2020 NBA mock draft: Detroit Pistons look for game changer between Killian Hayes, RJ Hampton

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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Five weeks out from the 2020 NBA draft, here’s a full first round mock draft from Detroit Pistons beat writer Omari Sankofa II. Here’s the first mock draft, in case you missed it. 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia

Arguably the best overall prospect in the draft — an athletic, strong guard with good handles and driving ability. He’s the best fit for Minnesota out of all of the potential No. 1 picks, and will solidify their backcourt next to D’Angelo Russell. 

2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Here’s another pick that makes sense from a fit and upside perspective. Wiseman is a mobile, athletic rim-running center with elite defensive upside, a combination of skills the Warriors have not had in a player during their championship era. 

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks

This isn’t a seamless fit for Charlotte, which has two starting point guards in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. Ball is six inches taller than Rozier and Graham, who are both 6-1, and a much better passer and rebounder . Ball has the best vision in the draft and franchise player potential. The Hornets should take him and figure out the fit later. 

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4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

The Bulls could use more playmaking. Avdija is one of the best playmakers in the draft, despite being a 6-9 forward. If his jump shot develops, he has a chance to be a special player. 

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, F/C, Dayton

The reigning national player of the year is also the most offensively polished player in the draft. He’s a strong rookie-of-the-year candidate and should be able to help the Cavs from Day 1.

6. Atlanta Hawks: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

This is one of the best fits in the draft. Haliburton is a good passer, good shooter and has the size to play either guard position. He can start next to Trae Young and take on the tougher defensive assignment, or back Young up. 

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7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, G, ratiopharm Ulm

The choice between R.J. Hampton and Killian Hayes for the Pistons is almost a coin flip. They’re both tall lead guards who played overseas last season and have the tools necessary to become standout NBA players. 

Hampton’s draft stock is beginning to rise following news of his offseason workouts, which have involved working with longtime NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller to improve his biggest weakness — outside shooting. In his latest big board, The Athletic draft guru Sam Vecenie moved Hampton from No. 19 to No. 7, two spots above Hayes. Hampton is one of the most athletic guards in the draft, and a consistent jumper would make him a significantly more dangerous offensive player.

But I’m giving the edge to Hayes, the French guard who played in Germany last season. 

The main reason is because Hayes and Hampton were both teenagers playing against grown men last season, and Hayes was the superior player. While their 3-point percentages were a wash (29.4% for Hayes, 29.5% for Hampton), Hayes was a much more efficient overall scorer with a superior field goal percentage (48.2%  vs. 40.7%), free throw percentage (87.6%  vs. 67.9%), true shooting percentage (58.5 vs. 48.4) and free throw attempt rate, which is the ratio of free throws attempted per field goal attempted (.313 vs. .228). Hayes is also a superior passer and shot creator. He’s comfortable in the pick-and-roll and has serious potential as an off-the-dribble shooter. 

Miller told me he believes Hampton will eventually become a 40%-plus 3-point shooter in the NBA. If Hampton can overhaul his shot mechanics and inspire that much confidence in a matter of months, I think Hayes has shown enough to suggest he’ll get there as well. 

The second reason is Hayes already has several ties to the Pistons. He’s friends with fellow Frenchman Sekou Doumbouya and would love to play with him, which matters. The duo would likely become the faces of the franchise, second to Blake Griffin. Hayes has been training with former Piston guard Will Bynum since last summer, thanks to a mutual connection in Joe Dumars. Bynum has extremely high praise for Hayes. 

There’s a chance Hampton ends up having a better career. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft, and if his jump shot is legit, his ceiling will be high. Hayes is not a bad athlete, but he’s not in the Hampton tier. But Hayes’ game is more developed and fits Detroit well.  

8. New York Knicks: RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

After everything I said about Hampton, the Knicks should be thrilled to get him. He’ll immediately become their franchise point guard and form a formidable young backcourt next to RJ Barrett. 

9. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, F/C, USC

Okongwu has the talent to be the best big man in the draft. He’s not as athletic as Wiseman and is slightly undersized, but was a great defender, post player and above-average passer as a freshman last season. Will draw comparisons to Bam Adebayo. 

10. Phoenix Suns:​​​​​​​ Isaac Okoro, G/F, Auburn

The Suns already have several wings who can defend. Why not add another? Okoro is a great perimeter defender with upside as a slasher and passer. If he could shoot, he’d be a consensus top-5 pick.

11. San Antonio Spurs:​​​​​​​ Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida State

With DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge entering the final year of their deals, the Spurs appear to be at a crossroads. Vassell is a prototypical 3-and-D wing who’ll fit whatever direction the franchise takes next.

12. Sacramento Kings:​​​​​​​ Aaron Nesmith, G, Vanderbilt

It appears the Kings and Buddy Hield could be heading toward a divorce. Nesmith is a ready-made Hield replacement who shot 52.2% (60-for-115) from 3 last year. 

13. New Orleans Pelicans:​​​​​​​ Saddiq Bey, G/F, Villanova

Getting one of the best shooters in the draft toward the end of the lottery is a win for the Pelicans. Bey shot 45% from 3 last season and can also defend. 

14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis):​​​​​​​ Precious Achiuwa, F/C, Memphis

The Celtics could benefit from bolstering their frontcourt depth, and Achiuwa fits the mold of the type of athletic, long wings they tend to target in the draft. Achiuwa’s offensive game is raw, but he has the length and mobility to thrive as a small-ball center. 

15. Orlando Magic:​​​​​​​ Aleksej Pokusevski, F/C, Olympiacos B 

The Magic made the playoffs this past season, but finished seven games under .500. They should swing for a potential star, rather than adding another role player to their core. Pokusevski is a seven-footer with guard skills, but needs to add strength and weight. 

16. Portland Trail Blazers:​​​​​​​ Jalen Smith, C, Maryland

Hassan Whiteside, who started 61 games at center for Portland in 2019-20, is an unrestricted free agent. Green shot 36.8% from 3 and blocked 2.4 shots per game as a sophomore, providing versatility at center.  

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn):​​​​​​​ Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington

A consensus five-star recruit in 2019, McDaniels didn’t live up to expectations as a freshman. But he’s a good ball-handler and shooter, and a sensible pick for a Timberwolves team in need of potential star talent. 

18. Dallas Mavericks:​​​​​​​ Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

A forward who does a little bit of everything, particularly on offense. He has good vision, can handle the ball and hit 83.3% of his free throws. 

19. Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia):​​​​​​​ Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama

Somehow, we’ve gone 10 consecutive picks without a point guard coming off of the board. Lewis Jr. makes sense for Brooklyn. He’s a quick guard with a drive-and-kick game who also plays hard on defense. Spencer Dinwiddie could opt out of his player option next offseason, and Chris Chiozza is a restricted free agent this offseason, so Nets could use insurance at point guard. 

20. Miami Heat:​​​​​​​ Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina 

This is a drop for Anthony, but at this point his talent and upside outweigh the risk. He didn’t have a great freshman season, but he’s a good-enough athlete, shooter and ball-handler to carve out a role. 

21. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City):​​​​​​​ Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky

The playoffs revealed the Sixers have holes to fill if they want to contend in the East. Maxey can fill multiple roles as a ball-handler, scorer and defender. He wasn’t a strong shooter as a freshman, but has the tools to become one. 

22. Denver Nuggets (from Houston):​​​​​​​ Xavier Tillman Sr., F/C, Michigan State

Tillman is one of the more underrated players in the draft, and I’m not saying that because I went to Michigan State. He has few holes and excels as a rebounder, finisher, screener and passer. He’s 6-8 and undersized for a big, but protected the rim well in college and his ability to switch onto smaller perimeter players bodes well.  

23. Utah Jazz:​​​​​​​ Josh Green, G/F, Arizona

Utah could really benefit from adding wing depth this offseason. Green is a 3-and-D wing with good size (6-6, 6-10 wingspan) who can back up Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. 

24. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana):​​​​​​​ Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

As the most talented shooter in the draft, Terry is a fun fit for a big, defensively dominant Milwaukee team that went cold offensively in the second round of the playoffs. He resembles Stephen Curry, with his ability to pull up for deep 3’s and relocate off the ball to generate open looks. He’s small at 6-2, 160. The Bucks can protect him, and he may be able to provide the offensive jolt they need. 

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver):​​​​​​​ Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL

OKC appears to be heading deeper into a rebuild, making Chris Paul a potential trade candidate. Maledon has starting point guard potential, as a good playmaker and shooter who’d fit well next to Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.

26. Boston Celtics:​​​​​​​ Killian Tillie, F/C, Gonzaga

This is a potential steal for Boston, which could prioritize players ready to contribute immediately given its status as a contender. Tillie missed 38 games in college due to knee surgery, a stress fracture in his ankle and other setbacks. But he’s a gifted offensive player who can do nearly everything modern bigs need to do on that end of the floor. 

27. New York Knicks (from L.A. Clippers):​​​​​​​ Desmond Bane, G, TCU

A career 43% 3-point shooter in four years of college, Bane is a high-floor wing who’ll immediately raise the skill level of a Knicks team that needs a bit of everything. 

28. Los Angeles Lakers:​​​​​​​ Nico Mannion, G, Arizona

Mannion is a great playmaker and strong shooter who compliments LeBron James and the Lakers perfectly — particularly considering their guard depth could be decimated this offseason. Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo all have player options.

29. Toronto Raptors:​​​​​​​ Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

As one of the best post scorers and rebounders in the draft, Stewart has similarities to Toronto’s 2011 lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas. He’s arguably the best available player, and fills a position of need for Toronto with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka entering unrestricted free agency. 

30. Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee):​​​​​​​ Leandro Bolmaro, G/F, Barcelona

The 6-8 Argentinian is a big point guard who reads the floor extremely well and has soft touch. He’s a draft-and-stash candidate, which makes sense for a Boston team that has more first-round picks than it can realistically use next season.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.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.

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