*This draft was written on the 16th of November 2020, only the Lakers/OKC trade have been announced at time of posting.
Pick 1 – Minnesota Timberwolves
Weight: 185 lb
While there is a chance that LaMelo Ball falls on draft night, I don’t think the Wolves are going to be able to pass on him. While there are an abundance of question marks that swirl around him, I believe his passing, court vision and ballhandling abilities are too unique to ignore. On a team with two exceptional young scorers like KAT and DLo, Ball’s passing should allow him to fit in right away.
Under Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves are trying to create a run-and-gun system that takes full advantage of Karl-Anthony-Towns’ ability to score inside and outside. Ball’s playmaking ability should ideally create scoring opportunities for both D’Angelo Russell and KAT. According to stats.nba.com, Russell made 39.1% of his catch and shoot 3 point opportunities, on 3.8 attempts per game. Playing alongside another playmaker like Ball could potentially elevate Russell’s scoring to the next level and take pressure off of his playmaking. Due to his height, I believe that LaMelo Ball can be developed into a positionless playmaker at point guard, shooting guard and small forward. While he will require more strength to defend the small forward in the long term, I believe this will be his ideal position in a team built around D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Pick 2 – Golden State Warriors
Weight: 240-251 lb
James Wiseman is one of the biggest question marks in the draft. From a physical point of view he is the prototypical centre at 7’+ with a 7’5 wingspan. However there are questions about how valuable a player with his skillset is in the modern NBA.
We unfortunately only got to watch James Wiseman play 3 games in the NCAA. In two of those games Wiseman looked like a player worthy of the number 1 pick. In the third game he looked like a rim running centre with little offensive game.
Wiseman’s athleticism is reminiscent of JaVale McGee and Mitchell Robinson. He has the ability to become a high quality rim-protector, rebounder and efficient scorer at the rim. What makes Wiseman different to these other centers, is that he appears to have the potential to become a shooter and maybe even a playmaker. Wiseman has a soft touch on his shot and appears to be able to make jumpers in workouts. Wiseman also made 70.4% of his free throws in the NCAA, which while not amazing, is definitely a good starting point. If he is able to incorporate a jumper into his game he could be an extremely valuable player.
With Golden State losing their rim protectors in JaVale McGee and Kevin Durant from their championship team, Wiseman could be an important part of their team. Golden State would be in no rush to give Wiseman big minutes immediately with Kevon Looney already playing big center minutes. In Golden State’s system he would have a lot of room to operate in the paint. With Golden State’s coaching they could ideally be a great place for Wiseman to reach his star potential (assuming they don’t trade the pick of course).
Pick 3 – Charlotte Hornets
Height – 6’3-6’5
Wingspan – 6’9-7’0
Weight – 225 lb
Age – 19
The Charlotte Hornets are potentially in the best position of the NBA Draft. All three of the top picks of this year’s draft are very risky boom-or-bust prospects. Luckily for the Hornets they would benefit from any three of these young players on their roster, without having to risk looking stupid by taking the wrong one.
Charlotte would be absolutely thrilled to draft Anthony Edwards. Edwards has the potential to be an NBA superstar, he just needs time, teaching and patience. Edwards has the potential to be the best player in this draft class, I just think that he is a very long term prospect who will not yield dividends for his team for another 4-6 years. The Hornets have plenty of time as their roster is definitely not built to win now.
Edwards could slide in at either the shooting guard next to Devonte’ Graham, or the small forward with Graham and Terry Rozier at the guard spots. Edwards has a lot to learn, but in the right situation he could easily be the best player in this draft. If James Wiseman falls to the Hornets they should be very happy too as they are lacking their center of the future. LaMelo Ball would also be a good choice if available, however I don’t know if Michael Jordan is going to want to put up with LaVar Ball.
Pick 4 – Chicago Bulls
Weight: 175 lb
Chicago will be very tempted by Deni Avdija, Onyeka Okongwu or Killian Hayes. However I believe that they will have more success with Tyrese Haliburton in their system. While teams this high in the lottery usually shouldn’t take fit over talent, I am not convinced that there is much of a talent gap between Haliburton and these players, if there is even a gap at all. In fact Tyrese Haliburton is probably more NBA ready, even if he doesn’t appear to have franchise player potential.
Tyrese Haliburton would be a great pickup for almost any team in the lottery. His style of play could fit onto almost any roster. Tyrese Haliburton’s stats are very similar to Lonzo Ball’s at UCLA, with the exception that Haliburton made a high percentage of his free throws.
Haliburton was elite in the NCAA on both sides of the floor. He was able to average 15.2 points per game and 6.5 assists with a usage rate of only 22.4%. This low-ish usage percentage should allow for him to thrive alongside Coby White and Zach LaVine. Billy Donovan could run a very similar lineup to his OKC lineup, with Haliburton at PG, White at SG, LaVine at SF (like how he ran Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the 3), Lauri Markkanen at PF and Wendell Carter Jr at C. Haliburton’s playmaking and passing abilities would lead to him creating a lot of shooting and fastbreak opportunities for this team. While his defense would help stop opposing point guards.
Pick 5 – Cleveland Cavaliers
Weight: 220 lb
Deni Avdija is an interesting player. Many people either overrate or underrate his abilities. Avdija comes into the league as a tall combo forward. He brings great basketball IQ on both sides of the floor and plays with a very high level of effort. He is also a smart cutter and passer. However both his shooting and playmaking abilities can be very overrated. Avdija is a poor free throw shooter and streaky 3 point shooter. Poor free throw shooting often leads to bad perimeter shooting at the next level. Many people also seem to believe that Avidja is going to be an NBA level playmaker. While I do think he will be a good secondary playmaker in the future, at the moment his ballhandling is lagging behind his court vision and passing ability. However the potential is there for the future.
Most rumors indicate that the Cavs are stuck in between selecting Obi Toppin and Deni Avdija. I personally would like to see them draft Avdija or Okongwu. Avdija is an interesting selection as he is young, and can be developed into either forward position. If the Cavs decide to build around Sexton and Garland, Avdija could fit in very well as a multi-positional defender and passer. Avdija is the type of player who can fit into almost any situation, but his jumpshot is a long way away.
Pick 6 – Atlanta Hawks
Weight: 225 lb
Okoro is the best available player for the Hawks. He fits both a positional need, and has the ceiling to justify being drafted this high. Okoro is also an underrated passer and ballhandler. I believe that there is a chance Okoro falls on draft night due to his lack of shooting, but if Avdija is off the board, I imagine it wouldn’t take too much to convince Atlanta to draft him.
Okoro brings excellent defense, a high basketball IQ, high motor, work ethic and physical driving ability. Many scouts and writers have described him as a ‘dog’, and with the tenacity he plays with, it is easy to see why.
Atlanta needs a boost on the defensive side of the floor. And with Okoro they would get that. They could potentially have a deadly trio of switch defense wings in Okoro, DeAndre Hunter and Cameron Reddish. Until Okoro is ready to contribute to the starting lineup, there would be plenty of minutes off of the bench for him. Okoro fits both the Hawks current needs, and the potential to be a great long term reward prospect also.
Pick 7 – Detroit Pistons
Weight: 216 lb
Hayes has the talent and potential to be a top 4 pick. However due to concerns with his overreliance on his left hand, and lack of a natural fit, I can see him falling to Detroit. Detroit needs to take the best player available with the highest ceiling, and that player is most likely Killian Hayes or Onyeka Okongwu in this mock draft.
Due to Detroit’s complete lack of playmaking, I have selected Killian Hayes for them. Hayes is an excellent passer with very high level court vision. Watching tape of him is like watching a shorter Luka Doncic at times. Hayes thrives in the pick and roll, and is a good shooter. Detroit does not appear capable of winning anytime soon, making a long term prospect like Killian Hayes make a lot of sense.
Hayes is in my top 5 on my big board. For the sake of his development I would like to see him being drafted by Detroit. With next year being a very strong draft, Hayes looks like he could compliment most players next year as well with his passing.
While Hayes is not in my opinion a great on-ball defender, I am a big fan of his defense off the ball. This will allow for him to become a very good playmaking 2 guard. A good on-ball defender like Bruce Brown on the Pistons roster could find himself earning a spot in their future plans alongside Hayes.
Pick 8 – New York Knicks
Weight: 220 lb
Obi Toppin was the best player in college basketball this year. But that does not necessarily mean he will be the best NBA player. Toppin is a beast on the offensive side of the floor. He makes great decisions, passes and is an extremely effective driver/slasher/roller. Toppin also has displayed solid touch from the 3pt line. However he did only shoot around 70% from the free throw line, leaving questions to be raised about whether his jumper can translate to the next level.
Toppin’s big weakness is his defense. Toppin was a terrible defender at the college level despite his wingspan. Teams would target him to run pick and rolls against as it would often lead to easy baskets. Toppin is also incapable of switching onto quick wings. Toppin’s inability to read defenses is especially frustrating, as he is able to make such quick decisions on offense.
In this mock the Knicks will most likely be selecting between Toppin, Okongwu, Lewis Jr and Devin Vassell. With Okongwu currently lacking a jumper (I do believe in his shooting potential however), the Knicks will likely go for the homegrown player. On Zach Lowe’s podcast, Jonathan Givony said that he believes that the Knicks will be ‘dying to get Toppin’. For those that are unaware, Givony is arguably the best NBA draft analyst, making this a very reliable source. On top of that Toppin is a much better fit offensively next to Mitchell Robinson.
Pick 9 – Washington Wizards
Weight: 245 lb
Age: 19 (turning 20 in December)
Like Killian Hayes, Okongwu is in the top 5 on my big board. However unless Cleveland decides to draft him, or a team like the Celtics manages to trade up, I can see him falling to the Wizards. That being said I think that there is a relatively high chance that the Hawks or Cavs draft Okongwu and trade down for more picks. In this mock I am assuming that no teams trade any picks aside from the Dennis Schroeder for Danny Green and the 28th pick trade.
The Wizards should be absolutely ecstatic if this actually happens. Okongwu is another player who both fits the teams current needs, while being a great piece for their future. Okongwu is an incredibly smart defender who has exceptional defensive positioning. He is also capableof switching onto smaller players on defense in a similar vein to Bam Adebayo. Okongwu is also a very good rebounder.
One of the more exciting parts of Okongwu’s game is that he has shooting potential. With great touch around the rim, and a 72% free throw percentage, Okongwu looks like he could become a solid mid range shooter in the near future, and eventually even a 3 point shooter. While he is lacking Adebayo playmaking, this shooting touch and shot form should make up for it.
Pick 10 – Phoenix Suns
Weight: 174 lb
Tyrell Terry is one of the question marks of the draft. No one is quite sure where he will be drafted. Some have him in the lottery, while others have him sitting in the 20s. However with his pure shooting form, high shooting percentages and improvement of his body, I believe that he could rise into the lottery.
Phoenix has reportedly met/interviewed with Tyrell Terry several times. The Suns are looking for shooting, and do not have a guaranteed backup point guard on their roster. Although Kira Lewis is currently the better player, Lewis’ shooting could give him an edge over him.
General Manager James Jones drafted Cameron Johnson in the lottery last year, despite the fact that many had projected Johnson as a late first round. During the Suns 8-0 run in the bubble, Johnson’s floor spacing proved to be very important. I can see Jones making a similar decision this year by drafting Tyrell Terry to develop off of the bench behind Ricky Rubio. Terry could potentially take Cameron Payne’s role in the very near future.
Pick 11 – San Antonio Spurs
Weight: 225 lb
Patrick Williams is a perfect basketball blank canvas. He brings great size, defense, athleticism, intelligence and shooting touch. While he is not quite up to the skill level of some of the other players in the draft, he is very few, if any red flags. He is one of the youngest players in the draft, and has a ridiculously high ceiling. The perfect player for a Spurs rebuild.
Williams was a key contributor alongside Devin Vassell for Florida State’s defense. Williams’ versatility on defense is crucial as he can switch onto both the 2 and 4 from the 3. With the Spurs being known for their player development, Williams would be a perfect pick for them. Unfortunately for the Spurs there is still the chance that a team higher in the lottery reaches on him and buys into his sky high potential.
Pick 12 – Sacramento Kings
Weight: 194 lb
Vassell is a long, skinny defender. He was a key part of Florida State’s success this season. Many people have Vassell in their top 10, however in this mock I have him just slipping out. The big question about Devin Vassell is whether his jumpshot will translate to the NBA. Vassell shot over 41% from deep in both of his seasons in college. However he was only a 73.8% free throw shooter this season. While his jumpshot did look awkward at times, he was still an effective shot maker. Unfortunately there was a recent video that emerged online showing Vassell shooting with an even more awkward shot form. This has led to many fans becoming concerned over Vassell’s shot and given some PTSD-like flashbacks to Markelle Fultz’s shot form changes. Hopefully Vassell’s shot is looking better by the time he debuts in the NBA.
With the Sacramento Kings likely having to move on from Buddy Hield, Vassell would be an excellent backup shooting guard for Bogdan Bogdanovic. Vassell would bring defense to the Kings, and if developed right could be a good starter for them in the future. Nesmith could also be a good pick here, but Vassell’s defense is just that much better even if Nesmith is the better shooter.
Pick 13 – New Orleans Pelicans
Weight: 198 lb
Age: 19 (turning 20 November 4th)
Tyrese Maxey was a player I was not initially sold on. As an undersized shooting guard who shot under 30% from deep I couldn’t originally see why so many were so high on his game. However I have since watched a couple of Kentucky replays and got to see the slashing, driving, on-ball and off-ball defense, and decision making he brought to his team.
Maxey looks to thrive as an off-ball defender on a team with playmakers at other positions. While a team like Dallas would be his ideal fit, I don’t see him falling that far with how he has improved his jumpshot and has impressed at workouts. While Maxey was only a 29.2% 3pt shooter at Kentucky, he shot 83.3% from the free throw line. This gives many hope he can develop into a good shooter over time. His televised Pro Day with Anthony Edwards will have increased this belief.
The Pelicans have two larger playmakers in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. If the Pelicans ran Maxey at the point alongside these two, it would improve New Orleans’ perimeter defense and lead to them being a scoring threat at all three positions. The Pelicans lineup is already versatile, Maxey would make it more so.
Pick 14 – Boston Celtics
Weight: 213 lb
Aaron Nesmith is one of the best shooters in the draft, possibly even the best. While his season was cut short due to injury, Nesmith looked like a great off-ball scorer. The Celtics are going to need some more depth and size on the wing next season. Nesmith will be able to provide floor spacing immediately and provide depth at both wing spots.
Nesmith made 52.2% of his 3’s at Vanderbilt, and to back that up he made 82.5% of his free throws. While I personally don’t believe his ceiling is that high, I think that his skills should translate almost immediately to the NBA. He could create some great spacing for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum off the drive.
Pick 15 – Orlando Magic
Kira Lewis Jr
Height: 6’1.5 – barefoot
Weight: 180 lb
Kira Lewis Jr has been impressing at his workouts. He is possibly the fastest player in the draft and played very well at Alabama. Concerns around Lewis Jr are his small frame and his very high turnover rate. According to Jonathan Wasseman of BleacherReport.com, the Magic have used one of their workouts on Kira Lewis Jr.
Orlando could run a very interesting double point guard lineup of Markell Fultz and Kira Lewis Jr. While Lewis is not an elite shooter, he is a capable one. Lewis knocked down 36.6% of his threes in college. Lewis’ speed would also drastically improve Orlando’s pace. While Vucevic is not a very fast centre. His shooting should be benefitted by the speed of a player like Lewis. If Vucevic is not part of Orlando’s future, Lewis’ speed could be a great compliment in the future for a player like Mo Bamba.
Pick 16 – Portland Trail Blazers
Weight: 216 lb
Saddiq Bey is a prototypical 3+D wing capable of playing both forwards and switching onto shooting guards in certain situations. This defensive versatility is very important in the modern NBA.
On the offensive side of the floor Bey is a very good spot up three point shooter. Bey shot over 45% from deep. The Blazers need a player who can switch between the 3 and 4. Bey is capable of playing both of these positions defensively. Bey’s game would fit on most teams, and with the Blazers needing a forward, if Bey is available they should 100% take him. His defense and three point shooting would complement their win-now core.
Pick 17 – Minnesota Timberwolves
Weight: 216 lb
Tyler Bey is a little bit older than the other players drafted so for in this mock. However I believe this works in his favour. Bey will be expected to bring his patented high-energy defense and rebounding immediately. Bey plays defense like a veteran and is capable of defending the 4-3-2. His draft combine measurements seem suspiciously good, but I am not surprised by his great length. In his junior year at Colorado he was averaged 9 rebounds per game. This likely reflects his length, athleticism, motor and great timing.
The Timberwolves will be looking for a small forward or power forward who can bolster their bench and potentially earn a starting role. Bey brings both defense and floor spacing. Bey shot over 40% from deep and is the reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year (the previous player to win this award was Matisse Thybulle). What makes Bey stand out from other 3+D players is that he is an excellent rebounder. Bey has averaged 9 or more rebounds per game over the last two seasons.
Pick 18 – Dallas Mavericks
Weight: 225 lb
Precious Achiuwa is another player who is all over the place on different mock drafts. He is the definition of a high-risk high-reward type player. Achiuwa is an elite athlete, smart cutter and great rebounder. However there is no evidence he will be able to extend his range to the NBA level. It is also unclear if he will be able to switch onto wings on defense. In the NCAA he was elite at defending power forwards and centres.
Achiuwa is a very raw long term prospect. The Mavericks have proven themselves to be good at developing their players in recent years. The Mavs also have very good floor spacing, allowing for Achiuwa to play to his strengths inside the paint. In time Achiuwa could be a great defender and rebounder for this team.
Pick 19 – Brooklyn Nets
Weight: 185 lb
Brooklyn needs to either add a combo guard to their bench, or draft the player with the highest trade value. With RJ Hampton they can do both. Hampton has a very high ceiling, but unfortunately he does not look very close to reaching it.
Hampton is very athletic and has solid handles. Although his court vision is not great, he does make good decisions and could ultimately be a good playmaking shooting guard. Hampton’s shot mechanics look much better after his workouts with Mike Miller leading up to the draft.
Pick 20 – Miami Heat
Weight: 225 lb
Jalen Smith is a borderline top 10 talent in this draft. What works against him is that there are not many teams he fits onto in the 10-20 range. Smith is a very good all-around big man. He brings rebounding, inside scoring and inside defense. If he can prove in his workouts that he can move well laterally, I would not be surprised to see him rise to a team like the Celtics or Suns. Smith is a very strong rebounder, who has the potential to play both inside and outside.
Jalen Smith’s playing style is fairly similar to Kelly Olynyk. The difference is that Smith offers far more rebounding and length. Against the Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals, it was clear that the Heat needed more size and rebounding. Smith could play well as their backup centre, and potentially over time he could move into the starting lineup. Bam Adebayo thrived at both Center and Power Forward this season, and Smith could complement his game pretty well.
Pick 21 – Philadelphia 76ers
Weight: 215 lb
Desmond Bane projects to be an NBA ready shooter, defender and passer. While he doesn’t appear to have too much upside, he would fit like a glove into Philadelphia’s system. Philly needs to surround their two centrepieces of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with shooting and defense. Bane is not only a 3+D player though, he averaged 3.9 assists per game at TCU. This passing would be huge for the 76ers bench. Since Philadelphia let JJ Redick go, they have been missing an unselfish shot creator. Bane would be able to create for himself and others for this team.
Pick 22 – Denver Nuggets
Height: 6’3 – 6’5
Weight: 174 lb
Theo Maledon is an interesting player. He does not appear to be overly athletic, or excel in any one area. He is a tall point guard who can also play at the 2. He does however possess a very high basketball IQ, and have a well rounded game. I have the Nuggets selecting him to develop as their 3rd string point guard who could ideally develop into their backup shooting guard over time. The Nuggets have proven to be quite good at developing players and their front office is not afraid to draft overseas players.
In his rookie year on the Nuggets, Maledon would likely play minutes in the G-League. This would be a great way to develop him. Maledon would not likely be in the rotation immediately. Maledon has the potential to be a starter in the future, but most likely will be a very good backup.
Pick 23 – Utah Jazz
Weight: 185 lb
With Cole Anthony still available, the Jazz would definitely consider him strongly. However I believe that the Jazz’s interviews with Devon Dotson indicate he is their choice. According to Bryan Kalbrosky, Donovan Mitchell worked out with Dotson during his interview. I have not found anywhere else online any information about Mitchell working out with any other prospect. When you send your best player to workout with a prospect who looks to be available with your pick, you generally are leaning very heavily toward drafting them.
Pick 24 – Milwaukee Bucks
Height: 6’1 – 6’3
Wingspan: 6’3-6’4 ½
Weight: 175 lb
After a mediocre season at North Carolina, Cole Anthony’s stock has fallen. At UNC we saw that Anthony struggles without the ball in his hands. He only made 38% of his field goals and 34.8% from deep. In the modern NBA ball dominant guards are becoming less favoured, especially if they are a rookie.
Cole Anthony still has star potential, even if this season made it look like he is a long way away from reaching it. Anthony is a top athlete and has underrated court vision. Unfortunately for Anthony, he did not fit the North Carolina offense.
The Bucks would love to have a player like Cole Anthony fall to them on draft night. He would add more athleticism at the point guard position off of the bench. He would also be able to develop into a starter over time if he can live up to his highschool hype.
Pick 25 – Oklahoma City Thunder
Height: 6’10 – 7’0
Weight: 195 – 205 lb
Age: 18 (turning 19 in December)
Poku is a very long term prospect. Physically he is not ready to play in the NBA, however he has incredible intangibles for a young big. Poku has a great shot form, and looks to be a good shooter at the NBA level in a couple of years time. He is also a very good passer for a big man. He is however very skinny and his lack of strength will prevent him from playing NBA minutes immediately.
With OKC looking to rebuild around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the near future, they would do well to draft a high potential player. Poku looks to be the player with the most potential at this place in the draft. You do run the risk of him never developing enough physically for the NBA level, however with the 25th pick he is worth the risk.
Pick 26 – Boston Celtics
Weight: 185 lb
Bolmaro is an interesting player. At Barcelona he has shown flashes of a very well rounded game. He looks to be a playmaking wing with a pretty well rounded game. While he does not have great length, he does play with intensity.
While I have personally not seen much of him playing, he is part of a very good development squad in Barcelona.
Boston is likely to try and trade their picks. If they are unable to trade up, Bolmaro makes a lot of sense as a player who can be stashed overseas, while having relatively high potential. He could have good trade value or be a future piece for the Celtics.
Pick 27 – New York Knicks
Weight: 210 lb
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Payton Pritchard has fans in the New York front office. While I don’t know much about this source, I honestly would not be surprised if the Knicks took Pritchard at 27. However with Josh Green slipping in my mock draft, I think that the Knicks need to take the best player available. In terms of potential and skill that will likely be Josh Green.
Pick 28 – OKC Thunder
Weight: 185 lb
The late first round and early second round are full of very good older point guards. Flynn is a very capable shooter and playmaker. San Diego State went 30-2 with him as their lead guard. With Dennis Schroder being traded to the Lakers, OKC would do well to draft a backup point guard.
Pick 29 – Toronto Raptors
Height: 6’1 – 6’2
Weight: 200 lb
Winston is a high IQ, high skill point guard. While he is not overly athletic, he brings an almost veteran level of toughness and skill immediately. With Fred VanVleet possibly leaving in free agency, The Raptors would do well to draft another backup point guard. Winston is a similar player to VanVleet in the sense where he is a very skilled player being overlooked due to his lack of size and athleticism.
Pick 30 – Boston Celtics
Height: 6’8 – 6’10
Weight: 201 lb
McDaniels is again, a player for the Celtics with high trade value, and the potential to be a part of their future lineup. McDaniels has shown flashes of defense, handles and shooting. Unfortunately he has lacked consistency. The potential is there however, and with more development he hopefully could turn these flashes into something special. If the Celtics keep him, he could earn the backup power forward spot in Boston.