By Alex Kurpeski
The 2020 NBA Offseason is firing on all cylinders, but as a Boston Celtics fan myself the only thing on my mind — besides Gordon Hayward’s contract situation — is the 2020 NBA Draft. This draft could be one of the weirdest in recent memory due to the perceived lack of talent and the genuine lack of film on most of these prospects. With polarizing point guard LaMelo Ball standing out as the top player in this class, this draft could be one of the most memorable of all time, for reasons both good and bad. That being said, let’s get to mocking!
Pick: PG/SG LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks
Ball is a proven scorer who has played professionally in two different countries. A 6’7 point guard with unlimited shooting range and special playmaking ability, Ball could be an absolute force in the NBA if he puts in the necessary effort on both ends of the court. Though his fit with ball-dominant guard D’Angelo Russell is a bit strange, the Wolves could build a special offense with those two and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Golden State Warriors
Pick: C James Wiseman, Memphis
Wiseman is a long, athletic big who has some nice touch on his jumper. His upside as a two-way force makes him a worthwhile gamble for the Warriors here, though they could look to package this pick in a deal for a more proven player (yes, Bradley Beal). Though true centers have been more miss than hit lately in this range, Wiseman’s talent is undeniable in such a bizarre class.
Pick: SG/SF Anthony Edwards, Georgia
In the eyes of many draft experts, Edwards is both the safest and best prospect in this class. He also fills a need for a Hornets team that lacks a true identity. Edwards should provide valuable minutes on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He could be an All-Star if he cleans up his jump shooting considering he finished the season shooting only 29.4% from the three-point range. Even with his shortcomings as a shooter, Edwards can score in transition with ease thanks to his powerful 6’5, 225 lb frame.
Pick: SF/PF Deni Avdija, Israel
It’s hard to gauge what Chicago will do with this pick. Avdija is a special shooter who could blossom on a very talented Bulls team in need of some direction. With Otto Porter set to hit free agency, Chicago will have room to integrate Avdija into its rotation of wings early on.
Pick: PF/C Onyeka Okongwu, USC
The Cavs seem inclined to mess this pick up. I like Okongwu as a prospect, as he’s a terrific athlete who’s quite gifted on the defensive end. There’s a lot of room for Okongwu to grow as an offensive player as well. A switchable defender with a fine offensive game, this is the type of player that any team could use. Unfortunately, this is the Cavaliers we’re talking about, so expect them to take the wrong guy.
Pick: SG/SF Devin Vassell, Florida State
The Hawks add another wing who can shoot. Vassell is a prototypical three-and-D guy who will be a nice rotation piece wherever he lands. Atlanta can deploy lineups with Trae Young, Vassell, DeAndre Hunter, John Collins, and Clint Capela that will have a great blend of switchability on defense and spacing on offense.
Pick: PF/SF Obi Toppin, Dayton
Toppin was the best player in college basketball this season by a wide margin. As great as he was, there is one big concern with the former Dayton standout. At 22 years old, Toppin is a finished product already. But what a product he is. A gifted scoring forward who can capably defend against multiple positions, Toppin should carve out a role immediately for a rebuilding Pistons team in need of a “culture guy”. Though playing Toppin with Blake Griffin sounds strange (because it is), something tells me that Griffin won’t be a Piston for much longer.
New York Knicks
Pick: PG/SG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Haliburton is a guard with a gifted offensive arsenal and a knack for filling up the box score. He can play off-ball better than most guards with his offensive abilities, making him a nice fit alongside ball-dominant R.J Barrett. Though he needs to fill out his frame a bit, there’s a reason that NBA training staffs exist. The Knicks may finally land a suitable point guard here.
On second thought, this is the Knicks we’re talking about. They’ll probably soil this pick.
Pick: SF Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt
Nesmith was a walking bucket for the Commodores this season, averaging 23 points-per-game on 52.2% shooting from three-point range. The Wizards could use some offensive help, especially if they trade Bradley Beal. Nesmith seems like a nice pick for them here. Though some scouts aren’t keen on Nesmith’s overall upside, he could be a double-digit scorer for the Wiz.
Pick: SF Issac Okoro, Auburn
Okoro is a talented forward who can do a bit of everything on offense. He’s equally adept at getting points for himself and his teammates. Okoro also happens to be a player who could have a role early in his career due to his two-way abilities. For the Suns to land a player with Okoro’s defensive instincts here is a huge step in the right direction. Size, Speed, and Hustle baby!
San Antonio Spurs
Pick: Killian Hayes, France
There’s just something about the Spurs and stealing gifted French point guards. Hayes has the potential to be a menace on defense with his 6’8 wingspan, while also running an NBA offense and stretching the floor.
Pick: PF Jaden McDaniels, Washington
McDaniels is a pure “tools guy” at 6’10, 200 lbs. He’s a terrific athlete who the Kings could find a role for down the line. McDaniels has the handle of a guard and the length of a forward, making him an intriguing flyer in a draft with very few sure things.
New Orleans Pelicans
Pick: PG Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Anthony runs hot and cold as an offensive player, though he may be the most athletic guard in this draft. Anthony’s defense and offensive upside makes him a nice understudy to Jrue Holiday in New Orleans.
Boston Celtics (from Memphis)
Pick: PG/SG R.J Hampton, New Zealand
Hampton is a blue-chip recruit who tried his hand unsuccessfully at a career in New Zealand. Though his tenure was rather unimpressive, Hampton was a top recruit for good reason. He’s incredibly explosive and has all the tools to be a superstar combo guard. Danny Ainge loves players like Hampton, and he’ll be glad to roll the dice on him here.
Pick: SG/PG Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
Maxey is a microwave scoring guard who can run an offense proficiently. Orlando is lacking an identity right now, so why not take a chance on a player like Maxey here? If things go right they can pair his offense with Markelle Fultz’s playmaking to form a nice young backcourt. If things go wrong they can blame Covid-19. It’s a win-win!
Houston Rockets (From Portland Trailblazers)
Pick: SF Saadiq Bey, Villanova
Bey fills a need for the Rockets as a three-and-D wing. An older player (21), he can find minutes immediately for this squad. He’s a solid replacement for Robert Covington.
Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn via Atlanta)
Pick: PF/SF Precious Achiuwa, Memphis
A bouncy forward who can switch onto smaller guards, Achiuwa is a guy who could thrive playing alongside KAT in Minnesota’s starting five.
Pick: C Daniel Oturu, Stanford
Oturu dominated the Big 10 this season, looking like a potential lottery pick. He averaged 20.1 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. Dallas could use a big man like him.
Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia via LA Clippers)
Pick: PF Patrick Williams, Florida State
Sean Marks takes a risk on Williams, an athletic forward with a nice touch for a player of his size.
Pick: PF/C Isaiah Stewart, Washington
Stewart has some Bam Adebayo to his game and could be a nice piece as a designated rebounder/defensive big off Miami’s bench.
Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City via Orlando and Philadelphia)
Pick: SG Josh Green, Arizona
Green is a well-rounded two-guard who never got a chance to work through his freshman troubles. A high upside acquisition for Philly.
Denver Nuggets (from Houston)
Pick: PF Jalen Smith. Maryland
Smith could help offset the loss of Jerami Grant, who is expected to leave via free agency.
Pick: PF/C Vernon Carey, Duke
Utah takes a flyer on Carey, a former blue-chip recruit with a nice offensive game for a center.
New Orleans Pelicans (from Milwaukee via Indiana)
Pick: C Alexsej Pokusevski, Serbia
Rail thin at 7’0, 200 lbs, Poksuevski is a prime candidate to be drafted and stashed.
Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver)
Pick: PG Theo Maledon, France
The Thunder roll the dice on Maledon, a player who has garnered hype as a potential lottery pick.
Pick: PG/SG Tre Jones, Duke
Jones has a little Marcus Smart in him. His heart and defensive instincts make him an upgrade over Brad Wanamaker.
New York (from LA Clippers)
Pick: C/PF Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga
An intriguing offensive player, Petrusev could rise up draft boards due to his shooting skills.
Oklahoma City Thunder (From Los Angeles Lakers)
Pick: PG Kira Lewis, Alabama
Lewis is a tremendous player who is a steal at this juncture for the Thunder.
Pick: PG Nico Mannion, Arizona
Mannion is an all-around talented point guard who could fill a role in Toronto’s rotation.
Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee via Phoenix)
Pick: SG/SF Leandro Bolmaro, Argentina
A thrilling pick to conclude this mock draft, as the Celtics draft and stash another foreign player.