At this point in a normal year, the NBA Draft would be well behind us and rookies would be preparing to begin their first professional training camps. This is not a normal year, as we all know, so instead we are still two months away from the 2020 draft, with no clue how and when the predraft process will take place.
The fuzziness adds another layer to what was already considered an unpredictable draft, especially since there is no consensus No. 1 overall pick. In a bizarre turn of events right in line with the rest of the events of 2020, the Golden State Warriors have secured the worst record in the NBA. If they win the lottery they will almost assuredly shop the pick to see what they can get, but if they do make the selection they're , who some consider to be the best prospect in the class. With that in mind, they should select Anthony Edwards, whose polished offensive game shouldn't be masked by his inefficiency as a Georgia freshman.
This is an odd draft, where the best player could end up going in the mid-to-late first round, particularly given the lack of preparation and scouting the NBA teams might endure due to the pandemic. What a great time to put together my first-ever mock draft! The NBA Draft has always been one of my favorite events, so it was fun digging deeper on this year's prospects. Hopefully it will be the first of many.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Georgia • Fr • 6'4" / 225 lbs
If last season and the COVID situation have taught the Warriors anything, it's that nothing should be taken for granted. Sure they could trade down to get more win-now pieces, but ultimately they have to think about the future, and Anthony Edwards has the chance to be a special player. Of course there are question marks, but Edwards projects to be, at the very least, a high-profile scorer at the NBA level given his athleticism and shot-creation ability. At best, you're looking at a future All-NBA player who should thrive in the NBA style at the coveted wing position. Getting into a strong culture like Golden State's should help remedy any effort issues on both ends of the court.
Round 1 - Pick 2
I'm not as high on LaMelo Ball as a lot of draft evaluators, but I completely understand the infatuation. His size, vision and basketball IQ make him a drool-worthy guard prospect coming off of a strong (albeit brief) performance in Australia's NBL, but there's clearly bust potential given his poor shooting, lack of finishing ability and general disinterest in defense. In a relatively weak draft, Ball has too much upside to pass on at No. 2 -- but he's far from a sure thing.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Iowa State • Fr • 6'5" / 185 lbs
The NBA has moved away from a traditional mentality of having a point guard and and off guard as teams routinely put two playmakers in the game together. With that in mind, a combo guard/wing like Tyrese Haliburton makes perfect sense in any system, and his ability to score and distribute out of the pick and roll will translate immediately to the league. He has the length to guard multiple positions and his shot, while not pretty, was certainly effective at Iowa State. The comps to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are there for a reason, and Haliburton should fit right in next to D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Southern California • Fr • 6'8" / 240 lbs
The youngest lottery prospect in the draft, Onyeka Okongwu is only cracking the surface of his talent on both sides of the ball, which is a scary thought. He's already an elite shot blocker with his 7-foot wingspan, and is agile and quick enough to handle perimeter switches. He can make an immediate impact on the defensive end, and his offensive game is surprisingly polished for a player his age. The shot isn't there yet, but he has good enough mechanics to develop that over the years. Okongwu could wind up being the best player in this draft when all is said and done.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Memphis • Fr • 7'0" / 240 lbs
It's wild to think that James Wiseman could fall this far in the draft, but it goes to show the value that the center position has lost in the NBA in recent years -- particularly if the center isn't a knock-down shooter. Agile and mobile at 7-1 with a 7-6 wingspan, Wiseman is at the very least an elite shot-blocker/rim-runner, and his ceiling is as high as anyone in the draft's if he continues to develop his playmaking and ball-handling. He won't get the post touches in the NBA that he did in his brief time at Memphis, so he needs to improve his face-up and pick-and-roll game if he's going to score outside of lobs and putbacks.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Obi Toppin PF
Dayton • Fr • 6'9" / 220 lbs
Sure the Knicks would love a point guard, but at this juncture of the draft they simply have to take the best player, and that's Obi Toppin. A proven scorer who should be able to stretch to the NBA 3-point line, he can be a beast in transition as a rim-runner and in the halfcourt as a playmaker out of the short roll. He's not an elite shot-blocker but will certainly affect things on that end with his length, and he's a mobile enough defender to not get killed on switches. At 22, Toppin is older than the other top lottery picks, but teams shouldn't let that dissuade them.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Every year I fall unreasonably in love with at least one prospect, and this year it's Deni Avdija. He has the chance to be a special playmaker from the forward position, both in transition and in the halfcourt. The key offensive question for Avdija is his shooting -- he has good mechanics but has yet to put up consistent results from the 3-point line. If he can eventually do that, his ceiling is raised considerably. He has limitations defensively given his lack of athleticism, but you can tell the kid just knows how to play basketball.
Round 1 - Pick 8
The Hornets are starting basically from scratch, so they're a perfect team to take Killian Hayes -- a long, lanky 19-year-old who has all the makings of an elite point guard. He'll need time, but he's already made tremendous strides as a 3-point shooter to go along with his natural court vision and pick-and-roll prowess. Hayes has the potential to be a starting point guard for many years in this league, but he needs to go to a team that will have patience and can develop his talent.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Isaac Okoro SF
Auburn • Fr • 6'5" / 225 lbs
Any team would be lucky to snag Isaac Okoro at this point in the draft. He's an elite athlete who profiles as a lock-down perimeter defender at 6-5 with a 6-9 wingspan. You know Okoro will play hard, and he has the work ethic to improve as a 3-point shooter -- he has decent form but has yet to produce consistent results. Okoro can slide into an NBA starting lineup right now and help your team, a rare trait for a 19-year-old.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Florida State • Fr • 6'5" / 200 lbs
Devin Vassell probably has the most upside of the 3-and-D prospects who will go in the late lottery given his age and projectable frame. His motor, technique and physical skills make him an NBA-ready multi-position defender, and he's a knock-down spot-up shooter, making him the perfect complement to a lead scorer/playmaker. He's comparable to Mikal Bridges, so it will be interesting if the Suns end up with him.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Vanderbilt • Fr • 6'5" / 215 lbs
Aaron Nesmith is more than a 3-and-D prospect -- he has a chance to be an elite NBA shooter both in spot-up situations and off the dribble. If the medicals come back clean on his injured foot, Nesmith will be ready to make an immediate impact in the league. He's not a playmaker, but he'd be ideal for running off of screens and creating offensive gravity. On the defensive end, he has the strength and length to defend multiple positions right away.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Alabama • Fr • 6'1" / 170 lbs
With blazing speed and a sweet shooting stroke, Kira Lewis is another one of my favorites in the draft. He excels in transition, but is a strong finisher when he gets to the rim and can shoot both off the catch and off the dribble. Lewis also has the vision and acumen to operate out of the pick-and-roll in the halfcourt. His slight frame will cause issues defensively, but a team like the Pelicans should be willing to take the risk for his offensive upside.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Saddiq Bey SF
Villanova • Fr • 6'7" / 215 lbs
Saddiq Bey is as known a commodity as there is in this draft, as a 6-8 wing who can immediately become a 3-and-D specialist. He has a weird release on his shot, but you can't argue with the results as he hit 45% from deep as a sophomore at Villanova. He'll need work to become a shot creator or playmaker, but he could still make improvements in that area as he gets comfortable with his size (he was 6-1 as a high school sophomore).
Round 1 - Pick 14
Cole Anthony PG
North Carolina • Fr • 6'3" / 185 lbs
A polished bucket-getter with a solid handle, Cole Anthony should be able to impact games off the bench immediately as he grows into an NBA-caliber starting point guard. Portland (or any team near the bottom of the lottery or just out of it) is likely looking for immediate help, and Anthony should be able to provide that on the offensive end. He's more of a scorer than a playmaker, but he's adept at running pick-and-rolls and is a capable 3-point shooter off the catch and off the dribble. His shot selection is questionable at times, but he sure isn't afraid of competition or the moment.
Round 1 - Pick 15
R.J. Hampton did not perform well in the NBL as a member of the New Zealand Breakers, but this is about as far as he can slip before the intrigue proves too much for an NBA GM. An elite athlete who has tremendous scoring potential, Hampton was a top-five recruit coming out of high school. He has yet to find consistency on his jumper, something that would take him to the next level, and he will get pushed around on defense in the NBA, but Hampton is an enticing prospect who shouldn't slip past the mid-first round.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 16
Memphis • Fr • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Precious Achiuwa more than earned the attention he got after James Wiseman left Memphis, proving himself to be a capable rim-runner and shot-blocker. He's much more than that as a prospect, however, with decent shot mechanics suggesting he may become a capable NBA 3-point shooter. He's certainly not a playmaker and his offensive game needs work, but his 7-2 wingspan will immediately disrupt opponents defensively and his athleticism will go a long way in transition and as a roll man.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 1 - Pick 17
Theo Maledon has great instincts as a pick-and-roll playmaker and his shooting should continue to improve given his solid mechanics. He's a crafty finisher around the rim, which helps him compensate for a lack of explosiveness and jumping ability. Maledon is not a draft-and-stash player, so defensively he may be a liability as a rookie ... just like so many young guards. His 6-6 wingspan should help him in that regard, and his offensive ceiling makes him a worthwhile gamble here.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Tyrese Maxey SG
Kentucky • Fr • 6'2" / 191 lbs
Tyrese Maxey has quite a halfcourt scoring package, including an advanced pull-up and floater game that should serve him well at the next level. He has a low release on his jumper, which could cause problems, and he didn't make 3-pointers consistently as a fershman at Kentucky. He did shoot 83% from the free-throw line, however, which suggests it's just a matter of reps and slight mechanical tweaks that can come with coaching and body development. Maxey has the talent to be a lottery pick, so getting him at No. 18 would be a steal.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 1 - Pick 19
Florida State • Fr • 6'7" / 227 lbs
Still just 18 years old, Patrick Williams is an intriguing prospect given his 6-11 wingspan and all-around offensive game. Right now his NBA position is unclear, but a team like the Bucks would take the time to develop him without the pressure of having to play him right away. He profiles as a plus defender as long as he can improve his lateral quickness to handle switches, and his jump shot shows real promise despite the 32% 3-point mark (he shot 84% from the free-throw line). He's likely a bit of a project, but one that could pay off big time.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Michigan State • Fr • 6'8" / 245 lbs
Xavier Tillman can make an immediate defensive impact with his 7-1 wingspan and relentless motor. He probably won't be a go-to scorer at any point during his NBA career, but he is an efficient playmaker out of the high post and short roll, which is rare for a rim-runner/shot-blocker type. At 21 years old and 250 pounds, he should be ready to contribute to a team almost immediately.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Grant Riller PG
College of Charleston • Fr • 6'1" / 190 lbs
With the 76ers moving Ben Simmons away from point guard duties, they could use someone at the position capable of scoring and shooting off the ball -- Grant Riller is that guy, and he should still be on the board at this point in the draft. A four-year player, Riller is physically ready to contribute right away, and has the confidence to score in both isolation and out of the pick-and-roll. His playmaking is questionable, but if you pair him with Simmons (or any point forward), it could be a deadly combination.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 22
Josh Green SG
Arizona • Fr • 6'5" / 200 lbs
At 6-5 with a 6-10 wingspan, Josh Green should be able to slot in either on the wing or as a combo guard. He's a good athlete who thrives in transition, but can also be a spot-up threat with good footwork on catch-and-shoot opportunities. He may not be a strong creator or playmaker at the NBA level, but he is aggressive and has a great motor on both ends. He should benefit from a more wide-open NBA style.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Desmond Bane SF
TCU • Fr • 6'5" / 215 lbs
Desmond Bane is an elite shooter with an NBA body, so he should fit right in with Miami's 3-point-heavy attack. He improved each of his four seasons at TCU, and made nearly three 3-pointers per game as a senior while nearly doubling his assists. He probably profiles more as a guard than a wing at the next level, which could create defensive issues given his level of athleticism. That being said, Bane should be able to step onto the court and make an impact right away.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Tre Jones PG
Duke • Fr • 6'1" / 185 lbs
The younger brother of Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones, Tre Jones should have, at the very least, a similar impact at the NBA level as a solid backup point guard for years to come. He gets after it on the defensive end despite his relatively small frame, and is a solid playmaker in the halfcourt. He will need to improve his 3-point shot if he's going to be able to thrive at the next level, but he clearly has the work ethic and pedigree to do so.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 25
Maryland • Fr • 6'10" / 215 lbs
On the surface Jalen Smith looks like a potentially elite rim-runner/protector, but his 3-point shooting makes him all the more intriguing. He has strong mechanics and shot nearly 37% from deep as a sophomore at Maryland after shooting just 27% as a freshman. If he can consistently hit 3-pointers, Smith's ceiling goes from a strong bench player to a starting stretch-five. He'll need to improve his lateral movement to not get killed on switches, but strength and maturity should help in that department.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Washington • Fr • 6'8" / 250 lbs
There is still room in the NBA for a traditional big man, and Isaiah Stewart is exactly that. An imposing 6-9 with a massive 7-4 wingspan, he's a bruiser with a relentless motor who will be able to mix it up down low from Day One in the NBA. His lack of lateral quickness will probably limit his upside as a defender, but he will certainly protect the rim and the paint.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 27
Duke • Fr • 6'5" / 193 lbs
Cassius Stanley is the definition of an elite athlete, with breakaway speed and head-above-the-rim level hops. He also has a good looking jump shot that could become more consistent through hard work. At 6-6, Stanley has the makeup of a lottery talent, but for some reason he didn't showcase that talent as a Duke freshman. There's no better place to take a gamble on him than at the end of the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 28
San Diego State • Fr • 6'1" / 175 lbs
Malachi Flynn did it all for San Diego State, scoring nearly 18 points per game and dishing out five assists while showcasing an impressive scoring and playmaking package. He has excellent shot mechanics, which makes him projectable as a catch-and-shoot or pull-up 3-point threat, and he was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He's undersized, but if there's any team that can get the most out of undersized, savvy guards, it's the Raptors.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Michigan State • Fr • 6'1" / 185 lbs
We know LeBron James has a penchant for proven college performers, and that's exactly what Cassius Winston is. He lacks athleticism and is undersized, but that didn't stop him from excelling at Michigan State for four years. He is a master manipulator in the pick-and-roll, and may have improved his draft stock by shooting 43% from deep as a senior. He may not be the flashiest prospect, but Winston is as rock solid as they come.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Minnesota • Fr • 6'8" / 240 lbs
Rim protection is at a premium in the modern NBA, and Oturu's 7-2 wingspan will certainly provide that. He's incredibly athletic with a great motor, and will immediately get you boards and blocks. Where he'll run into problems is on switches, where his lateral speed and technique could cause him to be hunted relentlessly. Offensively, Oturu is intriguing given his 36.5% 3-point shooting. If he can knock those down, he could project as a Dewayne Dedmon-type shot-blocker/stretch-five at the NBA level.