NBA Mock Draft version 4.0: San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns luck out
By Dylan Carter
Our latest version of our 2020 NBA Mock Draft shows the San Antonio Spurs drawing a perfect fit and the fated ping pong balls favoring Phoenix.
Welcome to my first ever 30-team NBA Mock Draft! This is really exciting for me as I’ve been paying close attention to the Draft since I was a tween, but never worked up the guts to publish one of these. This year, I’ve worked diligently to improve our NBA Draft content at Air Alamo, publishing pieces about every player who could be of interest to the San Antonio Spurs. That’s the team you’ve probably come here for, but I didn’t just craft this Mock Draft based on the best available player—each pick is catered to complement that team’s roster.
So let’s set the scene: There’s never been an NBA season like this one. We’ve had lockouts, scandals, injuries and almost everything in-between in this league, but never a global pandemic. This year has taken its toll on all of us in one way or another, but that’s not going to stop this great sport from carrying on.
The timeline has changed, but the 2020 NBA Draft is going to change the lives of 60 young athletes and dozens more who enter the league as undrafted free-agents. The 2020 Draft class is one that’s been played down since there’s no Zion or Ja to lead the way, but there are some truly spectacular basketball players in this one who you’ve only seen just a fraction of so far.
I used the Draft Lottery simulator from Tankathon to create this draft order. Fair warning, it’s subject to change based on the results of the Orlando Bubble as well as a potential Chicago Bubble for the league’s eight uninvited teams. The Spurs stayed at their projected spot, No. 11, but the Timberwolves jumped from No. 3 to No. 1. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns were the big winner, jumping from No. 10 to No. 2.
Before the fun begins, I really appreciate you checking out today’s piece! It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it and I hope you do too. Without further adieu, the Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock…
Next: No. 1 pick - Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Mock Draft pick 1: Minnesota Timberwolves select Anthony Edwards from the University of Georgia.
If all of the stars aligned and the Minnesota Timberwolves jumped up two spots to snag that No. 1 pick, Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards is the easy selection here. While many view LaMelo Ball to be the No. 1 prospect in his class, the fit doesn’t make much sense for the T-Wolves.
After a long courting process, first-year general manager Gersson Rosas finally landed point guard D’Angelo Russell at the 2020 trade deadline. That maneuver not only freed up long-term cap space previously occupied by Andrew Wiggins’ heinous deal, but it solidified Minnesota’s starting point guard spot for years to come.
Pairing Russell with a dynamic, two-way athlete in the backcourt makes for an exciting future for a struggling franchise. He showed a ton of potential as a shot creator in his lone season as a Bulldog, carrying a large offensive workload that helped him establish himself as a sure-fire top-five pick in this class. He’s a fearless leader who won’t shy away from a big moment, but landing next to two All-Star-caliber players will alleviate some of that pressure.
Edwards has intriguing positional-strength that will bode well for him as a defender. His leaping ability is uncanny, his frame is built for the NBA and his motor is higher than most 6-foot-5 freshman. It’s never surprising to see him pick off a pass at one end and throw it down on the other.
Like most young prospects, the fit is going to play a big part in how Edwards adjusts to the NBA. Of the top draft options, Minnesota is the team that’ll give him the most opportunity to shine.
Next: No. 2 pick - Phoenix Suns
NBA Mock Draft pick 2: Phoenix Suns select LaMelo Ball from the Illawarra Hawks.
After years of pain and suffering, the pleas of Phoenix Suns fans have finally been answered. By drafting LaMelo Ball second overall in 2020, they finally have a backcourt player who can team up with Devin Booker and bring some hope to the Valley of the Sun. They’re going to have a lot of trouble on the defensive end, but it’s going to be worth it on offense.
Ball is one of the most polarizing prospects to come out in some time. He’s a lengthy, 6-foot-7 point guard with seemingly limitless range and innate passing instincts that rise above his peers.
His road to the NBA was untraditional, skipping out on UCLA in favor of a professional career in Australia. He averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.3 minutes per game as the leader, and now owner, of the Illawarra Hawks.
An innate scorer with blistering handles, Ball can hit shots from anywhere on the floor with unique confidence and swagger. He’s a bit cocky, but he backs it up and has been said to be a wonderful teammate in the NBL. That flashiness worked to perfection in Australia, but he’ll need to prove that he can keep it up against the best competition in the world.
The decision-making is certainly questionable with Ball, but ultimately, it’s the talent and ambition that win out here. Though Booker and Ayton are already a promising duo, adding Ball to the mix adds more legitimacy to the Suns, who’ve had a “bright future” tag for years now despite continuously disappointing their fanbase.
Still, the Suns have worked diligently in recent seasons to establish a new team culture. If that new era has truly begun, then the trio of Ball, Booker and Ayton could mature into a team that no one would want to face in the playoffs.
Next: No. 3 pick - Cleveland Cavaliers
NBA Mock Draft pick 3: Cleveland Cavaliers select James Wiseman from the University of Memphis.
Falling back one spot isn’t the end of the world for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who end up with arguably the best player in the draft class. Though he only played in three games for the Memphis Tigers this season, it’s obvious that freshman center James Wiseman is truly dominant. Standing at 7-foot-1 with a reach that’s five inches longer, Wiseman is an incredible interior presence who can get you a bucket in the post, operate as a roll-man or clean up his teammate’s misses.
Wiseman would be a great compliment to the Darius Garland/Collin Sexton backcourt since he can set a ton of screens and create second-chance opportunities, but it’s not the best situation for him. Neither of those guards has shown that they can be reliable playmakers, which has led to the demise and frustration of a potential Hall of Famer in Kevin Love. If this group is so detrimental to a player whose been in those situations before, it’s not a great sign of what Wiseman would have to deal with.
Still, talent usually prevails in the NBA and Wiseman’s got it in boatloads. He’s comparable to San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson for his physical profile and high-character nature. Though he doesn’t shoot the ball all too often, he has solid shot mechanics with the potential to stretch the floor with time and proper guidance.
As all 19-year-olds do, Wiseman has some maturing to do before he can become the best version of himself. At times, he plays a reckless style and pursues the highlight play instead of making the right read. He’ll play himself into foul trouble by chasing blocks or defending too aggressively, but in due time, he should learn how to control his actions.
Truly one of the more remarkable pure-Centers to come out of the draft in recent years, James Wiseman is a name you’ll be hearing for a very long time. If the San Antonio Spurs were to jump up into the top-three this year, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the player they should take.
Next: No. 4 pick - Golden State Warriors
NBA Mock Draft pick 4: Golden State Warriors select Onyeka Okongwu from the University of Southern California.
What a fall from grace this was for the Golden State Warriors. Between Kevin Durant’s departure, Klay Thompson’s injury rehab, Steph Curry’s hand fracture and Draymond Green’s disinterest, this was nothing like the Warriors we’ve become accustomed to watching. The circumstances surrounding their season prevent me from calling this tanking, but Golden State truly embraced the suck this year.
The payoff for their woes comes in the form of a 19-year-old big man from USC named Onyeka Okongwu. Whereas Wiseman has the size and raw talent to make him a dominant inside-presence, Okongwu has the dynamic athleticism and polish to make an immediate impact for the Warriors. With that in mind, there’s a chance that they’ll look at Okongwu no matter where they fall in the draft lottery.
Okongwu played 28 games for the Trojans, putting up 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He’s got fantastic touch near the rim that he uses on hook shots, layups, tip-ins and the occasional floater. Combining that array of finishing skills with great footwork, unselfish passing and an overall feel for the game, Okongwu has the makings of an electrifying NBA talent.
Defensively, he has the makings of a multi-positional defender who can switch onto guards and wings when necessary. It’s never going to be an ideal matchup, but he holds his own unlike most players at his size and stature, which is a major plus for the Warriors’ style.
Mobility is key under head coach Steve Kerr and for a Warriors squad that doesn’t have any reliable centers, Okongwu is the obvious choice here.
Next: No. 5 pick - Atlanta Hawks
NBA Mock Draft pick 5: Atlanta Hawks select Obi Toppin from the University of Dayton.
A 6-foot-9 athletic monster, National Player of the Year Obi Toppin is hands-down the most divisive player in this draft class. Some love him, others hate him, but no one can deny that he deserves to prove himself at the next level. Toppin was a considerable player as a freshman at Dayton, but he wasn’t quite ready to go pro. He took one more season to polish his game and led the Flyers to a 29-2 record for the No. 3 rank in college basketball, according to A.P.
There’s a wide variance of belief in what Toppin will be in the NBA. His uncanny finishing ability near the rack leads many to believe he’ll be a high-energy rim-runner as a pro, but there’s more than that to his game. He’s nimble for a player of his size, which leaves room for him to become a solid, switchable defender and off-ball shot-blocker from the four spot.
For whatever reason, the Atlanta Hawks don’t seem to be in love with big man John Collins. They brought in Clint Capela to start at center, effectively dubbing Collins a secondary rebounder and a floor spacer for Trae Young’s team. He wants long-term financial security that the Hawks don’t seem willing to provide, which could lead to a trade request or mutual parting in restricted free agency.
Adding Toppin to the lineup effectively fills the gap left behind by Collins, giving them more leverage to trade him this offseason to upgrade positions of need on the wing. If they roster both, it creates a bit of competition that will keep Collins on-edge and forces their team to take a step in the right direction.
Regardless of how that situation plays out, Toppin can fill out minutes at the four or five, spacing the floor for a 3-point-heavy offense and helping out with hustle plays along the way. Atlanta did a great job of finding a role for Jabari Parker earlier in the season and Toppin has a similar style with a more effective jump shot and less ball-dominance. This should work out well for both sides.
Next: No. 6 pick - Detroit Pistons
NBA Mock Draft pick 6: Detroit Pistons select Killian Hayes from Ratiopharm Ulm.
There’s a lot to like about French point guard Killian Hayes. His size at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan is impressive and his innate quickness gives him an edge, but the smarts are the main selling point with Hayes. For an 18-year-old, his basketball IQ far surpasses most of his peers, which is absolutely necessary from a starting point guard in the NBA.
Between his body control, court vision and all-around feel for the game, Hayes has grown his draft stock exponentially in recent months with reputable analysts placing him in the top-three of their personal rankings. Hayes’ 29.4 percent 3-point shooting doesn’t tell the full story of this lefty’s shooting stroke and soft touch. Despite that poor percentage, he’s expected to be an above-average shooter once he gets acclimated to NBA range.
Even if he doesn’t flash the long-ball immediately, Hayes is going to find ways to generate winning plays. He leads his teammates with his passes and sees opportunities when most others don’t. If a defender sags off of a 3-point shooter, Hayes is going to find him nine times out of 10 and get the team a high-percentage shot attempt. With pinpoint accuracy and creative handles, Hayes is the NBA’s equivalent of a game manager in the NFL.
He’s has drawn plenty of comparisons to San Antonio Spurs icon Manu Ginobili as a crafty left-handed scorer who does a bit of everything for his team. Those are huge shoes to fill and if there’s any organization that needs it right now, it’s the Pistons. Derrick Rose isn’t going to fill a big role for them forever, so it’s time to invest in that point guard spot and get the ball rolling.
Next: No. 7 pick - New York Knicks
NBA Mock Draft pick 7: New York Knicks select Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State.
You may not think of Iowa State as a powerhouse in NCAA men’s basketball, but they’ve managed to put out some extremely talented point guard prospects in recent years. Not all of them have panned out, but none flashed the promise that Tyrese Haliburton did in his sophomore year as a Cyclone.
Arguably the best passer in his class, Haliburton is a unique point guard whose efficiency makes him a safe pick to translate at the next level. His field goal attempts increased by 6.3 per game in his second season, which he used to average 15.2 points on 50.4 percent from the field and a shocking 41.9 percent from 3-point land.
His unorthodox shot mechanics will probably need some adjusting as he ascends to the next level, but the 20-year-old has the handles and instincts to create for himself and others with ease. You’re not going to go crazy over Haliburton’s strength, size or toughness, but it’s hard not to appreciate his sky-high basketball IQ and body control. Haliburton has already proven that he can control the tempo of a game and manipulate defenders to create lanes to the basket.
That control transcends just scoring—it changes the way his team operates by forcing defenders out of position. He can read the floor with expert precision, delivering timely and accurate passes to teammates at any spot. While Ball gets all of the hype from the mainstream as 2020’s best passing prospect, Haliburton is getting slept on despite more practical applications of his skills.
Practicality isn’t something that the Knicks are known for and it’d sure help them get on track.
Next: No. 8 pick - Chicago Bulls
NBA Mock Draft pick 8: Chicago Bulls select Isaac Okoro from Auburn University.
There’s new management in town for the Chicago Bulls as the Gar/Pax front office combo is finally on the outs. It’s the dawn of a new era in The Windy City for a franchise whose shining moment was highlighted by ‘The Last Dance’ earlier this year. I’m not saying they’re going to draft their next Michael Jordan in 2020, but Auburn’s Isaac Okoro fits everything they need on the wing.
A spectacular athlete with elite defensive instincts, Okoro has a frame built for the NBA. At 6-foot-6 with a stout body and broad shoulders, Okoro flashed the defensive instinct to keep up with players at any position, which is ideal for a Bulls team that relies heavily on a run-and-gun style to keep up with opponents. Despite playoff hopes this season, injury trouble, coaching issues and stunted development combined to create one mess of a disappointing season.
Isaac Okoro ranked in the 80th percentile in transition and shot 64.2% around the rim last season. Just an incredibly fun finisher. pic.twitter.com/lYXq5QIatW
— Jake Paynting (@jakepaynting) July 4, 2020
Okoro adds a level of versatility to the lineup that allows for a more modern playstyle. Maybe point guard Coby White and borderline All-Star Zach LaVine aren’t going to do much on defense, but Okoro can play off of them and make winning plays by switching onto guards and forcing them into more difficult shots. Having him on the floor with restricted free agent Kris Dunn makes for a dreadful combination for opponents to deal with.
His offensive game is limited with an inconsistent jumper and a dearth shot-creation skills, but Okoro makes up for it with hustle plays and otherwordly rebounding from the three-spot. It’s going to take some time for him to reach the level that Chicago will want him to as a scorer. They can expect some instant-impact, but before anything, he needs to be evaluated and coached up on the professional level.
Next: No. 9 pick - Charlotte Hornets
NBA Mock Draft pick 9: Charlotte Hornets select Devin Vassell from Florida State University.
A draft darling and an all-around gifted player, FSU’s Devin Vassell is beloved amongst NBA draft enthusiasts. Almost every fanbase in the lottery is campaigning for their team to take him, including the San Antonio Spurs fans. In years past, it might seem like a waste to send him to Charlotte, but for the first time in a long time, they have something brewing in North Carolina.
Vassell joins P.J. Washington, Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges and others in an interesting, modern team led by former Spurs assistant James Borrego.
This 6-foot-7 sophomore is one of the most well-rounded players in the draft class. He’s an exceptional defender both on and off the ball, rotating in team sets and picking up opponents at any position. He’s one of the best shot blockers in the class despite playing on the wing, flying in as a secondary defender to swat or alter shots at every opportunity.
A 41.5 percent 3-point shooter, Vassell is also one of the better marksmen in his class with the ability to create his own shot or spot up from deep. It’s a skill that’s going to make him a highly-touted lottery prospect whose stock rose exponentially beginning in November. Many will peg him as a quintessential 3-and-D player, but that’s only the baseline of what he can do.
Charlotte played Bridges at the small forward for 72 percent of his minutes this year despite him being better suited for the four-spot. Adding Vassell to the lineup creates one of the more interesting young cores in the league with immense switchability, athleticism and floor spacing. I’m picturing Graham, Terry Rozier, Vassell, Bridges and Washington as a core that I don’t want to run into once they start to gel.
Next: No. 10 pick - Washington Wizards
NBA Mock Draft pick 10: Washington Wizards select RJ Hampton from the New Zealand Breakers.
One of the game’s most highly-touted high school prospects, combo guard RJ Hampton turned down offers from Memphis, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas to pursue his first taste of professional basketball. While the Breakers didn’t showcase his talent the way a college program might’ve, it gave him a dose of reality. He faced off against grown men and did his best to adapt.
Hampton’s at his best as a down-hill scorer and secondary playmaker, which makes the Washington Wizards a good fit for him. It’s not likely that the Wizards are getting off of John Wall’s massive contract coming off of an Achilles injury, so he’ll be sticking around town for a while. Bringing Hampton in to play with Bradley Beal and Wall creates an up-tempo environment for a Wizards team that was historically bad on defense.
He’s a solid, albeit raw defensive player who still needs to grow in that area, but once he figures it out and matures, he could be a really strong asset on that side of the game.
Offensively, there’s a lot to work with on day one. Hampton takes long strides to the basket and finishes with a touch of finesse and boisterous athletic ability. He’s a great finisher near the rim who can stop-and-go to keep his defenders off-balance and create space to attack. Off the ball, he’s a good cutter who hustles to get himself open for jump shots.
Washington will need someone besides Ish Smith to play point guard for them in 2020 and Hampton has a chance to be a versatile player.
Next: No. 11 pick - San Antonio Spurs
NBA Mock Draft pick 11: San Antonio Spurs select Deni Avdija from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
You’ve probably been scrolling through the first 10 picks of this NBA Mock Draft, patiently awaiting the San Antonio Spurs’ pick thinking “How could they luck out without jumping into the top-four?” Well, here’s your answer—they get their best possible fit. Of every player in this class, the only other lottery pick that makes nearly as much sense for them is Vassell, but they’ve got their guy in 19-year-old Deni Avdija.
As their small forward of the future, the 6-foot-9 Avdija can take over a decent bit of the Spurs’ ball-handling duties. In limited playing time, he’s shown flashes of masterful playmaking ability, elite shot creation, determined perimeter defense and three-level scoring potential. He’s got great handles for a player of his size, allowing him to attack downhill and finish with an array of crafty moves that oftentimes send him to the free-throw line for easy points.
Strong game for Deni Avdija today in a win over Holon: 24 PTS, 7 REBS & 4 AST in 31 MIN while shooting 4-of-6 from 2 and 4-of-8 from 3. The potential top-5 pick is now shooting 48% from 3 in 5 games since Israel returned to play. Avdija's versatility @ 6-9 on full display today. pic.twitter.com/kuD4REaaFL
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) July 6, 2020
Avdija positions himself well as a help defender who plays off of his teammates. Without sacrificing his own matchup, Deni puts himself in spots where he can give his teammates a boost on defense. If playing with a structured system that doesn’t need him to guard the other team’s best perimeter player, Avdija can put his high motor to use by picking off passes, congesting lanes to the rim and closing out on shooters.
Since his league has resumed play, Avdija has been on fire with multiple 20+ games and a ton of high-efficiency 3-point shooting nights. His jumper needs some help as he’s not a consistent catch-and-shoot marksman, but with time and the proper guidance, he can be a firestarter from deep. Spurs shooting guru Chip Engelland can work out the kinks in his jumper with ease, putting Deni on a path to being a leader for San Antonio’s young core.
Next: No. 12 pick - Sacramento Kings
NBA Mock Draft pick 12: Sacramento Kings select Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt University.
A credible 3-point sniper, Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith has the makings of an all-world role player at the next level. It begins with his jumper—Nesmith an insane 52.2 percent of 8.2 triples per contest in his sophomore campaign for the Commodores while flashing merit as a shot creator.
Leaving this guy open on the perimeter is as good as shooting yourself in the foot. Seriously, there’s little doubt in my mind that he’s the best shooter in the draft at this point. By my estimation, 3-point-heavy teams like Houston and Dallas are going to be clamoring to bring him into their ranks, but Sacramento will take him here at 12.
With Bogdan Bogdanovic entering restricted free agency this offseason, the team cannot certainly assure he’ll be back next year. The small forward is their weakest position as it is, so Nesmith will give them a chance to pair him with another elite NBA shooter, Buddy Hield.
Nesmith is more than just a jump shooter as he made half of his 2-point field goals as well. He’s a solid rebounder from the three-spot who positions himself well near the basket to help his team out. Defensively, there’s still some work to do, but he’s a solid team defender who can eventually become better with time and training.
Having a great shot is one thing, but pairing it with a high basketball IQ, good decision-making skills and coachability makes Nesmith an awesome prospect with underrated potential.
Next: No. 13 pick - New Orleans Pelicans
NBA Mock Draft pick 13: New Orleans Pelicans select Saddiq Bey from Villanova University.
Forward Saddiq Bey is a gritty, physical player who plays with a ton of heart. His three-point stroke is reliable as can be at 45.1 percent on 175 attempts before the NCAA season as shut down. He’ll be pegged at a 3-and-D prospect by most and in many regards, that’s what he is, but Bey does a lot more than just shoot. He’s a high-energy player who makes up for a lack of explosiveness with hustle and good decision-making.
At 6-foot-8, Bey can defend multiple positions well and is at his best on the perimeter. He doesn’t necessarily rack up the counting stats, but Bey remains alert off the ball and helps his teammates get in position to force bad shots. Pivoting to keep up with opponents is no problem for Bey, who is deceptively quick with his movements.
Bey also likes to take the ball in the post—especially when he catches a mismatch. He muscles his opponents and turns over either shoulder to get layups off through contact near the basket. It’ll be hard for him to do this with any frequency at the next level, but it’s an underrated tool that sets him apart from a traditional 3-and-D prospect.
He’s not going to be setting teammates up as a primary playmaker, but in small doses, Bey can be an effective secondary passer. Luckily for the New Orleans Pelicans, they don’t really need that from him. Bey would be filling in backup minutes behind Brandon Ingram while spacing for the floor for Zion Williamson and slinging catch-and-shoot triples.
Next: No. 14 - Portland Trail Blazers
NBA Mock Draft pick 14: Portland Trail Blazers select Precious Achiuwa from the University of Memphis.
There’s a wide range of variance in the draft community’s belief in Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa, who benefitted largely from Wiseman’s suspension early this season. Achiuwa took over a much larger role than expected and thrived, averaging 15.8 points,10.8 boards, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals per game in his freshman campaign.
Out of the pick-and-roll, Achiuwa is a sight to be admired. He explodes downhill, rolling to the rim like a bull to a matador. Body control isn’t something you think about all too much about with power forwards and centers, but it’s something that Achiuwa excels at. His footwork needs some tweaking but overall, he does a great job of timing his movements and capitalizing at the rim.
Unlike most 6-foot-9 players with 7-foot-2 wingspans, Achiuwa can take opponents off the dribble. He’s not going to shake them with a crossover all too often—that’s just not his style, but Achiuwa can traverse the halfcourt and finish with finesse near the rim. He’s a modern four/five that can legitimately dribble the ball and make smart decisions without making fans cower in disbelief. While his development as a jump shooter will take time, he’s got some potential there as well.
Achiuwa asserts his presence in a handful of ways. He’s a tremendous rebounder who averaged three of his 10.8 boards on the offensive glass. Defensively, he works hard both on and off the ball. When switching onto ball-handlers, he’s known to move quickly to swat their layup attempts.
For Portland, Achiuwa creates some lineup flexibility given Hassan Whiteside’s massive expiring contract and uncertainty surrounding Jusuf Nurkic’s return. That, combined with Zach Collins’ return from injury means the Blazers need to make some decisions regarding the future of their frontcourt. Achiuwa can play off of any of those players since he can man the four or five and adds some serious defensive help along the way.
Next: No. 15 pick - Orlando Magic
NBA Mock Draft pick 15: Orlando Magic select Cole Anthony from the University of North Carolina.
For years, playmaking has been an area of concern for the Orlando Magic as constructed. While some of that has been alleviated by the resurgence of former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, the Magic are going to need someone else who can handle the ball for them off the bench. This makes Tar Heels point guard Cole Anthony the perfect fit as their backup guard.
While Anthony isn’t a natural playmaker, he commands a ton of attention as a scorer and ball-handler. He does damage coming off of screens which forced lots of college defenders to leave his teammates open for shots on the perimeter or as cutters near the basket. His vision is about average for a point guard, but man can he score.
Anthony has amazing body control and balance at 6-foot-3 with a knack for creating jump shots on the perimeter and in the mid-range. His natural scoring ability makes him a fun threat both on and off the ball, meaning he could share the floor with Fultz at times to make a devastatingly shifty combination in Orlando’s backcourt.
Finishing isn’t a question for Anthony, who can score with either hand in the paint by manipulating defenders and pouncing on their mistakes. Athletically, Anthony is a bit of an anomaly because his build wouldn’t suggest he can do what he does, but he’s got underrated bounce. Shot selection is going to be a problem for him but in the right system that teaches him to be smarter with the ball in his hands, Anthony will be a dynamic guard.
Next: No. 16 - Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Mock Draft pick 16: Minnesota Timberwolves select Patrick Williams from Florida State University.
Since the season ended, NBA Draft writers and analysts have taken the time to get a closer look at FSU forward Patrick Williams. With that being the case, his draft stock amongst experts is rising, but there’s no telling what teams think of him. Regardless, I feel that he’s a great pick for any team looking to add some versatile, two-way play to their frontcourt.
Williams might just be able to play three positions in the NBA with power forward being the most natural fit. As one of the youngest players in the class, Williams has a lot to prove, but that shouldn’t be a problem. He’s a graceful athlete with tremendous leaping ability who can finish with either hand. He’ll be amongst the first players to chase down a loose ball and is sure to finish on the other end.
Following the mold of previous FSU players from recent years, Williams plays hard on defense. He’s a solid rebounder for his size who positions himself near the basket for tip-ins and can kickstart the fastbreak. When it comes time to hover around the court and defend multiple zones, Williams thrives because of his deceptive agility and disruptive nature.
From a technical standpoint, there’s a lot to like about Williams. He’s a great screener who can step outside for a jump shot or roll hard to the rim for a bucket. Unlike so many players in this class, Williams is doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. In Minnesota, Williams would be a harmonious fit alongside their ball-dominant star, Towns. He wouldn’t need to focus on scoring and could expand what’s already a rather versatile defensive talent.
Playing off of an All-NBA talent like Towns would do dividends for his long-term outlook.
Next: No. 17 - Boston Celtics
NBA Mock Draft pick 17: Boston Celtics select Aleksej Pokuševski from Olympiacos B.
At this point in the draft, we’re beginning to deal with teams that have legitimate championship aspirations for as early as this season.
Since forward Jayson Tatum has emerged as an NBA star, the Boston Celtics are going to go full-steam ahead to compete for a title. They’ve been as close as the Eastern Conference Finals just a few short years ago and have retooled with a healthy, versatile lineup. Their biggest question mark in the rotation is the center spot, which is currently shared by Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis.
Enter Aleksej Pokuševski, a seven-footer from Serbia whose unusual playstyle is extremely compelling for the modern NBA. First off, Pokuševski needs to put on a ton more weight as soon as possible because he’ll get shoved around in the league. If he can do that, his array of skills should translate very easily.
Pokuševski is a wonderful passer for a center who can handle the ball better than players his size ever should. He’s got potential as a floor spacer and tertiary inside scorer. That length and size will serve him well as a rebounder, but again, the muscle is going to be hugely influential in him having any success at the next level. His long wingspan, unlikely agility and strong fundamentals make him an interesting prospect.
Next: No. 18 - Dallas Mavericks
NBA Mock Draft pick 18: Dallas Mavericks select Tyrese Maxey from Kentucky.
There are certain players in this game who aren’t the best athletes, don’t have the most exciting physical profiles and aren’t going to sell a million jerseys, but they make winning plays. Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey is one of those guys and pairing him with Luka Doncic is dangerous for the rest of the league.
The 6-foot-3 freshman has incredible court awareness that he utilizes when handling the ball. No matter the situation, Maxey always seems to make the right read. He has a commanding presence on the floor that’s asserted through long jumpers, lob passes, or any number of heads-up plays. He truly puts his teammates in a position to succeed.
Maxey has some serious range on his jumper with a crisp form that should translate well once he gets comfortable on the next level. He thrives in catch-and-shoot scenarios, but won’t shy away from creating a jumper himself. When the pressure turns up, so does Maxey, who can finish with either hand on his way to the rim.
On defense, Maxey is always aware of his surroundings. He uses his strong, lengthy frame to keep on his opponent’s hip and alter shots both on the perimeter and in the paint. He’s always locked in, keeping his head on a swivel and helping his teammates whenever need be. When slotted in alongside Doncic, Maxey can alleviate some of the MVP-candidate’s on-ball duties and help him be more efficient in his high-octane style of play. It’s a match made in heaven.
Next: No. 19 - Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Mock Draft pick 19: Milwaukee Bucks select Jalen Smith from the University of Maryland.
When center Bruno Fernando was drafted 34th by the Atlanta Hawks last year, it left a Jalen Smith-sized hole to fill for the Terrapins. His jump from year-one to year-two was very impressive. The 6-foot-10 big man extended his range, footwork and overall feel for the game as he took on a heavier workload.
Smith improved his field goal percentage by 4.6 percent and jumped 10 percent from his previous season to become a 36.8 percent 3-point shooter on 87 attempts. His shot mechanics are solid and his potential as a floor-spacer from either the four or five make him a terror for defenders. The shooting is certainly a plus, but it’s far from the most important part about Smith’s game.
One of the best ball-handlers at his position, Smith can drive from the perimeter to the rack and finish through contact. He’s a great rebounder who excels on the offensive glass and bullies opponents for box-outs under the basket. He generates second-chance buckets with relative ease, using his considerable athleticism and high basketball IQ to corral boards and put the ball back up and in.
Defensively, he’s a layered player. Smith can serve as a primary on-ball defender for other fours and fives while thriving as a weak-side shot-blocker. He’s light on his feet, which bodes well when stepping out to switch onto ball-handlers and close out on shooters.
Milwaukee bringing in another instant-impact role player who can play off of Giannis without sacrificing defensive persistence and the strong values that make the Bucks a title contender in 2020.
Next: No. 20 - Brooklyn Nets
NBA Mock Draft pick 20: Brooklyn Nets select Jahmi’us Ramsey from Texas Tech University.
There’s a lot yet to be revealed about Jahmi’us Ramsey’s game, but the Brooklyn Nets would be a fine team to figure it out. He’s an extremely talented shot-maker who thrives when his team calls on him, but there are still concerns about what position he should really play.
Physically, at 6-foot-4 with a wingspan that’s two inches longer, he’s probably better suited for the point-guard spot in today’s game. Yet his skill set and physicality make him a more natural fit at the shooting guard. What position you play doesn’t matter all that much in the modern NBA, so Ramsey shouldn’t have a ton of trouble with that.
Beyond the question-marks, Ramsey is a really good shot creator who can create space and rattle off jumpers at an alarming rate. He’s got a mean step-back jumper and he’s not afraid to launch it from deep, which was crucial in his 41.6 percent deep-ball at Texas Tech this season. To be quite honest, I’ve had a hard time trying to gauge his upside because of the inconsistencies in his playstyle. At the very least, Ramsey can develop into a spark plug for a Brooklyn team hoping to win a title in this three-year window from 2021-23.
Those spark plugs can come up huge in playoff scenarios and Ramsey has the swagger of a player who can come up clutch for his team. If the decision-making and perimeter defense come along, Ramsey is going to be an exhilarating player.
Next: No. 21 - Denver Nuggets
NBA Mock Draft pick 21: Denver Nuggets select Josh Green from the University of Arizona.
As you can probably tell by the previous 20 picks, I’m not big on player comparisons. It puts too much pressure on these prospects to turn out one way when their development could take them on a completely different track. With that said, Arizona wing Josh Green’s playstyle is strikingly similar to Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr.’s.
Green is an explosive athlete who scores on the perimeter with ease. He can step into 3-point jumpers off the catch-and-shoot or create one on his own with a decent handle and sound instincts. When attacking the basket, Green excels at finding routes to the basket through side-steps and spin moves amongst an array of crafty motions.
Defensively, Green brings a lot of energy both on and off the ball. He gets out into passing lanes and initiates the fastbreak, oftentimes resulting in powerful dunks. His quickness enables him to play up at the perimeter or help down low as a weak-side help defender. It’s that versatility that will entice teams in the late first round.
Though you don’t want Green running your offense or handling the ball for extended periods of time, there are going to be plenty of times when you can get him the ball and he’ll bail you out at the end of a shot clock. For the Nuggets, Green can replace some of those minutes left behind by Malik Beasley, who was traded at the deadline, and Torrey Craig if the restricted free agent leaves this offseason.
Next: No. 22 - Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Mock Draft pick 22: Philadelphia 76ers select Tyrell Terry from Stanford University.
The odds are stacked against Stanford point guard Tyrell Terry from a physical standpoint, but that doesn’t always matter for guys who have jump shots as pretty as Terry’s. A 40.8 percent 3-point shooter in his lone season with the Cardinal, the 6-foot-2 freshman has uncanny range. With a quick trigger and a high release point, that shot is sure to translate at any level of basketball—in the gym, at college, in Europe or in the NBA; it doesn’t matter.
More so than just his shooting, Terry is a very crafty player. He’s a smart passer who delivers timely and accurate dishes to his teammates, setting them up for easy buckets. His crisp passes zip between defenders with calculated precision, hitting their intended target right in his hands most of the time.
As a pick-and-roll ball-handler, Terry does a wonderful job of reading what the defense is giving him and reacting accordingly. His 3.2 assist-per-game average doesn’t do justice to how good of a floor general he could become if everything pans out for him.
Considering the Sixers have a point guard who can’t shoot leading the way with Ben Simmons, they’re always going to need to supplement that with shooters and shot creators on the perimeter. They’re always experimenting with funky lineups to make it all work and Terry is the type of player who can make it work if his body improves. Still, the course of his career is dependant on how he approaches the early stages because it’s very easy for little guys like him to fizzle out.
Next: No. 23 - Miami Heat
NBA Mock Draft pick 23: Miami Heat select Theo Maledon from ASVEL.
Playing at San Antonio Spurs’ legend Tony Parker’s ballclub certainly has its perks including learning from the man himself. I’m sure a portion of Spurs fandom will want him in silver and black, but Maledon isn’t really in their draft range barring a major shift. Regardless, Theo Maledon is an intriguing point guard prospect whose innate sense of timing and dictation of tempo set the pace for the game.
Maledon isn’t extremely speedy or athletic, but he’s got decent burst and an array of ball-handling moves that let him manipulate his defender’s movements. By placing them out of position, he creates lanes to the basket which usually end in an acrobatic layup or a crisp pass to a peer. Similarly to TP9, Theo has great body control that he uses to make split-second decisions mid-air. He has a unique knack for lob passes that will help him build chemistry with his bigs in the NBA.
Defensively, Maledon is an intriguing, high-upside guard who has long arms and great anticipation. He can break up plays, attacking the ball to secure turnover and make the most of every possession.
Miami is a perfect landing spot for Maledon as the strong foundation and Heat Culture can help shape the potential of what I expect to be a long career, barring unlucky health. That jump shot will be developed and he won’t be asked to do too much too early, but he could be an instant-impact kind of guy as a role player off the bench. Since Goran Dragic is getting up there in age and Miami isn’t likely to pay him a whole lot, there could be a vacant point guard spot on their bench soon.
Next: No. 24 - Utah Jazz
NBA Mock Draft pick 24: Utah Jazz select Kira Lewis Jr. from the University of Alabama.
You’re not going to get blown away by Alabama sophomore Kira Lewis Jr.’s athleticism or scoring profile, but he’s the kind of player who does a lot of things pretty well. At this point, it’s hard to point toward what he’s going to be great at when at the next level. Still, players with his innate leadership and on-court confidence generally find their place in the league.
Lewis isn’t the fastest player, but he’s extremely agile and has instant reaction-time on the court. He’s a fearless finisher who battles his way to the rim with an array of nifty crossovers, ball-fakes and hesitations. Lewis operates the pick-and-roll very well, using his scoring threat to position himself and his roll-man for opportunities at the rim. Don’t be surprised if he drains a pull-up off of a screen either.
Shooting isn’t his specialty, but his form is pretty and his release is relatively quick. He’s a career-36.2 percent shooter at Alabama, where he took a total of 304 attempts from long-range. His free throw and shooting style indicate that with the right training, he can be a solid floor-spacer at the next level.
For the Utah Jazz, adding Lewis invests in a position that they’ve struggled with in recent years. Their previous starter, Ricky Rubio, was an amazing passer and a plus-defender, but isn’t the type of player to lead you to a championship. This year, Mike Conley Jr. had a difficult time adapting to the team’s system and stuttered at points. Bringing Lewis along invests in the future of that position so that Donovan Mitchell doesn’t need to take on too much of a playmaker role down the line.
Next: No. 25 - Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Mock Draft pick 25: Oklahoma City Thunder select Tyler Bey from the University of Colorado.
What do you get when you give a 6-foot-7 forward a wingspan upward of seven feet long with a 41.9 percent 3-point jump shot? A late first-round pick, even if he’s a little bit older than the rest of his draft class.
Colorado’s Tyler Bey falls a notch below guys like Nesmith and Saddiq Bey (no relation as far as I could find), but he’s still a reliable 3-and-D prospect who brings the nasty as a defender. He was named the 2019-20 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, an award that was dominated previously by Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle.
In his junior campaign for Spurs guard Derrick White’s alma matter, Bey rebounded the ball extraordinarily well. He snagged nine boards per game while racking up 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks each time out. He reads the floor well as an off-ball defender with great help instincts and succinct rotations. When he gets his shot next level, he won’t be afraid to make extra rotations to help his team out on that side of the ball.
Tyler Bey pick-and-roll defense: such a fluid athlete, quick feet, long arms, always in a stance. Reaction time is superb. Can switch and slide (and make the heady late switch back + box out), or drop and the prospect of a pocket pass a nightmare. pic.twitter.com/pq6ZbncluQ
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) July 6, 2020
Bey averaged 13.8 points per game this season on 54.5 percent shooting from the field. He’s a solid offensive player who projects to hit catch-and-shoot triples well in the NBA while cleaning up loose balls and scoring some points in the paint. His lack of handles and shot creation leave him without much potential to become a consistent scorer, but the defense will make up for it.
Oklahoma City has become such a guard-heavy team that slotting Bey in on the wing and letting him do his thing is one of the best possible outcomes with this late first-round pick.
Next: No. 26 - Boston Celtics
NBA Mock Draft pick 26: Boston Celtics select Nico Mannion from the University of Arizona.
Draft projections have fluctuated for UA point guard Nico Mannion, but his play never wavered. His stock has fluttered in a loaded guard class with considerable athletes going ahead of him, but Mannion gets by using his basketball IQ and speed to his advantage. He can read the floor really well and delivers timely passes with precision and accuracy.
As his game develops, Mannion can be a primary initiator with three-level scoring potential, but disappointing shooting percentages in college have made him a late first-round prospect at this point. While there’s a blueprint for his jumper to translate to the NBA, he needs to work out some mechanical issues for the betterment of his career.
There’s still a lot to like with Mannion, whose pick-and-roll IQ is sky-high. While he’s not going to muscle up his opponents in the paint, the 6-foot-2 guard has some underrated bounce that he puts to good use when getting out on the fastbreak. When he doesn’t force shots, Mannion makes good use of his pull-up jumper and finds pockets to dump passes off to his roll-man.
When Kemba Walker is off the floor, Mannion can be the guy who sets up the Celtics’ bigs near the rim or shooters on the wing. Adding him to their lineup creates a bit of a competition at the point guard spot that I believe would drive both Mannion and Carsen Edwards to be better versions of themselves.
Next: No. 27 - New York Knicks
NBA Mock Draft pick 27: New York Knicks select Vernon Carey Jr. from Duke University.
This year’s freshman class at Duke isn’t nearly as exciting as last year’s, but there’s still a ton of hope. Center Vernon Carey Jr. is a polarizing prospect because of his combination of raw ability, athleticism, size and inconsistent decision-making.
At his core, Carey is a traditional center who bullies players in the paint on one end and swats their shot in the other. He’s very muscular at 6-foot-10 with a seven-foot wingspan and he takes advantage of his matchups well, but sometimes gets overexcited and makes a boneheaded play. This led to a pretty horrible 1-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio (30 assists, 63 turnovers) in his lone season at Duke.
This is a player who’d probably bode well with another year in Duke’s system to develop his skills and mature a bit, but instead, he’s getting sent to the New York Knicks. Playing for Duke puts an automatic spotlight on you in the realm of college basketball, which is why I’m not sold on the idea of him crumbling with this team.
After signing what felt like a million power forwards in 2019 free agency, the New York Knicks’ roster is bound for significant turnover with a young core in place. Carey could get extended playing time if he lands in certain spots and the Knicks seem to be one of them.
Next: No. 28 - Toronto Raptors
NBA Mock Draft pick 28: Toronto Raptors select Leandro Bolmaro from FC Barcelona.
Has there ever been a more fearless basketball executive than Masai Ujiri? Probably not, which is why picking Argentinian wing Leandro Bolmaro at the end of the first round makes sense for the Toronto Raptors. Considering their wing depth falls off after OG Anunoby, an unnatural ball-handler, and Norman Powell, Bolmaro could be an instant-impact player off the bench.
Considered the second-coming of San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili by many, Bolmaro seriously fits the mold. He’s an energetic defender who intercepts passing lanes and sticks on his opponent’s hip on the perimeter. While the defense isn’t necessarily his best trait, it’s where his competitive drive shines through most.
Strong minutes for 6-7 Argentinian guard Leandro Bolmaro against Tenerife today: 11 PTS and 3 AST in 15 MIN while knocking down 3-of-5 triples. Energetic playmaker. pic.twitter.com/JSzo2eNUyK
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 25, 2020
I’ve talked up a few different passers in this class but Bolmaro might actually be the flashiest of the bunch. He whips these magnificent passes through traffic to set up teammates while serving as a major three-level scoring threat by himself. If San Antonio could somehow snag Bolmaro in the second-round or trade back in to bring him in, they could groom him to fulfill all of that potential. However, Toronto is a landing spot that bodes well for most developmental projects.
Do you need someone to hit a spot-up jumper? He’s got it. Open lane in transition? He’ll finish with a fancy layup or dunk. Need a ball-handler to get the rock from point-A to point-B in a pinch? Bolmaro is going to get the job done. Just a fantastic prospect all-around.
Next: No. 29 - Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Mock Draft pick 29: the Los Angeles Lakers select Desmond Bane from Texas Christian University.
Fearless, physical and ferocious—these are the three phrases I’d use to sum up guard Desmond Bane’s game. At 6-foot-6 with solid ball-handling skills and a magnetic presence on the floor, Bane commands attention on the floor and thrives under pressure. His high point of release makes it hard for opposing guards to contest his 44.2 percent 3-point shot which is legit—he’s at 43.3 percent on 575 attempts in four years at TCU.
That should e the main selling point here, but it’s not. Bane is a great athlete who explodes at the rim for dunks or uses his ambidextrous nature to finish with a soft touch. He can execute the pick-and-roll pretty well with a strong downhill presence that forces defenders to commit one way or the other in an instant. If he can improve his playmaking, Bane will be truly special.
Landing with the Los Angeles Lakers takes a ton of pressure off of Bane, who has legitimate instant-impact potential at the next level. Playing off of the greatest talent of the generation in LeBron James feels like the perfect role for Bane. He’s got the makings of a solid role player who flies under the radar all season before coming up huge in a playoff game or two.
To be honest, I don’t know what factors besides age (22) have Bane so low on draft boards. He’s not the best ball-handler and needs to keep working on his decision-making but overall, he’s an incredibly talented player that 29 other teams would hate to see on the Lakers.
Next: No. 30 - Boston Celtics
NBA Mock Draft pick 30: Boston Celtics select Daniel Oturu from the University of Minnesota.
First off, “Golden Gophers” is a spectacular mascot name. Top-notch in my book. Good on you, University of Minnesota.
Anyway, Minnesota center Daniel Oturu is a perfect example of why more players should stay in college after their freshman season to develop their game. From year one to year two, Oturu’s role increased by a lot, adding 10 more minutes of playing time and 5.7 field goal attempts per game in a featured role that helped him grow some decent draft stock. Unfortunately, players with his style aren’t as valuable as they were in the past, so he isn’t being recognized for his efforts.
More from Air Alamo
- The Ringer podcast goes crazy over Spurs’ Keldon Johnson
- San Antonio Spurs: Preparing for another DeMar DeRozan All-Star snub
- Rockets suffer another devasting injury before facing San Antonio Spurs
- San Antonio Spurs: 4 Players who led thrilling comeback over Wolves
- San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell’s drastic drop in minutes is inexcusable
Oturu is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan who averaged 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this year. He shot 59 percent on 2-point field goals and 19-for-52 from deep. The physical big man combines physicality and finesses with decent agility for a player of his size. Oturu’s footwork is strong, which bodes well for his transition into the league. Few players are as talented at battling for position and making the most of their opportunities.
This season felt like a major coming-out party for Oturu. It seems as if he recognizes the limitations of his post-game in the modern game and doubles-down on his talent by shooting the outside jumper. Picking up both Oturu and Pokuševski gives the Celtics some long-term stability in the frontcourt. While Oturu is a more natural and physical big, Pokuševski offers a unique skill-set that bodes well for the modern game. It’s a pair that could possibly share the court if everything shakes right.
With the proper time and grooming at the next level, Oturu could easily become a starting-caliber five who can compete at the highest level.