Brian Rauf | @brauf33 | 07/08/20
The delayed 2020 NBA Draft has now officially been set for Friday, October 16th, and there are still a number of unknowns about how that will look. The lottery is not scheduled to be held until August 25th with the early entry deadline roughly a week before on August 17th. Early entrants will have until October 6th – just 10 days before the draft – to withdraw and return to school.
Even with all that uncertainty, we are starting to get a clearer picture as to how the draft will actually shake out. Teams have used this down time before the NBA re-start later this month to do more in-depth scouting and virtually meet with prospects. As such, some teams have already identified who they are targeting at the top of their draft board – so long as the lottery shakes out in their favor.
How could the NBA Draft shake out with that updated intel? Here’s our final pre-lottery mock draft headlined by a number of changes in the top 10, including who the #1 overall pick will be.
1) Golden State Warriors – Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
The Warriors think Edwards has the most upside of anyone in this class and is at the top of their board. If they land the top spot – and decide to keep it – expect them to take Edwards and count on him blossoming behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
2) Cleveland Cavaliers – James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Cleveland has spent each of their last two top 10 picks on point guards (Collin Sexton, Darius Garland) and, while that pairing hasn’t worked, they don’t have as big of a need there (Kevin Porter Jr. has shown flashes, too). They will be moving on from Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson inside eventually, and Wiseman would give them a core frontcourt piece for the future.
3) Minnesota Timberwolves – Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
It will be tempting for Minnesota to go with LaMelo Ball here, but I don’t think he and D’Angelo Russell are an ideal backcourt pairing. They need defense, and adding Okongwu next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt gives them a rim protector and potential long-term partner for KAT up front.
4) Atlanta Hawks – Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
Vassell is quickly rising up draft boards with many thinking he may end up being a top five pick. Atlanta really values three-point shooting and needs to upgrade their defense, and Vassell’s potential in a 3-and-D role is too much for them to pass on.
5) Detroit Pistons – LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawara
The Pistons have said their top priority this offseason will be to add a starting-caliber point guard for the long term. Enter Ball, who has tremendous size (6-7), vising, and shooting ability. Consistency and discipline are concerns, but Detroit will look past those in hopes Ball realizes his superstar.
6) New York Knicks – Tyrese Haliburton, PG/SG, Iowa State
New York needs a point guard and hasn’t been shy about their love for Ball – and Ball has reciprocated that interest. But, with him off the board in this scenario, the Knicks will go for the next best point guard in the class in Haliburton, an elite playmaker who will fit in well next to RJ Barrett.
7) Chicago Bulls – Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
The Bulls need depth on the wing and already have great scorers in the backcourt in Zach LaVine and Coby White. Okoro would give them a high-energy wing with elite defensive potential that also doesn’t need to have plays run for him offensively.
8) Charlotte Hornets – Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Avdija may very well go in the top five (if not the top three) so, for a Hornets team in best-player-available mode, this is a good pick. The 19-year-old isn’t a reliable shooter yet, but he has guard skills at 6-9 and the kind of versatility that gives him tremendous upside.
9) Washington Wizards – Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
While Washington tries to figure out a long-term plan for their backcourt (how much longer are they sticking with John Wall and Bradley Beal?), they are making an effort to improve their frontcourt. Toppin would give them their only real above-the-rim threat of the group while fitting into smaller lineups with his three-point shooting ability.
10) Phoenix Suns – Killian Hayes, PG, Ulm
Ricky Rubio is more of a transitional point guard than the future of the position for Phoenix. There’s still hope about what Elie Okobo could turn into, yet Hayes is another high-upside prospect with professional experience that will add more depth to the position.
11) San Antonio Spurs – Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
The Spurs have long been a destination were players with high basketball IQs thrive. Bey is one of those guys, and the combination of his versatility (athletic 6-8, 215 lbs) and three-point shooting (45.1 percent) make him an ideal prospect for San Antonio – especially as a long-term replacement for DeMar DeRozan.
12) Sacramento Kings – Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis
There’s no other way to sugarcoat it – the Kings really lack depth quality frontcourt depth alongside Marvin Bagley. Achiuwa is raw but showed his upside at Memphis, where he excelled with his elite athleticism and as a rebounder. He would fit in well with the preferred up-tempo attack of De’Aaron Fox.
13) New Orleans Pelicans – Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
The Pelicans plan to surround Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball with shooting, so why not add a guy that shot over 52 percent from deep in 14 games for the Commodores? Nesmith is the best shooter in the class, making this a perfect fit.
14) Portland Trail Blazers – Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Florida State
I think Portland covets Nesmith given their need on the wing (Carmelo Anthony has been good for them, but isn’t a long-term solution). With him gone, they go for a high-upside wing in Williams, a quality defender with a blossoming offensive game.
15) Orlando Magic – Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
Anthony was projected to be a top-five pick before the start of the season, so it would be a steal for Orlando to get him outside the lottery. He has the size and mindset to play point or play off-ball next to Markelle Fultz. He can also provide some insurance given Fultz’s medical history.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets) – Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
With their second first-round pick, the T-Wolves can go with the best player available. That’s Maxey, who has shown flashes of offensive brilliance alongside quality defensive play. He has the potential to be a solid starter for Minnesota or a reliable two-way guard in their bench rotation.
17) Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies) – RJ Hampton, PG/SG, New Zealand
Hampton is another guy who was projected to be a top five or top 10 pick before the start of the season, yet he could slide a bit on draft night due to inconsistent play in Australia’s NBL. Still, his talent as a versatile combo guard who can both score and create for others makes him well worth the pick for Boston here.
18) Dallas Mavericks – Desmond Bane, SG, TCU
The Mavs would like to add an off-ball scorer and shooter alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Nesmith would be a great fit here but with him gone they take a Bane, another elite three-point shooter (43.3 percent career) who can more-than-adequately fill that 3-and-D role.
19) Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers) – Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG/PG, Texas Tech
There have been questions about Eric Bledsoe’s long-term future in Milwaukee. That may cause a team in need of backcourt depth to look towards the guards in this draft. Ramsey has the potential to be a steal given his NBA-ready body, shooting, and ability to play either on or off the ball. He’d fit in well next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, too.
20) Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers) – Cassius Stanley, SG, Duke
Like Milwaukee, Brooklyn will be making his pick based on who can fit in around their stars (Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving). Stanley might be the best athlete in this class and, while inconsistent with his shot selection, ranked in the 93rd percentile in spot-up three-point shooting last year. Those skill should allow him to play a support role immediately and give him tremendous long-term upside.
21) Denver Nuggets (via Rockets) – Robert Woodard II, SF, Mississippi State
Denver’s goal for the draft is to add more depth on the wing. Michael Porter Jr. is coming along nicely, but he comes with injury concerns and both Paul Millsap and Torrey Craig will be free agents whenever the offseason comes. Woodard comes with ideal size (6-7, 230 lbs) and athleticism, and he shot 42.9 percent from three last year. That shooting, plus his defensive potential, makes him the pick for Denver here.
22) Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder) – Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
Philly needs shooting and backcourt depth. Mannion comes with concerns defensively and athletically, but he’s a high IQ playmaker with a reliable jumper. That should make him a good fit as a backup for Ben Simmons.
23) Miami Heat – Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
Kendrick Nunn has been a revelation for the Heat and eliminated most of the concern around their backcourt, allowing them to really sure up their frontcourt. Smith is a tremendous pick-and-roll player and shot blocker with three-point range. That versatility would make him a good pair with Bam Adebayo and give Miami one of the more versatile frontcourts in the league.
24) Utah Jazz – Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
This pick will provide Utah with insurance in case Mike Conley Jr. doesn’t exercise his $34.5 million player option for next season (he will) and provides some long-term depth at the position. Lewis is still putting it all together but is fast, has good size (6-3), and was a great all-around player for the Crimson Tide.
25) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets) – Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiakos B
Considering the Thunder have roughly 800 first-round picks over the next decade, they can reach for a raw, high-upside project like Pokusevski. He’s a seven-footer with guard-like ball-handling and passing skills, and he’s also the youngest player in the draft. OKC is excellent at developing talent, and this would be their latest project.
26) Boston Celtics – Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
I’ll be surprised if Boston ends up keeping all three of their first round picks, but if they do, Carey makes a lot of sense for them given their need up front. Carey isn’t a perfect prospect due to his inability to defend on the perimeter, but he is a dominant low-post scorer with range extending out to the three-point line.
27) New York Knicks (via Clippers) – Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
With New York addressing their point guard need earlier in the draft, they can address their frontcourt needs with Stewart. The 6-9, 250-pounder may fall on draft night due to his lack of perimeter versatility, but he’s a phenomenal rebounder and post player on either end. Roles for players like him are diminishing, yet Stewart is productive enough to stick.
28) Toronto Raptors – Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington
McDaniels is one of the more polarizing players in the draft. On one hand, he’s a 6-9 wing who can handle the ball and score efficiently from all three levels. On the other, there are legitimate concerns about his motor, desire, and consistency. Toronto can gamble here because of their strong locker room and player development system.
29) Los Angeles Lakers – Theo Maledon, PG, Villeurbanne
The Lakers don’t have many needs, but depth is always a concern. This is especially true at point guard with Rajon Rondo potentially entering free agency (player option for 2020-21). Maledon is a potential lottery talent with good size, passing, and is an improving shooter. He can play on or off the ball, as well.
30) Boston Celtics (via Bucks) – Josh Green, SG, Arizona
If Boston does keep all three picks, Green would be a steal for them here. A projected lottery pick before the start of the season, Green has seen his stock fall due to a limited offensive game. He showed he’s a much better defender than previously thought at Arizona, but he also showed inconsistent offense outside of his slashing abilities. Green has some upside if he can become a more consistent shooter but needs some development.
Brian Rauf is a college basketball writer for HeatCheckCBB.com. His content has been featured by Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and FanSided, among other publications. Rauf is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.