NBA Draft 2020: Team needs and prospect fits for every lottery team; Knicks, LaMelo Ball a perfect match?
Analyzing the team needs for all 14 teams currently out of the playoffs, and finding prospects to fill them
With NBA games, practices and workouts on hold, organizations have some extra time to evaluate prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft -- whenever it may be. Even with the season incomplete, we still have a pretty good sense of what type of players lottery teams should be looking for, based on their season thus far and projected 2020-21 roster construction.
With that in mind, NBA writer Colin Ward-Henninger and college basketball writer/draft expert Kyle Boone collaborated to give you a sense of which players would be the best fit on the 14 projected lottery teams (those who would be out of playoff position if the NBA canceled the rest of the regular season). Ward-Henninger provides the team needs, then Boone finds prospects to fill that need. Sounds easy enough, right?
The emphasis on wing depth is apparent when going through team needs, which may mean that top center prospects like James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu could end up in free fall come draft night. Things could certainly change if and when pre-draft workouts and combines are held, but here's a look at the best draft fits for every NBA lottery team as of now.
Team need: NBA-ready 3-and-D wing
Due to various offseason maneuvers, the Blazers were left with a gaping hole on the wing entering the season, which only got larger when they lost Rodney Hood to an Achilles injury. They've filled the gaps with Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza, but moving forward they'll need someone who is ready to contribute on both sides of the ball immediately next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The emphasis should be on defense, where Portland currently ranks 27th in the NBA. - Colin Ward-Henninger
Possible fits: Saddiq Bey, Devin Vassell, Aaron Nesmith
Villanova wing Saddiq Bey is the player you'd create in a quest to find a perfect fit in Portland. Not only does he satisfy the need for an NBA-ready wing who can contribute to a dreadful defense, but the 6-foot-8 prospect shot 45.1% from 3 as a sophomore last season, averaging 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while rating out in the 99th percentile in spot-up situations, per Synergy. He doesn't need the ball to make a defined impact.
Florida State's Devin Vassell could be another name the Trail Blazers target in the lottery. He's a career 41.7% 3-point shooter who knocks down shots with consistency. And defensively, he leverages his rangy frame to jump passing lanes and wreak havoc on the perimeter. The versatility of both Bey and Vassell should be enticing to teams looking to upgrade at the wing position in this draft.
Aaron Nesmith is the third wing that could be on the table. He shot 52.2% from 3 last season before his season was cut short due to injury, and most evaluators I've spoken with believe his stroke is the most pure in this class. - Kyle Boone
Team need: Backup wing, defensive center
This is a difficult one because we've only gotten to see the Pelicans at full strength for a handful of games this season. They have several reserve wings who could be on their way out this offseason (E'Twaun Moore, Kenrich Williams, Frank Jackson), so the Pels could try to add more depth there through the draft. They could also explore an NBA-ready, rim-protecting center in case Derrick Favors leaves in unrestricted free agency. Jaxson Hayes is the future at that position, but may not be ready to play big minutes next season. - CWH
Possible fits: Aaron Nesmith, Isaiah Stewart
New Orleans' main objective right now should be to surround Zion Williamson with shooters. Thus, Vanderbilt's Aaron Nesmith should be atop the list. He rated last season in the 99th percentile as a spot-up shooter and figures to be a plug-and-play shooter on the wing.
If the Pelicans target an upgrade at center to potentially hedge against impending free agent departures, a player like Washington's Isaiah Stewart makes a ton of sense as a fit for what they need to win now. He's a built-out 6-foot-9, 250 pound center who ranked third in the Pac-12 as a freshman in blocks and rebounds per game, and has the frame and skill set to play a big-bodied complement to rising second-year center Hayes. - KB
12. Sacramento Kings
Team need: Big defensive wing
Assuming health next season, the Kings will have a strong frontcourt rotation with Marvin Bagley III, Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bjelica, and we know about their perimeter studs De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic (if they keep him in restricted free agency). What they're really missing is a big, switchable defensive wing to spell Harrison Barnes while he's on the bench. They had Trevor Ariza, but that didn't work out for a variety of reasons and they sent him to Portland for Kent Bazemore, who's only 6-4 and is an unrestricted free agent. If the Kings are going to finally get back into the playoffs, they're going to need to improve their defense. - CWH
Possible fits: Saddiq Bey, Patrick Williams
Bey and Williams are jumbo wings -- both standing a towering 6-foot-8. And both could make a dramatic defensive impact for the Kings early. It's just a matter of which avenue they'd prefer to travel: Bey's the better shooter at this stage, but Williams is more than a year younger and already flashing promise as a potentially elite two-way player in time. Both will get looks in the 10-20 range. - KB
Team need: Scoring playmaker
The Spurs haven't generally played rookies much given their perpetual success, but they need to start seriously looking at the future. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker are all promising young players, but none is a go-to perimeter scorer who could take the place of DeMar DeRozan if he opts out of his contract this offseason, or when he eventually leaves. If they stay around the top 10, the Spurs could pull one more trick out of their bag (is Kawhi Leonard in this draft?) and swoop up a player they could help develop into a star in a few years. - CWH
Possible fits: Deni Avdija, Tyrese Maxey
Deni Avdija, of Maccabi Tel Aviv, is in a tier unto his own here -- a surefire top-7 pick with a 6-foot-9 frame, scoring upside, and playmaking ability to boot. Everything he can do from the forward position is what many teams look for from their playmakers. There's a chance he could develop into a legitimate secondary scoring and playmaking option in the NBA.
If the Spurs prefer to lean guard to fill this void, Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey is a viable option as well. Maxey's selling point is his elite driving ability, and at the shooting guard spot, he could really open things up in San Antonio. The big question is the shot. Mechanics are great, free throw percentage portends success from deep, but he shot just 29.2% from 3 at Kentucky. If he gets that squared away and shoots at an average clip he'll produce like a top-5 player in this class. - KB
10. Phoenix Suns
Team need: Defensive power forward
Monty Williams has gotten the Suns out of the bottom of the league defensively (they're currently 19th), but there's still a long way to go on that end. The Suns are pretty deep in the backcourt and on the wings, but could lose all their power forwards this offseason (Dario Saric is a restricted free agent, and there are team options for Frank Kaminsky and Cheick Diallo). So they could use an NBA-ready defensive power forward to play alongside Deandre Ayton, who hasn't thrived on that end of the floor. If the player they draft can shoot, even better, but the Suns' biggest need is someone to cover up defensively. - CWH
Possible fits: Onyeka Okongwu, Obi Toppin, Precious Achiuwa
USC big man Onyeka Okongwu ranked second among all freshmen in college basketball in blocks per game, swatting 2.71 shots per contest. He's a menace in the post who guards the rim like gold, and he has nimble feet to extend out beyond the paint. And here's a bonus: he's an efficient scorer around the rim who projects to be one of the best rebounding bigs in this class.
National Player of the Year Obi Toppin, while not a defensive-first forward, should get some consideration as well. He's a great passer, unselfish, and dunks everything within arms-length of the rim.
Down a rung on the prospect ladder, the Suns could find good value in Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa, who in James Wiseman's stead averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 boards and 1.9 blocks per game as a freshman. Achiuwa's a high-energy forward who should be able to make an early impact with his rebounding instincts and rim-running ability, two key skills that could portend well for a fit alongside DeAndre Ayton. - KB
Team need: Lock-down defender
The Wizards can put the ball in the basket, but they're on track to be one of the worst defensive teams in recent NBA history. At this point it doesn't really matter what position their draft pick plays -- they just need someone who can guard. With John Wall coming back next season it would make sense to grab a wing, but beggars can't be choosers. - CWH
Possible fits: Isaac Okoro, Devin Vassell
Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro is the most complete wing defender in this draft class. He has a 6-foot-6, 225 pound frame that he uses to keep opponents in front of him with sheer strength, and the versatility to guard 1-4. While there is (and will be) questions about how his ineffective 3-point shooting will develop over time, he'll no doubt make a tangible impact on winning from the jump with what he brings to the table doing all the little things as a role player.
Devin Vassell is another active defender who the Wizards could lock in on if Okoro is snatched up. Vassell's always engaged on the defensive end of the floor, with his long arms constantly disrupting opponents momentum on offense. His instincts on that end are natural. He knows when to reach for a steal, when to swipe, when to pounce. Vassell projects as a reliable floor-spacer, too, making him an ideal fit alongside what the Wiz have in place. - KB
Team need: Scorer
The Hornets might actually end up being victims of circumstance, as they possess the fourth-worst net rating in the NBA but currently have the eighth-worst record, lowering their odds for a top pick. "Best available player" has never been so apt, as Charlotte has needs all over the court, but they could start by looking at a scorer to go along with emerging youngsters Devonte' Graham, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, and help bolster their 28th-ranked offense. - CWH
Possible fits: Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton
If it's scoring you want, Charlotte, then scoring you'll get in Cole Anthony, one of the draft's most microwaveable bucket-getters. Anthony can run an offense but projects as a score-first guard at the next level. He's capable of getting hot and making shots in all sorts of situations, from off the dribble to catch and shoot, to spotting up and fading away. Anthony was considered a top-five prospect entering the year before an injury derailed his freshman season temporarily. Nonetheless, he returned and kept fighting for a UNC team that, frankly, was one of the least-talented in program history. Taking that into context, he could be a legitimate buy-low candidate given his blue-chip pedigree.
RJ Hampton is another scoring guard who has some creation abilities, but projects to be an off-ball guard like the Hornets should be prioritizing. Hampton's selling point is his athleticism and scoring upside, but the latter is still a bit of a gamble. He shot just 29.5% from 3 playing for the New Zealand Beakers last season and has some mechanical issues to resolve. - KB
Team need: Two-way wing
The Bulls have volume scorers in the backcourt with Zach LaVine and Coby White, and two of their recent top-10 picks, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., have the frontcourt locked down. Their lack of wing depth is clear, even with a healthy Otto Porter, so they could certainly use a polished perimeter scorer and defender in the 6-6 to 6-9 range. - CWH
Possible fits: Aaron Nesmith, Saddiq Bey, Isaac Okoro
It's hard to find two more appealing two-way wings in this draft than Aaron Nesmith and Saddiq Bey, who shot 52.2% and 45.1%, respectively, from 3 last season. Both rated out last season in the elite-level percentiles overall as spot-up shooters, making them ideal fits alongside ball-dominant guards already in place in Chicago.
Okoro doesn't quite fit the two-way mold taking his offensive deficiencies into account, but he's another the Bulls should give thought about drafting if he's on the board. Long-term, evaluators view his upside as higher than Bey and Nesmith, but he'll need time to develop offensively and, more specifically, as a 3-point shooter. - KB
Team need: Scoring, playmaking guard
When the Knicks traded Marcus Morris, they lost pretty much their only perimeter player capable of consistently getting buckets, which has led to the league's fourth-worst offense. None of their point guards -- Elfird Payton, Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith Jr. -- look like the answer, so a playmaking, score-first combo guard might be the best thing for the Knicks right now. - CWH
Possible fits: LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes
The Knicks need a scorer, but they also need a lead playmaker. In LaMelo Ball they could get both. He's a teenage talent who checks the boxes as an elite facilitator with his court vision and ability to read plays before they develop. Adding him to the mix could help the Knicks meld the talent they have in place now and be the rising tide that lifts all boats in NY.
French guard Killian Hayes could also be in the mix dependent upon where the Knicks are selecting. He's a tremendous shot creator, ball-handler and passer who showed some scoring flashes from distance this past season that's been more miss than hit in years past. Both Ball and Hayes are top-five prospects in the CBS Sports Big Board. - KB
Team need: Everything
Let's not sugar-coat this: Things are bleak with the Pistons right now. They kicked off a full rebuild by trading Andre Drummond and waiving Reggie Jackson, and now face the prospect of starting from scratch with Blake Griffin's nearly untradeable, gigantic contract hanging over their heads. Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, Bruce Brown and Svi Mykhailiuk all look like decent prospects, but the Pistons shouldn't worry about fit when they select in this year's draft -- just take the best player available. - CWH
Possible fits: Everyone
If I'm the Pistons, I'm corking my bat Sammy Sosa-style and looking to hit the longest home run ever recorded. This is not a draft to try and play it safe. I'm looking for major boom prospects. And for my money, with what Detroit has right now, Anthony Edwards is tops on my list. He's still just 18 years old and already has the shot creation and otherworldly athleticism of a future All-Star if he continues on his current path.
If Detroit goes down a different path but still seeks out the biggest potential hit, then LaMelo Ball should be on the radar as a potential cornerstone candidate. The Pistons are aging fast at point guard and probably don't see Derrick Rose as the cornerstone to a rebuild, so Ball would give them a young gun to groom behind Rose as he adds weight to his frame and learns the ropes in the NBA. - KB
Team need: Wing defender/Backup point guard
The Hawks acquired Clint Capela from Houston before the trade deadline, filling the most glaring hole on the roster with a young player who knows his role. They've stocked up on the wing around Trae Young and John Collins in recent drafts, selecting Kevin Huerter, DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish, but their defense continues to be horrendous. If there's an absolute offensive stud still on the board when the Hawks select, there's no reason to pass on him, but in terms of fit they could use a rangy wing defender or backup guard, who, along with Capela, should get them headed in the right direction defensively. - CWH
Possible fits: Isaac Okoro, Ashton Hagans
With the scoring power Atlanta has in place already, a prospect like Isaac Okoro -- a defensive pest who can guard multiple positions and doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact -- is just what it needs to solidify a promising young core of wings while upgrading defensively.
If the Hawks are patient, they may be able to address the backup point guard position later in the draft while adding a wing like Okoro. And using that same line of thinking, they could prioritize a defensive-first ball-handler like Ashton Hagans who, despite his scoring struggles overall, is a viable facilitator who can pull out the clamps on the perimeter. A starkly different player than Trae Young, but one who would bring tons of value to ATL -- and would get him back to his home state, too. - KB
Team need: Best available wing
The wing need here is pretty obvious, with D'Angelo Russell as the primary ball-handler and Karl-Anthony Towns in the middle. They're going to need defensive help, but that shouldn't prevent president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas from taking the best wing available regardless of whether or not he's a true stopper. The Wolves are building for the future, and adding a potential third star would be a huge win. - CWH
Possible fits: Anthony Edwards, Josh Green
Edwards' scoring and upside makes him one of the best prospects in this class regardless of position, and his defensive potential is just icing on the cake. If he's on the board when Minnesota's picking -- whether it's at No. 1 or No. 3 or No. 33 -- he's probably the best-case option for the Wolves in the top five.
Beyond Edwards, Arizona's Josh Green is a mid-to-late first-round prospect Minnesota could consider if Edwards gets scooped up. Green's defense is tremendous and his raw shooting numbers in college were solid. In a different situation he could thrive as a two-way wing. The athleticism and smarts is off the charts. - KB
Team need: Playmaking wing
Collin Sexton made a leap this season in terms of scoring, but it's hard to see him as the point guard of the future given his lack of playmaking. Darius Garland could grow into that role, but the Cavs would be well served by a point-forward type who can play on the wing defensively, but also handle the ball and facilitate on offense. If he can play defense, even better, but it's one step at a time for the Cavs. - CWH
Possible fits: Anthony Edwards, Deni Avdija
If Edwards doesn't fall into Cleveland's lap, Deni Avdija should be the next target for the Cavs in their quest to reboot. He fits the mold of a point-forward with his smart passing, good handles, and scoring. His game makes him a natural fit in a playmaking role that could fit well alongside another primary ball-handler like Sexton. - KB
Team need: NBA-ready wing
The Warriors are one of the most curious cases in recent draft history, as they could have the top pick but should also contend for a title next season. The guard spots are obviously taken care of with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but the losses of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have left holes on the wing outside of Andrew Wiggins. The emergence of Marquese Chriss and the team's makes it seem unlikely that the Warriors will target a center here, so look for them to go after a wing who can step into the rotation right away and make an impact. - CWH
Possible fits: Anthony Edwards, Aaron Nesmith
There are two players the Warriors, whether they keep their pick or trade back, should target. The first is Anthony Edwards, a polished scoring wing who can create for himself and could thrive in a pace-and-space system like they have in Golden State, which would accentuate Edwards' athletic prowess.
The second is a move-back target: Aaron Nesmith. Nesmith is a big-bodied wing who projects as a perfect fit with the Warriors that may allow them to extend their championship window. Regarded as an elite shooter, he could be a viable scoring punch on the perimeter to complement Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, with a similarly low-usage rate like Thompson. - KB
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
It is growing less and less likely that the entire NBA will make the trip to Disney
Pierce clearly has a personal beef with LeBron, whom he recently left out of his top five players...
Thibodeau hasn't coached an NBA game since he was fired by the Timberwolves in January of 2019
There's no telling what to expect if and when the season resumes, but the end result should...
Wall hasn't played since December of 2018 due to a torn Achilles tendon
Regardless of the playoff format, the more random the conditions, the more random the results