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NBA Mock Draft 2020, Volume 5

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We’re getting closer...

Minnesota Timberwolves Introduce Jarrett Culver, Jaylen Nowell, & Naz Reid Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

We have a mere NINE (9) days until the 2020 NBA Draft. After literally waiting nine months for this, nine days feels like nothing. Draft night will be here in no time, and you know what that means; mock drafts. There are a substantial amount of rumors flying around right now, so it feels like a good time to give this ole’ puppy an update.

NOTE: All stats and measurements from sports-reference.com/cbb, tankathon.com/big_board, nbl.com.au/stats/overview, proballers.com, https://basketball.realgm.com/, https://www.nba.com/draft/2020/prospects#/ and euroleague.net/main/statistics. Positional acronyms are; PG (point guard), G (guard), W (wing), F (forward), C (center).

1. Minnesota Timberwolves - LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks (Chino Hills HS)

Trading out and acquiring a win-now player (like D’Angelo Russell’s and Karl-Anthony Towns’ best friend Devin Booker) is definitely their ideal plan of action, but if a trade doesn’t present itself, Rosas won't overthink it. Whether it gets traded or not, it’s safe to expect the No. 1 overall pick to be LaMelo Ball. It can’t be overstated how unique Ball’s court vision and basketball IQ are, and how high that makes his ceiling as a 6’ 7” 19-year-old.

2. Golden State Warriors - Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv (Israel)

There are so many rumors flying around regarding Golden State that it’s hard to take a single one seriously. This pick likely comes down to two choices, though; a center (James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu) or Deni Avdija. Avdija could start or come off the bench and give them a secondary playmaker, off-ball/help defender, and transition finisher to bolster their depth for another title run. To me, it makes more sense to have Avdija than to try and develop Wiseman while contending.

3. Charlotte Hornets - Anthony Edwards, G/W, Georgia

As has been the case for months, Hornets fans expect GM Mitch Kupchak to select whoever is left between Ball and Anthony Edwards. Edwards recently wore a Hornets shirt while on Instagram Live, which one can only assume was given to him by Michael Jordan when Jordan watched him work out. Edwards upside is a No. 1 scoring option and lock-down defender if he hits his ceiling, which seems highly possible since he’s been very engaged throughout the draft process. His pull-up scoring, explosive athleticism and defensive potential are hard not to bet on. Charlotte has to try and find their franchise cornerstone sooner or later.

4. Chicago Bulls - Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

This pick hasn’t changed in large part due to the utter lack of rumors regarding what the Bulls are going to do on draft night, but Tyrese Haliburton is a seamless fit in Chicago under new head coach Billy Donovan, who ran multi-guard lineups often in Oklahoma City. Zach Lavine is a great scorer, but the ball needs to be in his hands less often; he’s a play finisher, not a playmaker. Haliburton can keep the offense flowing, provide another pick-and-roll/dribble hand-off partner for Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen, and space the floor as a spot-up threat. Not sure what his draft range is though, so he could go much lower.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Obi Toppin, C/F, Dayton

Cleveland needs anything that isn’t an undersized ball-dominant guard or overpaid veteran big man. Thankfully, Obi Toppin is neither of those things. Defense is not going to be his strength as a rookie, but it is easy to see him being a fit next to Collin Sexton and Darius Garland offensively. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony recently said “I honestly think he’s going four or five” when talking about Toppin’s draft stock on The Lowe Post podcast, and Cleveland is the most obvious fit for him in the top-half of the lottery — plus, they’re rumored to be trading Andre Drummond around the trade deadline.

6. Atlanta Hawks - Isaac Okoro, W/F, Auburn

Atlanta drafted two wings — DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish — in the top-10 last year, so adding another one may not seem like the best use of a high draft pick, but Isaac Okoro’s elite defensive versatility and underrated playmaking complement the rest of Atlanta’s roster well. If he can reach even league-average percentages from the 3-point and free throw lines he’ll be fine; he takes the right shots and he won’t be a high-usage player in the NBA anyway. The Hawks need to surround Trae Young with as many switchable perimeter defenders and off-ball cutters as possible and those will be two of Okoro’s best skills as a rookie.

7. Detroit Pistons - Killian Hayes, G, ratiopharm Ulm

For reasons beyond comprehension, Killian Hayes’ draft range is reportedly very wide. Despite being in the top-five on most big boards, few teams are in love with Hayes, likely because he’s not an eye-popping athlete and he’s shot a low percentage from long-range as a young professional in France and Germany. Apparently Detroit likes him, though, which is smart of them because he’s a steal at seven; at his peak, Hayes will be one of the better pick-and-roll decision-makers in the NBA with elite defense either guard spot.

8. New York Knicks - Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

The Knicks are the wild card in the lottery; the entire world knows they would’ve liked a shot at drafting Ball to pair him with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson for the future, but lottery luck was not on their side and now there’s a solid chance they trade out of the lottery entirely. Personally, I’d stand pat and take Kira Lewis Jr. or a wing to put next to Barrett. Lewis Jr. plays at a break-neck pace comparable to a lesser version of Ja Morant (no offense, Kira). The Knicks really need a point guard, and Lewis fills that hole while maintaining some upside.

9. Washington Wizards - James Wiseman, C, Memphis

If Wiseman and/or Okongwu don’t go in the top three, both of them could take a tumble. Most teams drafting 4-10 either recently picked a big or have a lot of money invested in a veteran. That works out for Washington, though, who could let him do the things he’s good at (run, jump, catch lobs, dunk) while he works out the kinks in the areas people think he’s going to develop (shooting, ball-handling, defensive versatility). The Wizards are probably going to be bad, but they aren’t trying to be, which is a good situation for Wiseman; he can play a lot while having some talent around him. It’s a very tall task for him to become the new Chris Bosh, but he’ll be a contributor in the NBA for a while regardless.

10. Phoenix Suns - Devin Vassell, W, Florida State

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Phoenix convince themselves they need a point guard here to pair with Devin Booker, but Tyrese Maxey and Cole Anthony are more ball-dominant than what they need their future point guard to be. The Suns have met with Tyrell Terry multiple times, so he’s a possibility here, too, even if it’s a slight reach. Devin Vassell is, by far, a safer bet to contribute for a team that’s inching towards yearly playoff contention. Him and Mikal Bridges would clamp opposing guards and wings, and he’s shown flashes of self-creation.

11. San Antonio Spurs - Onyeka Okongwu, C, Southern California

As mentioned in the explanation for the Wiseman pick, it’s hard to find landing spots for him or Onyeka Okongwu outside of the top-three, so the two of them tumble a bit. Washington’s front office is more likely to be convinced by the theoretical upside of Wiseman, while San Antonio’s is more likely to be enticed by Okongwu’s defensive versatility, interior scoring touch and ball-handling/playmaking potential. Eleventh is criminally low for Okongwu, but it’s understandable unless Golden State or Charlotte takes him.

12. Sacramento Kings - Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

The Kings are in a weird spot in this draft. They’re probably still a “rebuilding” team, but if they add to the De’Aaron Fox/Marvin Bagley/Buddy Hield core, playoff contention isn’t out of the question. Patrick Williams will help them right away on defense because he’s strong, mobile, active in passing lanes and can switch between the paint and perimeter. If he can improve upon the flashes of ball-handling and playmaking he showed in high school and at Florida State he’s going to be a really effective player on both ends of the floor.

13. New Orleans Pelicans - Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky

This pick only makes sense if New Orleans believes in Maxey developing as a shooter (I do, FWIW), because the spacing in a Lonzo Ball, Maxey, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes lineup will not be ideal early on. While Maxey smooths out his jumper, his strength and ambidextrous finishing will keep him from being a negative on offense and he and Lonzo would make for a solid defensive backcourt. It would make sense for New Orleans to go with a shooter like Nesmith, Terry or Bane here, too.

14. Boston Celtics (via MEM) - R.J. Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (Little Elm HS)

R.J. Hampton has been rising up draft boards in the last few weeks, and there’s even a report connecting him to Boston. Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams and Romeo Langford were all “bad shooters” in college, so we know the Celtics aren’t afraid to take players who need to work on their jumper. Hampton’s scoring would mostly be limited to transition opportunities as a rookie, but he sees the floor well and could shuffle between Boston and Maine to work on his jumper and point-of-attack defense.

15. Orlando Magic - Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina

Orlando desperately needs one of Cole Anthony, Maxey or Lewis Jr. to fall to them, and Anthony might even be the best fit of the three. Markelle Fultz’s resurgence has been great for them, but he’s never going to be a floor-spacer and isn’t overly effective without the ball in his hands. Anthony is going to thrive in NBA spacing and his shot-making ability should really shine. He’s not as athletic as was advertised before college, doesn’t see the floor at a high level and was a bad finisher at the rim as a Tar Heel (partly due to poor spacing), but there are more than enough positives to outweigh those concerns.

16. Portland Trail Blazers - Desmond Bane, G/W, Texas Christian

Desmond Bane’s recent rise up the draft boards leads me to believe that wing-needy teams that pick between 10 and 20 are showing heavy interest in him — rightfully so, because Bane is the best all-around shooter in the draft, and a capable playmaker and rangy defender to boot. Portland has a dearth of talent on the wing and could really use Bane’s shooting and passing to lighten the loads for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Bane doesn’t need much development in order to contribute for the Trail Blazers.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN) - Jalen Smith, C/F, Maryland

Another player who’s rising up draft boards; Jalen Smith. His shot-blocking and 3-point shooting combination is sure to intrigue teams, and he should be useful as a help defender and spot-up shooter right away. Apparently teams love his character and work ethic, which is always a good sign, and it indicates that he knows he has to/is willing to continue developing once he’s in the league. Hopefully, he can develop into the defensive-minded big that Minnesota pairs with Towns for the future.

18. Dallas Mavericks - Xavier Tillman, C/F, Michigan State

During his virtual combine workout, Xavier Tillman hit 75 percent of his spot-up attempts off of movement from beyond the arc. Tillman has always been a “if he can shoot, he’s going to be good” prospect but if he has added the ability to make movement threes, it’s a wrap. That combination of playmaking, rim protection, and shooting from a 6’ 8”, 245 pound basketball savant should be illegal. He would be excellent in lineups with Luka Doncic and/or Kristaps Porzingis.

19. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI) - Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

The sweet-shooting point guard out of Stanford has been rising up draft boards lately. Tyrell Terry is not without his warts — but most of those warts have to do with him not having the frame of an NBA player yet, and that will come in due time. Rarely does a player that comes into the league with strength/weight concerns not alleviate them at least a little bit. Brooklyn would have real firepower off the bench with Terry and either Joe Harris, Caris LeVert or Spencer Dinwidde next to him.

20. Miami Heat - Grant Riller, G, College of Charleston

Grant Riller has always worked his ass off and has always produced at a high level. The Miami Heat tend to like those kinds of traits, as evidenced by their whole “Heat Culture” thing (which is honestly very weird, IMO). He’d play somewhat of a similar role as Kendrick Nunn, but Goran Dragic isn’t getting any younger and Riller also projects as a superior playmaker and defender to Nunn.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) - Aaron Nesmith, W, Vanderbilt

As of Nov. 1, there are approximately 7.8 billion people in the world, and every single one of them knows that the Philadelphia 76ers need shooting. Aaron Nesmith — a top-four shooter in the draft — made 119 of his 290 total 3-point attempts over two seasons at Vanderbilt (a foot injury limited him to 14 games as a sophomore) and is a career 82.5 percent free throw shooter, so it’s a safe bet that he’ll be able to knock down jumpers at the next level.

22. Denver Nuggets (via HOU) - Elijah Hughes, W, Syracuse

Denver doesn’t need a whole lot to compete; retaining players like Jerami Grant are more important than nailing the 22nd pick. They could still use some depth on the wing, as they were exposed a bit after the injury bug bit them in bubble, and Elijah Hughes is one of the best players on the board here. Isolation scoring and long-range shooting will always have a place in the NBA, and Hughes is among the best in his class at both.

23. Utah Jazz - Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State

Malachi Flynn is a talented pick-and-roll player that has been improving his off-the-dribble scoring throughout the draft process. Utah is lacking in the lead ball-handler department, especially given Mike Conley’s decline as he ages — and out of the mid-to-late first-round point guards, Flynn’s stock seems to be the highest at the moment.

24. Milwaukee Bucks (via IND) - Saddiq Bey, W/F, Villanova

I’d be surprised if Saddiq Bey lasts until 24 in real-life, but the teams in this range are going to end up having a lottery-level talent slip to them. There’s a ton of depth to be found between picks 20 and 40 and the unpredictability of this draft is going to benefit some lucky team that’s already good enough. Landing Bey would allow Milwaukee to stop making us watch Ersan Ilyasova minutes in the playoffs and give them insurance should Pat Connaughton depart in free agency or Kyle Korver enter an assisted living community.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN) - Aleksej Pokuševski, C/F, Olympiacos B (Serbia)

Despite his sky-high upside and truly unique skillset, the only team Aleksej Pokuševski has been linked to so far are the Oklahoma City Thunder; which makes sense, given their willingness to draft projects and develop them. Anyone who hasn’t watched Poku — a 195-pound 7-footer that moves, passes, and shoots step-back threes like a guard — can peep this video here to see why his combination of court vision, floor-spacing, and mobility could be legitimately game-changing if he can build up his frame and improve his decision-making. If he’s (among others) available this late, Kupchak needs to try and move up.

26. Boston Celtics - Leandro Bolmaro, W, FC Barcelona (Argentina)

As we’ve gone over in every mock draft, it’s not even possible under NBA rules for Boston to keep all four of its 2020 draft picks, so by default they get a potential draft-and-stash guy in Leandro Bolmaro. He needs more experience to get acclimated to the quickness of professional basketball, but he’s still great at taking it to the rim and plays super aggressively on both ends. At 6’ 7”, all he needs to do is add a consistent jump shot to have a clear path to becoming a solid NBA player.

27. New York Knicks (via LAC) - Zeke Nnaji, C/F, Arizona

It used to be a hot take to say Zeke Nnaji was the best Arizona prospect, but now it’s just a given. It seems likely that he’s the first Wildcat freshman off the board, and his floor-spacing and defensive versatility fit nicely as a backup to (or even alongside) Mitchell Robinson. New York has no specific player type to look for beyond point guard, so taking a Nnaji, who is easy to envision as a contributor on an NBA roster, is probably a good idea.

28. Toronto Raptors - Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas

Toronto losing Fred VanVleet in free agency would hurt them so badly; he’s not an All-Star, but that defense and downhill scoring is not easy to replace. However, Devon Dotson is the closest replacement to VanVleet that Toronto will find in the first round. Dotson is lightning quick, plays hard on both ends, can finish in the paint, and seems to have improved his athleticism. If he can make defenders respect his pull-up shot, he could be a solid change-of-pace reserve guard.

29. Los Angeles Lakers - Isaiah Joe, G/W, Arkansas

The NBA learned during LeBron James’ second stint in Cleveland that if you surround him with above-average shooters that can make quick reads and defend their position, his team will win lots of games. The Lakers got like halfway to that this past season and still won a championship; Isaiah Joe — a top-three shooter in the class — would thrive in this situation. He’s another guy that Kupchak needs to try and move up for if he’s available in the late-first or early-second.

30. Boston Celtics (via MIL) - Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

Effort is one thing that teams will never have to worry about while Isaiah Stewart is on the court, and that’s something that the Boston front office values. They could use a center that’s taller than 6’ 9”, but his 7’ 4” wingspan and 250-pound frame compensate for that. Stewart has great footwork in the post and is athletic enough to defend any big man in the NBA; he’ll be a nice role-player if he adds more perimeter skill and learns how to anchor an NBA defense.

31. Dallas Mavericks (via GSW) - Josh Green, W, Arizona

Dallas pulling Tillman and Josh Green out of this draft without even trading anything would be insane. Green will be an above-average perimeter defender on day-one, but whether he can knock down threes at a league-average clip (36.1 percent on 30-83 3PA at Arizona) will determine his productivity.

32. Charlotte Hornets (via CLE) - Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL (France)

Theo Maledon has slid in mock drafts recently, which works out well for the Hornets. Maledon is a 6’ 4” point guard with a 6’ 9” wingspan that plays good point-of-attack defense and has a respectable jumper. He could spend another year in France under the tutelage of former Hornet Tony Parker or get big minutes off the bench in Charlotte this season — either way, this would be a great value pick. Also; watch for Nate Hinton here on draft night.

33. Minnesota Timberwolves - Robert Woodard II, W/F, Mississippi State

34. Philadelphia 76ers (via ATL) - Precious Achiuwa, F/C, Memphis

35. Sacramento Kings (via PHX) - Jahmi’us Ramsey, G/W, Texas Tech

36. Philadelphia 76ers (via NYK) - Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

37. Washington Wizards (via CHI) - Tre Jones, PG, Duke

38. New York Knicks (via CHA) - Jaden McDaniels, W/F, Washington

39. New Orleans Pelicans (via WAS) - Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

40. Memphis Grizzlies (via PHX) - Paul Reed, F/C, DePaul

41. San Antonio Spurs - Killian Tillie, C/F, Gonzaga

42. New Orleans Pelicans - Mason Jones, G/W, Arkansas

43. Sacramento Kings - Tyler Bey, F, Colorado

44. Chicago Bulls (via MEM) - Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

45. Orlando Magic - Nate Hinton, W, Houston

46. Portland Trail Blazers - Reggie Perry, C/F, Mississippi State

47. Boston Celtics (via BKN) - Yam Madar, G, Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

48. Golden State Warriors (via DAL) - Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas

49. Philadelphia 76ers - Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan (JUCO)

50. Atlanta Hawks (via MIA) - Lamine Diane, F, Cal State Northridge

51. Golden State Warriors (via UTA) - Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon

52. Sacramento Kings (via HOU) - Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky

53. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ty-Shon Alexander, G/W, Creighton

54. Indiana Pacers - Skylar Mays, G, Louisiana State

55. Brooklyn Nets (via DEN) - Cassius Stanley, W, Duke

56. Charlotte Hornets (via BOS) - Ömer Yurtseven, C, Georgetown (Turkey)

After taking a guard and a wing with the first two picks, it makes sense to add a big man with the 56th pick. Ömer Yurtseven has interviewed with the Hornets, so we know there’s base-level interest, and his potential as a playmaker and scorer from the high or low post is intriguing if he can improve his rim protection and mobility.

57. Los Angeles Clippers - Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke

58. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL) - Trevelin Queen, W, New Mexico State

59. Toronto Raptors - Naji Marshall, W, Xavier

60. New Orleans Pelicans (via MIL) - Sam Merrill, G, Utah State