The longest predraft process in NBA history is about to get even longer.
Multiple reports surfaced this week that the NBA would be pushing its draft back yet again, now with a stall from the original rescheduled date of Oct. 16 all the way back to Nov. 18. If the draft winds up happening that night, 251 days will have passed between the final day of the college basketball season and draft night.
And to think: all of these prospects haven't been able to meet any of these teams in person or conduct workouts, do anything. It makes the propensity for trades all the more likely, I think. So with that in mind, and with still more than two months to go until we know the destinations for the best prospects in 2020, here's my mock refresh.
This is different from the mock I posted in June, which was in accordance with my big board and did not take team needs into consideration. Below, I'm accounting some team needs and intel on where players are shifting. But let's be clear on this: teams are only just now starting to really assemble their needs and digging into prospects in a considerable way. Hard as it might be to believe, we're going to have to wait until October before scuttlebutt really starts to prompt shifts on mocks across the internet.
Here's my mid-September scan.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Georgia • Fr • 6'5" / 225 lbs
We've gone from the biggest no-brainer for No. 1 in almost 20 years (Zion Williamson) to a more wide-open chase. I'm going to stick with Anthony Edwards here because I think Minnesota has a decent chance of trading the pick, and the team that tries to get up to No. 1 might do so for the upside of Edwards and Edwards only. He's the only prospect in this draft worth trading up for; I'm just not seeing the enticement with LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman or Obi Toppin. Edwards, who played on a bad team but put up solid numbers (50% 2-point shooting in addition to the averages above) projects as a reliable scorer at the next level. There is a belief that he was actually not used to his full potential at Georgia, despite the fact Tom Crean let him use the sandbox to his heart's desire. Edwards' ceiling is probably two notches below James Harden's, and that's still plenty high.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Obi Toppin PF
Dayton • Soph • 6'9" / 220 lbs
You'll see other mocks slide James Wiseman here, and I can see that, but I'll stick with Obi Toppin. He's far from polarizing, but I do think opinions drift interestingly on Toppin, who is 22 years, and that could be used against him. I think Toppin's range is No. 1 to No. 6 in this draft. His all-around repertoire, and stellar reputation, has turned him into the kind of prospect that general managers will find hard to pass on. Toppin was outstanding in Dayton's system. He shot 69.8% from 2-point range and developed into a more-than-OK 3-point shooter (39.0%). His defensive potential is also substantial. Good wingspan, broad shoulders, can handle the ball well and understands how to play in space. Not worried about the high hips. Should be a wonderful NBA player for about a decade.
Round 1 - Pick 3
I'm far from sold on LaMelo Ball being a franchise player, but he remains is player most commonly projected to go No. 1. That in mind, I won't drop him below No. 3 in this mock, even though he sits at No. 7 on my big board. Ball has grown and developed nicely the past 18 months, and at 18 years old, he's going to woo a lot of evaluators. His vision and size will win some people over, though I think he's got weird knees and has still never consistently dominated at any level he's played basketball. It has helped his case that Lonzo Ball has not flamed out. But LaMelo is not as polished, all-around, as his brother was when Lonzo came out of UCLA. He's also not nearly in tune defensively. Nevertheless, has been some much-needed progress in his game. Going to Australia to play in the NBL clearly helped him significantly.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Southern California • Fr • 6'9" / 245 lbs
I've had Onyeka Okongwu in this No. 4 spot previously, and now we're hearing a bit more noise that it could be realistic. A comparison you might have come across is Bam Adebayo, which at this point is too lofty a label. But Okongwu's defensive aptitude is going to have general managers from the No. 3 spot on down strongly weighing taking him. He's a fabulous small-ish center who can thrive at the power forward spot, too. Had Okongwu been given the benefit of workouts and a normal predraft cycle, it's not unthinkable that he could have cracked the top three. Perhaps he still will. The one-and-doner is not a stretch shooter but he's got a nose for the rim, has a great second jump and can be a high-level shotblocker in the NBA even at 6-foot-9. He shot 62.1% on 2-pointers last season on 280 shots -- exactly 10 per game.
Round 1 - Pick 5
I had Deni Avdija at No. 9 in the spring, but there's no chance he's slipping that far this fall. Up to No. 5 he goes, as Avdija's performance over the summer with Maccabi Tel Aviv helped his stock more than any other prospect in this draft. If you watched his tape at all, you often saw a player who clearly looked like the best guy on the floor every minute he was on the floor, which is not something you can say about all other top-10 prospects. Avdija's an interesting prospect because he's capable of playing anything from point guard to power forward, though he'll clearly best fit in as a 3/4 hybrid. Avdija has wonderful playmaking capability and would be a great No. 3 option in a best-case scenario. His shooting leaves some concerns, but physically he's ready for the NBA now.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Memphis • Fr • 7'1" / 240 lbs
Is he a true center or will he be able to craft his offensive game enough to be a flexible stretch-5? The answer to that question will give us the answer to where James Wiseman is drafted. I think he would go great alongside John Collins in Atlanta. Expect Wiseman to be the player with the most uncertainty around him heading into the draft. He infamously played only three games for Memphis, then ditched his team in December in order to prep and train for the NBA. Now he's stuck with a thin college resume, an elite reputation dating back to his high school days, and as much potential as skepticism due to the tough hit rate on drafting centers. He falls into an interesting crevice. The NBA has become smaller while offenses have extended further out. Wiseman is skilled enough to become a hybrid big, but going to the right franchise to maximize his abilities will be crucial.
Round 1 - Pick 7
I remain high on Killian Hayes, a wonderful prospect who's been known for at least three and a half years at this point, in terms of his NBA potential. I believe he is now and will remain a better point guard than Ball, but it's unlikely Hayes can leapfrog the taller point guard prospect. Hayes is a poised player who can work the screen-and-roll game naturally and shoots well off the dribble. His shot mechanics still need some work, but it's working overall. A comp that comes to mind: Patty Mills. Hayes has progressively become a more accurate long-distance shooter, too. He's among the smartest players in this draft when it comes to improvising after plays break down.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Isaac Okoro SF
Auburn • Fr • 6'6" / 225 lbs
If there's one player who's a top-10 lock but not a top-five lock who can be an 11th-hour riser into that top five, I think it's Isaac Okoro. General managers will surely be taken with his IQ. Okoro's a wonderful defensive player, someone who Bruce Pearl lovingly referred to as the only senior he's ever had as a freshman. He makes for an ideal NBA wing, thanks to his measurements, athleticism, defensive acumen and vast potential given his age. He's no 3-and-D guy yet; Okoro made 28.6% of his triples last season. He's not a super-familiar name, given he missed a few games to injury and was not a superstar freshman, but he's been on general managers' radar since early December and is under no threat of dropping to the bottom of the lottery. His ceiling is probably No. 4 in this draft, but we'll slide him in at No. 8 and split the difference.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Iowa State • Soph • 6'5" / 175 lbs
There's something to be said about having a spot in the back half of the lottery, accepting that you probably won't be getting a franchise-changing player but being comfortable with adding an important piece to long-term turnarounds. The Knicks would strongly benefit from having someone as stable as Tyrese Haliburton, who did sit out tail-ish end of last season when he fractured his left wrist. The slender 6-5 point guard is a responsible passer, an angular player who sees the floor well and keeps defenses honest thanks to his respectable shooting from 2- and 3-point range (59.2 and 41.9%, respectively). The most obvious comparison is Monte Morris, also an ISU alum, also a point guard who was largely allergic to turnovers. Haliburton can grow into a starting-level point guard in the NBA by 2023.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Vanderbilt • Soph • 6'6" / 213 lbs
Love his long-term potential. No, you can't call Aaron Nesmith a sleeper, but there are some evaluators who love this shooting guard despite being hidden at Vanderbilt. He's smart, has a great NBA frame and wonderful shooting form. Nesmith is probably the best pure shooter in the 2020 NBA Draft, which is fairly thin on sharpshooters to begin with. I think he'll be in the 3-point contest by his third season. Nesmith was forced to sit the second half of Vanderbilt's season because of a stress fracture he could no longer ignore. Prior to that, he shot 52.2% from 3-point range, which was the most accurate rate of anyone in college basketball. He's also got plenty of promise defensively. An ideal comp here is Kyle Korver, but with a bit more upside on defense.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Tyrese Maxey SG
Kentucky • Fr • 6'3" / 198 lbs
Still in on Tyrese Maxey's draft-day ceiling. His stock is a moving target, but don't forget that he was an elite five-star recruit when he picked Kentucky, and Kentucky one-and-done players are often given the benefit of the doubt. In Lexington, it's fair to say he (slightly) underachieved. Maxey was good, but objectively he was not one of the 10 best freshmen in college basketball last season. Nevertheless, he did enough, and still has the athleticism, playmaking charisma and physical attributes to pop into the top 10. He'll likely be a gunner (I use the term courteously) at the next level. The biggest issue is his 3-point shooting. Maxey made 29% of his 113 3-pointers last season. There will be general managers who believe they can fix that. In reality, Maxey was Kentucky's third best player, though he did learn to play with some unselfishness that should help his case to go in the lottery.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Saddiq Bey SF
Villanova • Soph • 6'8" / 216 lbs
I'm bumping up Saddiq Bey here. Had Precious Achiuwa in this spot previously, but I can't imagine Sacramento drafts another big in this spot, not with new management taking over. I do maintain that Bey is the sleeper pick of the lottery, the one player who could go outside of the top 10 who I think is most likely to be top-three in Rookie of the Year voting next season. Bey went from being Villanova's least-heralded player in its 2018 class to being the best Wildcat on the roster in a year's time. Had he been given the benefit of an NCAA Tournament, his stock could've spiked. As is, he's grown into a top-20 kind of pick. I'll buy high on him. Solid athlete, smart player, never gets in the way and does a little bit of everything fairly well. His ceiling might be that of a solid starter and nothing more, but his floor is probably as high as any player projected beyond the top eight in this year's draft.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Memphis • Fr • 6'9" / 225 lbs
One bump down for Precious Achiuwa, who would have to find a place, and deal with restricted minutes, given New Orleans' roster. Really, if NOLA traded out of this spot it wouldn't shock me. Top-five freshman last season, and someone who did wonders for his stock once he completely took the load for Memphis in light of James Wiseman quitting on the team. Achiuwa was a usage monster and kept the Tigers' season respectable after a lot of unexpected barriers surfaced. He not only works well around the rim, his ball handling in the paint -- and in traffic -- is very good. His game is two-dimensional but he's so solid at scoring close, rebounding and winning physical battles. The tape is going to tell his story and should make him a lottery pick. "Reliable" is the word I keep coming back to.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 1 - Pick 14
Cole Anthony PG
North Carolina • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
I still can't get a firm grasp on Cole Anthony's stock. At this point, my interpretation is that he'll be in the lottery on some boards and not even on others'. He was a volume player by necessity -- but that was also the expectation when he got to North Carolina. The Tar Heels having their worst season, by far, under Roy Williams is not why I have Anthony lower than most. He lacked efficiency (40% from 2-point range, 35% from 3-point range), and physically, he's undersized for the way he likes to play. There's a competitiveness to his game that helps his case, but there are also some chemistry concerns. Fair or not, Anthony has not been able to shake a reputation for years that his style is not for everyone. Whereas some teammates can adapt to his manner, others cannot. I keep coming back to: talent-wise, he's a lottery pick. That should bear out on draft night.
Round 1 - Pick 15
We don't have a huge import of international players, but expect four or five to go in the first round this year. Theo Maledon is a quality 3-and-D type from France. When we look up in five years and notice that college players are having as tough a time as ever in breaking through to the draft, players like Maledon will be a good example of why. Here we have yet another international prospect who showed flashes of NBA potential as early as the age of 15. Maledon's not the kind of pick who's going to excite the fan base of whatever team gets him at No. 15, but he's a quality defender, solid shooter, can dictate a possession with the power of his dribble and is by almost all accounts someone laser-focused on his craft.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 250 lbs
There's not a lot of difference between Isaiah Stewart and Achiuwa, so where these players get picked will depend on which team is seeking a rebound-first, true power forward and how close the next team seeking that same need to fulfill falls in the draft. Stewart's numbers were good in his one season at Washington. He was irrefutably one of the three or four best freshmen in college basketball in 2019-20. He was Washington's only really good player, the kind of power forward who has the ability to carry a team for multiple stretches of games. Unfortunately he's the next Washington player to come out of a season with a sub-.500 record. But Stewart is motor-motor-motor. He's exceptionally strong and, when we look up 10 years from now, will likely wind up being one of the three best rebounders from this draft.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 17
Had R.J. Hampton played in college, chances are more than decent he would be higher in mocks than where he finds himself now, but he's certainly going to be a top-20 pick, far as I can tell. Like LaMelo Ball, Hampton also dealt with injuries, which has affected his stock. His speed is his friend, and he can be a rotation player right off the jump. Good scorer -- not great, but good -- and his form needs no adjustments. Hampton's an off-the-bench scoring option at this juncture, but some scouts like him longterm for how he could grow into a pro's pro from a shooting perspective five, six years down the road.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Florida State • Soph • 6'7" / 194 lbs
Florida State will put a player into the first round of the NBA Draft for the fourth time since 2016. Devin Vassell is no big name but he's a great 3-and-D guy, and one of the four or five really good shooters that can be selected in the first round. His production was slightly muted at FSU; Seminoles prospects tend to not be stat compilers, but Leonard Hamilton knows what he's doing. If you saw him compete against some top-level ACC players earlier this year, you saw someone whose time in college was coming to an end. He is terrific defending both one-on-one and in space. He's not an all-around surefire prospect, but he can physically be an impact player and step in to help almost any team from a defensive standpoint right away.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 19
Michigan State • Jr • 6'8" / 245 lbs
Xavier Tillman waited longer than any other first-round prospect to make his decision, ultimately making the smart one by leaving Michigan State. He isn't receiving any first-round guarantees, but it would be foolish to let him drop into the 20s. Tillman was one of the five-or-so best defensive players in college basketball last season. He's a grown man with a great team attitude and a solid hoops IQ. His offensive habits need some refining, but Tillman has many of the tools required to have a long-lasting NBA career as a power forward. If you watched Michigan State, the case was made over and over. You can't convince me there are 25 -- let alone 30 -- better pros in this draft than him.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Alabama • Soph • 6'3" / 165 lbs
Kira Lewis is one of the fastest players in this year's pool, and because he's so developed despite being relatively young, he's got a chance to blossom halfway through his rookie contract. There's a great chance some team winds up drafting him at a bargain. I also think he has lottery potential, but the 12-20 range in this draft is a crapshoot. Lewis falls somewhere between project and plug-and-play. Lewis did not wind up having the kind of sophomore season that popped to such a degree where he pushed into the top 10. He was discussed as a potential Ja Morant-type, in that regard, but it never surfaced. Still, Lewis is another very good point guard prospect in a point guard-heavy draft.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Maryland • Soph • 6'10" / 225 lbs
The Maryland product showed tantalizing flashes in his final college season. Here we have a modern stretch-4 for the NBA. If we looked up in five years and saw that Jalen Smith took a higher percentage of 3-pointers than he did shots within 10 feet of the rim, I'd believe it. He is unafraid to shoot from five, 10, 15 or 20 feet away from the hoop. He's got a good wingspan and has proven to be a tougher player than his frame would suggest. Smith was Maryland's best player and got better with each month last season. With an NBA regimen of workouts, meals and weight-training, he can grow into a starting-level power forward within two years. If you told me he's as high as No. 12 or 13 on some boards but as low as No. 32 or 33 on others, it would come as no surprise.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 22
Tre Jones PG
Duke • Soph • 6'3" / 185 lbs
He won't receive a lot of hype, but tre Jones will last more than a decade in the NBA so long as his shooting isn't an outright detriment. Jones developed a rightful reputation as an elite college defender after this freshman season in 2018-19. Jones dropped off a bit last season on that end of the floor, but he did improve his jump shot enough to where he's going to remain in the draft for good and have it pay off with a first round selection. He improved his 3-point shooting from 26.2% on 103 attempts as a freshman to 36.1% on 108 attempts as a sophomore. From 2-point range, Jones hurt himself: he went from 48.6 to 44.7%. That's a significant drop and something that will cause general managers to vacillate. He's slightly undersized as a point guard but still has the toughness and intellect to become a backup point guard in the NBA. He also had a few big moments on offense last season (that UNC win, remember?) that help his case.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Duke • Fr • 6'10" / 270 lbs
You'll notice that my mocks continue to have a blend of prospect strength, intel on where prospects fit and some injection on prospects in terms of where I think they should go. I like Vernon Carey's ceiling if he's hanging around by the No. 23 pick. His development from November to March was extremely impressive. Credit to Duke assistant Nate James, who's proven to be a fantastic big-man coach with the Blue Devils. Carey almost never played in the post prior to arriving at Duke. In little time he grew into a viable back-to-basket player, and even if that style is an aberration at the NBA level, it goes to show how versatile Carey can be and how quick a study he is. He's only 19, remember, and he comes from a family of athletes. He was better than any freshman in college basketball last season, and in fact was one of the 10 best players in the sport. That stuff should matter. A big man with a good touch, a good defensive profile and a nice passer for a player of his size. If he falls beyond 25, it's a mistake. Period.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 1 - Pick 24
Minnesota • Soph • 6'10" / 240 lbs
It's not every year -- or every five years -- we see the University of Minnesota providing the draft with a top-25 pick. Daniel Oturu was the eighth-most statistically efficient player in college basketball last season, according to KenPom.com. Oturu trailed only behind Luka Garza as the Big Ten's best. At 6-10 and 240 pounds, Oturu is a center with some shooting ability. He made 19 of his 52 3-pointers and was a high-usage minutes eater for the Golden Gophers. He's a very good defender, a power player with touch and good stamina. Whereas he was once hiding in plain sight, the secret's out on Oturu. He'll play for 12 years in the NBA.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 25
Florida State • Fr • 6'8" / 225 lbs
I've opted to nudge Patrick Williams up four spots. Great wingspan, great defender, great potential for the FSU freshman who thrived despite creating exactly zero headlines this past season. The overall production for Williams wasn't there, but he'll be able to guard 1-4 at the next level and he'll fit in as a rangy wing who can supplement a good team's roster. I've got him lower on my big board, but I can't help but think the tape is serving him well.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Arizona • Fr • 6'11" / 240 lbs
I'm not sure this long layoff is going to help Zeke Nnaji's case, but what can't be denied is how Nnaji never hit an elongated slump despite facing different coverages and emerging as the best of Arizona's heralded trio of freshmen (alongside Nico Mannion and Josh Green). Nnaji is an outstanding rebounder and has an ever-charged battery. He's also one of the strongest players in this draft pool. He's got tremendous work ethic and developed a nice short-range jump shot. The long-range stuff is still a work in progress, but Nnaji will be drafted with the expectation he can provide 12-15 minutes of energy and defense per game as a rookie. He should pass that test. He's a first-round talent with lottery-level hustle.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 27
Washington • Fr • 6'9" / 200 lbs
Here's your mystery player. Jaden McDaniels would have gone in the top 10 of the 2019 draft if he was able to leave right out of high school. College did expose him a bit. But there are still believers. McDaniels was unfairly compared to a young Kevin Durant by the time he was 17 because of his lanky frame, similar-looking J and penchant for scoring streaks. Fact is, McDaniels has never had a killer's instinct. He's a talent, no doubt about it, but he was problematically inefficient at UW (92.0 offensive rating; Isaiah Stewart was up at 115.7) and despite his 6-9 frame he didn't like spending time near the rim. One team will take a flyer on him in the 20s in the hopes they can unlock something, because if he plays up to his potential he's a top-10 prospect in this draft. But there's a lot to tear away at before McDaniels can be a really good player.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Nico Mannion PG
Arizona • Fr • 6'3" / 190 lbs
Point guard is going to be the most popular picked position in the first round of this year's draft. I expect Nico Mannion to be the final one to go in the first 30 slots. Now, this Arizona product was not able to live up to his playing reputation in five months with the Wildcats, but his spurts of creativity and on-court composure should assure he's taken in the first round. Similar to Maxey, who plays a different position, evaluators will trust the years of potential more than months of tape. Mannion was not short on talent around him at Arizona, but his shot sometimes betrayed him. He is a little undersized but is a wanting distributor who has thrived in international competition over the years as well. He's carried the quasi-prodigy label with him since he was a middle schooler. Now perhaps he can start to blend into his surroundings, which wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Duke • Fr • 6'6" / 193 lbs
Perhaps he's destined for the second round but I can't agree. I remain aggressive on Cassius Stanley because he's not a quitter, is a top-three athlete in this draft and has a high floor offensively and defensively. The anecdote that will stick with Stanley forever at Duke: the year after Zion Williamson left campus, Stanley strode into Durham and bested Williamson's program-record for vertical leap. He's a poppy shooting guard whose tape is going to boost his case the longer the ramp is to the draft. Stanley needs to be more committed defensively, but his overall package is tempting for any team looking to draft a backup shooting guard who'll be able to run with the B team immediately once training camp begins. He shot 36% from 3-point range and showed a knack for knowing how to get to the foul line.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Texas Tech • Fr • 6'4" / 195 lbs
Plenty to debate once you get to this spot in the draft, but let's roll with Jahmi'us Ramsey, the Big 12's star freshman who made 42.6% of his 3-pointers and could be the third straight TTU player to go in the first round following Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver. Ramsey is a top-30 prospect thanks to adroitly fitting into Chris Beard's system -- on both ends. He can switch screens well and is a great pound-for-pound defender. With 10 more pounds of muscle, he can grow into a nice two-way backup, the kind of energy guy who's capable of scoring off screens or creating with his dribble.