2020 NBA Mock Draft: LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards At No. 1?

2020 NBA Mock Draft: LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards At No. 1?

This article is part of our NBA Mock Draft series.

We are now just hours away from the long-awaited 2020 NBA Draft. Trades have dominated the last few days of the offseason, and the draft is a catalyst that could prompt even more player movement.

In terms of the draft itself, there's still quite a bit to be sorted out. We think LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards will be the top three picks in some order, but that's nowhere near a lock – especially as trade rumors swirl around all three teams picking in that range. Beyond the top three, the draft becomes even more unpredictable. But if one thing is certain it's that there's plenty of talent in this class, even if much of that talent projects closer to good role player rather than future NBA superstar. 

Here is our final projection for the 2020 Draft, which kicks off at 7:00p.m. ET on Wednesday night. We opted against explicitly predicting trades, though a number of potential scenarios are discussed below.

After James Anderson got the first pick in Mock Draft 1.0, Nick Whalen leads things off with Minnesota:

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks

I still think the ideal outcome for Minnesota is trading down, but assuming they do hold on to the pick, Ball is the most likely selection. He's not a perfect fit next to D'Angelo Russell, but the Wolves are not in a position to be drafting for need. Ball carries more risk than you'd like for a No. 1 pick, but his size and advanced playmaking are tantalizing.

2. Golden State Warriors

James Wiseman, C/F, Memphis

Not much has changed with this pick. Wiseman won't go No. 1 unless the Wolves trade the pick. I don't see the Warriors bringing in a prospect like Anthony Edwards who needs the ball in his hands and is at least a couple years away from being a winning player. That leaves Wiseman, who also happens to play a position of need for Golden State, but perhaps more importantly, could appeal to the Wizards as an asset a year from now in a Bradley Beal trade.

3. Charlotte Hornets

Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia

Would sending this pick and, say, Miles Bridges be enough for Charlotte to swap places with Minnesota? It's not exactly a haul, per se, but in a draft with this much uncertainty, the Wolves would have to consider it. If Charlotte doesn't go up to get James Wiseman, settling for Edwards isn't a bad outcome. He wouldn't be an ideal fit with the Hornets' current roster, but Edwards' ceiling is significantly higher than that of both Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham.

4. Chicago Bulls

Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

Haliburton is the best player available and he compliments the Bulls' young core nicely. He doesn't need the ball in his hands, as he is an excellent spot up shooter, cutter and ball mover, so Zach LaVine and Coby White can be the high-usage guys. Haliburton is also a good team defender, so his strengths fit nicely on this roster.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Onyeka Okongwu, C/F, USC

Cleveland simultaneously has needs all over the roster, while also having decent-to-good players at almost every position. Okongwu would join a frontcourt that's rather crowded at the moment, but the Cavs are nowhere near playoff contention, so he'd be allowed to develop at his own pace. Just how high Okongwu's ceiling reaches is yet to be determined, but he would be a nice upside play for a franchise in desperate need of a youthful boost up front.

6. Atlanta Hawks

Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel-Aviv

I don't think Avdija should go this high, but his theoretical strengths could appeal to a front office that has made lots of recent draft day decisions that have left me scratching my head. In theory, Avdija could handle the ball as part of the second unit while providing defense and shooting with the first unit.

7. Detroit Pistons

Killian Hayes, G, Ulm (France)

Detroit's short-term outlook is bleak, to say the least, so there's nothing wrong with a shoot-for-the-stars pick at No. 7. Hayes is another big guard with a great feel for the game and a developing one-on-one package. However, Hayes doesn't blow you away athletically, and there's some concern that he may be too left-hand-dominant.

8. New York Knicks

Obi Toppin, F, Dayton

Considering new Knicks president Leon Rose was the one who recruited Toppin to CAA in the first place, this is his floor. Toppin's defense will be a disaster in the NBA, but Mitchell Robinson's strengths and weaknesses are essentially the opposite of Toppin's, so this could be a solid pairing in the frontcourt.

9. Washington Wizards

Isaac Okoro, F/G, Auburn

Evaluators seem to have cooled off ever so slightly on Okoro, but getting him at nine would be a bargain. Most players with significant jumpshot concerns never turn into great shooters, but Okoro is good enough in other areas – defense, athleticism, motor – that if he can become even a passable three-point shooter, he'll have a long NBA career.

10. Phoenix Suns

Devin Vassell, F, Florida State

Following the Chris Paul trade, the Suns are entering win-now mode, so I don't see them taking a project here. Vassell should be able to provide minutes off the bench as a rookie playing the 2 or the 3. This front office has gone after shooting in the draft and the team's biggest need is wing defenders, and Vassell projects as a 3-and-D wing, so the fit makes a lot of sense.

11. San Antonio Spurs

Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

There's a good chance Williams is long gone by the time the Spurs come up at 11, but if he's still on the board, this is an easy decision. Williams is still pretty raw offensively, so there's some bust potential, but he's a physical marvel who should develop well in the Spurs' organization.

12. Sacramento Kings

Aaron Nesmith, G, Vanderbilt

In Monte McNair, the Kings probably have the most competent GM they've had in a while, so I'm not expecting a disaster pick here like they've had in most of their recent drafts. Nesmith projects to be a quality wing defender and an excellent shooter, and he could eventually start at the 3, forming a deadly floor-spacing duo with Buddy Hield.

13. New Orleans Pelicans

R.J. Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

After trading Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans' urgency to make the postseason feels like it's been lifted. With that in mind, getting a prospect at 13 who can help right away may no longer be a priority. Hampton fits the bill as a still-developing guard with a higher ceiling than most players likely to come off the board in the middle of the first round. 

14. Boston Celtics (via MEM)

Desmond Bane, G/F, TCU

The last thing the Celtics need is another young player who needs developing and won't be able to contribute anytime soon, and Bane is the best plug-n-play player left on the board. He is a versatile defender and he can pass and shoot, so he could be a part of the playoff rotation in short order. He also has great makeup.

15. Orlando Magic

Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova

One of my favorite players in the draft, Bey was one of the more polished shooters in college basketball last season. He's most comfortable in the catch-and-shoot, but Bey has the body to take advantage of smaller defenders and hit difficult looks off the dribble. Bey would likely be a bit player for the Magic right away, but he could eventually be the replacement for Evan Fournier, who enters 2020-21 on an expiring deal.

16. Houston Rockets (via POR)

Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

This is the first draft of the Rockets' rebuild, so I think they will go for upside without worrying about player type, and Terry's elite long-range shooting and developing handle give him the highest ceiling on the board. At 6-foot-3, roughly 170 pounds, he's not as long or as tall as Tyler Herro, but that archetype is the general idea with Terry.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via BRO)

Jalen Smith, F, Maryland

Smith's name has remained fairly steady in this range for the last few weeks, and he's starting to emerge as one of the safer – at least by this draft's standards – options in the back-end of the first round. The 6-10 sophomore won't solve the Wolves' defensive issues, but he's a unique offensive player and a better rim-protector than he's given credit for.

18. Dallas Mavericks

Vernon Carey Jr., C/F, Duke

The Mavs don't have any glaring holes, but they could use another stretch big as long-term Porzingis insurance. There are rumors that Carey is 30 pounds lighter than he was at Duke (down to 240) and has been shooting the lights out in workouts, which means he could go quite a bit higher on draft day than originally anticipated.

19. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI)

Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis

We'll see if this pick still belongs to the Nets by the end of the night, but grabbing Achiuwa at 19 would be a home run for a team that will likely need its fair share of cheap, high-energy role players. Achiuwa is not the type who needs the ball to be successful, and he would help take care of the dirty work for an offense-focused Nets roster.

20. Miami Heat

Josh Green, G, Arizona

Green looks like a guy who could lose 10 pounds and get in the best shape of his life in the Heat's system, and they've gambled on athletic defensive-oriented wings who might not shoot enough in the past. He is the best wing defender in this range of the draft, which should appeal to playoff teams.

21. 76ers (via OKC)

Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina

I keep going back and forth on Anthony. On one hand, he struggled to score efficiently and looked overwhelmed, at times, at North Carolina. On the other, he was dropped into a difficult situation with a bad roster, which forced him to play outside of his comfort zone. I'm in the camp that Anthony will be more at home in the NBA, and Philadelphia would good spot for him to develop under Doc Rivers.

22. Nuggets (via HOU)

Aleksej Pokusevski, F/C, Olympiacos B (Serbia)

The last time the Nuggets selected a passing-proficient Serbian big man things panned out pretty well. Pokusevski really doesn't have a position, as he is multiple years away from being strong enough (7-0, 200 pounds) to defend any NBA players, but he is a worthwhile lottery ticket in this range, similarly to Bol Bol a year ago.

23. New York Knicks (via UTA)

Kira Lewis, G, Alabama

The Knicks acquired this pick Wednesday morning, and the implication is that it may be packaged with No. 8 in an attempt to move up. But for our purposes, we'll assume the Knicks keep the pick and land what would be one of the best values in the draft at pick 23.

24. Pelicans (via MIL via IND)

Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington

The last thing the Pelicans need is another guard or wing competing for minutes, and I think they'll look to add a big man in free agency. With those two factors in mind, taking a wing like McDaniels, who is a long-term developmental project with a high ceiling, makes sense. He would likely spend most of the year playing for the Erie BayHawks in the G League. 

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DEN)

Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky

Maxey sliding all the way down to 25 would be a boon for the Thunder, who would add another Kentucky guard to team with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo. I'm not sold on Maxey's jumpshot ever becoming better than slightly-below-average, but there's a certain intangible element that seems to have endeared him to some teams.

26. Boston Celtics

Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona

Their first preference will be to trade this pick, along with the rest of their picks, to move up, but if they keep it, what should appeal most to the Celtics about Bolmaro is that he is a definite draft-and-stash. They would prefer to use that roster spot on a veteran this year, so being able to get the rights to a potentially good player who won't take up a roster spot this season would be a big win.

27. Utah Jazz (via NYK via LAC)

Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State

Flynn is the late-first-round prospect I've become most intrigued by. The ceiling isn't sky-high, but he has some Malcolm Brogdon to his game, and he might have slightly more scoring upside. Fit-wise, Flynn would be a nice addition to a Utah bench that's among the least-talented in the Western Conference.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAL)

Jahmi'us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech

From a strength, size and aggression standpoint, Ramsey is reminiscent of Russell Westbrook, whom Sam Presti drafted over a decade ago. Ramsey has the highest ceiling on the board here. The Thunder can afford to take big swings with their picks, since hitting on 7th and 8th men is kind of irrelevant for them during what figures to be a long, yet successful rebuild.

29. Toronto Raptors

Tre Jones, G, Duke

Let the record show that I've sworn off the entire Jones family following the 2015 National Championship Game, but I will nonetheless project Tyus' younger brother to sneak into the end of Round 1. Jones was a classic college point guard in every sense of the word, but he dramatically improved his three-point shooting – albeit on relatively low volume – from his freshman to his sophomore season. At the college level, he was one of the best defensive guards in the country. The effort and smarts are there, but he's a little undersized at 6-3 (6-4 wingspan),185 pounds.

30. Boston Celtics (via MIL)

Isaiah Stewart, F, Washington

In many ways, Stewart is the exact opposite of Time Lord, as he isn't overly athletic, but he has a high motor and loves to compete. I think having those two go at each other in practice would help them both. The Celtics need to fill the center minutes with players on cheap contracts, and if Stewart's three-point shot comes around, he could be a low-end starter in a couple years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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