2020 NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Celtics load up on size with three picks
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic not only suspended the NBA season indefinitely, but also put all of the league’s business — the draft lottery, the combine — on pause as well. And while it’s likely that the NBA’s June 25 draft will be pushed back as well, one thing still holds true to form.
This draft, like so many before it, will be flooded by early entry candidates who for the most part will do the same thing that you and I will be doing on draft night — watching others get selected. The early entry pool of candidates this year stands at 205 players — 163 from the college ranks and 42 International prospects.
And they all have one goal, along with the handful of seniors deemed as legit draft prospects: to be among the 60 players called on draft night.
Here’s a look at NBC Sports Boston’s Mock Draft 5.0 with the draft order based upon where teams stood record-wise when the NBA season was suspended indefinitely.
2020 NBA Mock Drafts: Version 1.0 | Version 2.0 | Version 3.0 | Version 4.0
1. Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman, 7-1, Center, Memphis
Wiseman is the biggest wild card in a draft class that’s full of mystery.
The Warriors have struck gold in the past when it comes to selecting players with noticeable concern. Steph Curry was deemed too skinny by most draft experts and Klay Thompson was not an elite athlete and yet both are perennial All-Stars.
Wiseman’s rim-running and shot-blocking presence gives the Warriors a dimension that they are going to need going forward. Pairing him up with a roster loaded with proven stars will take a lot of pressure off his shoulders that most No. 1 overall picks face in their first season.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Edwards, 6-5, Guard, Georgia
There isn’t a more “NBA-ready” player in this draft than Edwards from a physical standpoint. His strength, quickness off the dribble and desire to attack defenses all the time, all bode well for his long-term development.
Cleveland could use an explosive scorer on the perimeter to help balance out a roster that includes Kevin Love and Andre Drummond in the frontcourt.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Deni Avdija, 6-9, Forward, International
Avdija (pronounced ahv-DEE-yah), expected to be the first Israeli-born lottery pick in NBA history, has the kind of wing versatility that’s becoming the norm throughout the NBA.
He has the kind of playmaking skills that should mesh well with Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell and provide the Timberpups hope for the future.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Obi Toppin, 6-9, Forward, Dayton
The most decorated player in college basketball this season, Toppin would be the latest addition to an Atlanta Hawks team that’s building a roster filled with long, athletic, above-the-rim ballers.
For Toppin to excel, he has to show that he’s more than just a human highlight reel. Offensively he has to display an improved touch from the perimeter, and defensively Atlanta has to figure out whether he’ll be a big ‘3” (small forward) or an undersized but uber-athletic “4” (power forward). That’s a good problem to have if you are the Hawks.
5. Detroit Pistons
LaMelo Ball, 6-7, Guard, International
Of the teams near the top of the lottery, none needs a point guard more than the Pistons. There has been growing speculation that Ball may be in play as the potential top overall pick. The Pistons have been going with long, athletic types in recent years which makes Ball an ideal addition.
6. New York Knicks
Cole Anthony, 6-3, Guard, North Carolina
With the Dennis Smith Jr. experiment a flop, Anthony still projects to be a better point guard prospect even after a lackluster season at UNC.
The cast of talent around him such as R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle should be better at benefiting from Anthony’s basketball smarts and ability as a ball-handling creator for himself and his teammates. And his leadership potential will stand out, particularly for a team that could use as much of that particular character trait as possible.
7. Chicago Bulls
Killian Hayes, 6-5, Guard, International
Hayes has shown scoring promise attacking the rim, from mid-range and from deep. He can also defend both guard positions which gives the Bulls some options as far as how to best utilize his skills.
8. Charlotte Hornets
Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9, Forward/Center, USC
His greatest strength as a player is just that — his strength.
Has quick, nimble feet which allow him to get off the ground quickly to become a factor on the offensive glass. Those quick feet also enable him to be a factor on pick-and-roll switches defensively. Can contribute early on at both ends of the floor.
9. Washington Wizards
Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5, Guard, Iowa State
Listed at 6-5, Haliburton plays the point guard position a lot bigger than that because of his ridiculous 7-foot wingspan.
He is equally comfortable looking for his own shot as he is setting up teammates. If not for a fractured wrist in the second half of the season, Haliberton would likely be a top-5 pick.
10. Phoenix Suns
Isaac Okoro, 6-6, Wing, Auburn
With Devin Booker’s elite shooting and Ricky Rubio’s playmaking, having a “glue guy” who can run the floor well becomes a huge bonus. His effort alone will get him some time early on as his offensive game rounds out.
Defensively, he has elite-level potential when it comes to defending pick-and-rolls with enough lateral quickness to not get beat off the dribble and yet still hold his own while defending bigger players.
11. San Antonio Spurs
R.J. Hampton, 6-5, Guard, International
Hampton’s athleticism stands out whenever he’s on the floor. He knows where he wants to be offensively and does a good job for the most part getting there.
Defensively, he has some work to do, but because of his length, athleticism and playing for head coach Gregg Popovich, that’s not likely to be a long-term issue if he’s taken at this point in the draft.
12. Sacramento Kings
Devin Vassell, 6-7, Guard, Florida State
The long arms and above-average speed laterally will give Vassell a shot at playing time from Day One. He can defend multiple positions because of his length, which benefits him offensively because of the high-arcing release on jumpers.
Once he adds more strength and a few more pounds to his frame, he has the potential to be a solid two-way player.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Precious Achiuwa, 6-9, Forward, Memphis
Zion Williamson is the face of the franchise, and the greatest force the Pelicans have when it comes to physicality and rebounding.
But Achiuwa, while not nearly as polished a player, has the physical strength and high-energy motor that a young team like the Pelicans could definitely benefit from.
14. Portland Trail Blazers
Saddiq Bey, 6-8, Wing, Villanova
The Blazers will feel very fortunate to land one of the draft’s top shooters at the end of the lottery. His size and ability to shoot from the perimeter has drawn comparisons to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton.
15. Orlando Magic
Patrick Williams, 6-8, Forward, Florida State
Excellent team defender who will likely spend most of his time early on in his career defending 4s (power forwards) and small-ball 5s (centers).
Shows potential to be a solid catch-and-shoot scorer whose pick-and-roll potential either scoring the ball or passing out of it bodes well for whatever team selects him.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn)
Josh Green, 6-6, Wing, Arizona
Green projects to be an above average 3-and-D guy in the NBA. He has the size and strength to play all three wing positions.
And defense is something the Timberwolves could use more of considering their defensive rating gave them bottom-10 status in the NBA this season.
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis)
Jaden McDaniels, 6-11, Forward, Washington
Has one of the best looking strokes in this year’s draft class, and his tremendous length combined with the ability to get his own shot makes him a potential matchup nightmare.
But his play thus far has been inconsistent. That, along with a lithe frame and a so-so motor is why a player with a top-10 skillset is available outside of the lottery.
18. Dallas Mavericks
Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4, Wing, Texas Tech
He is very much a streaky shooter who seems poised for a long career in the NBA as a key reserve whose job is to make shots.
But don't be surprised if Rick Carlisle finds a way to utilize one of Ramsey’s better physical traits, a 6-10 wingspan, and develop him into an above-average defender.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana)
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6, Wing, Vanderbilt
The Bucks love having Giannis Antetokounmpo surrounded by scorers, which is the strength of Nesmith’s game. But more times than not, those points will come off of down-screens and picks on the wing to free him up for catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Defensively he relies more on his basketball I.Q. than athleticism which will enhance his ability to fit in sooner rather than later with whatever team selects him in the first round.
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia)
Theo Maledon, 6-5, Wing, International
A 6-5 playmaker with a 6-9 wingspan, his pass-first game would mesh well with the direction of the Nets who will be led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He needs to add weight to his frame, but his length and versatility gives him a fighting chance to contribute early.
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston)
Nico Mannion, 6-3, Guard, Arizona
Mannion’s ability to play both on and off the ball allows him to fit in well here. Knocking down shots off the dribble is one of the things he does well which will allow him to play off the ball. And as a lead guard, he has good court vision and has shown himself to be a willing passer while keeping defenses off-balance with his change-of-pace style of play.
He needs to add strength to his frame to help defensively. But if you surround him with rim-protecting bigs, that’ll help minimize his defensive shortcomings.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)
Tre Jones, 6-1, Guard, Duke
Jones is not going to wow you with his shooting, passing or athleticism. But he’s talented enough in all those areas to help any team.
And being available this late in the draft makes him a high-reward, low-risk pick. Jones has tremendous leadership skills which enable him to run a team and — maybe most important at the next level — he has momentum-swinging ability.
23. Miami Heat
Tyrese Maxey, 6-3, Guard, Kentucky
A tough, gritty playmaker, Maxey’s strengths align quite well with the style of play that the Miami Heat have a well-earned reputation for having among most of its players.
His career will likely begin as a reserve whose greatest contributions may not be his stats, but how his defense impacts opposing guards he’s guarding.
24. Utah Jazz
Vernon Carey, 6-10, Center, Duke
Even before the fallout between Jazz star Donovan Mitcell and center Rudy Gobert, Utah was going to head into this draft looking to add to a defense that took a step back overall this season.
They ranked 11th in the league in defensive rating prior to the season being suspended indefinitely. If the season is not resumed, that would be their first time outside of the top 10 in that category since 2015.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver)
Daniel Oturu, 6-10, Center, Minnesota
This is very much a low-risk, high-reward pick when you consider his greatest strengths — interior defense and rebounding — translate well at the next level.
He’s also maturing as a scorer as he tallied 20 or more points in five of his last six games for the Gophers.
26. Boston Celtics
Jalen Smith, 6-10, Forward, Maryland
Boston would ideally like to use this for a stash-and-dash player, but selecting Smith at this point in the draft will be just too tempting for the Celtics.
He can score as a face-up big and is one of the draft’s better rim-runners, providing Boston with another potential source of offense coming off the bench.
27. New York Knicks (via Clippers)
Mamadi Diakite, 6-9, Virginia
So much of his game is predicated on playing with a high level of energy, something we saw plenty of during his time at Virginia.
He is all about doing the dirty work, which for a team like New York makes him someone whose impact will make selecting him this late in the first round a worthwhile addition.
28. Toronto Raptors
Tyler Bey, 6-7, Forward, Colorado
He comes with a lot of the promise that the Raptors saw in All-Star Pascal Siakam, who was also a late first-round pick.
Bey has above-average leaping ability and the kind of quickness that you just can’t coach or develop. How he evolves as a perimeter shooter and ball-handler will go far in determining his future in the NBA.
29. Los Angeles Lakers
Cassius Stanley, 6-6, Wing, Duke
So much of what he brings to the table at this point is directly connected to his exceptional athleticism which should be featured in at least one Slam Dunk contest before he’s done in the NBA.
He’s a ridiculously athletic project for the Lakers, and at this point in the draft, he's well worth keeping.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee)
Aleksej Pokusevski, 7-0, Forward, International
Pokusevski is a 7-footer who can put the ball on the floor and attack off the dribble, or knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers if you don’t respect his perimeter game. Pokusevski needs to add strength, but he’s a smart player who knows how to utilize his length defensively to compensate for what he lacks in muscle.
He’ll be just 18 years old on draft night so there’s a decent chance that this will be a draft-and-stash pick.