The 2020 NBA Draft is not around the corner by any means, but it’s always great to get an early jump-start on the coverage. For this project, I have a different GM representing each team with some of my favorite “NBA Draft Twitter” follows making the picks. Make sure to give everyone involved a follow– all of their twitter profiles are linked on their names below.
The order was based off the standings at the time of the start of this mock draft, which started towards the middle of the holidays, so you can imagine how hectic it was to get all of this organized, but I truly appreciate everyone for participating, and I believe this exercise turned out terrific.
1. Atlanta Hawks: @Brendon Kleen: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia.
I’m keeping it simple with the top overall pick. While someone like James Wiseman or Cole Anthony could return to the top draft slot by June, the Hawks still need a secondary play-maker to ease the burden on Trae Young and bring another level of dynamic athleticism to the Hawks’ backcourt. A trio of Young, Edwards and Kevin Huerter could play together or two at a time and give Atlanta a huge advantage at those spots across 48 minutes.
2. New York Knicks: @SKPearlman: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona.
Though I was thinking about a few other players, I love Nico’s ability to play on and off ball on offense – a skill that is absolutely necessary next to RJ. He can make any pass in the book and sees the court well, is a movement shooter, and can take guys off the bounce a bit. Defensively, he’s smaller and not a switchable player, but he plays with an edge (read: elbows) and has a nice IQ.
3. Golden State Warriors: @Brandon Anderson: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn.
This might be a couple slots high for Okoro, but I love his natural defensive ability and intelligence. For the Warriors, I’m not focusing on long-term upside as much as a guy that can help the next 2 years with this star window.
I’m not in on Wiseman or Cole, and while I really like someone like LaMelo, Okoro can slot in and play winning minutes in May and June right away. All the better if we can get Iggy to come back and teach him his ways for a couple years. And by the way, there’s a lot of latent offensive upside here too, so there may be a star there yet.
4. New Orleans Pelicans: @Ben Pfeifer: Tyrese Maxey, PG, Kentucky.
Imitation Bob Myers stole Isaac Okoro from under my nose, thwarting my nefarious plan to assemble the greatest defensive partnership of all time with Zion Williamson. Begrudgingly, I had to turn to plan b and draft one of the bevy of guards the top of this class holds. I debated between LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony, but I settled on Tyrese Maxey for his fit with Zion Williamson. New Orleans finds itself in a position most teams drafting high don’t, with their primary already on the roster. Finding a primary is the most difficult task in team building and the Pelicans have theirs in Zion.
Acquiring talent to accentuate the primary is easier and Tyrese Maxey’s scalability makes him a perfect fit alongside Zion Williamson as a guard who projects as a potential elite shooter, high-level driver/finisher and a good defender. Though he’s disappointed at Kentucky, Maxey’s pre-college sample and John Calipari’s tendency to gravely misuse his talent gives me greater confidence in Maxey’s shotmaking and passing than he’s showed thus far in college. Landing a guy with the scalability to add value playing next to Zion and Brandon Ingram and the upside to create on the ball makes too much sense here for the Pelicans early.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: @Eustacchio Raulli: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra.
The Cavs are in desperate need of a player that can attack the rim and create for teammates from the wing. LaMelo projects to be strong in both areas. He’s able to completes passes others wouldn’t dare to try. This picks both fills a need and has plenty of upside.
6. Washington Wizards: @Cosmis: Killian Hayes, PG, Ulm.
This is a draft full of guards, but none have the combination of size, touch and craft of Killian Hayes. Standing at 6’6″, Hayes is able to make plays over the top of defenders that most other guards simply aren’t. He’s got great instincts and feel as a playmaker, and has developed into a scorer and shooter good enough to potentially lead an entire offense in the NBA.
Like D’Angelo Russell, there are concerns about his ability to beat defenders off the dribble, but his overall skill (and more polished shot selection and defensive acumen) make him perhaps the highest floor guard in the entire draft, and a great fit for a team looking for a shot of youth and talent like Washington.
Check out Brian’s patreon for more of his great work here: https://www.patreon.com/Cosmis
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: @Stevie Cozens: Cole Anthony, PG, UNC.
Minnesota have made improvements to their front office and roster but are still lacking one true point guard. Cole Anthony could be the answer to all their problems though. Anthony’s developing play making alongside his athleticism is the perfect fit with superstar Karl-Anthony Towns. He has a quick first step and great all round play in the open court. His shot is also coming nicely and he has defensive skills already. If his awareness and defense comes along he could be an elite point guard in the NBA.
8. Detroit Pistons: @Alessandro Cozzi: RJ Hampton, PG, NZ Breakers.
The Pistons need a PG of the future and there are few drafts better than this one to find it. RJ Hampton is an athletic combo guard who could potentially complement Luke Kennard well, as he has the size, quickness, defensive potential and off ball instincts to play either guard spots. He’s not a consistent shooter yet, as he has to improve his feet placement to become one, but his stroke looks smooth in catch and shoot situations.
9. Boston Celtics (via MEM): @Maxacarlin: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC.
The board played out perfectly for the Celtics at #9, as Onyeka Okongwu, the 9th overall player and top-rated big on my personal big board, remained available. Okongwu’s mobility, interior defense, post passing, roll man skills, and shooting indicators fit perfectly into the mold the Celtics want from the position. Of course, he also satisfies the Celtics’s greatest long- and short-term need.
10. Phoenix Suns: @AZSportsZone: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa St.
I was thrilled to see Haliburton available at number 10, as he’s working his way up to top 5 on my big board in recent weeks. Part of that is due to how excellent he has been, but also in part due to how weak the top of this draft class has been as a whole.
Phoenix still needs to find it’s long-term solution at point guard, and with two years to develop and learn under Ricky Rubio, it’s hard to find a better fit roster-wise. Adding a guard with the size, decision-making and elite vision that Haliburton has displayed this season at Iowa State would be ideal for an improved Phoenix offense. There are concerns about his shot/release and at times he struggles to create separation, but he’s been excellent enough in other phases of the game for me to not knock him too much on the potential deficiencies. A Haliburton/Booker backcourt would compliment each other quite well.
11. Chicago Bulls: @Tankathon: Josh Green, SG, Arizona.
The Bulls need a PG and wing depth. My best player available for those needs was Josh Green. Good defense and feel for the game outweighs the concern over his shot for now.
12. Charlotte Hornets: @Zak Noble: James Wiseman, C, Memphis.
James looks great on paper, and moving on the court, it’s what he does with the ball which is where the evaluation must come in. 7’0.5 big man, Great size and length with a 7’6 wingspan and 9’3.5 standing reach, Good athleticism, mobility, and fluidity. Solid hands, great finisher. Sufficient passer, where he shows his intelligence being patient with shots and hitting cutters. Love that he seems to not be afraid to grow more into a stretch big, but the results aren’t there yet. Super raw prospect overall for today’s game but upside is definitely there!
13. Sacramento Kings: @GeraldBourguet: Aaron Nesmith, F, Vanderbilt.
You can never have too much shooting in today’s game, and although the Kings are currently overflowing with wings between Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza, adding another knockdown shooter would do wonders to complement their young collection of talent. Nesmith is a 6’6″ wing in the 3-and-D mold who is currently nailing 50 percent of his whopping 8.5 3-point attempts per game for Vanderbilt.
With Bogdanovic approaching restricted free agency and Ariza being fully expendable, the Kings would do well to add Nesmith to help space the floor alongside Hield, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley.
14. San Antonio Spurs: @Alex West: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington.
Perched on the very edge of the lottery and with many of the top tier names off the board, the Spurs have to dig deeper to find an impact player. Washington’s Jaden McDaniels is an enchanting package of all of the things teams look for in a tweener forward: he can defend the point of attack (1.1 steals per game), he can be a menace as a help side shot blocker (1.2 blocks), and he can convert an off-the-dribble three (36.4%). But something about the 6’9″ freshman’s two-way game still hasn’t quite clicked, drifting through stretches of games without making an impact.
Enter Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio player development staff. The Spurs have done a remarkable developing young player and making the most out of limited draft assets. Getting McDaniels to engage on the court and helping him develop core strength to avoid being bumped so easily should both be perfectly in the Spurs’ wheelhouse. He may be a bit of a project, but San Antonio has a proven track record. If the gamble pays off, they will sneak away from the 2020 draft with another mid-first round steal.
15. Orlando Magic: @AdvancedStats23: Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech.
Ramsey gives Orlando a 2 guard with a nice combo of ball handling and 3 level scoring ability. He’s also athletic and solid defensively, with the need for offensive firepower and ballhandling he’s an easy fit for the Magic.
16. Portland Trailblazers: @Steve Dewald: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton.
The injury-riddled season that has unfolded for the Trail Blazers is proof that the frontcourt needs more depth. Obi Toppin’s athleticism and burgeoning offensive profile make for a logical fit. Even with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins healthy, the Blazers will need to continue to add non-backcourt talent.
17. Oklahoma City Thunder: @Jackson Frank: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi.
I like the idea of providing OKC with another young ball-handler/playmaker next to SGA and Deni’s team defense shores up some potential holes as well. Mostly, though, he was the best player available and the Thunder should be in talent-acquisition mode.
18. Atlanta Hawks: @Brendon Kleen: Oscar Tshiebwe, C, West Virginia.
The Mountaineers are bringing Oscar along slowly, but as a rim protector and elite rebounder who will bring energy and physicality to the middle of the Hawks’ defense, the freshman big man is a great value in the middle of the first round. It’s tough to say whether Atlanta would go after a big man who’s shot is such a question mark (they’ve never really done it), but regardless of how long that part of his game takes to come along, Tshiebwe fills a few major needs for the Hawks.
19. Utah Jazz: @SKPearlman: Paul Reed, PF, DePaul.
Honestly, I was surprised he was here. Very high level defender and rebounder, switchable onto perimeter players if needed (though not someone you want defending perimeter players full time), touch in the paint, and touch and improvement in his shooting – he’s even flashed a bit of movement shooting, though he still needs work here with his footwork (and cleaning up his form a bit).
He’s someone who can potentially space the floor next to Gobert and make an already devastating defensive team even better.
20. Dallas Mavericks:@Mavs Draft: Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville.
The Mavs are currently searching for a 3&D wing, and Nwora does just that, with bonuses in athleticism and vision. Nwora could step into Dallas and be a rotation player from day one. His understanding of the game, shooting, defense, and unselfishness make him a great fit for the Mavericks.
21. Milwaukee Bucks:@IllegalScreens: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova.
The Bucks have long needed a good option at the four when they aren’t using Giannis there, and they’ve had a good one fall to them at 21 here with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. JRE isn’t the uber athlete that D.J. Wilson was, but he should be much more functional in an NBA context given his decision-making on both ends and skill as a passer and rebounder.
JRE should be able to fill the dunker spot on offense and take primary forward matchups on defense, a great foil for what they need as a compliment around their star.
22. Los Angeles Clippers: @Tyler Monahan: Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington.
The Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but heading into the offseason they could be losing a lot of the dearth they have at power forward. Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Patterson and Mo Harkless are all free agents, bringing Stewart in should help soften the blow of losing any of these players.
Great footwork around the rim, a high motor and a progressing jump shot makes Isaiah Stewart one of the best options late in the first round and someone I think can come in and play a role from the beginning.
23. Brooklyn Nets: (Anon) Tyler Bey, F, Colorado.
A good friend of mine who is currently working for an NBA team wanted to participate anonymously, and the pick made was Tyler Bey from Colorado. He left this quick scouting report on the bouncy forward:
“Bey is a dynamic athlete that makes lightning-quick decisions and has excellent rebounding and self-awareness instincts. He is a versatile defender and has improved his jumper to the point where you have to consider him a late 1st round target for competitive teams. Brooklyn could use as many multi-position defending wings as possible. Someone that is as NBA-ready as Bey could be a nice addition to pair with Kevin Durant on the wing when he returns to the fold. He knows his role and plays to his strengths.”
24. Toronto Raptors: @Zach Milner: Kira Lewis, PG, Alabama.
With Fred VanVleet hitting free agency, Toronto and FVV will both have to make a decision. If FVV stays, I like a future backcourt of FVV and Kira. I trust Toronto’s player development to work with Kira. Hopefully his shot comes along because his ceiling is pretty high. Still have Lowry for 1 more year after this as well and a potential Lowry/Kira backcourt could work as well as Lowry mentoring Kira.
25. Houston Rockets: @Wolves Den: Zeke Nnaji, F/C, Arizona.
Zeke Nnaji provides versatility to a one dimensional Houston Rockets front court. Nnaji compliments Capela nicely, and excels when paired with elite playmakers. Zeke can score inside and out and has great potential as a floor spacer.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: @Jackson Frank: Theo Maledon, Asvel.
I took a similar approach with Theo Maledon. He’s a crafty driver who shares similar tendencies to SGA and I like the idea of building around three wing-sized ball-handlers who can hold their own — or better — defensively. OKC would need to add shooting around SGA, Deni and Maledon, but Maledon is a capable shooter and can function on and off the ball. I like the fit of this core trio.
27. Miami Heat- @NekiasNBA: Scottie Lewis, F, Florida.
Scottie Lewis is one of the most intriguing prospects in the class. He’s tool-sy (6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan) and athletic as heck with budding ball skills – a prime candidate to put in Miami’s developmental system. The jumper is a question mark, but there’s room for patience on the Heat’s end considering their current wing depth.
28. Boston Celtics- @Maxacarlin: Patrick Williams, F, Florida St.
Patrick Williams is one of my favorite players in the draft and 12th on my board, making the pick at #28 a total no-brainer. Williams doesn’t fill much of a need, but he’s the type of combo forward the Celtics unleash as a team defender to wreck opposing offenses. Extreme youth, an ideal frame, considerable bounce, and very strong shooting projection to go with selfless intelligence is an outstanding bet at this stage of the draft.
29. Los Angeles Lakers- @Ross Homan: Aaron Henry, F, Michigan St.
Aaron Henry was an easy pick for me at 29 for the Lakers. A great catch and shoot player who can help run secondary PnR and work off of dribble hand-offs, Henry would fit seamlessly next to two stars. Defensively Henry is capable at the point of attack, excellent vs PnR, Iso and dribble hand-offs. He’d allow the Lakers to go big in lineups. Another added bonus is Henry is very good in the post against smaller guards, which could be an advantage in LeBron point guard lineups.
30. Boston Celtics- @Maxacarlin: Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida St.
Williams’s Florida State teammate Devin Vassell is yet another of my favorites and currently sits 15th on my board. Vassell lacks Williams’s ideal physical traits and is a questionable offensive decision-maker, but he is the best team defender in the entire class, and he’s displayed a burgeoning pull-up game in his sophomore season.
The Celtics seem unlikely to use all three of their first-rounders, but if they adopted my BPA strategy and the board played out like it did in this exercise, they’d be major winners.
I really do appreciate everyone for joining in, we had some great guests that brought some excellent insight to the table on this year’s draft class. I’ll have plenty of more draft coverage coming up throughout the year so stay tuned. My updated big board will be released in the next week or so. Again, make sure you follow all these great people on twitter for more in-depth basketball analysis and takes.
Here are some additional links/sites to check out for more captivating draft coverage:
- CBS NBA Draft
- ESPN Insider (Draft Express) also has excellent content out.