelming that he can't possibly slip too far in a draft this devoid of high-end talent. Obviously, this is the worst time in the history of professional basketball to be a center and only a center because the position has never been less valued. But it's still hard to imagine a physical specimen like Wiseman going any lower, or at least much lower, than fourth or fifth in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Avdija should be the first non-American international prospect to come off the board. He's a former Most Valuable Player of the FIBA Under-20 European Championships who is now a rotation player for Maccabi Tel Aviv. The 19 year-old Israeli performed well in games leading up to the season being suspended. At 6-9, he's tall enough to play power forward and skilled enough to play on the wing. His shooting has improved. So, according to most evaluators, Avdija now projects as a likely top-five pick.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Cole Anthony PG
North Carolina • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Anthony's in-season knee surgery that limited him to just 22 games is the biggest reason — not the only reason, but definitely the biggest reason — the Tar Heels' season spiraled. Remember, they were 6-3 with a win over the eventual Pac-12 champion (Oregon) before Anthony got hurt but never the same afterward. The 6-3 point guard's shooting numbers as a freshman leave something to be desired — but he took so many tough shots, sometimes out of necessity, that it's hard to know exactly what to make of them. Either way, Anthony still averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists. And though he probably isn't a real option at No. 1 like he was once believed to be, a spot in the top half of the lottery is still attainable.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Southern California • Fr • 6'9" / 245 lbs
Okongwu mostly operated off of the national radar this season because he played for an unranked team on the West Coast. But he was fantastic — averaging 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 61.6% from the field. He's the main reason USC won 16 of its first 20 games and would've been in the NCAA Tournament. Is he an undersized big? Yes, probably. But the NBA is littered with undersized bigs these days. So even though he wasn't thought of this way coming out of high school, it's now reasonable to call Okongwu the second best big prospect in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Iowa State • Soph • 6'5" / 175 lbs
Haliburton, like Toppin, is a good example of a mostly unheralded high school prospect who became a statistical monster in college. The 6-5 sophomore averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 50.4% from the field and 41.9% from 3-point range this season before suffering an injury in early February that ended his college career. So he's a lead guard with size who consistently makes shots. And there's not a team in the NBA that couldn't use a player who can reasonably be described that way.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Hayes is an American-born lead guard who was raised in France who spent this season playing professionally in Germany. The 18 year-old shared Most Valuable Player honors in the 2017 Jordan Brand Classic international game and was averaging 12.0 points and 5.6 assists for a German team before the season was suspended. Hayes is better inside of the arc than he is outside of the arc, which is one way to say his 3-point shot must improve. But he already does enough things well enough to make him worthy of a lottery pick.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Isaac Okoro SF
Auburn • Fr • 6'6" / 225 lbs
Okoro was only a borderline top-40 prospect coming out of high school but quickly emerged as one of college basketball's best freshmen. He averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds for an Auburn team that started 15-0 and finished 24-4 when Okoro was healthy and available to play. His athleticism and ability to shutdown opposing wings thanks to unusually great defensive instincts for an 18 year-old are his best attributes. A franchise looking for a high-upside player who impacts winning in a variety of ways should make him a top-10 pick.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Hampton has said he would've gone to Kansas if college was his chosen path — and can you imagine how good the top-ranked Jayhawks could've been this season if they also had a projected lottery pick like him on the roster? It's wild to consider. But it was always hard to blame the 6-5 guard for pursuing an opportunity to play overseas, make real money and prepare for the draft by competing against professionals. He'll play on and off the ball in the NBA, probably for many years to come, thanks to a versatile offensive game that allows him to make plays in lots of ways.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Memphis • Fr • 6'9" / 225 lbs
The ceiling on Memphis' season was lowered drastically when Wiseman quit, but it's hard to argue that Achiuwa didn't personally benefit at least statistically. The super-athletic forward averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds — and was the only freshman in the sport to average a double-double. He's terrific in transition, effective around the rim, comfortable away from it and capable of guarding smaller players in space. All of that, combined with a tremendous motor, should be enough to make Achiuwa a lottery pick.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Saddiq Bey SF
Villanova • Soph • 6'8" / 216 lbs
Bey was merely a sub-125 recruit in the Class of 2018, the least-heralded prospect in Villanova's four-player class. So the idea that he's about to be a two-and-done player who gets selected in the first round speaks to his development, and growth, over the past two years. The 6-8 forward averaged 16.1 points while making 45.1% of his 3-point attempts this season for a Villanova team that shared the Big East title. He has the potential to be very good on both ends of the court and spend a long time in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Vanderbilt • Soph • 6'6" / 213 lbs
It's true that Nesmith only played 14 games as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending foot injury — meaning the sample size is on the smallish side. But it can't be ignored that the 6-6 guard made 52.2% of the 115 3-pointers he attempted. That's an incredible percentage. And when you consider Nesmith has great size for his position, plus a good body, it's not crazy to think he could sneak into the back side of the lottery.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 15
Tyrese Maxey SG
Kentucky • Fr • 6'3" / 198 lbs
Maxey got 26 points in the season-opening win over Michigan State while showing all of the things that made most assume he'd be UK's leading scorer. But, for much of the season, the 6-3 freshman was inconsistent while making just 29.2 percent of his 3-point attempts. So his one year in college was a little disappointing relative to preseason expectations. Regardless, Maxey still mostly projects as a lottery pick because he measures well, presumably can be a better shooter than he showed this season, and is really good at scoring inside the arc in creative ways.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Maledon is a skilled athlete and interesting prospect -- even if this season, while playing professionally in France, didn't go so smoothly. He missed time with an injury and was mostly underwhelming, although, in fairness, he played better as things progressed. Either way, it's important to note, in 2018, Maledon became the youngest LNB All-Star in history. And the talent that made that possible still exists and is attractive to NBA executives selecting in this range.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 1 - Pick 17
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 250 lbs
Stewart was perhaps the only good thing about Washington's wildly disappointing season that culminated with the Huskies finishing last in the Pac-12. The 6-9 center led the Pac-12 program in points (17.0), rebounds (8.8) and blocks (2.1). He was great — but how well will it translate at the next level? That's the question. And, for what it's worth, scouts acknowledge guarding in space could be a problem. But Stewart's high motor, incredible production, and better-than-some realize skillset should keep him in the top 20.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Nico Mannion PG
Arizona • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Mannion only shot 32.7% from 3-point range this season, which obviously isn't great for a lead guard who has the ball in his hands a lot. But he's still an interesting talent because of his ability to make reads and run an offense. Is he athletic or physically impressive relative to current high-level NBA point guards? No. And that's a concern. But, in the simplest terms, I'm a believer in Mannion just figuring it out and working to find a longterm role in the league.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Florida State • Soph • 6'7" / 194 lbs
Vassell's numbers — 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game — don't jump off the screen, but that has more to do with playing at Florida State than anything else. The Seminoles had four players who averaged between 9.2 points and 12.7 points. So Leonard Hamilton's team was balanced at the top, possibly to the detriment of Vassell. Either way, what's important to note is that the 6-7 guard made 41.7% of his 168 3-point attempts over the past two seasons. What that suggests is that he's a two-way wing who can make jumpers reliably, which is why he should go in the top 20 of this draft and possibly the top 15.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Maryland • Soph • 6'10" / 225 lbs
Not all prospects who return for their sophomore seasons actually help themselves from a draft-stock perspective — but Smith clearly did. He added strength, improved his field goal percentage by 4.6 points, his 3-point percentage by 8.0 points, and averaged more points (15.5), rebounds (10.5) and blocks (2.4) than he did the year. The result was Maryland winning a share of the Big Ten title and Smith solidifying himself as a real option in the first round who should be able to play both the 4 and the 5 in the NBA.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 21
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 200 lbs
McDaniels' freshman season did not go well. He was a disappointing team's most disappointing player — one who led the Pac-12 in fouls. That's not good. At one point, the 6-9 forward even got benched by his coach, Mike Hopkins. So while the upside McDaniels possesses will lead to him still getting selected in the first round, probably, the truth is that he did very little to help himself in his one season at Washington.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 22
Tre Jones PG
Duke • Soph • 6'3" / 185 lbs
There's nothing too flashy about Jones. He doesn't create many highlights nor is he a great shooter. But he remains a terrific run-the-team point guard who really defends on one end of the court, and really creates opportunities for his teammates on the other. He averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 assists this season — and actually shot it well enough from the perimeter down the stretch to get his 3-point percentage up to a respectable 36.1. So there's enough good stuff about him to make selecting him in the 20s a sensible option for any franchise comfortable spending a pick in this range on someone whose ceiling might be lower than others, but whose floor is likely higher.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Florida State • Fr • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Williams is probably more of a longterm investment than an instant-impact rookie considering he's still only 18 years old and developing. But the 6-8 forward measures well and was a key piece on a Florida State team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title. He performed strongly down the stretch while scoring in double-figures in five of the Seminoles' final seven games. So, again, it's possible he won't help an NBA team much next season. But what Williams could become in a year or two is enough to generate attention in the back half of the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Texas Tech • Fr • 6'4" / 195 lbs
Ramsey was a borderline top-35 prospect coming out of high school who, just like Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver before him, developed into a projected first-round pick after working with Chris Beard at Texas Tech. The 6-4 guard averaged 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range. It was a strong freshman season. Yes, there are concerns about what else he does really well besides make shots. But, perhaps you heard, shot-making is super-important in today's NBA. So Ramsey should be selected in the first round -- maybe in the teens but definitely in the 20s.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 25
Michigan State • Jr • 6'8" / 245 lbs
Tillman used his size and strength to be one of the best defensive bigs in the country this season, one who is also comfortable guarding in space or out on the perimeter. The 6-8 forward averaged 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 55.0% from the field — and he also made 37% of his 3-point attempts inside the Breslin Center, which suggests he should be able to stretch the floor in the NBA and spend many years in the league as a reliable and quality frontcourt presence.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Josh Green SG
Arizona • Fr • 6'6" / 210 lbs
It's wild that Arizona only finished tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with three projected first-round picks on the roster. But that's exactly what happened — and some of it was tied to Green's inconsistency. He showed flashes at times. But the truth is that the 6-6 wing is, at the moment, more advanced defensively than offensively, and there are real concerns about his ability to put the ball on the floor and pass it. So while his athleticism and toughness should get him picked in the first round, the questions attached to Green could theoretically push him outside of the top 30.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Duke • Fr • 6'10" / 270 lbs
Carey would've been a top-10 pick if he were born 20 years earlier. But with un-athletic centers devalued and sometimes unplayable in today's NBA, there are a lot of things working against the Duke star even though he was the best freshman in college basketball this season while averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds for a team that finished fifth at KenPom. Will he be played off the floor by certain opponents in certain situations? Yes, that seems likely. But I'm still convinced there's a place for him in the NBA. And spending a late first-round pick on a wildly-productive one-and-done player (who was also a heralded high school prospect) seems like a sensible move.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Alabama • Soph • 6'3" / 165 lbs
Lewis will still only be 19 years old on draft night even though he's played two seasons of college basketball. So he's young. And he's light. But the 6-3 point guard was really productive this season -- averaging 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds for an Alabama team that finished 60th at KenPom. Lewis made in incredible 48.8% of his 3-point attempts in the Crimson Tide's final seven games. So it appears he can be a reliable, and perhaps terrific, perimeter shooter as a professional — not to mention a real steal this deep in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Michigan State • Sr • 6'1" / 185 lbs
Winston is perceived to be limited because he's small and not the best athlete. He'll never measure or test great — and that'll turn some franchises away. But he's smart, great in pick-and-roll situations and someone who has proven to be a high-level shooter in all four years of college by making 43.0% of the 602 3-pointers he attempted in his Michigan State career. Teams picking in this range are often good teams already winning in search of a piece who can maybe help immediately. And Winston is somebody who could probably help an NBA team immediately serving as a backup point guard and knockdown shooter.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Arizona • Fr • 6'11" / 240 lbs
Nnaji was only a borderline top-40 prospect coming out of high school — but he emerged as the biggest surprise of Arizona's freshman class. The 6-11 forward was Sean Miller's most productive player, one who averaged a team-high 16.1 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds. He was a terrific part of an underwhelming team. Going forward, the best-case scenario has Nnaji developing into a power forward who can create space, rather than trying to be a full-time center, because he's not really a rim-protector. We'll see how that goes. But this deep in the first round, the fast-developing prospect deserves real consideration.
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