The 2020 NBA draft is still likely more than two months away, as the league continues to pin down the remainder of its offseason calendar in the wake of a pandemic that has upended nearly everything.
But now that the lottery has passed, the projected draft order is beginning to take shape. This could be the most unpredictable draft in years, given there are no prospects with Zion Williamson-level upside. We could see a lot of trade movement before the Detroit Pistons pick at No. 7.
Regardless, we know enough to take a stab at predicting the top of the lottery, and who the Pistons might select. Here’s a mock draft, looking at how the top-10 picks could go (the draft is likely to be pushed back from its October 16 date):
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1. Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Minnesota is in an interesting position, and not just because they won the lottery. They have the first pick in a draft that doesn’t have a bonafide best player, and the players widely considered to be worthy of the first pick don’t necessarily address Minnesota’s immediate roster needs. If there isn’t a player they believe has star potential, it could make more sense for them to trade down and collect assets, though that may prove difficult.
This isn’t a trade simulator, so we’ll go with a safer pick. Edwards could be the only player in the draft who is universally projected to be selected within the top 3. He’s a powerful athlete who can handle the ball and prefers to score in the paint. He has the tools to develop into a reliable second scoring option behind Karl Anthony-Towns.
2. Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Like Minnesota, Golden State could be better off trading this pick. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all expected to be healthy next season, which should reignite the Warriors’ championship bid. Wiseman would give the Warriors something they haven’t had during their playoff runs — a young, athletic rim-running center with high defensive upside. On paper, it’s a perfect fit.
3. Charlotte Hornets
Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
As either the first or second-best big man prospect in the draft, depending on who you ask, Okongwu would fill a huge need for a Charlotte team lacking talent and depth at center. During his lone season at USC, Okongwu showed great defensive feel and was efficient at the rim on offense. He’s a tad undersized at 6 feet 9, but his skill level should make him a bonafide lottery pick.
4. Chicago Bulls
LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawara (Australia)
This is a small stumble for Ball, who is both the most famous player in the draft and perhaps its most talented point guard. Like Edwards, he’s widely considered to be a top-3 prospect. Unlucky for him, none of the top-6 teams in the draft have a glaring need for a point guard. The Bulls drafted Coby White last year, but he spent significant time at the “two” and appears more comfortable as a score-first guard. Ball’s size and playmaking would complement the roster.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
In the past two drafts, Cleveland used its lottery picks on point guards. Collin Sexton is settling in as a ball-dominant score-first guard, and Darius Garland is still solidifying his place in the league. Neither appear to have great upside as passers, however. Sexton’s 14.4% assist rate last season was one of the worst in the league among guards. Avdija is a strong ball-handler and playmaker for his size (6-9), and should fit well with Cleveland’s young core.
6. Atlanta Hawks
Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
Atlanta has added a lot of young talent in the past few years. Trae Young is spearheading their rebuild, and John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, John Collins, Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando have all been drafted since 2017. Haliburton, a versatile combo guard who was a strong shooter and passer last season, makes a lot of sense. He can play alongside Young or back him up, and would stabilize their guard rotation.
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Killian Hayes, PG, ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
Hayes appears to be popular among Pistons fans. He also makes sense as the first draft pick of Troy Weaver’s tenure as general manager. The 19-year-old checks a lot of boxes as a modern point guard — comfort in the pick and roll, improvement in taking care of the ball, flashes of a developing off-the-bounce game as a shooter, and even some flashy footwork when driving to the rim. He has size, standing 6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan. Hayes has strides to make to show he can last in the NBA, but the tools are there.
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8. New York Knicks
Isaac Okoro, G/F, Auburn
There’s a lot to like about Okoro. He’s a strong perimeter defender, good athlete and can handle the ball a little. His shooting is a major weakness. New York can afford to take a chance on a high-upside prospect and hope his shot becomes an asset.
9. Washington Wizards
Obi Toppin, F, Dayton
The reigning National Player of the Year has a versatile offensive skillset. He averaged 20 points per game for the Flyers and did just about everything on offense for them. His age (22) is a minus, but he could be a Day 1 contributor for a Wizards team that should see John Wall return from injury next season.
10. Phoenix Suns
Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida State
After going 8-0 in the Orlando bubble, Phoenix could be primed to make a leap forward. They already have several talented, young two-way wings in Kelly Oubre, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. Why not add another? Vassell projects to be a strong shooter and defender, and would fit Phoenix’s system.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.