2020 NBA mock draft: Sixers grab PG who could be transition nightmare
The NBA draft is currently scheduled to take place on June 25, and the Sixers would have a first-round selection thanks to the Thunder's top-20 protected pick (acquired in the Markelle Fultz trade) conveying. The Nets will have the Sixers' lottery-protected first-rounder, which the team traded away in the Tobias Harris deal.
Let's get right into our first-round mock draft.
(All images courtesy of USA Today Images and AP Images.)
1. Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman – C - Memphis
Wiseman was the consensus No. 1 pick entering the college basketball season and that talent hasn’t gone away despite him only playing three games at Memphis. A true 7-footer, Wiseman runs the floor like a gazelle, has great hands, shows a smooth lefty pull-up jumper and has the potential to be an elite rim protector on defense. He averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks in those three college games. On talent alone, he could be a double-double guy very quickly in the NBA. Unless there are major off-court red flags, I can't believe the Warriors would pass on him if they get the top pick. Golden State has the veterans and the infrastructure to help him succeed.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
LaMelo Ball – PG – Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
Six-foot-seven point guards who are elite passers and ball handlers don’t grow on trees. Ball is all of those things. He can make threes, but like his brother Lonzo, he has a funky release. He also doesn’t have much of a mid-range game right now and often settled for long floaters this season in Australia when he couldn’t get to the rim. There will be growing pains and he might not be much of a scorer right away. But there's some Penny Hardaway and Ben Simmons potential in being a tall point guard with elite passing ability. He's going to make a ton of highlight passes, especially in the open floor.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards – SG – Georgia
Edwards is a flat-out scorer, but it took him a ton of volume to get his 19 points per game as a freshman at Georgia. He can get wherever he wants on the floor and has an explosive first step. His shooting percentages weren't very good (40 percent from the field, 29 percent from three-point territory), but he was asked to carry the team offensively. He's a streaky shooter but does have three-point range. Edwards made some flashy passes but only averaged 2.8 assists despite having the ball a ton. There's some bust potential here. He could be Donovan Mitchell, but he could also be Dion Waiters.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Onyeka Okongwu – PF/C – USC
Okongwu has the potential to be an elite pick-and-roll defender with the quick feet and athleticism to recover and contest the roll man in the lane. At 6-foot-9 with a strong frame, he reminds me of Bam Adebayo defensively. Okongwu also has the potential to be an excellent roll man. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in his one season at USC. He’ll occasionally show off a Joel Embiid-style face up and swing through move, though it's nowhere near as polished as Embiid’s. The Hawks badly need a defensive stalwart, and Okongwu has the perfect skill set to be that guy in today’s NBA. I could see the Hawks potentially trading down a few spots, picking up an asset, and still landing Okongwu.
5. Detroit Pistons
Obi Toppin – PF – Dayton
The National Player of the Year, Toppin is an outstanding pick-and-roll big man who is an explosive leaper finishing lob passes. He’s a good finisher with either hand and will be able to post up smaller defenders and score. He’s also an excellent cutter with a quick first step and a good passer from the high post. Toppin had very strong shooting numbers the season — 63 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. He played mostly center at Dayton and, judging by his college clips, he may struggle when switched on to quick guards and forwards in the NBA. He made the corner three in college and should be able to do the same at the next level. Toppin reminds me of Atlanta's John Collins. He's also the same age as Collins (22), which may limit his upside in teams' eyes.
6. New York Knicks
Tyrese Haliburton – PG – Iowa State
The Knicks have been looking for a point guard for what seems like two decades, and there are some enticing prospects in this draft. Haliburton has good height for a point guard at 6-foot-5, with a skinny frame and long strides that make him a blur in the open court. He also has an advanced feel for the game for someone who played just two seasons in college. He’s not on LaMelo Ball’s level as a passer, but he’s not that far off. Defensively, if you throw a lazy pass anywhere near him, he will get a hand on it — he averaged 2.5 steals per game this season. He kind of pushes his jump shot, but he's made 42.6 percent of 237 three-point attempts in two seasons at Iowa State and will shoot them from crazy deep range. Still, I can't think of many NBA guys whose jump shot looks like Haliburton's. We’ll see how it translates at the next level.
7. Chicago Bulls
Deni Avdija – F – Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
A skilled 6-foot-8 forward, Avdija was MVP of the European U20 Championship last season, leading Israel to the title and averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals. He’s an excellent passer for a player his size, both in the open court and in the half court. Avdija is most often compared to Danilo Gallinari, which makes a lot of sense as a big, skilled wing who has been dominant in his age group internationally. He only averaged 4.0 points per game this season in the EuroLeague, which is the second-best league in the world. In the Israeli Super League, where the competition is not as great, he scored 12.3 points per game and shot 37.5 percent from the three-point line this season. He plays with a swagger. One big red flag is that he's been a bad free throw shooter, making just 51 percent this season in the Israeli Super League.
8. Charlotte Hornets
Isaac Okoro – SF – Auburn
A bullishly strong 6-foot-6 forward, Okoro is an elite on-ball defender with outstanding lateral quickness and the ability to contest shots. He’s an explosive athlete who will dunk on defenders in traffic, an excellent driver and finisher who really knows how to attack the basket. He reminds me a ton of Jimmy Butler in finding ways to score in the half court without a consistent three-point shot (29 percent from three as a freshman at Auburn). Okoro is the kind of guy who makes winning plays all over the floor, getting putbacks and keeping balls alive on the offensive glass. If he can make threes in the NBA, Okoro has star potential. This would be a home run for Charlotte, who desperately needs players with that kind of upside.
9. Washington Wizards
Killian Hayes – PG – ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
This would be a great fit for both the Wizards and Hayes. John Wall is expected to return from injury next season and that would allow the 18-year-old Hayes time to develop. The son of former Penn State forward De’Ron Hayes, Killian grew up in France and has been playing professionally in Germany. He’s a lefty, 6-foot-5 point guard with excellent court vision and passing instincts. Hayes is not an explosive athlete but plays in control and is a good decision-maker in pick-and-roll situations. In 10 EuroCup games this season, he shot percent from the floor, 39 percent from three-point range and 91 percent from the free throw line. However, he only shot 21.8 percent from three in 20 games in the Basketball Bundesliga. A player who went against Hayes in the EuroCup this season gave me this scouting report: “He really has talent and has a lot of upside. Confident, fearless and from the outside looking in, seems like he really wants to learn the game.”
10. Phoenix Suns
Saddiq Bey – SF – Villanova
Bey is an impressive offensive player who could be dynamic alongside Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre and DeAndre Ayton with the Suns. At 6-foot-8, 215 pounds, Bey should be able to handle the power forward position in the NBA. He exploded as a sophomore at Villanova , scoring 16.1 points per game and shooting 45.1 percent from three-point range. That shooting ability would provide a nice inside/outside combo with Ayton. Bey is also strong enough to take advantage of smaller defenders if he gets a mismatch. I was most impressed by his ability to hit tough shots late in the shot clock and with defenders draped over him.
11. San Antonio Spurs
Cole Anthony – PG – UNC
NBA teams will have to determine how to judge Anthony’s role in a nightmare season for UNC. He averaged 4.0 assists and 3.5 turnovers per game, though perhaps better talent around him would’ve helped on both counts. Still, he made a ton of questionable decisions, even in the open floor. Anthony shot just 38 percent from the field, though opponents were always keying in on him because UNC had no other perimeter threat. On the positive side, Anthony has a strong body and should be able to finish through contact in the NBA. The form on his three-point shot looks solid (34.8 percent at UNC), and he projects to be able to shoot when defenders go under on pick-and-rolls. He's not a super-explosive athlete and I’m not sure he has an elite skill at the NBA level.
12. Sacramento Kings
Devin Vassell – G/F – Florida State
Vassell reminds me of Robert Covington with a mid-range game, a fluid 6-foot-7 athlete who can get deflections and finish with authority in transition. One of the best shooters in the draft, Vassell shot over 41 percent from three-point range in both seasons at Florida State. He's a very smooth offensive player who can dribble into jumpers or catch and shoot. I’ve seen him described as a “3-and-D” guy, but I think he could be a pure two-guard if a team wanted to use him that way. Sacramento could use more two-way players, and Vassell has that potential.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Aaron Nesmith – SG – Vanderbilt
The best pure shooter in the draft, period. Nesmith averaged 23 points and made an incredible 52 percent of his three-pointers as a sophomore at Vanderbilt on over eight attempts per game. That’s Buddy Hield-type stuff, and that’s who Nesmith resembles when you watch his highlights. There are a couple of red flags, though: Nesmith only had 13 assists in 14 games before his season was cut short with a foot injury. Because that injury came after just one SEC game, he put up his gaudy scoring numbers against mid-to-low major competition. Still, every team in the NBA could use an athletic 6-foot-6 wing who can shoot like Nesmith.
14. Portland Trail Blazers
Patrick Williams – F – Florida State
The Blazers would probably love it if Bey or Vassell made it to them, but that’s not the case in this mock draft. So, we’ll give them Vassell’s Florida State teammate, a one-and-done freshman who showed outstanding defensive skills in the paint. At 6-foot-8, Williams is a quick, explosive leaper. He has a great motor, is an excellent weak-side shot blocker and will contest shots at the rim. Offensively, he’s a work in progress. Williams only shot 32 percent from three-point range, but was an 84 percent free throw shooter. He has a little bit of a pull-up jumper, but he’s more of an energy guy at this point. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft and the athletic tools are all there.
15. Orlando Magic
Tyrese Maxey – PG/SG – Kentucky
Maxey played shooting guard in his one season at Kentucky but has some definite point guard skills. At 6-foot-3, he’s most likely to be a point or combo guard in the NBA. He has a nice Tony Parker-style floater game, which he can get to with a quick first step. Maxey shot only 29 percent from three-point range, but the mechanics looks good. The fact that he shot 83 percent at the free throw line bodes well for his ability to become a decent long-range shooter. He had some of his best games against the top opponents on Kentucky’s schedule, scoring 27 points against Louisville and 26 against Michigan State. Maxey is one of those guys who makes a lot of winning plays.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves
Precious Achiuwa - PF/C – Memphis
Another one-and-done player, Achiuwa reminds me a bit of Montrezl Harrell, with a great motor and toughness in the paint. At 6-foot-9, he’s taller than Harrell, though he’s not the same explosive leaper. Achiuwa was extremely productive in his lone season at Memphis, averaging 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and two blocks, winning the AAC Player of the Year award. He has good hands catching post feeds and goes up with the ball quickly. I like the potential fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns when Towns steps out on the perimeter. Achiuwa can do a lot of the dirty work alongside Towns and play small-ball five when Towns is out of the game.
17. Boston Celtics
Theo Maledon – PG – ASVEL (France)
The Celtics badly need a quality backup to Kemba Walker and Maledon could fit the bill. The 6-foot-3 Frenchman can go left or right on the drive and has a knack for finishing in traffic against bigger defenders. He keeps his head up when he has the ball, allowing him to find open teammates, and is a jet in the open floor. His shot looks smooth, both off the dribble and on the catch. Maledon is excellent at driving and dishing and making the right decision in those situations. I'm not sure he has that elite NBA skill that teams love, but he does a lot of things at a high level. Maledon averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 assists per game, shooting 37 percent from three as an 18-year-old in the EuroLeague this season, which is impressive production for his age.
18. Dallas Mavericks
RJ Hampton – G – New Zealand Breakers
One of the top U.S. high school players in his class, Hampton decided to play professionally in the Australian NBL and his season was a bit of a mixed bag. Unlike LaMelo Ball, who played with a ton of freedom on by far the worst team in that league, Hampton had to fit into a role on one of the better teams in the NBL. Hampton’s modest numbers — 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 22 minutes per game — need to be taken in that context. There’s a lot to like with Hampton. He’s unbelievably fast in the open floor, both with the ball and running as a wing on the fast break. He has some impressive playmaking skills for a player who just turned 19. He’d be an interesting piece next to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, having already gained some pro experience on a team with winning aspirations.
19. Milwaukee Bucks
Jaden McDaniels – F - Washington
McDaniels is a long, 6-foot-9 wing with rare ball handling skills for a player his size. When you watch his highlights, he looks like a young Paul George. His pull-up jumper is almost unguardable with his height. So, with all that talent, why is McDaniels outside the lottery? Well, he was benched late in Pac-12 conference play at a time when he led the league in turnovers and personal fouls, showing poor decision-making on both ends of the floor. He also was prone to outbursts and technical fouls. McDaniels may be the most boom-or-bust player in the draft. The Bucks are in a perfect position to take that risk.
20. Brooklyn Nets
Tre Jones – PG – Duke
This may seem like a weird pick for the Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie already in town, but if the Nets want to win big next season, they need better defense. Enter Jones, the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, whose calling card is on-ball defense. At 6-foot-3, Jones has great anticipation and can make game-changing plays on the defensive end of the floor. Jones made huge strides offensively this season at Duke, scoring 16.2 points per game and shooting 36 percent from three-point range. If he keeps improving on that end, he has a shot to be a starting point guard down the road. But for what Brooklyn needs next season, Jones slots in well as a nice bench piece.
21. Denver Nuggets
Josh Green – SG/SF – Arizona
Green is a bouncy, 6-foot-6 wing from Australia who showed solid two-way potential as a freshman for Arizona. He’s excellent in transition and can really fill the lane on the fast break and finish. Green shows a decent mid-range game and is a capable three-point shooter (36 percent) and good free throw shooter (78 percent). He reminds me of Oklahoma Ciy's Terrance Ferguson, with a 3-and-D skill set.
Kira Lewis Jr. – PG – Alabama
Lewis is a 6-foot-3, 165-pound scoring point guard who filled up the box score as a sophomore at Alabama, averaging 18.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds. He has elite speed in transition and is a natural scorer. Lewis made 36.6 percent of his three-pointers on nearly five attempts per game. He’s a bit on the skinny side, which could be a problem defensively and finishing in traffic against NBA defenders. Alabama often gave him the ball and let him take his man off the dribble while the other four players spread the floor. He’ll have to adjust to NBA systems where he isn’t always the focal point. But with Lewis backing up Ben Simmons, the Sixers could be a nightmare in transition for 48 minutes.
23. Miami Heat
Xavier Tillman – PF – Michigan State
Tillman just feels like a Miami Heat pick. It’s an organization that values toughness, and Tillman embodies toughness. A strong, 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward, he can guard all over the floor, hit the boards and will also step out and knock down jumpers. He’s also a good passer and just knows how to play. Tillman averaged a double-double this season as a junior for the Spartans, with 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He only shot 26 percent from three-point range this season, which is a bit surprising, because his shot looks better than that.
24. Utah Jazz
Cassius Stanley – SG – Duke
The Jazz could use an injection of youth and athleticism on the wing, and Stanley is one of the draft’s best athletes. A 6-foot-6 leaper, he’s the type of high flyer that could win the Slam Dunk Contest someday. He has all the tools to be an excellent defender. Stanley averaged 12.6 points and shot 36 percent from three, so he has some offensive tools to work with as well. He’s not a playmaker at this stage, considering he only had 30 assists and 55 turnovers as a freshman at Duke. He’ll likely start as a 3-and-D energy guy, but that’s something every team could use.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder
Isaiah Stewart – PF/C - Washington
Post players are no longer in great demand in today’s NBA, but Stewart is a rugged, 6-foot-9 athlete who should be nimble enough defensively to succeed. Stewart plays even a bit bigger than his size and has a chance to be a rim protector in the pros, coming off a freshman season in which he averaged 2.1 blocks per game. He averaged 17 points and 8.8 rebounds and has a full bag of tricks as a post scorer. Stewart’s challenges will be guarding in space and having enough of a jump shot to keep defenses honest. He shot 77 percent from the free throw line this season, so has a foundation to build upon.
26. Boston Celtics
Daniel Oturu – C – Minnesota
Oturu was one of the most productive players in college basketball, averaging 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his sophomore season for the Golden Gophers. The 6-foot-10 center will probably make his living early on as a rim runner and shot blocker, but he does have excellent footwork and touch on the block. He began to extend the range on his jumper as a sophomore, shooting 36.5 percent from three-point range on 1.7 attempts per game. Robert Williams III has been unable to make much of an impact in Boston and Oturu would give him some real competition at the backup center spot.
27. New York Knicks
Jalen Smith – PF – Maryland
Smith projects as a stretch four/small-ball five in the NBA at 6-foot-10. As a sophomore at Maryland this season, Smith shot 36.8 percent from three-point range on nearly three attempts per game and is a consistent mid-range jump shooter. Smith averaged 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this season, so he brings value on the backboards and protecting the rim. Like a lot of guys his size, he’ll have to prove he can consistently hit that jumper to become a mainstay in an NBA rotation.
28. Toronto Raptors
Jahmi’us Ramsey – SG – Texas Tech
Masai Ujiri and the Raptors love athletes, and Ramsey is a big-time athlete. He also shot 42.6 percent from three on over five attempts per game as a freshman for the Red Raiders. Ramsey doesn’t show off much of a mid-range game, but you could argue those aren’t the best shots for him anyway with the way he can shoot the three. At 6-foot-4, he’s a couple inches shorter than teams might like for a player whose best skill is to catch and shoot.
29. Los Angeles Lakers
Zeke Nnaji – C – Arizona
Javale McGee and Dwight Howard aren’t getting any younger, so Nnaji makes sense for the Lakers as a developmental center. The Pac-12 Rookie of the Year this season, Nnaji is a skilled, athletic 6-foot-11 big man, but he’ll need to add some weight to bang with NBA post players. Nnaji has quick feet and looks very comfortable diving to the rim in pick-and-roll situations. He can also pop out and hit the mid-range jumper.
30. Boston Celtics
Grant Riller – G – College of Charleston
My guess is Boston will probably trade this pick or draft and stash an international player who wouldn’t come to the NBA for a couple years, but neither of those things are fun in a mock draft. So, we’ll give Boston the 6-foot-3 Riller, who was a scoring machine this season. That gives us one college senior in the first round, which just feels good. Riller is more of a scorer than a pure shooter, but he can fill it up, averaging 21 points this season.