2020 NBA Mock Draft: Golden State gets Steph Curry's eventual successor in LaMelo Ball with top overall pick
An updated look at where we stand after the early entry deadline passed this week
The NBA Draft process right now resembles more of an online sign-up sheet than a hands-on process full of interviews and workouts -- the byproduct of the pandemic that has restricted face-to-face interactions thus far. But there's movement this week that's helping push the process closer to the finish line.
This week the NBA announced the full list of early entrants to the draft after the deadline to declare passed Sunday, which included 205 players from the international pool, college and other educational institutions. The whittled down list gives us a clear snapshot at where the landscape stands and also allows us to project out how it could settle by draft night. Thus, a new mock draft is in order.
In my sixth mock draft for 2020, which we've formulated the order with using SportsLine projections, I've taken into account team need and fit as opposed to my own individual views on players. (Personal evaluations can be found in my Top 75 Big Board).
There's plenty of moving pieces between the NBA stoppage, draft process limbo and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. But operating with the intel at hand, let's get to the latest mock draft -- with LaMelo Ball going off at No. 1 to the Warriors.
Round 1- Pick 1
Even with a healthy Stephen Curry, depth at point guard figures to be a priority for the Warriors. LaMelo Ball would give them another gunner who can make plays and read defenses to complement the core already in place. He's a high-level passer and creator who perfectly fits where the NBA game is going.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Georgia • Fr • 6'5" / 225 lbs
Cleveland went guard with its first pick in consecutive years, so here they get a combo guard with wing size who can fit with both Darius Garland and Collin Sexton to meld the pieces already in place together. Anthony Edwards is an explosive athlete who can create for himself and impacts both sides of the ball when he's really engaged. He still has a long ways to go in terms of shot selection and efficiency, but still just 18 years old, the physical tools are undeniable.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Detroit's deficiencies abound, but addressing the point guard position should be top priority in a point-guard heavy draft. Killian Hayes is a crafty scorer and great passer who Detroit can groom to be its long-term answer at the position. What he lacks in burst and athleticism he makes up for with playmaking and pure feel. His stepback 3-pointer (combined with his left-handed jumper) is eerily reminiscent of the move that's made James Harden one of the most unguardable players in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Obi Toppin PF
Dayton • Soph • 6'9" / 220 lbs
Minnesota is all-in on their present with D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. So why not give the two a fun weapon to help them win? Obi Toppin led college basketball last season in dunks and has shown immense promise as a passer out of the short roll and as a 3-point shooter. He could give the Wolves a dynamic offensive weapon athletic enough to finish all the lobs and make plays above the rim.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Isaac Okoro SF
Auburn • Fr • 6'6" / 225 lbs
The Hawks need to upgrade wing talent and defense, and Isaac Okoro could give them the best of both worlds. In terms of fit, Okoro and Atlanta are a match made in basketball heaven. He's a highly intelligent wing who can guard up and down the roster from his position and does all the little things to help his team win. The impact he can make without the ball makes him an ideal role player with Trae Young.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Iowa State • Soph • 6'5" / 175 lbs
The Knicks should be looking to upgrade at point guard, and Tyrese Haliburton would be a great snag in this range. He's been very efficient in college as a scorer and distributor (42.6% from 3-point range in two seasons), and he's overcome his athletic limitations with elite feel and instincts on both ends of the court. Even with a frame still on the slender side, I think his basketball IQ and shooting makes him the clear third point guard in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 7
The Bulls' hiring of Arturas Karnisovas makes them a wild card in this slot, and given his experience (and success) scouting the international scene, Deni Avdija is an intriguing option with upside. He's a point forward with solid handles and a diverse offensive arsenal who profiles as a potential secondary playmaker in the NBA. He could fit well in Chicago and grow alongside Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. as they groom their nucleus for success.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Cole Anthony PG
North Carolina • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Healthy John Wall or not, Washington could use an infusion of talent at its lead guard spot, making Cole Anthony a good fit. He's a high-level shot maker and creator who can score in a variety of ways, be it off the dribble, off the catch or sprinting off screens. Think of him as a microwave scorer with upside to develop into a lead initiator.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Southern California • Fr • 6'9" / 245 lbs
Onyeka Okongwu is my top-ranked center in this class, and a great fit for the Hornets to complement their nucleus of Miles Bridges, Devonte' Graham and PJ Washington. He's a tremendously versatile defender who can block shots and defend on the perimeter at a high level. And on offense, he's a reliable post scorer who has room to grow his range to the perimeter. He didn't take many 3-pointers in college but his mechanics and release should allow him to develop as a floor-spacing modern big in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Tyrese Maxey SG
Kentucky • Fr • 6'3" / 198 lbs
There is cause for concern about Tyrese Maxey's shot after hitting just 29.2% from 3-point range at Kentucky. But everything else comes up rosy. He's an elite defensive player on the perimeter and an effective slasher who can sliver his way to the rim and effectively create off the dribble. A pairing with a scorer like Devin Booker in Phoenix could help maximize his strengths.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Vanderbilt • Soph • 6'6" / 213 lbs
Despite playing just 14 games last season due to a foot injury, Aaron Nesmith's rise as a lottery prospect is a predictable one. He made 52.2% of his shots from 3-point range and developed into one of the best shot-makers in college basketball during that stint. He should be able to sprint off screens and continue as an above average perimeter scorer in the NBA. He's essentially the definition of a modern day wing scorer.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Memphis • Fr • 7'1" / 240 lbs
James Wiseman is a 7-1 center with a 7-6 wingspan who some believe is the best big man in this draft. But teams at the top of the lottery are largely looking to upgrade at point guard and wing, not at center. That'd obviously be a win for Sacramento, who would scoop him quick. He has the physical tools to be a day one contributor as a defensive anchor in the Kings' system.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Florida State • Soph • 6'7" / 194 lbs
Devin Vassell fits the archetype to a T of a 3-and-D wing. He shot 41.5% from 3 last season, and defensively he averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. With his long and wiry arms, he has great anticipation to play the role of a disruptive defender and could be an immediate boost to Portland's wing position.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Saddiq Bey SF
Villanova • Soph • 6'8" / 216 lbs
New Orleans should be all about gathering players who can maximize Zion Williamson, and Saddiq Bey is who I'd handpick for that goal. He's a 3-and-D type player who is automatic as a spot-up shooter from distance and can defend 1-4. The threat of Bey's offensive punch would allow the Pels to space the floor and make defenders respect another sharpshooter on the perimeter.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 15
Texas Tech • Fr • 6'4" / 195 lbs
"Operation: Let's Get Minnesota More Shooting" has been engaged. After going with Toppin with pick one, I like Jahm'ius Ramsey as a potential addition to its backcourt. He's perhaps a one-dimensional threat right now as a catch-and-shoot option, but D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns don't need a whole lot more than someone reliable to knock down jumpers on the perimeter -- especially at the rate Ramsey can hit them. As a freshman he rated in the 91st percentile in catch-and-shoot situations in the halfcourt, per Synergy.
Round 1 - Pick 16
The Magic could hedge their bet on Markelle Fultz (and D.J. Augustin's looming free agency) by going point guard here with Theo Maledon, a talented lead guard who can handle it and score it at a high level. This is good value, too, if he's healthy. He seems to be finally over the nagging shoulder injury that disrupted part of last season for him on ASVEL -- a potential buy-low for a prospect that's long been considered an elite international talent.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 1 - Pick 17
Tre Jones PG
Duke • Soph • 6'3" / 185 lbs
Boston needs to address its depth at point guard behind Kemba Walker, and Jones -- a two-year college player -- fits the franchise's win-now mindset. He's a defensive monster who makes very few mistakes as a ball-handler and can competently run an offense. Even if he's drafted as a backup to Walker he could raise the Celtics' ceiling and allow them to avoid any significant drop-off in play from first to second unit.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Josh Green SG
Arizona • Fr • 6'6" / 210 lbs
Josh Green closed his freshman season on a high note and really showcased his shooting ability, hitting 69% from 3-point range over his final five games. That's a sample of what he can bring to the NBA as a dynamic shooting guard as he develop. But what OKC will really value is his athleticism and defensive toughness, which they seem to always prioritize in the draft. Playing alongside lead guards like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul who can make plays would accentuate his skills as a high-level role player who makes winning plays on both ends of the court.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Memphis • Fr • 6'9" / 225 lbs
Achiuwa was the best player in the AAC as a freshman, impacting the game as a two-way force with athleticism and energy. For the Mavericks he could be a defensive anchor on the back end and a killer small-ball big given his long reach and defensive instincts.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Alabama • Soph • 6'3" / 165 lbs
As one of the youngest players in the SEC last season -- Kira Lewis won't turn 20 until next April -- he averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 boards per game. And there's still plenty of room for him to grow. I like Lewis as a midround bet for Milwaukee to give them a talented, lightning-quick point guard to groom as perhaps its future lead guard.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 21
Florida State • Fr • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Raw and still-developing, Patrick Williams is a gamble who will require patience to come along as a contributor the next few years. But he's 6-8 with go-go gadget arms and defensive instincts that truly disrupts the game, with his feel and anticipatory sensors among the best in this wing class. If he puts it all together he can be a dynamic two-way role player for a long time in the league.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 22
R.J. Hampton had an up and down season playing overseas in the NBL before an injury ultimately cut his year short. But Hampton's physical tools, athleticism and upside as a playmaker remains intriguing. In time, his advanced handle and ability to make tough shots should separate him as a unique combo guard. He'll need time to develop but Brooklyn can afford to be patient with Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Kevin Durant locked in for the next several seasons.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Tyrell Terry PG
Stanford • Fr • 6'2" / 160 lbs
The NBA is moving towards players like Tyrell Terry who can knock down shots at a high level and can do so in myriad ways, from spot up situations to off the live dribble to peeling off screens. He's an elite scorer. And for a Miami team in need of depth at point guard, he's a low risk gamble in the back of the first round that could really pay dividends if he continues on his developmental trajectory.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Michigan State • Jr • 6'8" / 245 lbs
After three seasons at Michigan State, Xavier Tillman picked up all the tools in the bag to become an impact player. From setting hard screens to playing physical in the post to carving up bigger and more athletic forwards, he's a two-way force who consistently defends at a high level and does all the little things that impact winning.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 25
Maryland • Soph • 6'10" / 225 lbs
Jalen Smith's ability to defend the rim, grab boards and pull up to hit 25-foot 3-pointers on the run is a rare and lethal combination. And for a big man, it's even more unique. He could really give OKC flexibility with how it deploys lineups with his floor-spacing ability.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 250 lbs
While Isaiah Stewart fits the more traditional mode of a big man, his energy, physicality and enthusiasm should give him a chance to contribute early for a team like the Celtics who could really use size in their frontcourt. He averaged nearly 9.0 rebounds per game as a freshman in the Pac-12 and showed himself capable of defending the rim well despite some athletic limitations.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Toronto's never been afraid to swing for the fences, with one of the best scouting and developmental staffs in the NBA, and so swing away they do here with one of the draft's biggest enigmas. Aleksej Pokusevski is a 7-foot center who last played on the B team for Olympiacos, but he's piqued the interest of scouts with the way he's profiles like a big but moves like a wing and shoots like a guard. Developmental prospect but would fit Toronto's line of drafting in recent years, with the team taking chances on players like Pascal Siakam and Bruno Caboclo in recent years.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Duke • Fr • 6'10" / 270 lbs
The Knicks already have a foundational piece at center in Mitchell Robinson, but Vernon Carey's physical game could be a perfect complement. He's a bruising big man who embraces contact and can finish around the rim and protect it defensively, too.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Devon Dotson PG
Kansas • Soph • 6'2" / 185 lbs
The Lakers need an influx of youth at point guard, and the ever-spry Devon Dotson -- one of the fastest lead guards in this class -- fits the billing. He's a relentless attacker who finishes at the rim, locks up on the perimeter defensively, and can quarterback an offense. The 3-point shooting last season was down a bit as a sophomore but his overall impact on both sides of the court made him one of the best players in the Big 12 last season.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Duke • Fr • 6'6" / 193 lbs
Having already addressed the point guard and center position, Boston can look to lean up its already-deep wing spot with a player like Cassius Stanley. He fits the mold of a modern day NBA wing with freakish athleticism and scoring potential -- and could make an impact even on a team deep at his position because of his do-it-all defensive instincts.
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