NBA Draft Preview: predicting every first-round pick, potential trades and where LaMelo Ball will land

photo: NBA.com

By Tom Doyle

BRISTOL, CT —  The NBA playoffs are over, and teams are now deep into the evaluation process and finalizing their decisions of who to pick on this year’s draft.

The draft is set to take place at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and unlike last year, this year’s draft class is full of uncertainty.  No one knows who is going to be drafted first overall.  

There is no Zion Williamson or Anthony Davis, both obvious top picks, this year. The most likely scenario is that the first three picks should be LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman in some order. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves pick first.  They traded Andrew Wiggins and a 2021 first round pick for D’Angelo Russel last season.  If they draft point guard LaMelo Ball from the Australian National Basketball League, it could clog their back court and make them a smaller team.  So, will it be Anthony Edwards? 

The Georgia product is a 6-5 shooting guard with extreme athleticism, and is the most NBA-ready player in this draft.  He is also a piece the Wolves could use at shooting guard.  The only set pieces they have this year are at point guard and center, in D’Angelo Russel and Karl-Anthony Towns, respectively.    

The Golden State Warriors have the number two pick in the draft.  Here is where the draft gets fun.  Golden State is coming off of a season where it was ravaged with injuries, and missed Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for almost the entire year. 

This came off a year in which the Warriors saw their two-time NBA finals MVP Kevin Durant leave for the Brooklyn Nets.  Now, they have former first overall pick Andrew Wiggins filling in at small forward with Curry and Thompson still in the back court.  

Three-time all-star Draymond Green and Kevon Looney will presumably start in the front court.  So, where does a number two overall pick fit in with this star-studded starting five?   

Expect a lot of trades.  In three straight drafts, a top five pick was traded.  Markelle Fultz was traded for Jayson Tatum in 2017, Luka Doncic was traded for Trae Young in 2018 and Deandre Hunter was traded for multiple first round picks in 2019. 

Could Minnesota trade the pick and get a proven all-star in Bradley Beal?  He has been brought up repeatedly, but it seems the Washington Wizards want to hold onto Beal after he led the Eastern Conference in scoring. 

The Nets could move Caris Levert or Spencer Dinwiddie in a deal to pair another player with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  They have their eyes on James Harden.  Harden wants to be traded to Philadelphia or Brooklyn, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.   

The Denver Nuggets could be looking to move on from Gary Harris and Bol Bol.  Expect the Denver Nuggets to make a little noise during the draft.

After Michael Porter Jr. emerged in the playoffs, Harris fell out of the lineup, and with Will Barton expected to be back next year, Harris is trade-able.  

ESPN reported that the Los Angeles Clippers may be trying to move Lou Williams this week as well, and Dallas is interested. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the team with the most assets in the draft.  They have accumulated an abundance of draft picks after trading Paul George, Russel Westbrook and Chris Paul.  They have the draft capitol to move up in the draft and pair a young player with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.   

With severe flaws in the top three prospects, expect one of the top three teams to trade down.  There is value in picks 5-10.  The Warriors could trade down for an asset and a pick with several teams that have been rumored to want to move up in the draft.  

“Moving up is definitely an option,” said Detroit Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver. 

The Warriors could swap picks with Detroit’s seventh pick and bring in a veteran such as Derrick Rose and another pick.  This could free up the point guard spot for Detroit to use on Ball and fill a sixth man role the Warriors are lacking.   

Here is my 2020 NBA Mock Draft: 

[Name, Position, University/Country, Age] 

  1. Minnesota: Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia, 18 
  1. Golden State: James Wiseman, C, Memphis, 18 
  1. Charlotte: Lamelo Ball, G, Australia, 19 
  1. Chicago: Deni Avdija, G, Israel, 19 
  1. Cleveland: Obi Toppin, F, Dayton, 22 
  1. Atlanta: Issac Okoro, F, Auburn, 19 
  1. Detroit: Onyeka Okongwu, F, USC, 19 
  1. New York: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State, 20  
  1. Washington: Killian Hayes, G, France, 18 
  1. Phoenix: Devin Vassell, G, Florida State, 20 
  1. San Antonio: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State, 19 
  1. Sacramento: Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama, 19 
  1. New Orleans: RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand, 19 
  1. Boston: Jalen Smith, F, Maryland, 20 
  1. Orlando: Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky, 19 
  1. Houston: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina, 20 
  1. Minnesota: Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford, 19 
  1. Dallas: Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova, 21 
  1. Brooklyn: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis, 21 
  1. Miami: Isaiah Stewart, F, Washington, 19 
  1. Philadelphia: Aaron Nesmith, G, Vanderbilt, 20 
  1. Denver: Desmond Bane, G, TCU, 22 
  1. Utah: Jaden McDaniels, G, Washington, 20 
  1. New Orleans: Josh Green, F, Arizona, 20 
  1. Oklahoma City: Aleksej Pokusevski, G, Serbia, 18 
  1. Boston: Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona, 20  
  1. New York: Nico Mannion, G, Arizona, 19 
  1. Oklahoma City: Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky, 21 
  1. Toronto: Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego St., 22 
  1. Boston: Xaiver Tillman Sr., F, Michigan St., 21