The 2020 school basketball season has abruptly come to an end with no NCAA championships to assist faculty prospects in beef up their NBA draft inventory. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a new fact that will cause another blueprint procedure.
Included in the process, it is well worth taking a step back to determine where the gamers are currently with regard to projected selections. The race to the No. 1 group stays open, and there’s a great deal of fluctuation from the very first round.
Instead of the anticipated ending arrangement, the next order is based upon the existing NBA standings, since it’s not completely clear when or whether the league period will really unfold.
1. Warriors — Anthony Edwards, Wing, Georgia
H: 6-5 | W: 207 | Age: 18.6
Edwards remains the top prospect in this class largely by default. He hasn’t quite done enough to deserve a demotion, and no other talent has performed well enough to jump him. The 18-year-old didn’t perform like a traditional No. 1 pick in his presumptive lone season at Georgia. Since 2008, a list of players with his level of usage and lack of efficiency features few, if any, NBA stars depending on how you feel about Jaylen Brown’s future.
Edwards remains an interesting option because of his combination of youth and athleticism. If he ever puts it all together, he has the potential to be something special. Sound like another No. 1 pick from the last decade? Maybe one the Warriors traded for at the deadline?
2. Cavaliers — James Wiseman, Big, Memphis
H: 7-0 | W: 230 | Age: 19.0
The Cavaliers dealt for Andre Drummond at the deadline, so taking a center may seem like an odd choice. If the Darius Garland selection is any guide, though, Cleveland doesn’t appear to be interested in drafting for fit. Plus, the team hasn’t actually made a long-term commitment to Drummond.
Wiseman represents an opportunity to build around a different type of center, one with the potential to be an All-Defense player. He blocked 5.2 shots per 40 minutes in his limited action at Memphis. His lack of offensive certainty is also less of a concern with a roster built around Collin Sexton’s scoring talents. With time, perhaps he can develop into a viable vertical spacer and pick-and-roll partner for the young point guard.
3. Timberwolves — LaMelo Ball, Point, Illawarra
H: 6-6 | W: 180 | Age: 18.6
The elephant in the room with a Ball and Minnesota pairing will be perimeter defense given D’Angelo Russell’s shortcomings there as well. Ball, though, would be a nice piece of connective tissue in a lineup oriented around the offensive talents of Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s a high IQ player with excellent passing vision who can act as an additional creator when needed.
Long-term, there’s potential to grow into more, especially if the jump shot ever comes around with any level of consistency.
4. Hawks — Isaac Okoro, Wing, Auburn
H: 6-5 | W: 215 | Age: 19.2
Atlanta drafted both De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish last season, but it’s hard to have too many wings on a roster in the modern NBA. Okoro would give the Hawks a nice rotation trio to work around going forward. The 19-year-old’s calling card is his defensive upside. He fits well into a team construct and can guard multiple positions as an on-ball defender.
Where he slots in offensively is another question. It’s easy to point to the versatility he displayed at Auburn in terms of roles, but he lacks any real standout skill. Particularly of concern are the poor shooting numbers — there’s much to be desired there both in terms of 3-point percentage and numbers that suggest he might improve like attempts and free throw percentage.
5. Pistons — Tyrese Maxey, Point, Kentucky
H: 6-3 | W: 198 | Age: 19.4
Detroit’s roster is lacking in terms of potential stardom, so trying to find the best possible shot at that should be its primary goal in this draft. At this spot in the order, Maxey may be the best option. The Kentucky guard spent much of his freshman season sharing the offensive load with a variety of other ballhandlers, but he still had plenty of opportunities to flash his upside as a primary creator.
Maxey has the ability to get to the rim in the halfcourt with a meager three of his 38 makes there in those situations assisted the season. He’s also an intriguing shooter. The 19-year-old shot just 29.4 percent from deep this season, but he knocked down 83.3 percent of his free throws while attempting 4.2 triples per 40 minutes. Expect him to develop some consistency from beyond the arc in time.
6. Knicks — Deni Avdija, Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv
H: 6-9 | W: 210 | Age: 19.2
Cue the jokes about the Knicks and power forwards. Avdija may have a little bit of overlap with RJ Barrett in terms of being an oversized creator, but it’s hard to have too many of those players on a roster. The 19-year-old would add some additional scoring punch and basketball IQ to a roster that needs a talent injection.
The real concern about pairing Avdija with Barrett is whether either of them ever shoots it well enough to avoid spacing problems. There’s some optimism surrounding Avdija’s potential from deep, but his poor free-throw shooting raises concerns.
7. Bulls — Tyrese Haliburton, Wing, Iowa State
H: 6-5 | W: 172 | Age: 20.1
Haliburton is one of the most interesting players in the draft. His statistical profile is terrific. As a sophomore, he averaged 2.7 steals per 40 minutes while maintaining a quality assist-to-turnover ratio despite a heavy increase in usage. He knocks down shots at a high rate and has all the attributes teams want in terms of IQ.
Yet Haliburton suffers from the tape. His shot release is a bit slow, and his athleticism is middling. There are worries about whether those terrific stats can translate to the NBA. Honestly, his profile reads a bit as Lonzo Ball’s did. If a team got that player at No. 7 in a normal draft, would the front office be happy? I think so. Haliburton might be a touch underrated.
8. Hornets — Onyeka Okongwu, Big, USC
H: 6-9 | W: 245 | Age: 19.3
Okongwu has a profile that suggests he could be a viable top-five option in this draft, so landing him at No. 8 is a nice find. As a freshman, he averaged 21.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 1.6 steals per 40 minutes. That’s a level of production that’s tough to match. He has a valuable face-up game from the midrange and finishes well as a roller out of ball screens. There’s even some shooting touch there.
So, why isn’t he higher? Even with all that and his defensive versatility, it’s hard to imagine the value proposition being there for a 6-9 center as the focal point of an NBA offense. Maybe Okongwu can be, and if he is, he’s an obvious steal here.
9. Wizards — Cole Anthony, Point, North Carolina
H: 6-3 | W: 185 | Age: 19.9
Finding a young, creative option seems like an important step for Washington to take given the long-term futures of John Wall and potentially Bradley Beal seem at least somewhat unknown. Anthony entered this season as one of the top prospects in the draft, but a less-than-stellar showing at North Carolina has caused his stock to slide.
The real worry with Anthony as a primary creator is his poor shotmaking inside the arc. He shot just 40.2 percent on 2s this season. NBA teams will be betting that the increased spacing afforded by an NBA roster can help improve that number. Given Anthony is one of the few off-the-dribble shotmakers in this class, he shouldn’t fall too far.
10. Suns — Nico Mannion, Guard, Arizona
H: 6-3 | W: 185 | Age: 19.0
Mannion is a high IQ offensive threat who won’t lose value in situations off the ball when Devin Booker is running the show. His playmaking should excel in advantage situations, and the jumper is likely to fall at a higher clip than it did during his freshman season.
All of the worries about Mannion — a lack of shot generation at the rim and poor defense — still apply to his presence in Phoenix, but at this point in this draft, everyone is going to have some problems. Finding some positives is the best teams can do.
11. Spurs — Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton
H: 6-9 | W: 220 | Age: 22.1
Toppin and the Spurs just feel like a fit. The 22-year-old was arguably the best player in college basketball this season, and his presence could help modernize the shot profile of San Antonio. Toppin hit 41.7 percent of his triples while at Dayton and flashed the ability to knock down the shot in a variety of ways — on the catch, on the move, and off the dribble. His pull-up 3-pointer against Kansas during the Maui Invitational is one of the highlights of this season.
Toppin’s upside is uncertain, but he fits a role in the NBA and should be a nice rotation player for years to come.
12. Kings — RJ Hampton, Wing, New Zealand
H: 6-5 | W: 185 | Age: 19.1
Hampton’s numbers in Australia weren’t necessarily impressive, but he did manage to make the rotation of a professional team as an 18-year-old. There’s potential for him to develop into a score-first combo guard who can generate buckets primarily as a slasher. The jump shot still needs to come around, though.
Sacramento could need some help on the perimeter depending on how the Kings’ rotation shakes out following the benching of Buddy Hield.
13. Pelicans — Killian Hayes, Point, Ulm
H: 6-5 | W: 176 | Age: 18.7
Hayes seems like the kind of prospect New Orleans’ front office would be into. He’s a high IQ passer who can make reads with a live dribble. He’s also a prospect who has the numbers supporting his potential as a shooter.
Given the Pelicans’ need to shape the remainder of their roster around Zion Williamson, Hayes could slot in as a long-term guard option.
14. Trail Blazers — Theo Maledon, Combo, ASVEL
H: 6-4 | W: 174 | Age: 18.8
Maledon would offer Portland another potential creator down the line. He’s got sufficient athleticism to create space in the halfcourt and could make an impact early on with his defensive versatility. The jump shot looks like it should come around to offer some spacing as well.
15. Magic — Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State
H: 6-7 | W: 194 | Age: 19.6
The Magic have an affinity for long, athletic prospects, and Vassell could fit that profile. He’s an intriguing 3-and-D talent who has excellent defensive numbers and should fit into a team defensive concept well at the next level.
Vassell also offers a bit of shotmaking from the perimeter. He connected on 41.7 percent of his triples at Florida State. There’s a chance he’s the best 3-and-D wing in the class.
16. Timberwolves (via Nets) — Saddiq Bey, Forward, Villanova
H: 6-8 | W: 216 | Age: 21.0
Bey is another prospect who can lay claim to the best 3-and-D wing title in this draft. He’s been terrific as a catch-and-shoot guy at Villanova, converting 41.8 percent of his 3-point attempts. Bey’s real value, though, comes from his defensive versatility. His potential as a switchable defender unlocked the Wildcats’ defense last season.
Minnesota is going to ultimately need to assemble some quality defensive talents around Russell and Towns. Bey could help.
17. Celtics (via Grizzlies) — Isaiah Stewart, Big, Washington
H: 6-9 | W: 250 | Age: 18.8
Stewart had an impressively productive season for an 18-year-old freshman, averaging 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest. He’s going to generate a lot of his offensive value through second-chance opportunities, and there’s some hope he’ll be able to step out and knock down triples in due time.
The defense potentially leaves a lot to be desired, as he didn’t have to display much in the way of perimeter defense in Washington’s zone.
18. Mavericks — Patrick Williams, Wing, Florida State
H: 6-6 | W: 215 | Age: 18.6
A definite NBA athlete, Williams has shown the potential to be a 3-and-D wing at the next level. Evaluating Florida State prospects is always difficult because of how deep a rotation Leonard Hamilton plays, but Williams had enough impressive moments as a freshman for NBA teams to feel confident.
He checks the boxes in terms of defensive metrics, and it’s not hard to imagine him developing into someone who can knock down shots. He’d be a nice complementary piece to the Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis duo.
19. Bucks (via Pacers) — Jaden McDaniels, Big, Washington
H: 6-9 | W: 185 | Age: 19.5
The intrigue is still there for McDaniels, a prospect who combines size with a unique skill set that includes the ability to knock down shots from behind the arc. That makes him feel like a player Milwaukee has historically been interested in. That said, there are still plenty of concerns surrounding the 19-year-old, including the 3.2 turnovers he averaged per 40 minutes.
This draft is going to require teams to buy into tough narratives of improvement for prospects, and it might be easy to sell yourself on McDaniels being in the wrong college situation.
20. Nets (via 76ers) — Aaron Nesmith, Wing, Vanderbilt
H: 6-6 | W: 213 | Age: 20.4
Although an injury ended his season earlier than expected, Nesmith showed himself to be one of the more promising shooters in this class over 14 games. He connected on 52.2 percent of his 115 3-point attempts while shooting 82.5 percent from the foul line.
His ability to hit shots off movement will be prized at the next level. There’s the upside for him to be a starting wing in the NBA.
21. Nuggets (via Rockets) — Josh Green, Wing, Arizona
H: 6-6 | W: 209 | Age: 19.3
Green has an NBA skill thanks to his defense, and that should buy him a bit of development time, but he’ll need to find a reason beyond that to stay in rotations long-term. He can function as an off-ball slashing threat offensively and not much else. The shooting is his swing skill as it is for many young, athletic prospects who excelled by physically imposing themselves on others.
Green knocked it down at a good clip at Arizona as a spot-up shooter. He’ll need that to continue at the next level.
22. 76ers (via Thunder) — Kira Lewis, Point, Alabama
H: 6-3 | W: 165 | Age: 19.0
Lewis delivered productive statistics in one of the nation’s fastest offenses as a sophomore. He averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per contest. Lewis has excellent open floor speed and continuously puts pressure on the rim.
His slight frame and turnover numbers raise questions, but at some point, it’s necessary to trust in the production.
23. Heat — Precious Achiuwa, Forward, Memphis
H: 6-9 | W: 225 | Age: 20.5
Achiuwa combines size and athleticism that should allow him to flow between the power forward and center spots at the next level. In college, he generated a lot of his value through his motor, but what he’ll do in the NBA from a skill standpoint is a bit more complicated.
He’s struggled with turnovers at Memphis, and his jump shot remains a significant work in progress.
24. Jazz — Jalen Smith, Big, Maryland
H: 6-10 | W: 195 | Age: 20.0
Smith was one of the most improved players in college basketball this season, upping his stats across the board. He improved noticeably as a shooter, rebounder and weakside rim protector. Smith may be viewed as a bit of a tweener between the power forward and center spot in the NBA. That could actually prove useful in Utah, where he could play some minutes alongside Rudy Gobert and other minutes at center without him, similar to Derrick Favors.
25. Thunder (via Nuggets) — Tre Jones, Point, Duke
H: 6-3 | W: 185 | Age: 20.2
Jones has a proven ability to run a team as a facilitator with enough shot creation to score for himself. His jump shot also appeared to improve significantly this season, as he shot 36.1 percent from deep while connecting on 77.1 percent of his foul shots. The 20-year-old is a staunch point-of-attack defender as well.
His destiny may ultimately be as a backup in the NBA, but if he could develop into a starter, a pairing of him and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be a pain for opposing offenses.
26. Celtics — Leandro Bolmaro, Wing, Barcelona
H: 6-7 | W: 180 | Age: 19.5
Bolmaro hasn’t found a consistent place with Barcelona, but he’s shown enough at lower levels to warrant first-round consideration. Boston may make sense as a destination if the team is looking to leave open draft-and-stash options. Bolmaro combines good size with quality playmaking, opening up a lot of potential for him if the jump shot starts to fall.
27. Knicks (via Clippers) — Jahmi’us Ramsey, Point, Texas Tech
H: 6-3 | W: 190 | Age: 18.8
Ramsey’s NBA value is going to hinge on the viability of his jump shot because he’s largely a shot creator who doesn’t add a lot of additional value in the box score. He shot 42.6 percent on 141 3-point attempts this season, but a poor 64.1 percent from the foul line leaves questions.
If the jumper falls, Ramsey probably looks like good value for the Knicks at this spot in the draft. If it doesn’t, he probably won’t be on the roster long.
28. Raptors — Xavier Tillman, Big, Michigan State
H: 6-8 | W: 245 | Age: 21.2
Tillman is a prospect who has moved up draft boards in large part for just doing all the right things. He was one of the best defenders in the country this season, sets excellent screens on the offensive end while making plays in the short roll and even added a bit of range to his offensive game despite not seeing in-game results yet.
Tillman is one of those prospects lacking significant upside who should still contribute in all the right ways. That seems to fit the Raptors’ ethos.
29. Lakers — Devon Dotson, Point, Kansas
H: 6-2 | W: 185 | Age: 21.0
It really feels like the Lakers should be looking to find someone capable of replacing their Rajon Rondo minutes, and perhaps Dotson can do that earlier than expected for a young player. The Kansas guard has tremendous pace, allowing him to get to the basket at will in transition and in the halfcourt.
He also should be able to shoot it at the next level despite a poor 3-point percentage this season.
30. Celtics (via Bucks) — Aleksej Pokusevski, Big, Olympiacos B
H: 7-0 | W: 205 | Age: 18.2
Pokusevski is a long-term play, and given Boston’s collection of late first-rounders, taking a draft-and-stash candidate is a logical choice. The 7-footer is intriguing because his skill set resembles more of a guard. He can knock down shots off the catch, generate offense off the bounce and find teammates as a passer.
There’s not a ton of short-term value here, but he’s worth a shot in the first round.
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