2020 NBA Mock Draft: Knicks move up in trade with Golden State to select LaMelo Ball at No. 1
New York makes a power play and burns a valuable future pick in hopes that LaMelo Ball can save its present
As the NBA stoppage continues indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, teams across the league are using the unexpected down time to get ahead -- and in some cases, play catch-up -- for the looming 2020 NBA Draft. What they're finding is the long-held belief of this particular draft has mostly held true: that the class as a whole is significantly weaker than in draft classes of the past.
There's star power at the top, though, that could prevent this year's crop from being a dud. 18-year-olds LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards play premium positions and have worked their way into frontrunner status as potential No. 1 picks. Israeli-born Deni Avdija, a combo forward with guard skills, has an intriguing skill set and has shown himself to be successful playing professionally overseas. Then there's big men like James Wiseman, Obi Toppin and Onyeka Okongwu, all of whom have flashed major upside and long-term potential -- all likely bound for the lottery.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the NBA season right, it's still unclear which teams will have the best odds to win this year's lottery. At this point, it's still unclear if the season will resume. But we're at a good stopping point right now to examine the landscape as we know it, one that gives the Warriors the best odds to earn the No. 1 overall pick. Let's get into our mock draft starting with what Golden State will do at the top.
Mock Trade from Golden State Warriors
Round 1- Pick 1
The Knicks fell to No. 6 in our lottery projections, so in a generally-weak draft class, they make the bold move up five spots to No. 1 (and send a future first to Golden State), scooping up their point guard of the future in the process. At 6-foot-6, Ball is the best playmaker in this class with all the tricks in his bag and shooting upside to boot. He's a home run swing the Knicks can ill-afford to pass on.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Georgia • Fr • 6'5" / 225 lbs
The combination of shot-creation and athleticism for Edwards makes him a special prospect in this class. He should be a big-time scorer at the NBA level and has defensive upside when he puts forth the effort. He'd be a great fit in Cleveland capable of playing alongside Collin Sexton and/or Darius Garland, giving the Cavs another initiator to build around as a franchise cornerstone.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Detroit needs a roster reset across the board, but addressing the point guard position for the future should be a top priority. Hayes can help the Pistons on that front by providing clarity for whenever they part with Derrick Rose -- whether it's in a year or five. Hayes is a crafty scorer, great passer, and lead initiator who Detroit can groom to be its long-term answer at PG.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Isaac Okoro SF
Auburn • Fr • 6'6" / 225 lbs
Minnesota's set at point guard and center but could desperately need some defensive help on the wing. So we'll give them that here with Okoro. He's a versatile, smart defender with great instincts and feel. He can impact winning without needing to contribute much offensively.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Kentucky • Fr • 6'3" / 198 lbs
The Hawks have addressed the wing and center spots via the draft and trades in recent years. But getting Trae Young help via a secondary ball-handler and playmaker could do wonders for this team. Maxey fits that need and adds value as an elite on-ball defender who could play off Young as a defensive eraser, and perhaps as a second-unit captain, too.
Mock Trade from New York Knicks
Round 1 - Pick 6
The unique combination of shot making, ball-handling and passing should earn him Avdija a slot high in the lottery. He projects as a point forward who can run the break, get to the rim and create. And with his success overseas, he could make an immediate impact for a Warriors team who next season should be in contention once again to win the West.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Villanova • Soph • 6'8" / 216 lbs
The wing position is at a premium in the NBA, and so the Bulls pay the price to land one of the draft's most versatile two-way players at the position in this draft -- the first major splash of new GM Arturas Karnisovas' tenure. With an already ball-dominant backcourt in place, Bey, a 6-foot-8 jumbo wing who hit 45.1% of his 3-pointers last season, should slot in as a floor-spacing complement capable of adding an upgrade defensively right away.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Memphis • Fr • 7'1" / 240 lbs
There are few realistic landing spots for a center at the top of this year's draft, so James Wiseman slides -- and Washington can't resist. He's a 7-foot-1 center with a 7-foot-6 wingspan who can protect the rim, finish lobs, and give the Wiz major upside as a building block to boot.
Round 1 - Pick 9
North Carolina • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Charlotte ranked 28th (out of 30) this season in offensive rating. Anthony's a do-it-all scorer who can get hot in a hurry with versatility to play either on or off the ball. He'd be a great fit alongside Devonte' Graham, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington as they continue building through the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Obi Toppin PF
Dayton • Soph • 6'9" / 220 lbs
The fall to No. 10 for the consensus national player of the year might just be worth the wait. In Phoenix he could catch lobs from Ricky Rubio all day and not have to worry about manning the center spot with Deandre Ayton, allowing him to play what will likely be his ideal position at the next level.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Southern California • Fr • 6'9" / 245 lbs
The Spurs are one of the few organizations who could still squeeze value out of a more traditional big man like Okongwu. He doesn't take 3-pointers. But his value can be unearthed elsewhere as an elite shot blocker and reliable scorer in the post.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Florida State • Soph • 6'7" / 194 lbs
Sacramento has a need at the wing position to spell Harrison Barnes, and Vassell's a viable 3-and-D option to give the Kings that luxury. He shot 41.5% from deep as a sophomore and 41.9% as a freshman. He also averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game last season as he emerged as a top-end wing defender.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Vanderbilt • Soph • 6'6" / 213 lbs
A foot injury in January ended Nesmith's sophomore season after just 14 games, but in that span he made 52.2% of his shots from 3-point range and solidified himself as a pro. He's a plug-and-play wing who would give the Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard another weapon on the perimeter.
Round 1 - Pick 14
A hip injury cut short Hampton's rocky season in the NBL, but he accomplished two things. First, he held down a rotation spot for a pro team. And second, he showed enough athletic flash and scoring upside to solidify his standing as a lottery prospect. He could be a valuable developmental prospect for New Orleans to groom, and a major steals if he hits.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 15
Iowa State • Soph • 6'5" / 175 lbs
After a breakout freshman campaign, Haliburton rose up as a No. 1 option and reaffirmed his standing as a top-end guard prospect in this draft class worth investing in. He's still skinny as a pole, but he's savvy with incredible efficiency on the court. The Wolves could deploy him off the ball and allow him to do what he does best: shoot the 3-point shot with remarkable consistency.
Round 1 - Pick 16
The Markelle Fultz reclamation project appears to thus far be successful, but D.J. Augustin's contract expires this offseason for Orlando. The Magic could hedge their bet on Fultz while giving themselves insurance in the uncertain free agent market with Maledon, a talented combo guard who can handle it and score it when healthy. He seems to be finally over the nagging shoulder injury that disrupted part of last season for him on ASVEL.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 1 - Pick 17
Tre Jones PG
Duke • Soph • 6'3" / 185 lbs
Boston desperately needs to upgrade its point guard depth, and Jones' defensive smarts and high-floor prospects make him an obvious fit. And while Jones' offensive struggles may always hamper his upside, the C's may not need his offense running a second unit for a pretty complete and balanced roster already in place.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Arizona • Fr • 6'6" / 210 lbs
Through his first 25 games, Green shot 30% from 3-point range. In his final five, he shot 69% on 13 attempts, showing much-needed improvement for a wing with limitations offensively. OKC typically bets on players with upside and athleticism, and Green fits the archetype of a wing he'd value.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Memphis • Fr • 6'9" / 225 lbs
Achiuwa was efficient for Memphis as its go-to big man this season. He impacted the game as a shot-blocker and has an athletic, energizing style that made him a force playing as a big. His versatility could be valuable for Dallas as a big, and he has some potential to be a difference-maker in a small-ball center role.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Alabama • Soph • 6'3" / 165 lbs
Lewis is still just scratching the surface. He won't turn 20 until next April, and still averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 boards as one of the youngest players in the SEC this past season. For Milwaukee, he could be a project worth taking on because despite his small frame, he's one of the fastest and most talented point guards in this draft class.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 21
Maryland • Soph • 6'10" / 225 lbs
Smith's ability to shoot 3-pointers separates him as one of the best-shooting bigs in this draft class, and oh, by the way, he's got rim protection and rebounding production to add, too. The 6-10 sophomore averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 boards for Maryland last season and played like a top-10 player in the sport down the stretch. Denver could use the shooting punch he provides and the depth at forward as a huge boost alongside Nikola Jokic in the frontcourt.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 22
Florida State • Fr • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Raw and still-developing, Williams is an upside play who finished the season strong and has all the physical tools at his disposal to become an elite two-way wing in the league. He stands a tall 6-foot-8 with a bigger wingspan, and instincts defensively that make him a really exciting long term prospect.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Arizona • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Shooting struggles plagued Mannion down the stretch, but the way he initiates the offense, manipulates defenses and sets up teammates should give him some footing for a PG-needy team like Miami. He'll never be a dynamic athlete but the high IQ and hope that the shot falls more regularly is a risk worth taking here.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Michigan State • Jr • 6'8" / 245 lbs
Whether it's rebounding or blocking shots or scoring or setting screens, Tillman does all the little things that make him a high-floor prospect with little risk at this point in the first round. So for a team like Utah looking to add a solid rotation player to its frontcourt, Tillman could be a huge boost.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 25
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 250 lbs
Despite Stewart's profile as a throwback big, he's shown some nice shooting touch and shot 77.4% from the free-throw line, perhaps portending future success to becoming a modernized big. Whether he fulfills that projection or not, he'll still carve out a nice career given the competitiveness and toughness he brings to the center spot on both ends of the court.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Duke • Fr • 6'10" / 270 lbs
Concerns about how Carey will hold up defending in space abound -- and they are valid. But he's a productive post player who can grab rebounds, score in the post and protect the rim. Despite the limitations, Boston may find that what he can do may outweigh what he can't.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 200 lbs
Inconsistency plagued McDaniels' freshman season at Washington, but the 6-9 frame, the shooting and the skill is impossible to ignore. If he puts it together consistently at the next level he can be an All-Star. There's no better-equipped team to invest in a project like McDaniels than Toronto, widely regarded as having one of the best developmental staffs in the league.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Texas Tech • Fr • 6'4" / 195 lbs
The Knicks ranked in the bottom four among all NBA teams in 3-point shooting last season, and Ramsey can remedy that. He shot 42.6% from 3-point range as a freshman and is one of the best spot-up/catch-and-shoot shooters in this draft class. He'd make for a nice fit alongside LaMelo Ball, too.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Michigan State • Sr • 6'1" / 185 lbs
Time and again, Winston has overcome his athletic limitations by shooting the leather off the ball and using his smarts to outwit opponents. That, combined with his experience at the college level, makes him an ideal fit in L.A. on a team that could use an experienced and reliable floor general to potentially soften Rajon Rondo's twilight years.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Arkansas • Soph • 6'5" / 180 lbs
After an up and down season marred by injury, Joe may ultimately opt to return to school to boost his stock. But if Boston wants to take a long view it could snag him late in the first round and groom him, knowing that next year he's probably a top-20 pick. He's one of the most pure shooters in college basketball.
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