With the 2020 NBA Draft just over a week away, we take a look at our updated mock draft with explanations for each pick.
1. Minnesota TimberwolvesAnthony Edwards
Edwards has been compared by some scouts to a 6-foot-6 LeBron, due to his amazing physicality and explosiveness at the guard position. He is one of the most physically dominant guards to play at the NCAA level in years. He reminds of Dwyane Wade with his relentless motor, diverse skill set and elite athleticism. He can legitimately become a point guard at the next level as he shows tremendous creativity, vision and the ability to create offense for teammates. There are still some areas of his game that he needs to work on, namely consistency. Unlike a number of other top prospects, he actually played the entire season, and benefited by developing with close to a full year of games. Interesting, Edwards two favorite players happen to be the two that he compares most closely to in Wade and Victor Oladipo.
Why the Timberwolves take Anthony Edwards: There is still a lot of speculation that the T-Wolves will move this pick and add a veteran(s) to go along with their young combo of Towns and DLo. But the trade options do not appear to be as substantial as they once had hoped. The team is said to be high on Lamelo Ball, however his ability to fit into a struggling defensive team and alongside a ball dominant guard like Russell is highly questionable. Edwards makes the most sense, especially for a struggling franchise that must recruit their own players to stick around and sign long term deals. Edwards fits on more levels than Ball, despite the fact that Ball arguable possesses more long term potential in today’s league due to his pick and role acumen.
NBA Comparison: Dwyane Wade
2. Golden State Warriors
Ball is one of the biggest wildcards and mysteries in this year’s draft. He’s a talent, with one of the highest ceilings of any player available. But the fact that he decided to play in New Zealand and missed a good portion of the season, not to mention the the level of competition, makes him a tough prospect to evaluate. So a team will have to take a bit of a leap of faith with Ball considering he has less of a proven track record than other prospects available. But his ability to facilitate and run an offense as a 6-7 point guard gives him a great deal of intrigue. Unlike his brother Lonzo, LaMelo has a more conventional shooting form. But it’s not exactly conventional, just more so than Lonzo’s. He’s a more outgoing, vocal player, which should also give him a leg up in transitioning to the league. Ball figures to find a spot in the top 5, depending on team need, and a GMs willingness to roll the dice and wait on his talent to develop. There’s always the LaVar factor and the fact that Lonzo didn’t make it with his first team, and there are already rumors that he may not have a long stay ion New Orleans.
Why the Warriors take LaMelo Ball: If the Warriors are unable to deal this pick, Ball probably doesn’t make sense here. But we are in fact projecting a trade with someone such as New York or Detroit moving up to 2 for Ball. it’s entirely possible that the Hornets move up to 2 for Wiseman, fearing that a team such as San Antonio will dangle Derozan or other assets to move in front of them. If Ball were to go one, and Edwards falls to them, look for the Warriors to jump all over Edwards, and for him to be a great fit, with Ant-man developing under the tutelage of Curry and Klay Thompson. Ball could slide to the 4-5 range, but along with Edwards, he seems to possess the most draft intrigue with a number of teams willing to at offer some draft capital and/or cap relief to move up for him. If the Warriors hold onto 2 and make the pick, should Edwards go one, Obi Toppin, James Wiseman and Deni Avdija are possibilities.
NBA Comparison: Jalen Rose
3. Charlotte HornetsJames Wiseman
Wiseman’s season was cut short first by the NCAA and then by Wiseman himself who followed advice that he was a sure fire top 5 pick (or close), and opted to end his season early. While it would have been nice to see him compete and develop, following the injury to Charles Bassey and the fact that bigmen seem to be the most injury prone of any position, it is difficult to be too critical of the decision. particularly on the heels of the NCAA’s shenanigans. So much for teaching Wiseman a lesson. Wiseman showed surprising skill in the few games that he played, knocking down a few fadeaways and looking competent on the offensive end. But there is still skepticism about just how much offense he’ll bring on a nightly basis at the next level. He developed a bit of a reputation in high school for not having a genuine passion and love for the game. Considering he played so few games at Memphis, that remains a question mark. He’s clearly a specimen type of bigman, drawing comparisons to Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, and is clearly capable of being a difference maker on the defensive end at the next level.
Why the Hornets take James Wiseman: The Hornets are enamored with Wiseman’s ability to be a rim protector as well as his freakish run/jump athleticism for a center. He has even showed some promise as a mid-range shooter, so it’s not as if he’s a stiff. He just happens to be entering the league in an era where most centers are diminished to being glorified role players, similar to running backs in the NFL. The big question for Wiseman is how well he can defend the perimeter and whether he will be a match up problem in today’s NBA and relegated to the bench along with 90% of the true centers in close playoff games. Wiseman surely would benefit from landing in a nurturing environment like San Antonio, and in turn could languish in a place like Charlotte.
NBA Comparison:: Hassan Whiteside
4. Chicago Bulls
Okongwu was one of the biggest breakout freshmen surprises in 2019-20. He’s intriguing because of his potential to impact the game on both ends of the floor. He’s got a massive wingspan and utilizes it well to block shots as well as grab boards and finish plays at the rim. While he doesn’t have the length and height of James Wiseman, there are some that feel that he could challenge to be the first center taken in the 2020 draft. Okongwu proved himself as a legitimate offensive threat through an entire season at the college level and appears to have the higher floor and ceiling as a scorer at the next level. Wiseman is bigger and more of an physical specimen and seen as the player with the greater overall upside, but for today’s NBA, a case can be made that Okongwu is the better prospect due to having a skill set that more closely fits today’s game.
Why the Bulls take Onyeka Okongwu: The Bulls already have a similar player in Wendell Carter, so why draft Okongwu? Okongwu has a lot of buzz as a player teams are targeting to move up for, so there’s a good chance this pick could be made by someone else, with Chicago moving down a few spots and adding assets. Okongwu would add some much needed rebounding to the Bulls, and also has shot blocking and defensive potential that is currently lacking from their frontcourt. French PG Killian Hayes is also a player mentioned as a possibility here to Chicago.
NBA Comparison: John Collins
5. Cleveland CavaliersObi Toppin
Toppin is the age of a senior and has become a near consensus top 5 pick on team’s draft boards. He may be older than your average lottery pick, but he’s a physical specimen, capable of highlight plays on a nightly basis. He brings a level of NBA readiness and maturity that few of the other top prospects can match. He may lack the upside of others but he’s a sure thing to be a contributor, giving him a high floor. Toppin has shown solid improvement in his skill level from his freshman season and exhibits the ability to create offense for himself both on the perimeter and in the paint. He figures to be a modern day 4 with the speed to cause mismatches and get by 4s at the next level. His ability to knock down outside shots makes him a good fit in today’s NBA. While he appears to be somewhat stiff in his shoulders and arms, he should be able to add some flexibility at the next level working with trainers on proper lifting and flexibility exercises. Toppin measured 6-8 in shoes with a 6-10.5 wingspan at The Academy in August 2018, so there is some controversy over his wingspan as it has been published as 7-2 in other places.
Why the Cavaliers take Obi Toppin: The Cavs almost can’t take a point guard in this year’s draft after taking one in back to back drafts with Sexton and Garland. Toppin is a local guy and would give their front court some youthful energy as well as providing one of the surest picks in this year’s draft. Obviously, drafting Toppin would mean the team would look to move on from Kevin Love, who’s timeline doesn’t seem to fit with a team in the process of building for the future. While Toppin may not have the same intrigue and upside as someone like Okongwu, he is an elite level athlete with shooting ability, what’s not to like?
NBA Comparison: Kenyon Martin
6. Atlanta HawksDeni Avdija
Not that he isn’t deserving of his own recognition and hype, but Avdija clearly benefits from the immense success of Luka Doncic. European players are once again in vogue as Doncic has set the world on fire becoming one of the best young players ever, drawing Magic Johnson comparisons, and making many wonder whether he ultimately will surpass Dirk to become the greatest European NBA player ever. Avdija is not Doncic, though he has some Doncic-like qualities with his feel and versatility. He’s similarly not a pure shooter, but he understands how to play the pick and roll game and is a high level competitor.
Why the Hawks take Avdija: Avdija would seem to fit in well with the current make up of the Hawks, adding some playmaking ability from the small forward position and solid shooting. The team obviously stresses shooting ability, and Avdija has improved in that area over the past season. The team still has some defensive shortcomings, so players like Patrick Williams and Isaac Okoro could also garner consideration.
NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu
7. Detroit PistonsPatrick Williams
Williams is a freakishly explosive athlete with great strength. He is an intriguing due to his overall versatility with potential as an outside shooter and ability to play multiple positions. He’s either a big small forward, or a small power forward as he appears to be in the 6’7 range with a 6’11 wingspan. What Williams is missing is consistency and maturity, which is natural in a freshman. He needs to convince teams that he dedicated and willing to put in the work to fulfill his potential. He has the profile of the type of player that a team drafts only to watch him struggle before finally finding himself and seeing his best years come with another team. But if he lands in the right situation, with the right expectations and development, he can ring the bell with his first team.
Why the Pistons take Patrick Williams: If you’re talking about sheer upside and raw potential, there aren’t many prospects in this draft with more than Williams. He’s got some Kawhi Leonard to his skill set and physical make up, but still has a long ways to go. Can he learn to play every possession like it’s his last, similar to Leonard, is the question. A good landing spot would be beneficial for Williams, who has the reputation for being too nice of a kid, and in need of more sense of urgency on the court. There is buzz out there among scouts that the Pistons “won’t let Williams get past their pick.”
NBA Comparison: Clifford Robinson
8. New York KnicksTyrese Haliburton
Haliburton is a true point guard at 6’5, and has shown a lot of physical development in the past year, becoming a real ball hawk and a difficult match up due to his size and speed. He is one of the draft’s wild cards as he’s got tremendous size at the point guard position and shows solid ability to play the position. What makes him a more difficult prospect to evaluate is projecting whether or not he can improve upon his shooting form, which would greatly enhance his ability to create offense for himself. Similar to New Orleans’ point guard Lonzo Ball, Haliburton shoots well when he’s given space, but has a extremely slow release which makes it nearly impossible for him to get a shot off with a defender in front of him. The Iowa State sophomore measured 6’5 with a 6’7.5 wingspan at The Academy in August 2019, giving him solid length.
Why the Knicks take Tyrese Haliburton: The Knicks seem to be locked into finding their future point guard, and they seem to have chosen the right draft to do so. Now will they pick the right guy to be their point guard of the future? They’re rumored to be making a push to move up for Lamelo Ball, but some would argue Haliburton is the same player, only more proven and with a winning track record.
NBA Comparison: Lonzo Ball
9. Washington WizardsIsaac Okoro
We liken Okoro to a young “Tough Juice”, Caron Butler. He’s not the fastest athlete but has a very physical and bouncy body and really punishes opponents utilizing his powerful frame. He’s a tough nosed competitor and very focused. And never seems to get thrown off his game, maintaining a focus and calmness in all situations. He’s an upside pick as there’s still a lot of development left and he may take a while to realize his talent, especially on the offensive end of the floor. It’s uncertain if he has star ability or will thrive more as a complimentary piece. He figures to find some level of success and not be a complete bust due to his intangibles, but it remains to be seen if he can add the skill level to justify such a high selection.
Why the Wizards take Okoro: Okoro would add a tough, physical wing to add to their aging back court. Washington is said to be targeting a big with their pick, but unfortunately there really doesn’t figure to be a big worth taking at 9. They could target Jalen Smith here, but a better idea would be to trade down 3-5 or so spots to draft him. There’s reportedly cause for concern that taking a guard could cause Bradley Beal to demand a trade. But if they’re actually allowing current personnel to dictate their draft strategy and walking on egg shells going into the draft, they’re going to struggle to maximize their draft position.
NBA Comparison: Caron Butler
10. Phoenix SunsKillian Hayes
Florida born, and French raised Killian Hayes exploded this season playing in the German league and has a chance to go ahead of Deni Avdija and be the top European “raised” International prospect taken. Hayes has excellent size at 6’5 and tremendous quickness, and plays a mature game for his age. He has a good shooting touch, showing quality decision making with the ability to create scoring opportunities and not over-dribble or neglect to involve teammates. His ability to get everyone involved and then look for his own offense when his team needs a basket is a tribute to his basketball IQ and feel for the game.
Why the Suns take Killian Hayes: Phoenix has entered trade discussions with OKC to add Chris Paul. If they pull the trade off, as it looks very possible at this point, this pick wouldn’t make as much sense. But then again the Suns could look to move the pick. Hayes would potentially give the team a point/combo guard to groom for the future. The Suns shocked everyone by drafting Cameron Johnson at 11 last year, GM James Jones took a lot of criticism for the pick within the media, this site included, but to Jones’ credit, Johnson has worked out well for them. Does Jones have another shocker in store for this year? Arizona local product Nico Mannion would fit the bill.
NBA Comparison: Kirk Hinrich
11. San Antonio SpursDevin Vassell
Vassell didn’t put up huge stats for Florida State, but who does? It seems every year Leonard Hamilton’s team has a balanced and extremely talented group and this year was no different. So perhaps grading on a curve, scoring 12 at FSU is actually like putting up 16-18 for most teams. Vassell is a long, rangy wing with a sweet shooting stroke and the ability to get out on the break and make plays at the rim. he isn’t the strongest athlete, so getting into the weight room and adding core strength will allow him to play more physical and finish plays at the rim. Time is also on Vassell’s side as he will turn 20 in August, showing that his accomplishments in college have come at a young age, and there’s likely a jump in ability left in him.
Why the Spurs take Vassell: The Spurs are pushing hard to move up from 11 and into the 4-8 range, presumably targeting Florida State forward Patrick Williams. Williams is a player they could attempt to mold into another Kawhi Leonard. If not, they’re sitting in a pretty good spot at 11, as someone like Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro or Killian Hayes could fall to them, if they aren’t able to move up. Vassell would give their backcourt another talented scorer and athlete to develop for the future.
NBA Comparison: Kelly Oubre
12. Sacramento KingsSaddiq Bey
Bey really made a name for himself in August at The Academy, coming away as one of the players that NBA scouts were most intrigued with. He spring boarded off of that performance with an excellent sophomore season, showing a willingness to compete night in and night out. He’s an over-achiever type that maximizes his abilities utilizing a 6-11 wingspan to defend and rebound and he has also begun to develop some versatility in his offensive repertoire. What he’s lacking is high level athleticism, as he’s somewhat stiff, lacking great fluidity. His ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and defend has him projected in the first round. But he will need to adjust his shot some as his release and shot trajectory are flat, but there’s no denying the results.
Why the Kings take Saddiq Bey: Bey gives the Kings a solid, overachiever and grinder at the 3 position. With Harrison Barnes’ future with the team up in the air, Bey offers a potential replacement and someone willing to do the dirty work and be a glue player for them. Bey lacks the upside of other similarly ranked prospects, and would be a bit of a reach here in our view. But for a struggling, underachieving team, adding tough nosed competitors is never a bad idea.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dekker
13 New Orleans Pelicans
Nesmith emerged as one of the most prolific scorers in the country in his sophomore year. He has a little Buddy Hield to his game with his body type, confidence and pure outside shooting ability. He was absolutely deadly shooting from behind the arch in his sophomore year, knocking down 4 threes per game at a highly efficient 52% clip. Granted his 23 ppg average and incredible efficiency was only over 14 games and it’s hard to imagine he could have sustained that for an entire season. But he’s obviously a future weapon in the NBA as a shooting specialist and his 6-10 wingspan gives him added ability to get shots off.
Why the Pelicans take Nesmith: Nesmith figures to go somewhere in the late lottery to mid-first round. He, along with Tyrell Terry, are the draft’s premiere shooters and he could fit a role with the Pelicans as a floor spreader, similar to JJ Redick, only with more years under contract. New Orleans is one of a handful of teams that Nesmith worked out for.
NBA Comparison: Cameron Johnson
14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis)
Jalen “Stix” Smith is a long, rangy power forward with solid shooting ability and rebounding, along with a consistent effort and energy level. Smith improved in his sophomore season, adding some strength as well as range and efficiency shooting the ball. He can now consistently knock down three pointers, making 32 on the season at a 37% clip. Stix even became a force as a shot blocker, utilizing his 7’1 wingspan and quick leaping ability to erase 2.4 shots per game. While he looks a little bit robotic and lacks great fluidity, he’s a cerebral big and an impressive athlete capable of impacting the game on both ends of the floor. Smith figures to find a spot in the mid-to-late first round due to his intangibles and versatile skill set.
Why the Celtics take Jalen Smith: The Celtics are actively trying to package their picks in order to move up for a pick in the front half of the lottery, with Onyeka Okongwu as their likely target. Smith would be a solid consolation prize here, as he’s highly skilled and seems to be a Celtics type of player.
15. Orlando Magic
Anthony suffered a mid-season injury and it likely cost him a few spots in the draft, however teams remain intrigued with his potential as a lead guard. He’s got the size, ball skills and intangibles to be a quality starting point guard at the NBA level. He lacks transcendent speed and athleticism, however he’s fairly explosive and quick. North Carolina had a disappointing season, and his efficiency was inconsistent. Perhaps the lack of talent around him added to his struggles as he was asked to carry the scoring load, and opposing teams were able to focus their defenses to stop him. While he clearly has some maturing left to do, he’s got the bloodlines and high school pedigree, in addition to developing for close to a full freshman season at one of the legendary programs in college basketball.
Why the Magic take Cole Anthony: The Magic have struggled to find a point guard for some time now. While Markell Fultz had a solid showing in the bubble, there are still question marks about his ability to be a consistent lead guard that the team can rely upon. Anthony obviously comes with concerns related to leadership, but there’s no questioning his talent as he was among the few prep prospects that spent time as the top recruit in the nation and is shaping up to be one of the underrated prospects for this draft.
NBA Comparison: Mo Williams
16. Portland Trailblazers
When James Wiseman decided to shut things down for the remainder of the season following his suspension, Achiuwa was able to step into the limelight in Memphis. He is one of the draft’s premiere run/jump athletes and plays with a lot of energy. He has shown flashes of being able to knock down mid-range shots, though he’s still got work to do to become a legitimate scorer / shooter. He brings a lot of versatility with the ability to defend multiple positions and play as both a three and a four. he shot a respectable 32% from three (13 threes made) and averaged a double-double, 15 and 10 and even blocked 1.9 per game.
Why the Blazers take Precious Achiuwa: Carmelo Anthony has been a revelation for the Blazers, finding a new lease on life and contributing to the team as a clutch shooter and steady leader. But how much does Anthony have left in the tank? And there’s also the concern about him on the defensive end. Achiuwa has some ability at both forward positions and figures to develop into an excellent defender in time due to his great athleticism. The Blazers could certainly use a forward with the ability to defend on the perimeter as well as in the post.
NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn)
He’s a long, speedy combo guard with an ability to create buckets. Maxey came into Kentucky as one of the headliners, having built up a big name in AAU and competing for USA Select basketball. He started the year off with a bang with a huge 26 point game at Madison Square Garden as Kentucky took down number one Michigan State. But it was all down hill from there, as consistency plagued him throughout the year, and he struggled to live up to the hype that he built in that first game performance. Maxey brings a lot of intrigue with his ability to isolate and create baskets, and shows a lot of enjoyment in playing. Developing his point guard skills will further add value to his game.
Why the Timberwolves would take Tyrese Maxey: Minnesota could use more firepower from a scoring standpoint. And while Maxey really struggled shooting the ball last season (29% from 3), he’s widely considered an above average shooter, and shows promising form. He’ll need to improve his shot selection, but Minnesota could be a good opportunity for him, as he could be given the ability to fail, with a lot of garbage minutes as a rookie, as a winning season appears to be a pipe dream in Minnesota.
NBA Comparison: Cuttino Mobley
18. Dallas Mavericks
Terry was seen as a likely multi-year college prospect for much of the season, though he was impressive for Stanford, despite not putting up huge stats. He’s in the mold of a Stephen Curry or Trey Young with his pure shooting and natural play making ability. if his body develops. Granted he’s a little old for a freshman, as he’ll turn 20 in September. His legs are extremely thin and at times he struggles to maintain balance and was easily knocked off his path when driving. But he shows toughness and competitiveness, and he’s got the potential to be one of the best point guards out of this draft if his body develops. He’s actually not a terrible athlete, as he threw down some impressive dunks, when he was given a window to the rim and the defense had a letdown. Terry is an upside pick, and has a ways to go, but with the premium on shooting figures to find a spot in the mid first round. There’s even some speculation that he has a promise.
Why the Mavericks take Tyrell Terry: The Mavs could look to go big here, and may not want to take any guards that could disrupt their current backcourt situation. But it’s hard to see that happening. Terry could fill the role of Seth Curry in future seasons and be a nice compliment to Doncic with his outside shooting. Perhaps Luka Doncic can turn Terry onto some good protein drinks in order to bulk up.
NBA Comparison: CJ McCollum
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia)
The Texas native is an athletic combo guard that elected to circumvent the NCAA route, and had an unspectacular, though effective season playing in the NBL for the New Zealand Breakers. He averaged 8.8 points per game on 40% FG and 30% 3point, while posting 1.4 assists a game to 1.5 turnovers in 21 minutes per game. His 8.8 points per game represent just 10% of the 89 points the breakers scored per game on the season. Granted, Hampton was one of the youngest players on the team. He’s an above average athlete capable of highlight plays and has a solid skill set, having shown the ability to run the point guard position at the AAU level. RJ missed nearly half of the season playing in 15 of the team’s 28 games when the season ended. Hampton measured 6’4 in shoes, with a 6’7 wingspan and 8’4 standing reach in US competitions, giving him legitimate shooting guard size at the point guard position.
Why the Thunder takes RJ Hampton: The Nets are reportedly very high on Hampton, and would even consider a trade to move up to secure him. This is a team that has drafted extremely well in this area, grabbing guys like Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen with picks in the 20s. Hampton gives them more firepower in the backcourt, as well as another potential trade asset.
NBA Comparison: Dante Exum
20. Miami HeatDesmond Bane
Desmond Bane is one of the big risers during the draft process having had positive interviews as well as solid workouts. While his highlight reel doesn’t jump off the screen, his ability to be a consistent shooter and solid frame and maturity has put him squarely in first round discussions among teams. A number of teams are now rating him in their top 20. Bane, who turned 22 in June, has an extremely small wingspan at 6’4.5, but is a solid athlete, and likely benefits from the COVID stoppage, due to his maturity and experience.
Bane is being discussed as a mid first rounder in recent weeks, with teams such as Miami and Philadelphia being linked to him. He might be a slight reach at 20, but teams are high on him and there’s a real chance he will go around this area. Miami struck gold with Tyler Herro in last year’s draft at 13, and could look to add more depth to their backcourt here.
NBA Comparison: Courtney Lee
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)
One of the more underrated prospects heading into draft season, Green has prototypical size and athleticism at the wing position and also shows a promising shooting stroke. A potential 3-and-D player for the next level, Green knocked down one three pointer per game on 36% shooting. While his 12 ppg doesn’t jump off the page, he showed a willingness to play within the framework of the team and appears to have a good deal of potential left to develop. Green still needs to improve as an isolation threat as his ball skills don’t stand out but he has shown a willingness to be coached since arriving from Australia and by all accounts is a mature and focused individual. Put in the right situation, Green figures to develop into a weapon from the perimeter with high level ability to run the floor and finish.
Why the Sixers take Josh Green: Philly could look for a point guard such as Theo Maledon or Cole Anthony, if he were to fall to them here. But shooting remains one of the team’s shortcomings, especially after JJ Redick left. Green may be a season or two away from impacting, but has the Australian connection with Ben Simmons, and fills a position of need as a 3-D wing.
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston)
Maledon is one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft. He struggled some to advance his skill set this year and is more of a project than player as a lead guard right now. But Maledon shows a lot of upside as an extremely quick and athletic point guard. Like fellow Frenchman, Killian Hayes, he’s a full year younger than American standouts Cole Anthony and Tyrese Haliberton, who figure to be taken in front of him. Maledon is an athletic specimen with long arms and very good foot speed and all-around quickness. He is more of a boom or bust type than the aforementioned point guards, so it figures that a team will want to weigh risk/reward and draft him in a range that makes them comfortable with developing a project that may or may not realize their potential.
Why the Nuggets take Theo Maledon: Maledon had a solid season, but saw his stock fall some, and offers great value here. The Nuggets have shown an affinity for finding excellent value at their draft spots in recent years. Point guard is a position of strength and there will likely be a steal or two to be had at the position in this range. Maledon is probably a year or two away, but offers excellent value with his athleticism and potential, and Denver figures to be a good fit.
NBA Comparison: Terry Rozier
23. Utah Jazz
Mannion is a crafty lead guard who came into Arizona with a big high school reputation. And while he didn’t shoot to his ability and Arizona wasn’t quite as dominant as some had projected them to be. But Mannion is as driven and competitive as anyone in the draft. His father having been a professional basketball player in italy and his Mom having been a professional volleyball player gives him both the genes and the mental predisposition to be successful. He’s got good size and athleticism, but some wonder whether he has the speed to contend with NBA point guards. Perhaps his intangibles and size will help to compensate for his lack of high end speed.
Why the Jazz take Nico Mannion: Utah has an aging point guard in Mike Conley and Mannion could be a solid back up in the short term, with the idea that he could develop into his successor long term, if things go well. Mannion is an Arizona kid and wouldn’t have far to travel with Salt Lake City being in the same region, a potential added benefit should he pop, for keeping him with the franchise.
NBA Comparison: Luke Ridnour
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana)
Carey was extremely steady all year for Duke. He lacks elite speed and athleticism, but has a lot of smoothness to his game with touch to finish and shows a no nonsense approach. He came into college as one of the highest rated recruits, having spent time as the top player in his class according to certain recruiting analysts. He shot very few three pointers and there’s still some question about how well he will be able to extend his shot out to the perimeter and become an effective face up scorer. But there are signs that he can improve in this area, as he has good form and solid fundamentals in his shooting stroke. Carey has decent length at 6’10 in shoes with a 7’1 wingspan.
Why the Bucks take Vernon Carey: The center position has been downgraded and Carey has seen the luster of his draft stock slip. But in the late first round, he offers a team like Milwaukee solid value and upside. If he continues to work hard on improving his shooting, he could end up being a steal, based on where he’s currently projected.
NBA Comparison: Carlos Boozer
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver)
Tyler Bey is one of the most explosive and athletic forwards in this year’s draft. He didn’t put up eye popping scoring numbers, but he shows the ability to play on the block as well as knock down mid range shots. He’ll need to work on extending his range but the athletic profile makes him very intriguing. He benefits from the fact that undersized, high energy power forwards are thriving in today’s NBA. He certainly fits the category of tweener, but his ability to defend and potentially play a number of positions helps his cause.
Why the Thunder take Tyler Bey: The Thunder are pushing hard to trade CP3, with a new developmental style coach in place, and there’s a good chance this pick gets included in a deal and is made by another team. If not, Bey gives the Thunder an energetic big to add to their rebuilding nucleus. Bey is considered a mid-first to early-second rounder, and while his statistics didn’t stand out, his elite athleticism should allow him to transition to the next level well.
NBA Comparison: Luc Mbah a Moute
26. Boston Celtics
McDaniels oozes upside with his great ability to score from off the dribble as well as knock down shots. He has jaw dropping talent, when he’s on. Unfortunately, that has been something that he’s struggled to maintain. There are major question marks about his focus and dedication to the game. Body language is not one of his strong suits and he is really in need of the right NBA environment to succeed. If that happens, a team could get him to realize his immense potential and play more consistently. However, a number of scouts are convinced that he will be a player that bounces around the league, showing flashes of talent, but never able to contribute on a consistent basis. He is probably the biggest boom or bust pick in the entire draft.
Why the Celtics take Jaden McDaniels: McDaniels talent level merits a pick 10 (or more) spots higher than this, but there are a lot of concerns about his attitude, focus and desire. A good situation will be critical for his future and he strikes some scouts as a player that may not make it with his first team. Boston has a very good culture and environment to develop, but whether or not Boston would choose to use resources to develop a project like McDaniels is another story. There’s also the possibility that this pick could be moved on draft day with the Celtics looking to package picks to move up.
NBA Comparison: Jonathan Isaac
27. New York Knicks (via LA Clippers)Zeke Nnaji
Nnaji lacks elite run/jump athleticism but is a grinder who brings the right attitude with exuberance and energy. Exactly what you want from a an energy role player, giving minutes off the bench in the frontcourt. Nnaji took the Pac-12 by storm this past season, leapfrogging higher rated recruits Niko Mannion and Josh Green in production. For the NBA, once again he isn’t as highly regarded a prospect as those two, but if college is any indication, don’t be surprised if he exceeds expectations at the next level as well.
Why the Knicks take Zeke Nnaji: With the 8th pick, the Knicks are likely to address the point guard position. it’s possible they could see value at the position and go for a point guard again late in the first. But targeting another position seems more likely. Granted, there seems to be no thyme or reason with Knicks decision making. Nnaji should become a solid role player in the league with his energy on the glass and willingness to do the dirty work to help his team win.
NBA Comparison: Ronny Turiaf
28. LA Lakers
Lewis is long rangy point guard who improved a lot in his sophomore year at Alabama. He shows intriguing shooting ability and also is a quick athlete. He was a bit of a surprise to enter, but considering the lack of talent in this year’s draft it’s probably a good decision. He’s young for his class, and despite a lot of point guards being available, he figures to find a spot in the first round. Lewis has excellent measurables for a point guard with a 6’5 wingspan at 6’3. Lewis doesn’t strike you as an alpha, although he is a competitor. He needs to add weight to his body as he gets muscled easily at 165 lbs. His potential is intriguing considering his age, length and quickness, plus his solid ability to shoot. He still has to put a number of things together to play at a high level and transition from prospect to player against pros.
Why the Lakers take Kira Lewis: The Lakers have a solid window of opportunity to add to LeBron’s ring total over the next few seasons. Adding a cheap contributor here would be beneficial to the cause. Lewis could learn from Rajon Rondo, should he choose to return, how to improve his defense and utilize his speed and length to his advantage offensively.
NBA Comparison: Darren Collison
29. Toronto RaptorsMalachi Flynn
Flynn impacted winning arguably as much as any player in this year’s draft, carrying San Diego State to a 2 loss season heading into the COVID stoppage. He’s slightly undersized, but has an extremely high skill level with the ability to shoot as well as make great decisions and get teammates involved and in positions to score. He has the right attributes to play for a winning team, with a cerebral, polished game.
Why the Raptors take Malachi Flynn: The Raptors have some decisions to make regarding their point guard position. Van Vleet has become an integral part of their team, but it appears he may be too expensive to keep around. Kyle Lowry is hitting his twilight at 33, but remains under contract for a final season and will be tough to move. Flynn could be an excellent option for them as a mature point guard that could potentially develop into their Van Vleet of the future. It will be tough for President Masai Ujiri to find a star or even future starter late in the first, but based on past drafts, don’t bet against him.
NBA Comparison: Patty Mills
30. Boston Celtics (Via Milwaukee)
The Argentinean player is a gritty competitor who has a great feel for the game and excels at passing and ball handling. While not the fastest or most athletic player, he uses his size well to overwhelm smaller players. If past Argentinean players have been any indication, his growth as a player from 20-25 should continue. Bolmaro needs to get stronger and improve upon his shooting, but his versatility as a point forward gives him solid intrigue.
Why the Celtics take Leandro Bolmaro: The Celtics have three first rounders and a lot of talent on their roster to juggle, contract wise. They are actively trying to package their picks to move up. But if unsuccessful, look for them to turn to Europe for a draft and stash player like Bolmaro. They could keep Bolmaro at Barcelona developing for another season or two while they figure out how he fits into their team structure, and also hold onto him as a trade asset.
NBA Comparison: Greivis Vasquez