The NBA’s draft lottery took place Aug. 20 and the draft itself is scheduled for Oct. 16.
The Minnesota Timberwolves came out with the first pick of the draft. I decided I wanted to put on my NBA GM hat and see where these prospects should land.
As the draft date approaches, I will make some mock trades to make the second edition of my mock draft more interesting.
• No. 1 — Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45, 14th in the Western Conference)
Anthony Edwards, guard, Georgia
Minnesota landed the first pick, and this organization couldn’t have been more excited. They have had Karl Anthony-Towns, their last first pick of the draft as one cornerstone, and now have D’Angelo as the counterpart. Edwards is by far the most talented player in this draft, as he posted stellar numbers in his lone season for the Georgia Bulldogs. His athleticism and strength are unmatched.
• No. 2 — Golden State Warriors (15-50, 15th in the Western Conference)
LaMelo Ball, guard, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski has pushed the narrative that this will be a major piece to a huge trade for the Warriors, and I couldn’t agree more. Going with the most appealing pick makes sense at this point, and who isn’t more appealing than the youngest Ball brother? A prolific scorer and passer, Lamelo is almost like an upgraded version of his older brother Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans. Though a flashy pick, he is still missing a couple of major components to become an elite guard. To be specific, he is lackluster on defense.
• No. 3 — Charlotte Hornets (23-42, 10th in the Eastern Conference)
Onyeka Okongwu, forward, USC
The Hornets are in desperate need of a big man, and a different philosophy in how they look into drafting their bigs. In the past they always looked at hybrid forwards, but with Okongwu, they are getting a defensive monster. He isn’t afraid to score either, as he averaged 16.2 points per game during his lone season for the Trojans, but he needs to cut down on his turnovers when he transitions to the NBA. They are set to lose both Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez to free agency, so this is a great opportunity for the franchise to move on.
• No. 4 — Chicago Bulls (22-43, 11th in the Eastern Conference)
Issac Okoro, forward, Auburn
The best move so far by the Bulls this past offseason was letting former head coach Jim Boylen go, after young cornerstones Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen expressed discomfort with their coach.
What makes Okoro appealing is his ability to drive to the rim and still manage to play a great game of unselfish ball. He is also an elite defender, and is a huge upgrade for this young team filled with skilled shooters. What is alarming was his shooting percentage from the three point line, and how he struggled with free throws.
• No. 5 — Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46, 15th in the Eastern Conference)
James Wiseman, forward, Memphis
After solidifying their backcourt with the last two drafts with Colin Sexton and Darius Garland, the Cavaliers get younger in the front court.
They’ll likely have to find a new home for Kevin Love, have no desire to keep Tristian Thompson, and no talks have been made with newly acquired big man Andre Drummond. So Wiseman going here does make sense. Though his tenure in college was too short, Wiseman really impressed the college audience with his play. This 7-foot big man is a terror in the paint with his above-the-rim style of play. What made him a risk was his limited experience. He played only three games in college, and now with no NBA combine, it’s hard to know that he’s a risk, or a surefire reward.
No. 6 — Atlanta Hawks (20-47, 14th in the Eastern Conference)
Obi Toppin, forward, Dayton
Drafting has actually been quite successful for the Hawks the past couple of years, especially grabbing Trae Young two years ago. Drafting Toppin gives more options to this team as Cam Reddish still needs to polish his game, and they are unwilling to match John Collins’ asking price (he will be a restricted free agent this offseason). Toppin’s numbers jumped considerably going into his sophomore campaign, with over 20 points and nearly eight rebounds per game. He can play every position between shooting forward and center, and is unbelievable above the rim. Just call Toppin a really good insurance policy.
• No. 7 — Detroit Pistons (20-46, 13th in the Eastern Conference)
Deni Andvija, forward, Israel
After shipping Andre Drummond to Cleveland, the Pistons are obviously building around Blake Griffin. What they lack most is versatility, which makes Andvija such a good fit. He can play three out of the five positions. Though his numbers aren’t appealing from Euroleague, he is known for his ability to be a secondary playmaker, knows how to create his own shot and is a strong defender.
• No. 8 — New York Knicks (21-45, 12th in the Eastern Conference)
Tyrese Haliburton, guard, Iowa State
As the Knicks intend to shift RJ Barrett between guard and forward, what they need is a strong guard to match up with Barrett in the back court, and Haliburton can be that guy. Though his season ended in the beginning of February, Haliburton has strong potential to be a star in the NBA. He is a highly skilled passer and is a good shooter. His biggest downside is his frame — at 185 pounds he needs to bulk up to guard some of the league’s best guards.
• No. 9 — Washington Wizards (24-40, 9th in the Eastern Conference)
Saddiq Bey, forward, Villanova
As Bradley Beal is the only mainstay on this roster, and John Wall is struggling to remain healthy, any pick is a good pick for the Wizards. Bey is a skilled shooter with a high motor who can be able to defend some of the top guys in the league. What he struggles with the most is his ability to create his own shot and never seems to challenge defenders enough with the ball in his hands. To thrive, he is going to need to become multi-faceted offensively.
• No. 10 — Phoenix Suns (26-39, 13th in the Western Conference)
Killian Hayes, guard, France
As this young team continues to look for pieces to keep superstar Devin Booker happy, why look any further than a guard who will compliment Booker in the back court? This team went undefeated in the Bubble and is poised for success. Killian is a 6-foot-5 guard who is great at creating his own shot, and is an excellent passer in transition. What he needs to work on is building more on his athleticism and becoming stronger driving with his right hand. He is in a prime position to learn behind Ricky Rubio, and is someone I can see being a starter after a season or two.
• No. 11 — San Antonio Spurs (27-36, 12th in the Western Conference)
Devin Vassell, forward, Florida State
It is pretty shocking to see the Spurs, a model of consistency the last two decades, find themselves in the draft lottery. Vassell is a production type of player, he is someone who could shoot the ball well, he is able to grab rebounds. He is also a solid complimentary defensive piece, who can put pressure on some of the best wing players in the league.
• No. 12 — Sacramento Kings (28-36, 11th in the Western Conference
Patrick Williams, forward, Florida State
I think Bojan Bogdanovic will figure prominently in trade rumors this offseason, so I can see the Kings grabbing Williams here with this pick as an insurance policy. A skilled shooter who shot 50 percent from the 3-point line, Williams could be an even better defender.
• No. 13 — New Orleans Pelicans (28-36, 10th in the Western Conference)
Precious Achiuwa, forward, Memphis
After winning the Zion Williamson sweepstakes last year, the Pelicans have their future star, and now they add another member to their front court. Though he’s only 6-foot-9, Achiuwa’s presence under the rim is impressive with his rebounding and shot blocking. He needs to gain confidence in his shot, though, and he shot just 55% from the free throw line.
• No. 14 — Boston Celtics (acquired in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2014)
Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky
Boston continues to build its young core of players, and grabs Maxey based on going after the most talented guy at this point of the draft. Maxey drops to them at 14 with tremendous upside. Naturally better playing off the ball, Maxey has one of the best floaters in this class, and he’s unselfish.
• No. 15 — Orlando Magic (30-35, 7th in the Eastern Conference)
Theo Maledon, guard, France
Though the Magic believes in Markelle Fultz, Maledon just has too much appeal and can fit into their backcourt. Maledon can make plays in transition, especially with his floaters, although his shot selection can be questionable. He also needs to improve his defense.
• No. 16 — Portland Trail Blazers (35-39, 8th in the Western Conference)
Aaron Nesmith, guard/forward, Vanderbilt
As the Blazers’ front court has been set for years now, Nesmith provides an opportunity to have versatility as he could start at shooting forward alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and fill in for either of them when needed. Averaging over 23 points per game his sophomore year, Nesmith also isn’t afraid to crash the boards.
• No. 17 — Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn via Atlanta)
Jaden McDaniels, forward, Washington
After securing their back court with Anthony Edwards to pair with D’Angelo Russell, the Timberwolves go with the next best forward on the board with McDaniels, who can immediately make an impact on this talented team. The guy can rebound on both sides of the court, is an excellent passer and finishes above the rim with ease. Hopefully he can improve his three-point percentage, as he managed only 27% from the perimeter for the Huskies.
• No. 18 — Dallas Mavericks (40-27, 7th in the Western Conference)
R.J. Hampton, guard, New Zealand
Cuban and company grab another player who competed in a foreign country. A lengthy guard who can play any position in the back court, Hampton has great vision and is dangerous in the pick and roll. He needs to cut down on turnovers and improve his shot selection, though.
• No. 19 — Brooklyn Nets (30-34, 7th in the Eastern Conference) (acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers last offseason)
Josh Green, guard, Arizona
After having a flashy offseason landing both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, landing a complementary piece in Green is a pick that makes a lot of sense. He plays strong defense and sees the floor really well, so they can rely on him to bring up the ball if Kyrie is being guarded well.
• No. 20 — Miami Heat (41-24, 4th in the Eastern Conference)
Cole Anthony, guard, North Carolina
As Goran Dragic’s contract will be ending after this season, it isn’t a complete guarantee he will be returning to Miami next season. Cole Anthony dropping to Miami would be arguably the biggest steal of the draft. Anthony is a score-first point guard who is able to make really difficult shots and take some pressure off a team’s star. Though confidence is important, Anthony sometimes plays with too much confidence, so he will need to focus on the team game and rely on his teammates more often than he has in the past, and not take unnecessary shots resulting in a lower shooting percentage. Platooned with Kendrick Nunn in the back court is an exciting duo.
Baker City Herald sports editor Corey Kirk’s look at the 2020 NBA draft will continue in the Thursday, Sept. 3 issue.