The NBA locked in the draft order during the lottery on Thursday night. Minnesota started the lottery tied for the best odds to land No. 1 with a 14 percent chance with the top pick.
Unlike a year ago with Zion Williamson as the obvious prize waiting for the lottery winner, there is no clear-cut No. 1 pick this year. The pandemic will only further complicate the draft process with the cancellation of March Madness and the likelihood of the draft combine being held virtually.
This is considered a ‘weak’ draft because it lacks a consensus top pick, but every draft is still loaded with players who will have successful careers. This one is no different.
The 2020 NBA Draft is currently set for Friday, Oct. 16. Here’s how we see it shaking out.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Ant can be a lot when he wants to be pic.twitter.com/vQKP3EYo8b— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) February 27, 2020
At his best, Anthony Edwards looks like he has the total package to one day be day a primary scoring option. The Georgia freshman has elite quick-twitch athleticism, crazy explosiveness near the basket, and impressive shot-making ability off the dribble when he’s hot. The problem with Edwards is that he too often settles for his jumper rather than consistently putting pressure on the rim. He also needs to improve reading defenses and knowing where the rotation comes from so he can consistently find the open man as a passer. Despite his fantastic physical tools, Edwards also leaves a lot to be desired defensively.
No one is questioning Edwards’ talent level. It’s just hard to put him at No. 1 when he shot under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three. It feels like Edwards would be wise to focus on defense early in his career and let his natural ability takeover on offense.
2. Golden State Warriors - LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
Today’s NBA is dominated by oversized offensive initiators who can breakdown the defense off the dribble and find open teammates as a passer. LaMelo Ball is the No. 1 player on our draft board because he has the best chance to fit that archetype of anyone in this year’s class. At 6’7, Ball is a natural point guard blessed with rare vision and creativity. He finds angles that don’t exist and throws passes few other players alive would even consider. He also has the best ball handling ability in this year’s class, able to shake defenders and create separation with tight crossovers and pace manipulation. Turning 19 years old in late August, he’s also one of the youngest players in this draft.
Ball will have to prove can score efficiently in the halfcourt to give his passing extra juice, and that remains a work in progress. He finished the year at just 48 percent true shooting in 13 games in Australia. Outside shooting is his biggest swing skill after hitting 28 percent of his threes. Ball’s shot selection is often highly questionable, but all of those repetitions shooting with range off the dribble could one day pay dividends. Defense will be his biggest immediate concern. He often looked disinterested on the defensive end in Australia, but it’s possible his instincts could make him an adequate defender as he adds strength later in his career.
3. Charlotte Hornets - Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
Here's the best prospect in the class, Onyeka Okongwu, dominating: pic.twitter.com/JqG9wg6uQZ— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 25, 2020
Okongwu became the top center in this draft class by quite simply being the most impactful freshman in college basketball. While a bit undersized for an NBA five at 6’9, 245 pounds, Okongwu is strong physically and always seems to know where to be to wall off the paint defensively. His 9.8 percent block rate is one of the best among projected first round prospects and hit the glass hard as a rebounder on both ends.
Offensively, Okongwu knows how to finish out of the short roll and in the dunker spot, posting a brilliant 64.5 true shooting percentage this year. Comparisons to Bam Adebayo feel a little optimistic given Adebayo’s All-Star breakout for the Miami Heat, but his success lays out a blueprint of how a young center can blossom in the NBA without being 7-feet tall.
The likely pick in this situation feels like James Wiseman from Memphis, who we are lower on than the consensus. Expect Wiseman to go at No. 2 or No. 3, but the take here is that Okongwu is a better player.
4. Chicago Bulls - Killian Hayes, G, Ulm
How to impact a defense off ball featuring Killian Hayes: pic.twitter.com/dsz9Eu9hU6— Spencer (@SKPearlman) July 21, 2020
After LaMelo Ball, Hayes feels like the next best bet in the draft to eventually turn into a high-level offensive initiator. While not the most explosive natural athlete, Hayes is a big 6’5 lefty guard who already understands the reads and rhythm of playing in the pick-and-roll. He answered questions about his outside shooting ability during his first season in the German league, showing an improved three-point stroke while hitting 87 percent of his free throws. As Ball and Edwards each struggled to score efficiently, Hayes finished his season with an impressive 59 percent true shooting. He should also be able to hold his own defensively after showing a knack for making plays off the ball.
Despite just turning 19 years old, Hayes also feels like one of the most physically mature prospects in this draft class. He should have the strength to compete defensively early in his career, and has showed off impressive awareness and an ability to play the passing lanes. He’s already shown flashes of pull-up shooting off the dribble, and it feels like that’s the skill that could push him to become one of the best players in this class if he can consistently hit it with range. Questions about his raw athleticism might push him down the board further than this, but few prospects in this year class offer as many translatable skills as Hayes.
The more likely pick feels like Deni Avdija.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Obi Toppin, C/F, Dayton
Obi Toppin's synergy profile. He ranks in the 99th percentile of points per possession this season. pic.twitter.com/uD6OQ8Ihj9— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) March 11, 2020
How great can Toppin be offensively? How poor will be defensively? Those two questions will be debated fervently in the run-up to the draft. Toppin was the best player in college basketball this year at Dayton, finishing in the 99th percentile of scoring efficiency throughout the country. The athletic 6’9 big man isn’t just a monster finisher at the rim, he also showed off an improved three-point stroke. The hangup here is Toppin’s struggles defensively. He often looked disinterested in protecting the rim, and it’s likely teams will hunt him in the pick-and-roll early in his career.
The pieces around Toppin will go a long way towards determining how effective he is at the NBA level. He needs to be paired with an electric playmaker offensively and with someone who can protect the paint defensively. While his age and defensive limitations are scary, Toppin is big, agile, and explosive while posting absolutely unassailable efficiency numbers for the Flyers. It won’t be easy to put him in the perfect team building context long-term, but if it happens his unique strengths should make him a thrilling NBA scorer.
6. Atlanta Hawks - Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Love the burst Deni Avdija shows here off the bounce.— Spencer (@SKPearlman) January 26, 2020
Subtle in-and-out dribble with his eyes going off to the left to give thought he was passing it off, then gets low and attacks for the drive and dropoff pic.twitter.com/sv2dHE8J5c
Avdija is a 6’8 combo forward who offers a dribble-pass-shoot skill set that should transition nicely into the NBA. He solidified his case as a top-10 prospect during his run to MVP honors in the Israeli league with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Avdija is effective in transition with grab-and-go rebound ability, impressive passing vision, and the aggression to finish at the basket when he needs to. His fit into halfcourt NBA offenses will remain a bigger question. Avdija will have value as a passer and cutter, but he’ll need to continue to prove himself as a shooter even after showing a better outside stroke after the league returned from its pandemic hiatus.
7. Detroit Pistons - James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Wiseman was the No. 1 overall recruit in the country before playing just three games at Memphis amid an NCAA eligibility scandal. His limited college tape is just one reason why he feels like the most polarizing prospect in this year’s class. Believers in Wiseman see a long-and-strong 7’1 center who can protect rim and slam home lobs from day one while refining his offensive skill set. Critics question the quickness of his lateral mobility and second jump, and wonder how impactful a center can be in today’s game without plus shooting and passing ability.
What gives me pause with Wiseman is he couldn’t even make one of the All-EYBL teams as a high school player despite being the No. 1 recruit in America. Wiseman’s physical tools give him a relatively high floor, but it’s hard to see him with a high enough ceiling to warrant a top-three pick even in a weak draft. He should be a solid center, but star projections feel too optimistic.
8. New York Knicks - Devin Vassell, F, Florida State
Just sick stuff from Devin Vassell pic.twitter.com/V07OxMxMFS— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) January 23, 2020
Vassell saw his draft projection go from sleeper to top-10 pick during a breakout sophomore year at Florida State. Few players in this draft are safer bets to offer more two-way potential. The 6’6 wing is an excellent team defender as the bedrock of a unit that finished No. 15 unit in the country, showing an ability to get into the passing lanes (2.8 percent steal rate) and wall up near the rim (4.1 percent block rate) despite not having the biggest frame. While Vassell isn’t much of a creator on offense with the ball in his hands, he does have a quality shooting projection. He made 41.5 percent of his three-pointers this season and showed an ability to hit them on the move and from a variety of angles. If you want a 3-and-D wing in this draft, it’s hard to do better than Vassell.
9. Washington Wizards - Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
NBA scouts wanted to find out if Haliburton could maintain his excellent efficiency while going from reserve to featured star as a sophomore at Iowa State. For the most part, he did exactly that. A skinny 6’6 point guard, Haliburton has proved to be an excellent spot-up three-point shooter (42 percent) and an advanced passer (35.3 percent assist rate). Just don’t ask him to single-handedly create offense in the half-court. Haliburton is not the type of guard who breaks down the defense off the dribble and puts consistent pressure on the rim, meaning he’ll likely be at his best as a secondary ball handler. Add in his terrific defensive instincts — his 3.8 steal rate ranked top-40 in America — and Haliburton looks like a nice complementary piece if not exactly a future star.
10. Phoenix Suns - Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
Tyrese Maxey throws the ball way ahead for the split, steps through the Okoro contest for the and-1 with his off hand. Unreal sequence pic.twitter.com/apfxNLamUZ— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) February 2, 2020
Maxey doesn’t run offense like a traditional point guard and lacks the size to consistently defend shooting guards, but it isn’t hard to see how his skill set could be effectively deployed next to a bigger offensive initiator in the NBA. The 6’2 freshman is at his best attacking the basket, where he showcases impressive body control and soft touch around the rim. He’s an active and attentive defender who plays bigger than his size with quick hits and good length with a 6’6 wingspan. Maxey only shot 29 percent from three-point range, but he hit better than 83 percent of his free throws and should be a threat both off the dribble and on catch-and-shoots. Maxey has some limitations for now, but he has enough skills to be an impactful player in the league in the right team context down the line.
11. San Antonio Spurs - Patrick Williams, F, Florida State
Flashes like this at his size make Patrick Williams the lotto tier prospect he is. So active making interior rotations, contests then pushes in transition and makes a great pass: pic.twitter.com/BWj5YKtqdb— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) February 25, 2020
Williams showed flashes of the type of player he could one day become during his freshman season at Florida State. The youngest NCAA prospect in this year’s draft, Williams is a long-and-strong 6’8 combo forward who offers defensive versatility with the hope of spot-up shooting and supplemental playmaking. Defensively, he’s big and strong enough to provide secondary rim protection in the front court after posting a 5.6 percent block rate with the ‘Noles. His offense is fairly rudimentary at this point, but there’s reason to believe he can be a better shooter than his 32 percent mark on relatively low volume suggests. He did hit 84 percent of his free throws. NBA teams always need big wings. Williams has the potential to be an impact player if continues to flush out his skill set.
12. Sacramento Kings - Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
Isaac Okoro pull-up 3, comes down the other end, tag, steal, and dunk pic.twitter.com/MeU0ar19dQ— Max Carlin (@maxacarlin) January 16, 2020
A powerfully built 6’6 wing, Isaac Okoro was a shutdown defender from the moment he entered Auburn. He displayed rare defensive versatility in his freshman season, preventing penetration when guarding the ball, making crisp rotations off the ball, and even flashing some signs of rim protection when he’d wall up in the paint. Okoro’s offense remains a mixed bag at best, with encouraging playmaking flashes being overshadowed by his struggles to shoot from three-point range. A team would do best to be creative offensively with Okoro early in his career rather than letting him sit out on the perimeter where opposing teams will likely ignore him. If his outside shot eventually comes around, he would be the type of two-way wing every team covets.
13. New Orleans Pelicans - Aleksej Pokuševski, F, Olympiacos
It feels like every draft has a boom-or-bust prospect that will make one GM either look brilliant or foolish depending on his development. This year, it’s Pokuševski. The 7-footer has a mesmerizing array of skills for someone his size, showing off knockdown shooting ability and creative passing flashes with the ball. He’s also impossibly skinny and will likely be hunted defensively whenever he’s on the floor. Poku also didn’t face the highest level of competition playing in Greece’s second division, but it’s worth noting some guy named Giannis did pretty well coming over from the same league.
14. Boston Celtics - Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
What a great set to get Cole Anthony attacking downhill off the catch, and an impressive and-one finish, too.— Trevor William Marks (@twmarks_) August 12, 2020
Secondary DHO with Cole curling off of the Garrison Brooks pindown.
Exactly the type of action that Cole needs to see in the NBA to maximize him off-ball. pic.twitter.com/MUDzS7uyxw
Anthony was getting hyped as a potential top-three pick coming out of high school before a disappointing freshman season at North Carolina that was weighed down by a torn meniscus. At his best, Anthony can still be an electric shot-maker off the dribble with deep range. He’s impressive in the pick-and-roll, but his ideal fit at the next level should be playing off the ball next to a dynamic offensive initiator. His size will lead to questions defensively, but Anthony has always been a quality rebounder and disruptive in the passing lanes. His high school pedigree will be at odds with his underwhelming freshman season and the fact that he’s a year older than a typical freshman. If Anthony pulls off a successful transition to the NBA, it will more evidence to take evaluations throughout multiple years and not just a single one-and-done season.
15. Orlando Magic - Kira Lewis Jr, PG, Alabama
Lewis might be the fastest player in the draft with the ball in his hands. The 6’3 point guard is a blur in transition, where he graded out in the 79th percentile of points per possession in the country. Lewis is also a capable shooter who hit 36.4 percent of his threes and graded out in the 86th percentile of spot-up opportunities. He’s a solid if unspectacular passer at this point in his career and will badly need to add strength to his skinny frame. The biggest point in Lewis’ favor might be his age: he was the youngest sophomore in the country this season after playing his freshman year as a 17-year-old.
16. Portland Trail Blazers - Josh Green, SG, Arizona
Green is a monster athlete with a catch-and-shoot potential who can still be impactful despite a rudimentary offensive skill set. Offensively, Green can find success with straight lines or cuts to the basket but his value will ultimately be determined by how good of a shooter he becomes. He hit 36.1 percent of 83 attempts at a freshman at Arizona. Defensively is where Green is more intriguing. He’s a super fluid athlete with quick hips who can force turnovers with a 6’10 wingspan. It’s fair to question his upside given his lack of offensive refinement, but he should be able to stick in the league for a while as a 3-and-D wing.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves - R.J. Hampton, G, NZ Breakers
Hampton sets up the screen with a double cross, gets downhill with legit speed and slams. He's a good athlete: pic.twitter.com/gga2arkORm— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) March 22, 2020
The Dallas native graduated high school early to join LaMelo Ball in the NBL and play for the New Zealand Breakers. Hampton’s year abroad was interrupted by a hip injury, but he showed flashes of what makes once made a top recruit across 17 games as a pro. A 6’6 combo guard, Hampton is aggressive attacking the basket and has the strength to absorb contact and finish inside. Those same attributes make him a competent defender, too. He’ll need to improve his outside shooting (29 percent from three) and his ability to read defenses to become a starter, but for now Hampton looks like he’s worth a shot as a developmental guard prospect.
18. Dallas Mavericks - Aaron Nesmith, SG, Vanderbilt
Nesmith looked like the best three-point shooter in college basketball before a season-ending foot injury. The 6’6 sophomore guard hit 52.2 percent of his three-pointers and showed an ability to hit shots from tough angles while on the move. While not an elite defender, Nesmith showed an ability to understand his role on defense and should be able to hold his own on that end. If you need a catch-and-shoot threat in this draft, Nesmith is one of the best options available.
19. Brooklyn Nets - Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
Part 1 (PnR Scoring) - While Saddiq Bey isn't thought of as a PnR player & he most likely won't be asked to do too much of it in the NBA, he showed some promising flashes this year.— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) April 19, 2020
He does a good job at using his body & size to create space or drive through players & finish pic.twitter.com/8nidlEyvwn
Bey is one of the best pure shooters in the draft. The 6’8 wing shot 45.1 percent from three-point range during his breakout sophomore season at Villanova. His combination of size and shooting makes him a viable option in the first round, but it’s fair asking what else he’ll bring to the table. Bey doesn’t jump off the page athletically which hurts him defensively and as a creator. As long as his college shooting numbers translate to the league, he should have a long career.
20. Miami Heat - Desmond Bane, SG, TCU
Bane flew under the radar as a senior at TCU, but he was quietly one of the better two-way wings in the country. A dynamic shooter off the catch, Bane hit 44 percent of almost 200 attempts from deep this past year. He’s also a more skilled finisher than the other top shooters in this class, able to absorb contact in the paint and lay the ball in with either hand. Defensively, Bane should be more advanced early in his career than many of his peers with a combination of high-IQ, strength, and discipline. Bane’s draft hype hasn’t matched his production to this point, but some smart team should scoop him up in the first round. Read Jackson Frank on Bane here.
21. Philadelphia 76ers - Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
Tyrell Terry is the 2nd best catch and shoot player in the entire draft based on “score %” or the % of possessions the player scored more than 1 point— Daniel Segal (@dsegal01) August 20, 2020
Terry (50%) is only behind Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith (52.4%) pic.twitter.com/A5rdhentta
Terry has become one of the popular sleepers in this draft class for his shooting versatility. The 6’2 guard hit 41 percent of his three-pointers on the year, and showed the ability to make deep shots both off the dribble and while spotting up (he finished in the 99th percentile on catch-and-shoot attempts). His ceiling will be determined by how truly great his jumper becomes. If he falls short of being special as a shooter, does he bring enough to the table in other areas to offset his more obvious weaknesses? Teams will have justified size and defensive concerns here, but Terry is worth the risk at this point in the first round for a team like Philly that badly needs as much shooting as it can get.
22. Denver Nuggets - Paul Reed, C/F, DePaul
Quick Paul Reed finishing flashes video.— Spencer (@SKPearlman) August 15, 2020
The shot is a work in progress (though he had some really nice relocation and movement Js) and his shot IQ needs work, but if you can get defenses to close on him, he had some elite finishes this year downhill for a big w/footwork & touch pic.twitter.com/4h0yoWNR1J
Reed was an overlooked three-star recruit entering one of the worst power-five programs in America when he committed to DePaul. Three years later and one major growth spurt later, he has a shot at being taken in the first round as a big man who can cause havoc defensively and maybe stretch the floor as a shooter down the line. Few players in the country packed the box score as reliably as Reed. He posted huge block (9.4 percent), steal (3.4 percent), and rebound rates, and also showed improved finishing and shooting ability. It’s fair to wonder about his offensive projection if he’s caught between the four and the five, but Reed makes enough plays defensively for someone to take a shot on him late in the first.
23. Utah Jazz - Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State
Flynn burst onto the national college basketball scene during his first season with San Diego State as a transfer from Washington State. He was nothing less than one of the very best players in college basketball this year as the engine of an Aztecs team that finished the season at 30-2. Flynn has unremarkable size and athleticism for an NBA point guard, but it’s hard to discount the fact that he’s simply very, very good. A tough and crafty point guard, Flynn hit 37 percent of his three-pointers, showed elite feel in the pick-and-roll, and played aggressive defense despite in his size limitations. He’s a first-rounder in my book.
24. Milwaukee Bucks - Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL
Maledon had a standout career on France’s youth teams alongside Killian Hayes before going to ASVEL and becoming something like Tony Parker’s understudy. He has great size for a guard at 6’5, but lacks the burst to break down the defense off the dribble. Instead, Maledon plays a safe and steady pick-and-roll game and spots up along the three-point line. His ceiling feels like it will ultimately be determined by how dependable he becomes in catch-and-shoot situations.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder - Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona
Bolmaro is intriguing as a 6’7 ball handler who played de facto point guard for Barcelona this season while splitting time between their senior team and lower divisions. He does a good job playing with pace with the ball in hands and has the vision and size to find shooters on the perimeter. He was a sub-30 percent three-point shooter, which will have to a point of emphasis for his development moving forward. Here’s an extremely in-depth piece on Bolmaro from Graham Chapple our Hawks community Peachtree Hoops.
26. Boston Celtics - Xavier Tillman, C, Michigan State
Simply put, Tillman was one of the best players in college basketball each of the last two years. He broke out as a sophomore at Michigan State when Nick Ward got injured, turning into a plus-minus marvel upon entering the starting lineup. Tillman had a similarly massively impact as a full-time starter during his junior year, proving himself to be a super high-IQ big man with strength and finishing ability. He’ll be short for an NBA center at 6’8, but his length and raw power should help make up for it. Tillman isn’t a flashy pick, but he qualifies as an analytics darling in this year’s draft and has been remarkably dependable whenever he’s on the floor.
27. New York Knicks - Precious Achiuwa, C/F, Memphis
Achiuwa passes the eye test in that he just looks like an NBA player the first time you see him walk onto the court. A massive hybrid forward at 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan, Achiuwa is extremely strong and plays with energy. He just doesn’t always know what he’s doing on the floor. The Memphis freshman hit 32.5 percent of his threes on low volume this year, but he also made under 60 percent of his free throws. His decision making is a bigger concern after finishing with 87 turnovers to 30 assists. Still, Achiuwa is athletic, strong, and active. If his feel for the game improves, there will be a spot in the rotation for him.
28. Los Angeles Lakers - Grant Riller, G, Charleston
Riller doesn’t have the hype of a one-and-done freshman as a player who will turn 24 years old as a rookie, but the tape shows that the 6’3 guard is one of the most explosive one-on-one scorers in this year’s class. Riller has an elite scoring package that includes deadly step-back jumpers, outstanding finishing ability, and the ball handling required to create separation off the dribble. He will have to be protected defensively, but his offensive upside is impressive enough to warrant a first round pick despite his age.
29. Toronto Raptors - Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas
Dotson was the engine of the best team in college basketball all season. While he lacks ideal size at 6’2, Dotson makes up for it with speed, strength, and projectable shooting. He was remarkably consistent all season in terms of his scoring efficiency on different play types. While Dotson only hit 30 percent of his threes, he finished as an 82 percent free throw shooter and has a compact shooting stroke that should be effective from deep in the NBA before long. He’s also a competitive defender who posted a huge 3.6 percent steal rate and doesn’t back down from bigger ball handlers. There is plenty of evidence that being an excellent college basketball player is a great indicator of future NBA success, and Dotson certainly fits that bill.
30. Boston Celtics - Tre Jones, PG, Duke
Jones shocked the college basketball world by returning for his sophomore season to lead a Duke team without Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Scouts wanted to see him improve his outside shooting and be more assertive on offense, and for the most part he was able to do it. Jones increased his three-point percentage to 36 percent, up 10 points from last year. He’s also a heady playmaker who makes quick decisions with the ball and has more size to compete defensively than his older brother Tyus Jones on the Memphis Grizzlies. This is not an exciting pick, but Jones already carries himself like a pro and should be a low maintenance and dependable bench option for a long time.