Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Less than two years ago, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were playing in the NBA Finals. Now, those two teams could own the first selections of the 2020 NBA draft.
When the NBA season was suspended due to coronavirus concerns on March 12, the Warriors and Cavaliers had the two worst records in the league. And while it’s not clear what will happen from here, they currently have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery.
Both teams could get back on the right track by selecting a top player in this year’s draft, especially Golden State, which has been decimated by injuries this season.
Here’s how the first round of this year’s draft could unfold, followed by a closer look at the three players projected to be first off the board.
NBA Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Golden State: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
5. Detroit: R.J. Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
6. New York: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
7. Chicago: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
8. Charlotte: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
9. Washington: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
10. Phoenix: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
11. San Antonio: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
12. Sacramento: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
13. New Orleans: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
14. Portland: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
15. Orlando: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
16. Minnesota (via Brooklyn): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
17. Boston (via Memphis): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
18. Dallas: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
19. Milwaukee (via Indiana): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
20. Brooklyn (via Philadelphia): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
21. Denver (via Houston): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
22. Philadelphia (via Oklahoma City): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
23. Miami: Vernon Carey Jr., PF/C, Duke
24. Utah: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
25. Oklahoma City (via Denver): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos
26. Boston: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona
27. New York (via L.A. Clippers): Tre Jones, PG, Duke
28. Toronto: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State
29. L.A. Lakers: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
30. Boston (via Milwaukee): Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Top Three Players
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
It’s official: Anthony Edwards will not return to Georgia and is declaring for the NBA draft after one college season. It will likely be a wise move, as the 6’5″ shooting guard could be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Although the Bulldogs struggled this season, the 18-year-old had an impressive showing. He started all 32 of their games, averaging 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per contest. He shot 40.2 percent from the field and was strong from the free-throw line, where he shot 77.2 percent.
Last year, it was clear that Duke forward Zion Williamson was the consensus top player in the draft class. Edwards’ case isn’t quite as strong, but he’s an exciting prospect who could continue to get better with time and likely has a high ceiling.
And if it’s Golden State that selects Edwards, he will be learning from veteran guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, two of the best in the game.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press
James Wiseman’s college career featured only three games. After getting off to a great start at Memphis, he then started serving a 12-game suspension due to money that his family received from Tigers coach Penny Hardaway before Wiseman attended the school.
The 18-year-old never returned from the ban, as he announced in December he was declaring for the NBA draft. Although there isn’t much college tape for teams to analyze, he is a dominant 7’1″ center who has the potential to be a force in the NBA.
Like Edwards, Wiseman will be only 19 when he begins his first professional season, so there’s time for him to develop into a top NBA player in the years to come.
The Cavaliers acquired center Andre Drummond in February, but it would still be smart for them to draft Wiseman if they own the No. 2 pick. The teenager could learn from a veteran, potentially pairing the two together down low, and later becoming their top big man in the future.
LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
It’s time for another Ball to enter the NBA. The younger brother of Pelicans guard Lonzo, LaMelo Ball spent this past season playing for the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL. Now, the guard is likely to be an early pick in this year’s draft.
The 18-year-old averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists over 12 games for Illawarra, but his season ended early due to a foot injury. It was still an impressive showing that solidified his spot as a probable top pick in the NBA draft.
Another young player with potential to develop into a star, Ball could benefit from getting drafted by the Timberwolves, who would likely select him if they own the No. 3 pick. He would fit in nicely with a lineup that features D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, as he would bring even more offensive prowess.