Draft day has finally arrived, and there has already been movement. While the trades haven’t been made official, the 16th and 24th overall picks will be changing hands. Portland will be picking 16th, but they’ll be doing so on behalf of the Rockets thanks to the trade headlined by Robert Covington. As for the 24th pick, Milwaukee will be picking on behalf of New Orleans as a result of the Jrue Holiday trade. And the 28th overall pick has already officially changed hands, with the Lakers sending that pick to Oklahoma City along with Danny Green in exchange for Dennis Schroder.
As for who things will play out Wednesday night, it feels as if we’re back to square one at the top. Anthony Edwards was considered to be the best option for Minnesota in the immediate aftermath of the lottery, and while LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman have also been discussed the former Georgia Bulldog may be the first player off the board. Ball and Wiseman shouldn’t be far behind, but Charlotte’s need for interior help could throw a wrench into the proceedings. Below is our final mock draft ahead of what should be a very interesting night.
1. Minnesota: SG Anthony Edwards, Georgia
In the NBA Draft, teams go with “best available player on our board” as opposed to looking for a positional fit. But given the lack of a clear-cut top pick in this draft class, the Timberwolves can place a little more emphasis on positional fit. Enter Edwards, who would give Minnesota a much-needed infusion of scoring on the wing. Holdovers Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver aren’t scorers the caliber of Edwards, but they’re good enough defensively to help make up for the rookie’s deficiencies on that end of the floor.
2. Golden State: C James Wiseman, Memphis
Wiseman is a highly athletic big who runs the floor well and can block shots either on the ball or as a help side defender. There’s still plenty of work to be done offensively, but given the team that he’s joining the 7-foot-1 center won’t be asked to do too much as a scorer. And playing off of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green means that Wiseman won’t lack for high-percentage scoring opportunities around the basket.
3. Charlotte: PG LaMelo Ball, Illawara Hawks
Yes the Hornets already have two point guards in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. But again, taking the best available player on the board is the priority. Ball has the size needed to play off the ball, but he will need to step things up defensively. Offensively he has skills, most notably his vision in transition, that separate him from the other available options. And given Charlotte’s need for interior help, it’s possible that they can use this pick in order to address that need while adding draft assets.
4. Chicago: SF/PF Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Avdija’s versatility is a major selling point here, especially when taking into consideration the number of bigs that the Bulls have selected in recent years. He can fill in at either forward spot, and can serve as a primary playmaker on occasion. That being said, it would not come as a surprise if Chicago looked to make a move here given the team’s need for perimeter talent beyond Zach LaVine and Coby White.
5. Cleveland: PF Obi Toppin, Dayton
Toppin is from Long Island, but he’s a household name in Ohio thanks to his two seasons of dominance at Dayton. Picking him would create a logjam of sorts in the frontcourt for the Cavaliers, but outside of Larry Nance Jr. the current group isn’t particularly athletic. Toppin would change that, and he sets up to be another talented young piece that Cleveland can rely on as it continues its rebuild.
6. Atlanta: PG/SG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
There have been rumblings that the Hawks are interested in acquiring Gordon Hayward, which would give them an experienced wing who can also be used as a small-ball four on occasion. But there’s also a need for another playmaker to supplement Trae Young, and Haliburton’s versatility and offensive skill set make him the best available option for Atlanta. The Hawks are also reportedly interested in signing Rajon Rondo in free agency, and he would serve as the experienced hand who can back up Young.
7. Detroit: SF/PF Patrick Williams, Florida State
The Pistons have already made an offseason move, as Bruce Brown was traded to Brooklyn in exchange for Dzanan Musa and a 2021 second-round pick. There’s still a need to address at the point guard position, but Williams is a player whose draft “stock” has risen in recent weeks. While there’s still a considerable amount of development left for him to experience as an offensive player, Williams is a plus athlete with solid instincts who can defend multiple positions. It was reported earlier this month that Williams had a promise to Detroit, and that could remain the case.
8. New York: SF Isaac Okoro, Auburn
Like Detroit the Knicks will also need to address the point guard position ahead of the 2020-21 season, by way of the draft, free agency or trade market. Maybe Leon Rose looks to move up, or down, as a result but it appears more likely that the Knicks stay put. Okoro, considered by more than a few to be the best perimeter defender in this draft, can help fill a void as none of New York’s current wings are considered to be elite on that end of the floor. Okoro still has strides to make offensively, but the defensive ability can’t be overlooked.
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9. Washington: PF/C Onyeka Okongwu, USC
The Wizards have a need to fill in the middle, and luckily for them the best available player on the board can help with that. Okongwu isn’t much of a threat offensively outside of 15 feet at this stage in his career, but the Wizards don’t need him to be. He moves well laterally and is solid defending pick-and-roll actions, and the rim protection factor is also a plus. Okongwu isn’t as big as a “traditional” center, but there aren’t a lot of “plodders” playing center in today’s NBA either.
10. Phoenix: SG/SF Devin Vassell, Florida State
Prior to Monday, it appeared likely that the Suns would look to go the point guard route. But they managed to acquire Chris Paul, upgrading that spot while also managing to hang onto this first-round pick. In drafting Vassell here, Phoenix would land a versatile wing who defends multiple positions and knocks down perimeter shots at a consistent rate. With Kelly Oubre being one of the four players traded to Oklahoma City, adding Vassell to the mix would give Phoenix additional depth on the wing.
11. San Antonio: SF Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt
Nesmith may be the best perimeter shooter in this draft, and adding him to the mix would give San Antonio another young wing to work with. San Antonio wasn’t a bad 3-point shooting team last season, ranking fourth in the league in percentage, but they were 28th in attempts per game. And with the Spurs’ two best scorers (LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan) being players who don’t include that shot in their respective repertoires, it never hurts to surround those player with as much shooting as possible.
12. Sacramento: PG Killian Hayes, Ulm
The expectation is that the Kings will sign De’Aaron Fox to a lucrative contract extension, fully committing to him as a major building block for the future. Drafting Hayes would give Sacramento another option at the backup point guard spot, as Cory Joseph enters the final guaranteed season of his current contract. Hayes has good size and he does a good job of putting his teammates in spots where they can be at their best.
13. New Orleans: PG Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama
This is the first of two first-round picks that the Pelicans will have in this draft, as they acquired Milwaukee’s in the Jrue Holiday trade. Adding another capable creator alongside Lonzo Ball can be done here while also staying true to the “rule” that best available player trumps positional need. As good as Lewis was as a freshman he was even better as a sophomore, and it’s worth noting that he graduated from high school a year early. With New Orleans getting Eric Bledsoe and George Hill in the Holiday trade, Lewis wouldn’t be under a high amount of pressure to produce immediately.
14. Boston (from Memphis): PF/C Precious Achiuwa, Memphis
The Celtics have three first-round picks, and not much room to fit everyone in due to the number of contracts that are already guaranteed for next season. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Danny Ainge looked to make a move, but we’ve seen this before with Boston when it comes to actually moving draft assets. Will there be action? Or will Boston look for draft-and-stash types. Achiuwa would not fit that mold, but he would fit in with a team that loaded with versatile defenders. He has a great motor, and can be productive as both a rebounder and shot-blocker.
15. Orlando: PG/SG RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers
Orlando’s point guard rotation could look a lot different next season, as backups D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams will both be unrestricted free agents. Adding a young guard in Hampton who’s capable of playing either on or off the ball works here, even if one of those two veterans re-signs with the team. And adding Hampton to the mix gives the Magic some long-term insurance in case current starting point guard Markelle Fultz fails to stay healthy.
16. Houston: PG Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
Thanks to the Robert Covington trade, the Blazers will be making this pick on behalf of the Rockets. As frustrated as James Harden may reportedly be, it would take a king’s ransom for Houston to part with him. As for Russell Westbrook, we’ll see what happens as his connection to the franchise and city isn’t as strong as Harden’s. Adding Maxey to the roster makes sense due to his athleticism and versatility, as he can be used at either guard spot, and he’s a high-level competitor as well. Given Eric Gordon’s injury history and Austin Rivers opting out of his contract, picking Maxey can help cover for those concerns as well.
17. Minnesota (from Brooklyn via Atlanta): SF Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Bey has the size needed to play the three, or serve as a small-ball four depending upon the matchup. Offensively he’s comfortable making plays with the ball in his hands, as during his time at Villanova Bey was able to sharpen his ball-handling and passing ability. And he’s also a good perimeter shooter, which is key considering the fact that he won’t be a marquee option in the Timberwolves offense.
18. Dallas: PF/C Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos B
Given Dallas’ reported desire for a third star alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (who’s out until January at least), this pick could very well used to sweeten a deal for said player. Or the Mavericks can hang onto the pick, and in Pokusevski they would be adding arguably the most skilled big man in this draft. He’s very comfortable on the perimeter, and is an effective passer as well. The concern is Pokusevski’s strength, or lack thereof. He will need to get stronger in preparation for the stronger power forwards and center in the NBA, but Pokusevski has the tools needed to develop into a special player down the line.
19. Brooklyn (from Philadelphia via LA Clippers): SG Desmond Bane, TCU
Yes the Nets acquired Bruce Brown via trade, adding a young perimeter defender who won’t need the ball too much offensively. But Brooklyn is going to need supplementary options capable of consistently knocking down the shots that will come as a result of opposing teams focusing their attention on stopping Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Enter Bane, who shot better than 43 percent from three during his college career and is also a solid defender. Given what the Nets are looking to accomplish this season, it makes sense to go with a more experienced prospect as opposed to rolling the dice on “upside.”
20. Miami: PG Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Anthony’s draft “stock” has been a bit volatile over the last year or so. Considered to be a lock to go in the lottery before his freshman season, Anthony suffered a knee injury and despite putting up gaudy individual numbers the feeling in some circles was that he did not have a great year. But he’s still a very good talent with NBA bloodlines (father Greg), and he is very good at navigating the pick-and-roll game. Anthony’s finishing around the basket leaves something to be desired, but he could turn out to be a player whose game is better suited to the NBA than the NCAA. And with Goran Dragic set to test the open market, adding a point guard at a low price point wouldn’t be the worst idea.
21. Philadelphia (from Oklahoma City via Orlando and Philadelphia): PG Tyrell Terry, Stanford
Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey have some things to figure out in Philadelphia, most importantly if they believe that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can serve as foundation pieces for a championship contender. That obviously won’t be answered on draft night but what the 76ers can do is improve the perimeter rotation, especially if Rivers and Morey agree with the pre-bubble decision to move Simmons off of the point. Terry, who is one of the better shooters in this draft class, can set things up offensively. And given his perimeter shooting ability, he should be fine when having to play off of Simmons or Embiid.
22. Denver (from Houston): PF/C Jalen Smith, Maryland
In each of the last two drafts Denver has selected a player that had medical concerns: Michael Porter Jr. in 2018, and Bol Bol in 2019. Smith doesn’t fit that mold, as he stayed relatively healthy throughout his two seasons at Maryland. He’s a good rebounder and shot-blocker, and Smith’s improved perimeter shooting is a bonus. With Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee both being free agents, Denver can also address a need by selecting Smith.
23. Utah: SG Josh Green, Arizona
At this juncture in his career, Green’s defense is ahead of his overall offensive skill set. But he’s a very good athlete and a solid catch-and-shoot option, which would work well in Utah. While it’s definitely fair to wonder if things would have gone differently in the bubble had Bojan Bogdanovic played, his presence wasn’t going to solve Utah’s issue of not having enough explosive athletes on the perimeter. Adding Green to the roster would help with that.
24. New Orleans (from Milwaukee via Indiana): PF Jaden McDaniels, Washington
McDaniels, who was projected by some to be a top-10 prospect in this class before last season, had an inconsistent freshman year at Washington before deciding to turn pro. It’s worth noting that there have been reports that his stock has been on the rise, and he could be one of the wild cards of this draft. Milwaukee will officially be on the clock, but McDaniels would be headed to New Orleans as part of the Jrue Holiday trade.
25. Oklahoma City (from Denver): PG Theo Maledon, ASVEL
Having acquired the Lakers’ first round pick, the Thunder have some options here. In Maledon, Oklahoma City would be selecting a young guard capable of playing either on or off the ball and he has a high basketball IQ. With the Thunder having traded two of its three point guards in the last week, Maledon would help address the team’s need for additional depth as well. That all being said, it’s conceivable that Sam Presti tries to move up in the draft by sending this and the 28th overall pick elsewhere.
26. Boston: SF Leandro Bolmaro, Barcelona
Boston taking at one draft-and-stash option in the first round would not come as a surprise, given the salary cap issue mentioned above. Bolmaro is a skilled forward who will need to get stronger with an eye towards the NBA, but the fact that he’s playing solid minutes in one of the toughest non-NBA leagues in the world is a positive sign.
27. New York (from LA Clippers): C Isaiah Stewart, Washington
Yes the Knicks have Mitchell Robinson, but that should not factor into the team’s decision here if Stewart is still on the board. He’s a tough center that rebounds and blocks shots, and Stewart is also a bit more polished offensively than Robinson was when he entered the league. The Knicks have two first-round picks, with this one being picked up in the Marcus Morris trade, so they will have some flexibility when it comes to potentially moving up. But if New York stays put and the Rochester native is on the board, Stewart should be their guy.
28. Oklahoma City (from LA Lakers): SF Robert Woodard, Mississippi State
Woodard fits the mold of prior Thunder draft picks, as he’s can play multiple positions and boasts a 7-foot, 2-inch wingspan. He showed signs of being able to expand his offensive repertoire while at Mississippi State, and he’s a good defender as well. In recent years Oklahoma City has taken 3-and-D prospects who haven’t been able to consistently bring the shooting part of the equation to the table, but that shouldn’t be an issue for Woodard.
29. Toronto: PF/C Xavier Tillman, Michigan State
The Raptors would be picking the best all-around defender in this draft class if they were to select Tillman, a big capable of taking on a variety of matchups with little trouble. A high-level rebounder and shot-blocker, Tillman also moves his feet well in pick-and-roll scenarios, which is essential at the NBA level. He made strides offensively during his time at Michigan State, so he won’t be a liability on that end of the floor. Given the statuses of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, it feels likely that Toronto will select a rotation-ready big with its pick. Tillman certainly works here.
30. Boston (from Milwaukee via Phoenix): C Zeke Nnaji, Arizona
Nnaji has a high motor, which he put to good use on both ends during his lone season at Arizona, and there’s a feeling that he could potentially expand his shooting range as a pro. Nnaji wasn’t asked to do much with regard to perimeter shooting, as he made just 29.4 percent of his 17 attempts from three, but he did shoot 76.0 percent from the foul line and has solid shooting mechanics.
31. Dallas (from Golden State): C Daniel Oturu, Minnesota
32. Charlotte (from Cleveland via LA Clippers and Orlando): SF Jordan Nwora, Louisville
33. Minnesota: SG Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech
34. Philadelphia (from Atlanta): SG Isaiah Joe, Arkansas
35. Sacramento (from Detroit via Phoenix): SF Tyler Bey, Colorado
36. Philadelphia (from New York): PG Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
37. Washington (from Chicago): PG Tre Jones, Duke
38. New York (from Charlotte): PG Devon Dotson, Kansas
39. New Orleans (from Washington via Milwaukee): PG Cassius Winston, Michigan State
40. Memphis (from Phoenix): C Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
41. San Antonio: PF/C Reggie Perry, Mississippi State
42. New Orleans: PG Nico Mannion, Arizona
43. Sacramento: C Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
44. Chicago (from Memphis): SG Sam Merrill, Utah State
45. Orlando: PG Payton Pritchard, Oregon
46. Portland: SG Jay Scrubb, John A. Logan College
47. Boston (from Brooklyn via Charlotte, Orlando and Philadelphia): SG Skylar Mays, LSU
48. Golden State (from Dallas via Philadelphia): PG Yam Madar, Hapoel Tel Aviv
49. Philadelphia: SG Grant Riller, College of Charleston
50. Atlanta (from Miami via Sacramento, Cleveland and Boston): PG Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky
51. Golden State (from Utah via Dallas, Detroit and Cleveland): SG/SF Cassius Stanley, Duke
52. Sacramento (from Houston): PF Paul Reed, DePaul
53. Oklahoma City: SF Abdoulaye N’Doye, Cholet
54. Indiana: PF Paul Eboua, VL Pesaro
55. Brooklyn (from Denver): SG Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton
56. Charlotte (from Boston): SF Justinian Jessup, Boise State (will play for Illawara Hawks in 2020-21)
57. LA Clippers: SF Kenyon Martin Jr., IMG Academy
58. Philadelphia (from Los Angeles Lakers via Orlando): SG Nate Hinton, Houston
59. Toronto: PG/SG Markus Howard, Marquette
60. New Orleans (from Milwaukee): SG Mason Jones, Arkansas