NBA

2020 NBA first round mock draft: Minnesota selects...

The NBA draft order is shaping up following the lottery, with the Timberwolves now on the clock. With the NBA Draft less than three months away on November 18, here's a look at our latest mock draft.

 
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1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Stephen Lew / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Dion Waiters on a no-sugar, no-edibles diet

My hunch is that Edwards ends up developing into the player that the Cavs hoped they were drafting back when they selected Waiters with the no. 4 overall pick in 2012 NBA Draft. Edwards has a similar high-release point on his jumper and is comfortable taking and making contested shots. And like Waiters, the 6-foot-5 freshman out of Georgia has the talent to catch fire and completely dominate games for stretches of time with his scoring, playmaking and open court athleticism. Edwards must improve his consistency, his defensive fundamentals and motor. He's not an ideal top-three pick in a typical draft, but he at least has All-NBA-level talent and a prototypical NBA body. If the T'Wolves are unable to trade down, he's the best fit in Minnesota alongside Karl Anthony-Towns and D'Angelo Russell.

 
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2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Joe Rondone / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: DeAndre Jordan

Taking into consideration his raw package of athletic ability and skill, and combining that with the fact that teams only have three college games and a bunch of high school tape to work with, Wiseman enters this draft as one of the biggest question marks of the 2020 draft. He's got the potential to be DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler with a jump shot - a player who can carry the backend of an elite defense and be a devastating roll man on offense. At the same time, he could also end up being Hassan Whiteside - a vastly talented player who will put up good rebounding and block shot stats, but ultimately has an adverse impact on winning. Lots of NBA insiders are saying the Warriors love Wiseman at no. 2 if they decide to keep the pick. 

 
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3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawara

Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawara
Joe Camporeale / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: A taller version of D'Angelo Russell

As far as talent goes, Ball is at the very top of the draft board - he's got the same type of playmaking abilities and elite vision as his brother Lonzo, plus he's a couple of inches taller and seems to be mature enough to handle the pressure that comes with being a top pick, having been in the spotlight since he was in ninth grade. Unfortunately, LaMelo has the same shooting concerns as his brother because of his juvenile, push-shot form. It'll be interesting to see if he rebuilds his jumper or merely makes smaller adjustments like Ja Morant has with his shot. He'll also need to improve his atrocious effort on defense is he wants to be a winning player. For those reasons, I find it hard to believe that the T'Wolves or Warriors would select Ball. Thus, it makes more sense for the Hornets to take a huge swing on Ball at no. 3.

 
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4. Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

Chicago Bulls: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
Reese Strickland / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Malcolm Brogdon

In the era of positionless basketball, we've seen a number of unorthodox, two-way guards like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Malcolm Brogdon have success almost immediately in the league. I'd expect Haliburton to be the same. As off-tempo as his shot and playing style look, the guy produces at a high level - he averaged 15.2 ppg., 6.5 apg., 5.9 rpg. with 50-42-82 shooting splits in his sophomore season at Iowa State. The Bulls appear to have reached their peak with Zach LaVine as their go-to guy, so it wouldn't be surprising if they moved him this offseason or in the near future. Haliburton would be a perfect fit next to the Bulls' first round pick from last season (Coby White) as he should be an above-average defender against point guards and two-guards in the NBA. 

 
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5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Jim Dedmon / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Skinny Danilo Gallinari with more vision

Avdija projects to be some cross between Danilo Gallinari and the player Dario Saric was supposed to be. While he's not also physical as Gallinari, who has averaged five free throw attempts per game his entire career, Avdija has the vision to be an excellent passer. And while his free throw and three-point shooting percentages are lower than you'd expect, Avdija has a pure looking stroke, so there's some hope that he can shoot it like Gallinari eventually. One of the more glaring holes on the Cavaliers' roster is its lack of playmakers - adding Avdija could give the Cavs a good prospect to build around and also help make the game easier for their young guards, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. 

 
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6. Atlanta Hawks: R.J. Hampton, G, NZ Breakers

Atlanta Hawks: R.J. Hampton, G, NZ Breakers
Justin Ford / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Corey Brewer

It'll be interesting to see how the Hawks approach this pick. Do they try to trade it in an attempt to put a more competitive, playoff-ready team around Trae Young? Do they stay at no. 6 and draft a wing ready to contribute immediately like they did last year with Deandre Hunter? Or do they swing for the fences and draft a boom-bust kind of prospect like they did last year with Cam Reddish? As anxious as Young is to win, the reality is that the Hawks are still a year or two away from that, so why not go with a player with a ton of potential like RJ Hampton? Hampton has no jumper whatsoever at this point, but he'll immediately been one of the fastest end-to-end players in the league. He'll also be one of the youngest players in the league, so he'll have plenty of room to grow into the type of uber-athletic shooting guard that can make the Hawks a nightmare to guard in the future.

 
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7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Raiopharm Ulm

Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Raiopharm Ulm
Jim Dedmon / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: A bigger, left-handed CJ McCollum

Hayes' tape sure does pop - he's an shifty lefty who can get to the rim, run through passing lanes and do all the step-backs and space-creating dribble moves that all the lead guards in today's league have in their bags. While he isn't as explosive as a Russell Westbrook, he appears to have the ability to decelerate and change speed and directions to beat defenders à la CJ McCollum. The next steps in his development are to improve his long distance shooting (29.4 percent from three) and right hand. If he's able to do so, he could end up being the best player in this draft. The Pistons would be an ideal fit if he were to fall to pick no. 7.

 
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8. New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
John Reed / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Josh Richardson

Okoro projects to be an elite wing defender at the next level, and I'm sure that's music to Tom Thibodeau's ears here at pick no. 8. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing a stout 225 pounds, he should be able to defend the league's best wings without getting overpowered, but also switch onto guards or big men in a pinch. His jump shot is is definitely a work in progress, but his finishing around the rim and aggressive playing style will help to make up for those shooting shortcomings in his early years. If he ever develops a reliable three-point stroke, he'll be an elite three-and-D player. 

 
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9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, PF, USC

Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, PF, USC
Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Wendell Carter Jr. 

As we just saw in the NBA playoffs, having a big man with Bam Adebayo-like skills is becoming more and more important. Not only do today's bigs have to be versatile enough to protect the rim and switch onto wings on defense, they have to be skilled enough to execute dribble-handoffs out of the high post and attack the rim off a dribble or two when teams overplay the shooters. In a perfect world, Okongwu could very well develop into a Bam-like player, but it's more likely that he ends up being closer to Wendell Carter Jr., who possesses the same basic skill set as Adebayo, but is about 80 percent as good as Adebayo at all those skills. Okongwu's range appears to be anywhere from pick no. 4 through 10, so if he's still on the board at no. 9 for the Wizards, expect them to grab the skilled, young big out of USC.

 
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10. Phoenix Suns: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

Phoenix Suns: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State
Joshua S. Kelly / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Montrezl Harrell with the potential to have a more well-rounded game

Williams is someone who you could really see rising late in the draft process. He's an explosive, high energy forward who found a way to contribute in a variety of ways for a very good, very experienced Florida State squad as a freshman. At the very least, he'll be a great player to bring off the bench to crash the boards on both ends and run the court hard, making impact plays all over. If he has a bigger skill set that he was able to show in his one year at FSU, then he could be a steal at this point in the draft. With an intriguing trade piece at forward in Kelly Oubre Jr., it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Suns to snag Williams at no. 10 as a potential long-term replacement at the four. 

 
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11. San Antonio Spurs: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

San Antonio Spurs: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
Aaron Doster / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Middle-class Amar'e Stoudemire

If college basketball's best player, Toppin, is still available at no. 11, the Spurs should jump all over him. Not only is Toppin a logical replacement for LaMarcus Aldridge, who will be a free agent after next season, he's on the same timeline as some of the Spurs promising young players like Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. More importantly, Toppin is an NBA-ready scorer and big-time leaper around the rim, which helped him average 20 ppg. on a super-efficient 63 percent from the field at Dayton last season. While he can't really play defense, the Spurs have some of the best guard and wing defenders in the league, so perhaps they could hide his weakness. 

 
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12. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Nesmith, G/F, Vanderbilt

Sacramento Kings: Aaron Nesmith, G/F, Vanderbilt
Andrew Nelles / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Buddy Hield

Modern basketball values the ability to knock down three-point shots as much as any skill. And for that reason alone, Nesmith should be a lottery pick as he can absolutely make it rain from deep. In 14 games last season, Nesmith literally shot 52.2 percent from three on more than six attempts per game. 52 percent!! That's completely insane. The way he plays immediately draws comparisons to Buddy Hield, who, ironically, appears to want out of Sacramento (he's been ignoring coach Luke Walton's calls and texts all offseason). Nesmith would be an ideal replacement for Hield and a great wing player to have next to speedster De'Aaron Fox.

 
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13. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford

New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Seth Curry

Terry is an interesting prospect. On one hand, he's got an extremely slight frame for an NBA player (6-foot-2, 174 pounds) and will routinely get picked on switches late in games or in the playoffs. But on the other hand, he's got a Curry family skill set - complete with the lightening quick release and unlimited range. After witnessing the gravity of Steph Curry first-hand while he was the GM of a Cavs team that had to face the Warriors in the Finals every year, don't be surprised if David Griffin looks to surround Zion Williamson with as many elite floor spacers as possible, and Terry might be the best one in this draft.

 
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14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State
Alicia Devine / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: A defensive-minded Jeremy Lamb

Vassell jumps off the tape with his defensive effort and slashing ability on offense. He's got a prototypical body of an NBA shooting guard and enough athleticism to translate to the league. While his offensive numbers last season weren't eye-popping (12.7 ppg., 5.1 rpg. with 49-42-74 shooting splits), he averaged an impressive 2.4 combined blocks and steals per game. Any team drafting Vassell is making a play for the future as it will likely take him a few seasons to develop into a solid offensive player, but until then, he'll get some minutes as a energetic defender off the bench. 

 
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15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
Rob Kinnan / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Trey Burke

After a disappointing season in Chapel Hill, Anthony will try to regain some of his draft stock footing during the workout and interview process. Considering his NBA pedigree (his father is Greg Anthony) and high school ranking (No. 2 overall in ESPN's 2019 Top 100), I'd expect him to be on the rise come draft night. Anthony probably won't be a point guard that runs a team's offense for 35 minutes a night, but rather, a sixth man that comes off the bench and tries to drop 20 every night and force the issue on offense. He makes sense as a backup to the mercurial Markelle Fultz.

 
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16. Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova

Portland Trail Blazers: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Jae Crowder

Bey projects to be a solid three-and-D player in the NBA. He's a good defender and has good size (6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan). And despite having an unorthodox looking shot, he shot an impressive 45.1 percent from three on 5.6 three-point attempts per game as a sophomore with Villanova last season. He should have a place in the NBA for a long time. A wing-needy team like the Blazers should look to plug-and-play him immediately in their main rotation.

 
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17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Milwaukee Bucks version of Brook Lopez

Despite not being extremely agile, Smith (6-foot-10 and 225 pounds) has a game that should adapt nicely to today's NBA. Smith plays a lot like Brook Lopez plays today - he can finish around and above the rim, he can protect the rim (2.4 bpg.) and he can shoot the three (36.8 percent). He'd be a nice big man to spare Karl-Anthony Towns with to keep the floor spaced on offense. In addition, because of his offensive skill set, he could probably play alongside Towns if opposing teams aren't going small. 

 
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18. Dallas Mavericks: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

Dallas Mavericks: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis
Joe Rondone / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Montrezl Harrell

Achiuwa is a mega-athlete whose best skill at this point is his energy on both ends of the court. He's an aggressive cutter and rim-runner on offense and finishes almost everything above the rim with an emphatic slam. On defense, he can contest shots at the rim but also has the quickness to defend on the perimeter. He'll need to develop more parts of his game to become an impact player, but he certainly has a very high ceiling if he does. If he's available for the Mavericks at no. 18, the lure of Luka Doncic to Achiuwa alley-oops would certainly be tempting. 

 
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19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
Marvin Gentry / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Shorter Jrue Holiday

For any team in need of a short-term backup point guard and a long-term point guard of the future, Kira Lewis Jr. might be the guy. The sophomore point guard out of Alabama averaged an impressive 18.5 ppg., 5.2 apg. and 4.8 rpg. with 46-37-80 shooting splits last season. He has some very impressive speed and body control on drives as well. He could be a logical replacement for Spencer Dinwiddie should the Nets look to package Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert in a deal for a superstar. 

 
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20. Miami Heat: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

Miami Heat: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Collin Sexton

Could Maxey be the next Tyler Herro or Devin Booker out of Kentucky - a super-talented player hiding in plain sight because he was ultimately not utilized very much at UK due to Coach Cal's immense talent pool? Or is he a decent shot-maker better suited as a third or fourth guard on a good team? If it's the former, then he could be the third hidden gem from UK for the Miami Heat. If it's the latter, then he should still get some run with the Heat's second unit and help keep the pressure on other team's defenses when Dragic and Herro hit the bench. 

 
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21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Josh Green, SG, Arizona

Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
Stan Szeto / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Danuel House

As long as he can consistently hit three-pointers (36.1 percent from three in college), Green should end up being a nice three-and-D wing in the NBA. He's 6-foot-6 and a pretty decent athlete. He has a good feel for the game and is the type of wing who can attack hard closeouts. He also projects to be a good defender once he gets a few years under his belt. Contenders can never have enough good wing players, so it'd be surprising to see him fall much further than the 76ers at pick no. 21. 

 
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22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Aleksej Pokusevski, F, Olympiacos

Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Aleksej Pokusevski, F, Olympiacos
Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Dragon Bender

Pokusevski is easily the biggest question mark in the first round this year. With an frame similar to Bol Bol's, the 7-foot, 201-pound, 18-year-old Serbian could go in the lottery or he could go in the mid-twenties depending on the amount of risk teams are willing to take. If he could add some muscle and get his surprisingly versatile game to translate to the NBA, he could be the steal of the draft. Consider me a skeptic, however, if you watch some of Pokusevski's highlights, the competition often looks like it's low-level high school basketball. Maybe the Nuggets are feeling themselves after stealing Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol in the past two drafts and take Pokusevski if he slides this far. 

 
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23. Utah Jazz: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington

Utah Jazz: Jaden McDaniels, SF, Washington
Jennifer Buchanan / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Jeff Green

NBA front offices should thank their lucky stars that McDaniels underwhelmed in college. Otherwise, he'd be a top-10 pick, and probably end up with a poorly-run organization like the Knicks or Kings, and get lost in the weeds. At 6-foot-9, McDaniels can do it all - he's athletic, he is skilled with the ball in his hands, and he can shoot it from three. He can be the best player on the court for short blips. He's just very inconsistent. Fortunately for McDaniels, guys like Jeff Green will always have a place in the league - Green's heading into season number 13!! I'd expect the Jazz to trade Rudy Gobert this offseason and do a mini rebuild around Donovan Mitchell, so that means they should be taking higher risk-higher reward players in the draft like McDaniels. 

 
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24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Desmond Bane, SG, TCU

Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Desmond Bane, SG, TCU
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NBA Comparison: Norman Powell

Bane is the rare senior in the first round mix, meaning he'll be virtually ignored by teams looking for high upside sleepers, yet coveted by contenders looking for ready-made rookie contributors. Bane should be able to play minutes for the Bucks immediately as a three-and-D wing off the bench with his excellent three-point shooting (44.2 percent last season) and mature defensive game. 

 
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25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL

Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
Carlos Sanchez Martinez / Icon Sportswire

NBA Comparison: George Hill

Maledon would be a nice value pick at no. 25 for the soon-to-be-rebuilding Thunder as he was viewed as a high lottery pick before he injured his shoulder last fall. Maledon is a decent-sized point guard (6-foot-4 with a rangy wingspan) who can play on or off the ball on offense and projects to be a solid defender in the NBA. Hailing from the same town in France as Tony Parker, Maledon definitely has some of the same nice touch from mid-range and around the rim as Parker once did. He'd give the Thunder another big, savvy guard to play next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for years to come. 

 
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26. Boston Celtics: Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga

Boston Celtics: Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga
© James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Comparison: Kelly Olynyk

Tillie, who stands 6-foot-10 and weighs 220 pounds, is a savvy big man out of Gonzaga that has enough NBA skills to make him intriguing to a team like the Celtics here towards the end of the first round. He can shoot from deep (40 percent from three last season), and he's a crafty player, especially around the rim. He was athletic enough and strong enough to punish opponents in college, but do those attributes translate to the NBA? If they do, Tillie can be a rotation player in the NBA. 

 
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27. New York Knicks (via Clippers): Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State

New York Knicks (via Clippers): Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State
Orlando Ramirez / USA Today Sports Images

NBA Comparison: Shabazz Napier

Flynn is a lightening quick guard who can blow past defenders at will and create enough space to score all over the court despite standing only 6-foot-1. He has all of the moves around the basket - eurosteps, wrong-hand finishes, floaters - and projects to be a nice heat check player off the bench in the NBA. He'll have trouble on defense due to his slight stature, but he can at least make up for it by using his quickness to force turnovers on the perimeter. The Knicks can use a lot of things (per usual), but scoring will be a priority. Flynn should be able to help on that front within a year or two.

 
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28. Los Angeles Lakers: Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon

Los Angeles Lakers: Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon
© Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet

If the Lakers don't trade this pick, they'll be searching for a player who can contribute right away. Enter Pritchard - a four-year point guard out of Oregon who developed into a big-time scorer in his senior year, averaging 20.5 ppg., 5.5 apg., and 4.3 rpg. with impressive 47-42-82 shooting splits. Although he's athletically limited and only stands at 6-foot-2, he knows how to use his low center of gravity to his advantage on drives à la Fred VanVleet. His steady play and knockdown shooting ability would work nicely off the bench for the Lakers, especially if they lose Rajon Rondo to free agency after his strong post season. 

 
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29. Toronto Raptors: Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State

Toronto Raptors: Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Comparison: The Morris Twins

Woodard, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound sophomore out of Mississippi State, comes ready-made to contribute in the NBA as a three-and-D wing who can probably defend most big men in the post due to his strength. He's a good vertical athlete and can finish around the rim with the best of them. Moreover, he shot an impressive 42.9 percent from three last season on only 70 attempts, so it'll be interesting to see if he starts to fire from the perimeter with more confidence once he carves out a niche on a team. The Raptors always seem to find three-and-D steals late in the draft, I wouldn't be shocked if Woodard is the latest. 

 
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30. Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona

Boston Celtics (via Bucks): Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona
© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Comparison: Tomáš Satoranský

Bolmaro is a herky-jerky, playmaking guard out of Argentina who plays with a ton of flare - check out some of his passes in this highlight!! Does that remind you at all of a particular Spurs legend from Argentina? Though he has good size for a guard (6-foot-7), he's not quite as athletic as Argentina's most famous player, Manu Ginobili. And he hasn't learned to shoot like him yet either. Still, with the last pick of the first round, the Celtics might as well take a swing on a big guard with some solid upside that they can stash overseas until he's ready to contribute. 

Pat Heery began his sports writing career in 2016 for The Has Been Sports Blog. He practices real estate law during the day and runs pick & rolls at night. Follow him on Twitter: @pheery12

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