We are less than one month away from March Madness. It’s time to start paying attention to some of the top prospects in this draft if you haven’t already as we inch closer and closer to the final results from the 2019/2020 college basketball season.
Disclaimer: This mock draft is a combination of what I would do and what I think is realistic for each team, as you will see that my Big Board is much different from these results.
The top of this draft is very much wide open, and most of the top entrants have either underperformed, gotten injured, or some combination of both. The value of these picks will be interesting to monitor, as I believe we will see a lot of movement in the trade market before and during the Draft.
1. Golden State Warriors: G, LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks.
The Warriors core heading into next season will feature; Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, Paschall, and co., so there are still many holes for them to fill. Okoro is one fit I like a lot for GSW, but I decided to go with the higher upside play in LaMelo. Ball isn’t a perfect fit by any means, but you can plug him into the Warriors system and he’d thrive immediately in my opinion.
His elite passing vision and creation ability for himself and others would keep the ball moving, and the lack of defensive attention he’d likely receive playing next to Steph and Klay would put him in an excellent position to be optimized right from the start. He is one of the top “swing” prospects in this draft, and if he “hits” then it could change the overall perception of this draft.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: SG, Anthony Edwards, Georgia Bulldogs.
The Cavs need to go with the best player available and ignore their current roster construction with their pick, and as uninspiring as Edwards has been at times he is my best available player at this juncture. A backcourt of Sexton/Edwards with Garland serving as a sixth man could wind up being a decent backcourt of the future if they mesh well together. That is a big “if”.
Edwards is a tough shot taker and tough shot maker that has all of the physical tools to dominate on both ends. He has struggled at times on a bad Georgia team, but the talent is there for him to become a star without question.
3. Atlanta Hawks: SF, Isaac Okoro, Auburn Tigers.
I was going to type out that this might be a reach, but to be quite honest in this draft there really isn’t such thing as a reach with how many hit-or-miss prospects there are at the top of this class. Okoro is exactly the type of wing you’d like to plug on a team with Trae Young leading the charge. He is a jack of all trades offensive wing that projects to become an elite wing defender at the next level. Without giving him a huge offensive burden from the start, I believe this could be a successful marriage in the short and long-term. If the jumper develops he has two-way star upside.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: C, Onyeka Okongwu, USC Trojans.
Okongwu is currently fourth on my big board and is quietly having a historically good freshman season at USC. He is an excellent interior offensive threat with nice touch and a high motor. He defends at a high level and understands basic rotations pretty well and can make quick decisions on both ends of the floor.
Plugging him next to KAT would give Minnesota a large and versatile frontcourt that could do some damage.
5. New York Knicks: PG, Cole Anthony, UNC Tarheels.
Anthony hasn’t done a lot to improve his stock this season, but the good news for him is that hardly anyone else at the top of this draft has either. The Knicks need a point guard of the future and I believe Anthony still has the talent to become a solid starting point guard at the next level. RJ Barrett has had a disappointing rookie season, but adding someone like Anthony could help take some of the pressure off of him as far as offensive responsibilities go. There are certainly risks that exist in taking Cole here, but I think it’s worth the gamble, because if he hits there is certainly some star upside still there.
6. Detroit Pistons: PG, Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm.
Hayes (in my personal opinion) is the safest pick in this entire draft class outside of maybe Onyeka Okongwu. He has the fewest amount of flaws of all the lead guards in this draft and has shown some flashes of being a legitimate offensive threat with good pace and court vision. The Pistons could hand him the keys from day one without a true PG of the future on their roster currently.
7. Charlotte Hornets: C, James Wiseman, Memphis Tigers.
I’ll start by saying I’m not a huge fan of Wiseman, as he seems to be a very limited player from the film I’ve watched. Other than the overwhelming physical profile, I don’t think he brings much to the table. He can run the floor well, finishes mostly anything around the rim and is a good (not great) rim protector.
He hasn’t shown many flashes with his vision or passing ability and I don’t buy the jumper. Think Deandre Ayton without the elite touch, passing vision or perimeter defensive ability combined with a worse feel for the game. That is not a very good player. Obviously he’s far from a finished product, but at this juncture I’m not sold. I’d be happy to eat my words if he develops properly, because the talent is certainly there. I have him 13th on my current board, so I believe this is a reach, but in all reality he’s likely going to be a top 5 pick so I couldn’t drop him any lower than this. Sorry, Hornets fans.
8. Chicago Bulls: PG, Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa Cyclones.
Chicago did just draft Coby White and sign Tomas Satoransky, yet I still believe they need a legitimate starting point guard for the future, and Haliburton makes a ton of sense for this team. In order for Haliburton to succeed I’d like to see him next to a scoring guard like Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal or Devin Booker for example.
He won’t be a great scorer or offensive threat, but if placed in the right situation he could thrive in a Lonzo Ball-esque role. He is the best passer in this draft, and would expediate the growth of their young bigs in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
9. Washington Wizards: G, Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky Wildcats.
The Wizards need to start thinking about investing into a point guard of the future, and Maxey is a guy I think would be an excellent fit next to Bradley Beal due to his ability to defend at a high level and with how well he operates off the ball. He isn’t a true PG, but he can handle the ball enough and has shown flashes of his playmaking ability. I buy the jumper even though it’s mostly been disappointing this season at Kentucky.
10. Sacramento Kings: PF, Obi Toppin, Dayton Flyers.
The Kings are an interesting team, because this pick probably depends on whether they view Bagley as a four or a five and I believe he’s best suited in the latter, hence why I go with Toppin here. Obi isn’t a great defender and certainly has some flaws, but his offensive game is modern enough for me to buy into him being a useful high-end role player. He reminds me of a better, alpha version of Kyle Kuzma. Oh, and he dunk. A lot.
11. Phoenix Suns: F, Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Avdija is heating up in recent weeks for Maccabi, playing a legitimate role for them and showing flashes of why he has top 5 pick potential. He is a smart team defender and I believe in his playmaking ability and jumper enough to buy into the hype. He stands at 6’9″ and moves well, meaning he could play both forward positions and add to an already versatile wing rotation in Phoenix.
Ultimately I believe Phoenix deals this pick for someone along the lines of a Luke Kennard or another useful rotation player under team-control. My favorite scenario for the Suns would be trading down 8-10 spots and gaining a bench piece in addition to that late 1st round pick, but that of course depends on who is available when they pick.
12. New Orleans Pelicans: SG, Devin Vassell, Florida State Seminoles.
The Pelicans have a very promising young core in place with the star power already set in stone with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, so they are in a very luxurious draft position. What I mean by that specifically is that they can afford to take someone that may have limited upside but projects to be a very valuable rotation player like a Devin Vassell.
He is the ultimate team defender and an extremely high-IQ player on both ends. Devin doesn’t force anything and plays to his strengths, which is a major plus for someone that likely projects as a role player. Jrue/Lonzo/Vassell/Zion/Hayes is an absolutely terrifying potential defensive unit.
13. San Antonio Spurs: F/C, Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos B.
Every draft there’s always a reach somewhere around this range, and who better to do it than the Spurs for some international guy that maybe 5 percent of you have heard of? (not looking at you, draft twitter)
Pokusevski is an intruiging talent that projects as a project stretch four or five at the next level. He needs to add strength and fill out his frame so it may be a year or two before he starts making a positive impact, but he’s shown some flashes of star potential if developed properly.
14. Portland Trail Blazers: PF, Paul Reed, DePaul Blue Demons.
Big Paul Reed guy here. Think he can step on an NBA court tomorrow and do what he does best– disruptive impact plays on both ends. Will he ever become a star? Probably not. Do I think he can develop into a useful rotation piece? Absolutely. Portland needs some more athletic forwards and rim protection from someone other than Whiteside, so I like the fit. He is an absolute stocks machine, averaging over 5.2 steals & blocks per-36 minutes.
15. Orlando Magic: SG, Josh Green, Arizona Wildcats.
Orlando loves players that are in the mold of Josh Green so this feels inevitable, especially with Fournier hitting the open market this summer. Green has all of the tools to become an elite-level defender both on point of attack and off the ball. His offensive game has some promise as well, as I believe he has underrated touch and despite the low percentage from three I buy the shot long-term. He is an elite athlete with 3 & D potential, so it’s a swing worth taking at 15 for the Magic.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: F, Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt Commodores.
In this mock, Minnesota already added the best interior threat earlier in Onyeka Okongwu, and now they add the best perimeter threat (shooter) in this draft in my personal opinion. Nesmith shot 52% from deep on over 8 attempts per game before going down to injury this season. The Wolves should feel good leaving this draft with KAT, DLo, Culver, Beasley, Okongwu, and Nesmith as their core foundation.
17. Boston Celtics: G, RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers.
Right here it’s all about value. Hampton and Mannion are dropping due to lack of proper team-fits for those guys, so that’s something to monitor on draft night. The influx of lead guards in this draft will lead to a few intriguing guards sliding down further than projected. Hampton is a toolsy lead guard that doesn’t really do anything great, but his jack of all trades and versatility on both ends is intriguing if he can develop a consistent jumper. The size, shiftiness and body control along with his vision makes him a worthwhile gamble at this stage of the draft.
18. Milwaukee Bucks: F, Saddiq Bey, Villanova Wildcats.
Saddiq Bey is someone I’ve been high on for a while now as a high-level role player that can help a contending team like Milwaukee right away with his ability to space the floor while playing heady team defense. He doesn’t fit the athletic profile you’d like to see, but he makes up for it with his on-court instincts and advanced decision-making.
19. Dallas Mavericks: F, Tyler Bey, Colorado Buffaloes.
I didn’t intentionally go with the Bey’s in back to back picks, but I am glad it happened so I can be upfront and say I am very high on both of them for completely different reasons. Both (to me) project as high-end role players or specialists that can contribute to contending teams from day one.
Tyler Bey is very smart off the ball and makes excellent cuts and reads that Luka Doncic would reward him for with his incredible vision. Bey is an extraordinary athlete with one of the quickest leaps you’ll see in college basketball. I think the jumper is a work in progress, but he is shooting 50% from deep (in a limited amount of attempts) and 75% from the charity stripe so there’s reason to believe that can become a positive in his game eventually. His rim protection, defensive awareness, rebounding, and finishing ability around the rim makes him an intriguing gamble in the mid-to-late 1st round.
20. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG, Cassius Stanley, Duke Blue Devils.
Stanley is an elite athlete that I have in the same grouping of Josh Green and Devin Vassell as players that could wind up being very useful 3 & D wings with some upside. He is slowly rising up boards these past few weeks and he feels very OKC-ish to me. That team has a ton of athletes already, why not add to the fun and send em’ another one?
21. Brooklyn Nets: F/C, Jalen Smith, Maryland Terrapins.
The Nets are probably going to be actively shopping this pick in order to get some more immediate impact players to pair with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If they keep it, adding a versatile big like Smith would be ideal, as he has an NBA-ready body and has shown the ability to protect the rim and shoot from distance. I think Smith’s stock is on the rise and a strong finish to the NCAA season could shoot him as high as the late lottery.
22. Denver Nuggets: F, Patrick Williams, Florida State Seminoles.
Williams is someone that is rising on my board the more I watch him play. He doesn’t have it all figured out yet, but the frame and movement skills he posses along with the flashes he’s shown are very, very interesting to me. I would almost like him to stay another year at Florida State, but if he declares he should go somewhere in the mid-to-late 1st based off intrigue alone.
23. Miami Heat: F, Precious Achiuwa, Memphis Tigers.
Precious Achiuwa has a ton of talent, but no true identity just yet. I’m hoping he ends up in the right situation to develop and reaches his full potential, and I can’t think of a better fit culture-wise (and developmentally) than Miami. The luxury of being able to ease him off the bench and slowly develop him into a starting caliber four or five would be ideal. He plays with a ton of energy and has all the athletic tools to succeed. In my opinion, his success or failure is one of the more team-dependent cases in this class.
24. Utah Jazz: PG, Nico Mannion, Arizona Wildcats.
I highly doubt Mannion actually drops this low, so Utah lucks out in this mock draft by getting a starting caliber guard to pair with Donovan Mitchell. There are just so many lead guards and not that many teams that have a desperate need for them. Along with Mannion, Kira Lewis and Tre Jones also slip down in this mock draft much lower than I have them on my big board. Mannion isn’t particularly impressing in Tucson this season, but he still shows flashes of why he was graded as a top 10 guy in the preseason.
25. New York Knicks: F, Jaden McDaniels, Washington Huskies.
The Knicks adding Cole Anthony and Jaden McDaniels would be probably the most boom or bust duo imaginable in this class (which is saying a lot). They’d be taking two swings for the fences which I think is fair given their options combined with this draft quality. I think the intrigue with Jaden is more-so about his physical tools and the idea of him rather than what he’s actually shown on the court.
It could take some time and growth in many phases of the game, but I do get the appeal to his game. Not as high on him as some, but I get it theoretically. As long as you aren’t taking him in the lottery it’s worth the gamble.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: PG, Tyrell Terry, Oklahoma City Thunder.
Terry is shooting his way up draft boards in recent weeks and the more I watch him play the more I’ve bought into his game. He has shown many flashes of being an elite pullup shooter and despite his slight frame he’s displayed instances where he looks like he might not be a complete disaster defensively. If he stays another year at Stanford I could see him having a Trae Young type of sophomore season (minus the gaudy assist numbers) in terms of being the most exciting CBB point guard with unlimited range.
OKC adding Tyrell Terry and Cassius Stanley to pair with SGA would give them a versatile, dynamic guard rotation for the future.
27. Boston Celtics: SF, Aaron Henry, Michigan State Spartans.
Henry projects as a useful wing that can guard multiple positions at a high level and hit threes. Along with that, he is a sound decision maker that has shown some secondary playmaking skills. Boston already has a nice collection of versatile wings, but adding one more couldn’t hurt as an insurance policy.
28. Toronto Raptors: PG, Kira Lewis, Alabama Crimson Tide.
Toronto has been so awesome at drafting these past few years, and landing Kira Lewis at 28 would likely add to that list. Their point guard situation is interesting with Lowry hitting free agency this summer and Fred VanVleet also hitting the market as a restricted free agent. Bringing in Lewis would help ease losing one of their two point guards if they decide to go another direction.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: PG, Tre Jones, Duke Blue Devils.
The Lakers would be an absolutely perfect fit for Tre Jones and vise-versa. I could see LA look to trade this pick, but if the fit is as good as this one then they could wind up tempted to keep it. Jones is a lockdown defender that has a lot of winning qualities and intangibles that make me think he’ll stick around in the NBA for a long time.
30. Boston Celtics: C, Xaiver Tillman, Michigan State Spartans.
Tillman might be best suited as a third big, and that’s not a bad thing especially if you can get him at this stage of the draft. He is a versatile center that sets solid screens, makes sound decisions and has shown the ability to do a little bit of everything well. Boston would be a nice environment for him to develop, and he fits a need for them as well with their shaky center rotation.
The Celtics leave the draft with RJ Hampton, Aaron Henry and Xaiver Tillman, which gives them a diverse trio that all offer different skillsets and value.