2020 NBA Mock Draft: Optimal Top 5 Picks (Volume 1)
Looking at team needs and data to project the top five picks in the upcoming NBA Draft
After the most tumultuous and unexpected seasons in the history of basketball, the 2020 NBA Draft will be held on November 18th, 2020 and features a number of prospects with the ability to be instant difference-makers. Below, you’ll find my first mock draft for the first five selections, featuring original analysis and sportsbook props!
Pick 1: Anthony Edwards (SG, Georgia)
With 24-year-old stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell both locked in through the next three seasons, the Minnesota Timberwolves have an opportunity to add another major difference-maker with the top pick. Youngsters Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid are also under contract, so Anthony Edwards will join the NBA’s youngest core if he hears his name called first.
The 6’5 shooting guard averaged 19.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.0 minutes during his freshman season at Georgia and while those numbers aren’t exactly in line with what you might expect from a first-overall pick, he flashed the clutch factor numerous times and should benefit from being the third offensive option in this offense rather than the volume shooter he was at UGA. He has supreme athleticism and an NBA-ready body, both of which are also reasons why his name is appearing at the top of a lot of mocks.
DraftKings Prop: Edwards To Be 1st Overall Pick (-134). BET NOW!
Pick 2: Obi Toppin (PF, Dayton)
Golden State Warriors
The way the Golden State Warriors' roster already looks, they should be a contender for the 2020-2021 NBA championship. The core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins will all be back and presumably healthy and role players like Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall should make an impact. Sure, Golden State could select James Wiseman to match up with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who have a major size advantage. However, it’s hard to envision Steve Kerr and the Warriors abandoning the position-less, perimeter style that they invented. It’s also hard to imagine that they’d draft a player that needs to develop.
Enter Obi Toppin, who averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in 31.6 minutes per contest at Dayton last season. With the ability to score in a variety of ways, Toppin is also 6’9 and could realistically defend multiple positions, which fits right into Golden State’s system.
DraftKings Prop: Toppin Under Pick 4.5 (-104). BET NOW!
Pick 3: James Wiseman (C, Memphis)
With Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham in the backcourt, LaMelo Ball wouldn’t be an optimal fit here. However, since Cody Zeller is the only center on the payroll and P.J Washington fits better at the four, Wiseman could step right in and be an impact starter. In just three games at Memphis (before withdrawing due to an NCAA eligibility suspension), Wiseman put up 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in just 23.0 minutes per contest. He also swatted nine shots in those three games.
While Wiseman is more of a traditional, back-to-the-basket center, his 7’1 height and massive wingspan would instantly allow Charlotte to protect the rim better than they did last season. The Hornets averaged just 31.8 defensive rebounds per game last year (29th of 30 teams) and a 70.6% defensive rebounding rate (30th), so it’s pretty obvious that there’s a glaring need to add size. Wiseman is the best option at this spot.
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Pick 4: LaMelo Ball (PG, USA)
As seen in Oklahoma City with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Shroder, new Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan is comfortable playing multiple ball-handlers on the court at the same time. That’s relevant here, since second-year point guard Coby White and high-scorer Zach LaVine thrive with the ball in their hands at the one and two. Ball has the height and length to match up against multiple positions on the floor and has much better shooting range and touch than his brother Lonzo. Quite a few mock drafts have him going first overall.
The obvious concern with LaMelo is that he has traditionally been a bit of a loose cannon with shot selection. However, with a coach like Donovan, it’s hard to envision him not reigning it in and being a versatile offensive player right away at the next level. A starting five of White, LaVine, Ball, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter with Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, Chandler Hutchison and Otto Porter (player option) off the bench could have sneaky playoff upside at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Pick 5: Aaron Nesmith (SF, Vanderbilt)
While center Andre Drummond has a player option and could be traded if he opts in (or a sign-and-trade occurs), this team is returning a core of Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter, Cedi Osman and Larry Nance. However, Cleveland went just 19-46 and was outscored by an average of 7.9 points per game (28th out of 30 teams) last season, so it's pretty clear they need to add some talent and bank on the development of their young core.
Before going down with a foot injury in his sophomore season at Vanderbilt, Aaron Nesmith averaged 23.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per contest. Further, he shot 51.2% from the floor and 52.2% from three-point range, which was insane considering the fact that he went 60-for-115 from long-range in 14 games after going 59-for-175 (33.7%) over the entire season before in 32 contests. Interestingly, this selection would pair Nesmith with Garland, who he shared the court with at Vandy during the 2018-2019 season.
Know this name for future mocks, because this is a name that might be moving up the list.
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