The Ringer’s 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

The NBA still doesn’t know when the 2020 draft will take place, but it was recently pushed from mid-October to mid-November. The primary reason for the delay is to give teams more time to prepare and the league more time to organize an NBA combine. Normally, it takes place every year in Chicago, where prospects participate in workouts and interview with teams. This year, due to the pandemic, the combine could be held virtually.

League sources say the NBA could conduct such a virtual combine in the coming weeks. Prospects would receive medical testing and undergo measurements at regional sites. It’s also possible on-court physical testing could be done on camera. Nothing has been determined yet, but expect clarity from the league before the end of the month.

There’s just as much uncertainty regarding the prospects in the draft itself. Evaluations are all over the place, more so than any draft class I have covered. Here’s my latest mock draft, based on intel I’m hearing around the league and logical choices based on team needs and philosophy.

Click the hyperlinks on each player’s name for their full scouting report from The Ringer’s 2020 NBA Draft Guide.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards (Guard/Wing, Georgia)

Edwards brings a downhill scoring presence that could complement both Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. Decision-making and shooting were apparent flaws during his freshman season at Georgia, but he has undeniable long-term upside as a scorer and shot creator. It’s not a great year to have the first pick, but if Edwards pans out he could complete a Big Three in Minnesota.

2. Golden State Warriors: Deni Avdija (Wing, Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Everything is on the table for the Warriors with this pick. They could stay put, trade down, or move entirely out. Sources from multiple front offices believe Golden State’s preference is to draft a wing. That could mean Edwards, who has size. But Edwards is a shaky decision-maker at this stage of his career (and he’s off our board anyway). Avdija makes logical sense as a highly experienced player who projects as a versatile 6-foot-9 forward with playmaking skills. Ideally, the Warriors would be able to trade down for him since two bigger-name prospects are still on the board.

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball (Guard, Illawarra)

Don’t let Devonte’ Graham’s presence or Terry Rozier’s contract fool you. The Hornets are a blank canvas. Ball would immediately give them an identity as an up-tempo team with his flashy playmaking. That said, it’s a risk since Ball needs to prove he can shoot efficiently and put in effort on defense. He may lack some foundational skills, but his upside is clear.

4. Chicago Bulls: James Wiseman (Big, Memphis)

New Bulls front office head Arturas Karnisovas is in an intriguing position; he’s inheriting a roster with lots of young guards like Coby White and Zach LaVine, and bigs like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Wiseman is a large, imposing center who flashes perimeter skills and would immediately land atop Chicago’s depth chart, and drafting him will signal trades on the horizon. He probably won’t give Karnisovas pause, as the Bulls need to be shaken up.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro (Wing, Auburn)

The Cavaliers need someone who can defend at a high level, especially with such a small backcourt. Okoro is arguably the best defender in this class and a competitor who brings versatility and a competitive mindset. Okoro isn’t a safe pick, though; his jumper doesn’t fall with any consistency.

6. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin (Big/Wing, Dayton)

Why not find Trae Young another athletic lob threat? Toppin played like Amar’e Stoudemire on offense at Dayton and his skills could translate seamlessly to the pros. He’s a gravity-defying leader and he can shoot 3s. That’s if he’s able to stay on the floor on defense. But multiple scouts and executives recently expressed they project Toppin as a wing on defense; he measures 6-foot-9, 220 pounds—similar to Kyle Kuzma, a great example of a player who’s improved dramatically on defense. It’d be a risky pick, but Toppin could improve similarly with an NBA strength and conditioning program and a superior supporting cast.

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7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes (Guard, Ulm)

Hayes is my top-ranked prospect in the draft, but scouts have dramatically mixed opinions. Some view him as a mid-first-round prospect because of his raw ball-handling and trouble making 3s. Others see him as a top-five prospect for his dynamic playmaking, heady defense, and projectable scoring upside due to his high free throw percentage and smooth stepback jumper. Detroit shouldn’t hesitate to roll the dice, especially in a draft with so many question marks and the team’s need for a high-level shot-creator.

8. New York Knicks: Patrick Williams (Wing, Florida State)

The Knicks have not been connected to Williams, but multiple front office sources around the league say Williams has drawn heavy interest from teams in the mid-to-late lottery. He came off the bench as a freshman and averaged only 9.2 points, but at 6-foot-8 he displayed a knack for scoring off the dribble and playing solid defense. Shot creation and versatility are premium skills: Shouldn’t that make Williams a lottery pick, as underdeveloped as he might be?

9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu (Big, USC)

In a feature I wrote about Bradley Beal and the Wizards, general manager Tommy Sheppard told me he sees an opportunity to “swing for the fences, take a wild card, buy a lottery ticket, if you will.” But the team is targeting a big, which makes Okongwu a logical choice. He has drawn comparisons to Bam Adebayo, which is high praise considering the Heat star’s excellent defense and facilitating skills on offense. Okongwu shares similar strengths, which means he could become a foundational piece of a franchise.

10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton (Guard, Iowa State)

Ricky Rubio has shown the importance of having a second playmaker next to Devin Booker. Rubio pushes Booker off the ball more often, giving him a more balanced offensive diet that leads to more efficient results. But Rubio turns 30 in October and has only two seasons left on his contract. Haliburton, another high-IQ passer who can play well with or without the ball, could be an immediate contributor and Phoenix’s ideal successor for Rubio.

11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell (Wing, Florida State)

Vassell is my top-ranked wing in the class. He’s a smart defender and a blossoming offensive talent who plays hard and unselfishly within his role. Sounds like a classic Spurs pick to me.

12. Sacramento Kings: Precious Achiuwa (Big, Memphis)

The Kings don’t even have a GM yet. But don’t expect the new hire to stick with the current core; Marvin Bagley III was Vlade Divac’s mistake and won’t prevent Sacramento from drafting another big. Achiuwa is raw, but brings energy and bouncy athleticism.

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Smith (Big, Maryland)

Smith is receiving interest from teams in the mid-first round, according to league sources. He makes far too much sense for the Pelicans; he’s a big who can space the floor with shooting off movement like screens and handoffs. The Pelicans will need a big like Smith next to an interior player like Zion Williamson. Smith needs to make strides on defense, but maybe an NBA program can help him become less stiff and more pliable.

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14. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski (Big, Olympiacos B)

The Celtics don’t really need anything. They’re deep at wing, have low-cost centers, and have plenty of lead ball handlers. With two more first-rounders later, why not take a boom-or-bust player here? Pokusevski is the draft’s biggest gamble: He’s a 7-foot beanpole who can shoot and handle like a guard. He’ll become the second-youngest player drafted since high schoolers were barred from entering. Pokusevski might not pan out if he doesn’t add weight, but the Celtics can afford to roll the dice.

15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony (Guard, North Carolina)

I’m not buying the Markelle Fultz renaissance as much as everyone else is. It’s great he’s improving, but he still shot only 26.7 percent from 3 and 36.8 percent on all jumpers. And his shot remains ugly. Fultz can contribute, but he can’t be counted on as a building block, so the Magic could use a lead ball handler. Anthony is a former top high school prospect who struggled as a freshman but remains a dynamic scoring talent.

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Wing, Vanderbilt)

What a gift Nesmith would be for the Blazers. He’s a knockdown shooter who could develop into a solid defender. If Gary Trent Jr. can excel in Portland, then so could Nesmith.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Green (Wing, Arizona)

With Russell, KAT, and the no. 1 pick, the Timberwolves will need unselfish glue guys to fill out the roster. Green is a high-IQ wing who can fit on any team thanks to his knack for defense and ability to play off the ball.

18. Dallas Mavericks: Saddiq Bey (Wing, Villanova)

There were moments this postseason when Seth Curry was defending Kawhi Leonard. Could it be any more obvious the Mavericks need a big wing? Meet Bey, a versatile 6-foot-8 wing who can defend multiple positions and play with or without the ball on offense.

19. Brooklyn Nets: Desmond Bane (Wing, TCU)

The Nets will be competing for a championship next season, which means they should be prioritizing smart players who can play right away. Bane makes obvious sense since he’s one of the draft’s top shooters, decision-makers, and team defenders.

20. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr. (Guard, Alabama)

Goran Dragic will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and turns 35 years old next season. Miami would be wise to begin looking for a replacement like Lewis, a speedy playmaker who can get to the rim and generate shots from the perimeter.

21. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey (Guard, Kentucky)

Maxey’s stock is all over the place. Some execs consider him a top-10 pick. Others say he’s a late first-round pick. The Sixers want to contend now, but taking a risk in the draft might be their best bet to take an immediate leap. Maxey has flashed tough shot-making skills, which is what Philadelphia needs. He is raw and the results are inconsistent, but maybe things will start to click.

22. Denver Nuggets: Jaden McDaniels (Wing, Washington)

McDaniels is still very green, but he does things well that would enable him to possibly play right away in Denver: He’s a multipositional defender and a good spot-up shooter.

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23. Utah Jazz: RJ Hampton (Guard, New Zealand)

Hampton was a top high school recruit whose stock has declined after he struggled overseas in the NBL. Maybe he can be the type of jumbo playmaker the Jazz hoped Dante Exum would become.

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyrell Terry (Guard, Stanford)

Terry should be a top-10 pick because of his shooting and playmaking abilities, but most league sources pin his stock in the late first round since he’s undersized. He’s pretty light, but so were others guards we’ve seen excel in the playoffs when they were his age (he’ll be 20 next season), such as Dragic, CJ McCollum, and Kemba Walker. All of those players are now thriving in the 180- to 190-pound range. Terry also has more than enough talent to succeed.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Leandro Bolmaro (Guard/Wing, Barcelona)

The Thunder are about to enter a rebuild; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the only untouchable player on the team. An intriguing piece next to him could be Bolmaro, another tall point guard. He stands at 6-foot-7 and can make passes smaller players simply can’t. With such large size in the backcourt, the Thunder would be investing in a young team that could someday present major matchup issues for opponents.

26. Boston Celtics: Tyler Bey (Wing/Big, Colorado)

By playing rookie Grant Williams in pivotal moments of this postseason, the Celtics showed how much they value the ability to play small with a floor full of smart, reliable defenders. Bey can switch on to multiple positions, and at age 22, he has both the brain and the body to play a role right away.

27. New York Knicks: Isaiah Stewart (Big, Washington)

Stewart is a high-motor big who has savvy skills scoring in the paint and has flashed a perimeter jumper. He would make for a great fit next to Mitchell Robinson.

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Theo Maledon (Guard, ASVEL)

The Lakers could use a young point guard who can develop behind their primary ball handlers. Maledon seems like a perfect investment as a guard with strong foundational skills. He has a great feel for the game and a reliable spot-up 3.

29. Toronto Raptors: Killian Tillie (Big, Gonzaga)

Tillie is a lottery talent who could fall into the second round because of injury concerns; he couldn’t stay healthy in four seasons at Gonzaga. But he has a game made for the NBA with a splashy shot, instinctive passing, and steady defense. Though he’s not a rim protector like Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, the Raptors have shown a willingness to play with modern small-ball lineups that Tillie could excel in due to his versatility. If Tillie can stay healthy, he would be a major steal.

30. Boston Celtics: Nico Mannion (Guard, Arizona)

Danny Ainge has a history of drafting top high school recruits who fall in the draft (such as Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger) and he has a thing for small, sparkplug scoring guards (from Eddie House to Isaiah Thomas to Terry Rozier). Mannion checks both boxes: He was a top prospect, but struggled to create space off the dribble as a freshman, so his stock has fallen accordingly. But he has undeniable talent as a passer and shooter, making him worth the investment for teams in the late first round.

An earlier version of this piece misstated the team Vlade Divac worked for.

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