NBA Mock Draft 4.0
By Jason McIntyre
The NBA’s looming restart in Orlando should be unlike anything in sports history.
At stake: a championship, of course, but also the order for the 2020 NBA Draft, which will be held October 16.
The teams that weren’t invited to Florida are already locked into the eight best odds to win the lottery. Meanwhile, squads like the Suns and Wizards could go from lottery-bound to the postseason, or vice-versa for someone like the Grizzlies or Nets.
It all starts shaking out in just nine days. Until then, here is our latest mock, with the draft order based on the current standings.
1. Golden State Warriors — Onyeka Okongwu, F, USC (Previous rank: 1)
2019-20 season averages: 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
I took a lot of heat for this decision last time, but for now, I’m sticking to it.
The Warriors have the potential to be the third best team in the West next season, and they will need perimeter defenders. Draymond Green and Okongwu would be a ferocious defensive tandem inside.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers — LaMelo Ball, PG, Australia (2)
2019-20 season averages: 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists
He hasn’t played since November 30th, but Ball actually played more games in Australia than Kyrie Irving did with Duke before he was drafted No. 1 overall.
Although he wasn’t particularly efficient in the NBL, and there’s zero history of him playing in a system or even a situation he wasn’t in total control of, the talent is undeniable.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves — Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton (3)
2019-20 season averages: 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Internally, the discussions will be whether to put a shooter like Anthony Edwards next to D’Angelo Russell, what the development of 2019 lottery pick Jarrett Culver means for the 2/3 positions, and who plays alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.
Yet this feels like a no-brainer for me. Toppin was seventh in the country in PER and shot 63 percent from the field.
4. Atlanta Hawks — Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia (4)
2019-20 season averages: 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists
The Hawks last year were the first team in NBA history to have their Top 5 players in minutes all be 22 years old or younger.
Shooting will be the top priority this offseason, and Edwards could be the best pure shooter in the draft (despite only hitting 29 percent of his 3s). How much defense he plays will determine how many minutes he gets.
5. Detroit Pistons — Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State (11)
2019-20 season averages: 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists
While teams love Haliburton’s well-rounded game, he doesn’t yet excel at anything. My NBA comparison for him is Andre Miller, who was a Top 10 pick, is 11th in NBA history in assists, and had a 17-year career, but made no All-Star teams.
The Pistons are a few years away from being a few years away. Haliburton is a safer pick than Killian Hayes, who has more boom/bust potential.
6. New York Knicks — Deni Avdija, SF, Israel (7)
2019-20 season averages: 4.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists
The new front office is in place, and they’ll settle on a new coach this summer. It’s unclear what this team wants to be, and who the building blocks are.
At 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, Avdija can play either forward spot. His team in the EuroLeague playing against grown men hopefully has him ready for the NBA, like Luka Doncic and Ricky Rubio.
7. Chicago Bulls — Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn (6)
2019-20 season averages: 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists
The Bulls backcourt is set with Coby White and Zach LaVine, but small forward remains a mystery. Otto Porter hasn’t panned out. Denzel Valentine is a consummate role player. Chandler Hutchison can’t stay healthy or make 3-pointers.
Okoro has a similar build to Andre Iguodala, and projects as a 3-and-D wing.
8. Charlotte Hornets — James Wiseman, C, Memphis (9)
2019-20 season averages: 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks
The Hornets backcourt is in good shape (Rozier, Graham), and Miles Bridges is an emerging talent at 22. Wiseman could probably win the starting job at center alongside PJ Washington.
Michael Jordan has whiffed many times on big men dating back to his time with the Wizards, so he could be reluctant to draft a promising 19-year old who played three games in college, however.
9. Washington Wizards — Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina (8)
2019-20 season averages: 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists
If we’re being realistic, the smart move is to a) trade Bradley Beal, and b) explore every option to get out from John Wall’s supermax contract.
Anthony is becoming a polarizing prospect after a distinguished high school career. He was on the worst UNC team of the Roy Williams era, and only shot 40 percent on 2-pointers.
10. Phoenix Suns — Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt (10)
2019-20 season averages: 23.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals
If the Suns were a smart organization — and there’s little evidence of that the last few years — they’d use this eight-game trip to the bubble to explore just how good this young talent they have is.
Right now, Phoenix can't be sure, especially at small forward with Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, the 10th and 11th picks respectively in the last two drafts. And Nesmith (52 percent on three-pointers) might be a better shooter than both.
11. San Antonio Spurs — Killian Hayes, PG, France (5)
2019-20 season averages: 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists
If the backcourt is 6-foot-4 Dejounte Murray and the 6-foot-5 Hayes, that’s a big, fast, long pairing.
Toss in 6-foot-5 Lonnie White and 6-foot-4 Derrick White and you’ve got a quartet of switchable guard/wings that offer you options.
12. Sacramento Kings — Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State (12)
2019-20 season averages: 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists
The franchise playoff drought is almost certainly going to extend to 14 seasons. It feels like the talent is there; they’re just lacking a star.
They won’t find one here. But Vassell did shoot 41 percent from deep.
13. New Orleans Pelicans — RJ Hampton, PG, Australia (13)
2019-20 season averages: 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists
From the Brandon Ingram decision to Jrue Holiday’s future in New Orleans to building around Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have a couple pivotal years ahead.
Hampton is gifted athletically, but like Ball, his perimeter shot is a work in progress.
14. Portland Trail Blazers— Patrick Williams, F, Florida State (14)
2019-20 season averages: 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists
There’s a debate to be had about Patrick Williams vs. Saddiq Bey at small forward.
Bey has the experience and the shooting, but Williams is younger and a better defender.
15. Orlando Magic — Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama (15)
2019-20 season averages: 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists
It’s possible Markelle Fultz is establishing himself as the Magic’s point guard of the future, but competition never hurt anyone.
Lewis was exceptional as one of the youngest sophomores in the country.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn) — Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova (17)
2019-20 season averages: 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists
If Malik Beasley is their shooting guard of the future, perhaps Bey can become their small forward of the future – the 3-and-D guy that everyone wanted Andrew Wiggins to be.
Josh Okogie offers solid minutes, but Bey has a higher upside.
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis) — Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State (NR)
2019-20 season averages: 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists
The most surprising name I've heard around the first round is Tillman, who spent three years in East Lansing.
He’s tenacious defensively, and possibly can defend all three front court positions. It remains to be seen if he can be a small-ball center (6-foot-8, 245 pounds).
18. Dallas Mavericks — Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona (18)
2019-20 season averages: 14.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists
The Mavericks were so thin at point guard heading into the bubble, they signed Trey Burke. Fan favorite JJ Barea is 36.
Mannion probably would spend much of next season in the G-League, but this is clearly a position of long-term need for Dallas.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana) — Theo Maledon, PG, France (19)
2019-20 season averages: 7.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists
Milwaukee's best strategy? Draft and stash. The Bucks might even be smart to trade this pick.
Their top priority this summer will be convincing Giannis to stay in Milwaukee and sign the biggest deal in franchise history.
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia) — Desmond Bane, SG, TCU (NR)
2019-20 season averages: 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists
Kyrie Irving will want to play alongside someone who doesn’t need the ball to score, and is content with catch-and-shoot. He has that in Joe Harris, but it sounds like he may not be there next season.
Bane shot 43 percent in his four-year career from deep for the Horned Frogs.
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston) — Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis (21)
2019-20 season averages: 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks
Two front court players are free agents — Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee — and Achiuwa could be the ideal power forward alongside Jokic.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) — Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech (22)
2019-20 season averages: 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists
The team I’m most excited to monitor this offseason is the 76ers, where anything is possible.
Ramsey had a 26 percent usage rate that ranked sixth among first-year players in power conferences, according to ESPN.
23. Miami Heat — Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky (23)
2019-20 season averages: 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Maxey occasionally filled in admirably at point guard for the Wildcats, but he projects as more of a shooting guard. The 29 percent 3-point shooting is troublesome.
Assuming the Heat don’t go wild and trade for Chris Paul or something, it feels like point guard is also going to be a position of need, with Goran Dragic in the final year of his contract.
24. Utah Jazz — Paul Reed, F, DePaul (24)
2019-20 season averages: 15.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
The Jazz have been on the cusp of … something since Donovan Mitchell broke into the NBA in 2017. But another 1st round loss might make them re-think the roster.
Do they want Rody Gobert, a free agent in 2021, surrounded by four shooters? Do they want Gobert, period? Either way, Reed is intriguing as a small-ball center.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder — Tre Jones, PG, Duke (20)
2019-20 season averages: 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists
Chris Paul is 35, and Dennis Schroder is going to be a free agent in 2021.
Jones made a big leap as a sophomore and, in a couple years, could be the Thunder’s starting point guard.
26. Boston Celtics — Josh Green, SG, Arizona (16)
2019-20 season averages: 12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists
Three first-round picks for arguably the second best team in the East seems excessive. So maybe trades are in the works, or maybe they select an international player (or two).
At 6-foot-6, Green’s capable of playing multiple positions, perfect for the Brad Stevens system.
27. New York Knicks (via LAC) — Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State (NR)
2019-20 season averages: 18.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists
A career 43 percent 3-point shooter in the Big Ten, Winston is just what the Knicks need: A three-year starter who can shoot and plays excellent defense.
New York should have a three-year plan to make the playoffs, and Winston could fill the role Fred Van Vleet has thrived in with Toronto.
28. Toronto Raptors — Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon (28)
2019-20 season averages: 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists
The league keeps trying to pillage the Raptors front office because they’re been terrific in the draft and undrafted free agency.
They’ve done well with experienced players, and Pritchard, one of the best point guards in Pac-12 history, qualifies. Stop looking at what he can’t do, and focus on what he can (46/41/82 shooting as a senior).
29. Los Angeles Lakers — Elijah Hughes, F, Syracuse (29)
2019-20 season averages: 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Hughes blossomed into a stud in the ACC last year, scoring nearly 20 points per game.
He just turned 22, and reminds me of a more mature version of Malachi Richardson, the Syracuse wing who was drafted in the first round in 2016.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee) - Grant Riller, PG, Charleston (30)
2019-20 season averages: 21.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists
The Celtics are deep at the position after drafting Carsen Edwards in the second round last year, but reliable backup Brad Wanamaker is probably going to get paid in free agency.
So drafting an NBA-ready 23-year old PG makes plenty of sense. When you watch Riller’s tape breakdowns, he has the same relentless style of Kyrie Irving.