Wow! WE GOT LUCKY!! FINALLY!!!! Of course it’s the weakest draft in years, but whatever. Beggars can’t be choosers. The Hornets moved up in the draft and that’s objectively good.
Honestly, I don’t know why I did one of these like a month ago, knowing that the deadline for player entry/withdrawal from the draft, as well as the Draft Lottery, were only a few weeks away. Not like we have much else to talk about, though. This will be the last update for a while, probably until we’re pretty close to draft night (whenever that may be, Oct. 16 isn’t looking great).
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/ and euroleague.net/main/statistics. Positional acronyms are; PG (point guard), G (guard), W (wing), F (forward), C (center). This mock draft was written combining the available information on what teams/scouts are thinking in regards to certain prospects with what I feel they could/should do with their selection.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - Anthony Edwards, G/W, Georgia
Anthony Edwards is the best fit in Minnesota out of the Ball/Edwards/Wiseman trio that is expected to be the top-three in the draft in some order. He gives the Timberwolves a semi-reliable third-option on offense, despite his consistency and efficiency issues, while having a lot of room to develop as a defender. If he locks in on that end, he could be a legit two-way player that puts up north of 20 points per game.
2. Golden State Warriors - Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
First of all, Golden State is going to try like hell to flip this pick for win-now players. Second of all, I know this pick is a deviation from the norm, but I don’t think that the Warriors value the center position enough to invest in it with the second pick in the draft and develop a player while they’re trying to win championships. Wiseman was mostly a placeholder for the Warriors’ pick pre-lottery, and now that there’s a clearer picture of how the draft may go, I find it unlikely that they’ll select a center. Deni Avdija will be able to facilitate, defend, and make plays in transition right away if the Warriors can’t move the pick.
3. Charlotte Hornets - LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks (Spire Institute)
The basketball gods have answered my prayers. Our Hornets get the No. 1 player in the class, by my estimation, in LaMelo Ball. His passing ability and creativity is second-to-none, and he’s one of three-or-four players in this draft class with All-Star potential. If Edwards is off the board, the Hornets have no business passing on a guard with the talent and high ceiling that Ball has, but the way the board falls is going to be a mystery until it actually happens. Ball, Edwards, Avdija or Killian Hayes should all be on the table, here.
4. Chicago Bulls - Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
This is one of the better fits in the lottery. Tyrese Haliburton could play alongside Coby White, Zach Lavine, or both, and provide them with much-needed perimeter defense and a pick-and-roll general. His catch-and-shoot percentages from long-range are high, and he could have some impressive scoring nights playing off of Lavine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. when his shot is falling. Great pick for Chicago.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - James Wiseman, C, Memphis
In terms of the quality of the franchise’s player development system, this might not be the best situation for James Wiseman. From purely an on-court perspective, Wiseman should have plenty of room for mistakes while he develops. Cleveland has zero good big men outside of Kevin Love, and their front court could use an injection of youth. He’d have bountiful playing time and touches from the get-go, and that would show whether or not the pre-draft hype was justified pretty quickly.
6. Atlanta Hawks - Isaac Okoro, W/F, Auburn
The Hawks picked two wing/forward types in the 2019 Draft; might as well make it a trifecta. Isaac Okoro is a much better defender than DeAndre Hunter or Cam Reddish, and the potential of him ironing out his 3-point shot makes a high selection worth it. He’s an underrated playmaker in the half court, and an absolute animal in transition. He doesn’t space the floor for Trae Young, but he does make up for Young’s defensive shortcomings.
7. Detroit Pistons - Killian Hayes, G, ratiopharm Ulm
The Pistons are like the Hornets, in that they have no business passing on talent and potential in this draft. Killian Hayes is criminally low in mock drafts these days, and in my opinion, the Pistons are getting a player that could compete for All-Star teams if his jumper develops. Hayes is a masterful pick-and-roll player and willing point-of-attack defender with great size for a combo guard; if the Hornets aren’t able to get Edwards or Ball, Hayes would be the next-best option.
8. New York Knicks - Devin Vassell, G/W, Florida State
It must suck so badly to be a Knicks fan (we can say that, as Hornets fans). Dropping in the lottery probably doesn’t hurt any team worse than it hurts New York, who desperately needs a “point guard of the future” to build around, like Ball or Hayes. Both will likely be gone by the eighth pick and the other lead guards aren't quite worthy of that draft slot. Devin Vassell is nothing to fret about, though. He’s probably going to be the best 3&D player in the class, and there’s some hidden shot-creating ability that he didn’t get to flash at Florida State, too.
9. Washington Wizards - Onyeka Okongwu, C, Southern California
The Wizards already have Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner, but neither of them are good enough to pass on the best player available at this point. Onyeka Okongwu gives them a legit defensive anchor behind John Wall and Bradley Beal that doesn’t need touches on offense, being more than happy to clean up missed shots, catch lobs and finish in transition. At best, Okongwu is an All-Defense center, elite interior finisher, and adept shooter/playmaker, and at worst he’s a rim-runner that can play elite defense. Given what’s left on the board, that’s not a bad option for Washington.
10. Phoenix Suns - Obi Toppin, C/F, Dayton
Obi Toppin does not have many good landing spots in the lottery. Very few teams need a 6’ 9” big that dunks, shoots pick-and-pop threes, and plays aggressively poor defense. Phoenix isn’t the worst fit, but Toppin being forced to defend fours on the perimeter could put a little more on Ayton’s plate than he’s ready to deal with, despite being a greatly-improved defender last season. I’m intrigued to see if/how much Toppin develops in the NBA, considering he will be 23 by opening night of the 2020-2021 season.
11. San Antonio Spurs - Patrick Williams, F, Florida State
Since Patrick Williams was in high school, he’s flashed long-range shooting ability, mid-range pull-up scoring, point forward playmaking and multi-positional defense with high IQ; combine that with a monstrous 6’ 8”, 225-pound frame and you’ve got boatloads of potential outcomes. PatWill is built like a brick shit house — just look at how much muscle he’s added since he was at West Charlotte high school, where he was named the Mecklenburg County Player of the Year by the Charlotte Observer in 2019.
12. Sacramento Kings - Aaron Nesmith, W, Vanderbilt
Some draft analysts have Aaron Nesmith falling a bit in the draft based on the lack of confidence in his abilities beyond shooting, but that shooting is just too good for an NBA team not to pick him in the lottery. We’ve seen the effect that ultra-elite shooters like Duncan Robinson can have on a game. Nesmith has, at least, the potential to become a similar player.
13. New Orleans Pelicans - Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
Man, imagine the break-neck pace that New Orleans could play at running Kira Lewis Jr., JJ Redick, Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes together. He’s a paltry 165 pounds, but he converted on 36.2 percent of his 304 3PA in two seasons at Alabama with a 27.7 assist percentage as a sophomore. Lewis Jr.’s combination of speed, length, vision and shooting would be perfect next to Zion.
14. Boston Celtics (via MEM) - Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
No player had their draft stock more-negatively affected by playing college basketball than Cole Anthony. If he’d taken the Wiseman route, he’d probably still be regarded as a potential top-five pick. Alas, he did not, UNC was horrible, and he tore his meniscus. With NBA floor-spacing and better talent surrounding him, Anthony’s woes as a playmaker and finisher should be alleviated. Boston would make good use of an athletic guard that can shoot threes at a high volume and make plays in transition like Anthony does.
15. Orlando Magic - Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
Orlando needs guards, and even though Tyrese Maxey isn’t exactly the style of guard they really need, he’s still an upgrade. Markelle Fultz is promising, but Evan Fournier is a free agent after next season and DJ Augustin is 32 and his 3PT percentage went from 41.2 in 2018-2019 to 34.8 in 2019-2020. Maxey would give Steve Clifford another aggressive guard defender and rim attacker to work with, as well as having the potential to grow into an above-average spot-up shooter.
16. Portland Trail Blazers - Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
I’ve long said that Portland’s group of wings is the worst in the NBA, so it’s in their best interest look to fill the void at that position in the draft. With that said, Saddiq Bey is about as good as you can get at 16th. He has the size and athleticism to defend fours down low and wings on the perimeter, as well as being a 45.1 percent 3-point shooter on 6.7 3PA per-40 minutes. He doesn’t create his own shot or make plays for others, but that’s what Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are for.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BKN) - Aleksej Pokuševski, F/C, Olympiacos B
Personally, I could take Aleksej Pokuševski in the mid-lottery and feel comfortable about it, but NBA scouts are reportedly not super high on him. “Poku” is well over seven feet tall but can handle and pass the ball in transition like a point guard, be the ball-handler or roll man in a pick-and-roll, has elite defensive playmaking ability, and shoots off-the-dribble threes. He turns 19 on December 26, making him the youngest player in the 2020 draft class. Pokuševski is putting up better numbers in the same Greek league that Giannis Antetokounmpo played in (first link is Poku’s statline, Giannis’ second). Do with that what you will.
18. Dallas Mavericks - R.J. Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (Little Elm HS)
Dallas is one piece away from being one of the best teams in the West. The only problem: they’re not going to find that piece with the 18th pick. R.J. Hampton underwhelmed in the NBL, but he has one of the higher ceilings in the draft as an athletic combo guard with size and ball-handling ability. If he adds muscle and develops a jumper with some shot creation in the half court, Hampton could be a really nice player.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI) - Grant Riller, G, College of Charleston
The Nets are in win-now mode, but could use young talent at any position other than center. Grant Riller has been a dominant scorer at College of Charleston for over four years and is one of the best rim penetrators in the class. If he can bump his 3PT percentage up a few points, Riller will have a long career as a sixth-man type in the NBA.
20. Miami Heat - Jalen Smith, F/C, Maryland
Ever since that story came out about Jalen Smith drawing rave reviews for his character and work ethic, I’ve felt compelled to mock him to Miami. Meyers Leonard and Jae Crowder are free agents this summer, and Kelly Olynyk is off the books next summer, so he would be helping fill a void that could arise in the next year or two. Smith can block shots, space the floor, and is pretty mobile, so as long as he busts his balls, he’ll fit in with the “Heat Culture.”
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) - Desmond Bane, G/W, Texas Christian
If it wasn’t clear during the regular season, it certainly was as they got swept out of the first round by Boston; Philadelphia needs shooters. Desmond Bane is a top-five shooter in the class, a capable perimeter defender, and would give the Sixers a role-player that can set the table on offense and make plays. The only goal for Philly in this draft should be to find players that make Ben Simmons’ and Joel Embiid’s lives easier.
22. Denver Nuggets (via HOU) - Josh Green, W, Arizona
The Nuggets don’t need a ton of help, but the injuries to Gary Harris and Will Barton have exposed their lack of perimeter defenders on the bench. Josh Green may not have the ideal shooting numbers for a 3&D prospect (36.1 percent 3PT, 3.6 3PA per-40), but it’s unlikely that he doesn’t come into the league as, at least, a solid defender and transition finisher. Green has the size, athleticism and budding instincts that Denver needs to be able to throw on the abundance of premier guards and wings out west.
23. Utah Jazz - Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
One of Utah’s weaknesses is not having enough players that can create offense outside of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. Theo Maledon is one of the more-polished point guards in this class, and his ability to command a pick-and-roll or slide off-ball and make heady cuts to the rim while offering some defensive upside at 6’ 4” should slide nicely into Quin Snyder’s second unit.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via IND) - Xavier Tillman, C, Michigan State
Please, NBA GMs, do not let the Bucks get a big man like Xavier Tillman. He would be an excellent pick-and-roll partner for Giannis that can absolutely crush guards with screens, make smart and quick decisions as a short-roll passer, and finish with touch on either side of the rim. Tillman has the best feel for the game out of any big man in this draft, if a coach can scheme around his lack of a jumper, he’ll be an extremely high-level role-player.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN) - Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
It’s a good thing the Thunder aren’t scared of taking players that need development, because Jaden McDaniels needs plenty. The base-level ball-handling and pull-up shooting skills for growing into an oversized wing scorer at 6’ 9” are there, but he needs to add strength to his 201-pound frame and develop some burst or quickness that allows him to get by defenders, because it’s very difficult for him to create advantages off the dribble at this stage.
26. Boston Celtics - Leandro Bolmaro, G/W, FC Barcelona B
Leandro Bolmaro is an ideal pick for Boston for two reasons: one being that he’s an excellent ball-handler with good court vision for a wing, gets downhill and attacks the rim, and plays sound team defense. The second, being that he is a draft-and-stash option and the Celtics have more draft picks than open roster spots for next season. Bolmaro benefits from another year of development in Barcelona, and the Celtics have one less player to cut during 2020-2021 training camp.
27. New York Knicks (via LAC) - Zeke Nnaji, C, Arizona
Pre-draft rumors indicate that Zeke Nnaji could be the first Arizona player selected on draft night, which would be surprising given the draft stock that Josh Green and Nico Mannion had going into the 2019-2020 season. Nnaji flashed legitimate shot-making ability as a stretch big, which would go along nicely next to RJ Barrett.
28. Los Angeles Lakers - Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
Apparently, Tyrell Terry has gotten a little taller since the NCAA season ended, which would go a long way for his potential as a defender and shot-maker. Adding an inch or two to his height would heighten the release on his jumper, making it easier to shoot over NBA defenders, etc. He’s a talented passer with good vision, though his decision-making needs some work. Terry’s level of shooting and playmaking are much-needed on the Lakers’ bench.
29. Toronto Raptors - Devon Dotson, PG, Kansas
Kyle Lowry isn’t getting younger, and Fred VanVleet might be getting the bag this summer from a bigger-market team (*cough* the Knicks *cough*). Devon Dotson’s propensity to get downhill and finish over/through/around bigs at the rim is among the best in this class, and he’s an aggressive point-of-attack defender with active hands. Developing a reliable 3-point shot would turn Dotson into an awesome backup point guard.
30. Boston Celtics (via MIL) - Elijah Hughes, W, Syracuse
Good teams can always use more shooting, and Elijah Hughes gives that to the Celtics. He needed to do it all on offense every night for Syracuse to compete, so I have confidence in his efficiency rising in the NBA where defenses aren't game-planning for him. The only years of his life where he didn’t play man-to-man defense were his two seasons at Syracuse, so there are no concerns with Hughes making the transition from a 2-3 zone to NBA defenses, either.
31. Dallas Mavericks (via GSW) - Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
32. Charlotte Hornets (via CLE) - Robert Woodard, W/F, Mississippi State
The Hornets get a first-round talent in Robert Woodard for a second-round salary. He got much better as a long-range shooter with more volume as a sophomore, and 6’ 7”, 230 pounds is ideal size for a 3&D wing/forward. Woodard is also one of the higher-ceiling prospects left on the board here.
33. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
34. Philadelphia 76ers (via ATL) - Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State
35. Sacramento Kings (via PHX) - Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
36. Philadelphia 76ers (via NYK) - Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
37. Washington Wizards (via CHI) - Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State
38. New York Knicks (via CHA) - Mason Jones, G/W, Arkansas
39. New Orleans Pelicans (via WAS) - Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
40. Memphis Grizzlies (via PHX) - Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
41. San Antonio Spurs - Killian Tillie, F/C, Gonzaga
42. New Orleans Pelicans - Jahmi’us Ramsey, G/W, Texas Tech
43. Sacramento Kings - Tre Jones, PG, Duke
44. Chicago Bulls (via MEM) - Paul Reed, F, DePaul
45. Orlando Magic - Skylar Mays, G, Louisiana State
46. Portland Trail Blazers - Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon
47. Boston Celtics (via BKN) - Reggie Perry, C, Mississippi State
48. Golden State Warriors (via DAL) - Marko Simonović, F/C, Mega Bemax
49. Philadelphia 76ers - Boriša Simanić, C, Crvena zvezda
50. Atlanta Hawks (via MIA) - Yam Madar, PG, Hapoel Tel Aviv
51. Golden State Warriors (via UTA) - Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
52. Sacramento Kings (via HOU) - Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan
53. Oklahoma City Thunder - Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
54. Indiana Pacers - Ty-Shon Alexander, G/W, Indiana Pacers
55. Brooklyn Nets (via DEN) - Nate Hinton, W, Houston
56. Charlotte Hornets (via BOS) - Nick Richards, C, Kentucky
The Hornets do have to invest in the center position eventually (I think they’ll address it in free agency a la Harry Giles, truthfully), and I figured I’d throw a bone to the ATHers that have been singing Nick Richards praise for months. He doesn’t shoot the ball, but Richards is gonna bust his balls, rebound, and deter opponents from attacking the rim while he’s on the floor. All you can ask for from the 56th pick is for them to develop into a moderately helpful bench player, and there’s a chance Richards does that.
57. Los Angeles Clippers - Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
58. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL) - Lamine Diane, F, Cal State Northridge
59. Toronto Raptors - Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
60. New Orleans Pelicans (via MIL) - Paul Eboua, F, Stella Azzurra Roma
As always, thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. Thank you for reading if you haven’t made it this far, as well, though you’ll never see it. Oh well.