NBA Draft Rumors: Ball angling for Knicks, Cavs split on prospects, and more

Brian Rauf | @brauf33 | 07/10/20


Welcome to another look at the latest rumors ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft!

The league has finally ironed out specifics regarding the draft, setting dates It 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.

These plans assume there are no more delays in re-starting the current NBA season, which has been on hold since March 11 and is set to resume on July 30.

Every Tuesday and Friday, we will be bringing you everything you need to know about whose draft stock is rising, whose is falling, and which prospects teams are targeting.

Here’s all the latest buzz you need to know.

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Ball angling to land with Knicks

LaMelo Ball is perhaps the most intriguing and polarizing prospect in this class. His physical traits (6-7) and skill set could allow him to be a superstar, but that potential comes with concerns about his maturity and decision-making.

Ball, who averaging 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game for the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks, is projected to be the first point guard taken and will likely be selected in the top five. However, that may not fall in line with his preferred destination. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that the 18-year-old is “angling” to be drafted by the New York Knicks.

As teams do their homework on players in the draft, there’s been a consistent theme about LaMelo Ball: multiple teams believe Ball and those in his circle prefer that he lands in New York. (Those teams have picks projected later in the first round than the Knicks, for what it’s worth.)

New York, who is also very interested in Ball, is currently projected to have the No. 6 pick in the draft, though they can move up (or down) based on the results of the lottery. If they fall out of the projected range to draft him, Begley suggests the Knicks may trade up to draft him or Ball may refuse to meet with teams and withhold medical information.

I have the Pistons taking Ball with the No. 5 pick in my latest mock draft with the Knicks taking Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton at No. 6.

Changes in top 10 highlight Mock NBA Draft Version 2.0

Cavs split on top prospects

Cleveland is currently projected to have the No. 2 overall pick and are considering Ball with that pick, but their draft plans don’t have a clear direction yet.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes that, while the Cavs have a top three of Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman, the front office is completely split on who they should favor.

They’ve done extensive work on both and at least one member of the front office views Ball as the top player in the class. But others view Georgia’s Edwards as the better prospect. Another remains intrigued by James Wiseman’s upside and measurables.

Cleveland has spent top 10 picks on point guards each of the last two years (Collin Sexton, Darius Garland) but that won’t preclude them from taking Ball or Edwards. They are early enough in their rebuilding process that they’re still targeting whoever they view as the best player available, regardless of position.

I have them taking Wiseman at No. 2 in my latest mock draft.

Okoro a fit for the Bulls?

Auburn wing Isaac Okoro skyrocketed up draft boards during the season and as all but secured his place as a top 10 pick. He’s a versatile defender with tremendous upside on that end of the floor. His offensive game is inconsistent, particularly his three-point shot, but teams are really intrigued by his defensive potential.

One of those teams is the Chicago Bulls. The new front office really likes players with “defensive versatility,” according to K.C. Johnson of NBCSports Chicago, and Okoro fits that bill. Scouts believe he can guard every position but center at the NBA level.

The Bulls need help on the wing as well, making this a good fit. I have them taking Okoro, who averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, in my latest mock draft because of that.


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.