Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Ball’s manager, Jermaine Jackson, told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on Thursday that Ball will not play again this season as he rehabs a foot injury and prepares to enter the draft in June.
Ball made a huge impression on talent evaluators despite playing in just 12 games in Australia and New Zealand. While he established himself as one of the top prospects in the 2020 class, will he go No. 1 overall?
Here is a full first-round mock draft based on the current NBA standings and a closer look at those who are projected to go with the top few selections.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
2. Atlanta Hawks: Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia
3. New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball, G, Australia
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, F, Israel
5. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
6. Charlotte Hornets: Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina
7. Detroit Pistons: Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
8. Chicago Bulls: Obi Toppin, F, Dayton
9. Sacramento Kings: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
12. Phoenix Suns: RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand
13. Portland Trail Blazers: Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
14. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Green, G, Arizona
15. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn): Vernon Carey, C, Duke
16. Boston Celtics (via Memphis): Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
17. Orlando Magic: Killian Hayes, G, France
18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Aaron Nesmith, F, Vanderbilt
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
20. Dallas Mavericks: Theo Maledon, G, France
21. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
22. Houston Rockets: Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
23. Toronto Raptors: Devin Vassell, F, Florida State
24. Los Angeles Clippers: Zeke Nnaji, C, Arizona
25. Boston Celtics: Paul Reed, F, DePaul
26. Utah Jazz: Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
27. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Patrick Williams, F, Florida State
28. Miami Heat: Tre Jones, G, Duke
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee): Aleksej Pokusevski, C, Serbia
Breaking Down Top Projected Picks
Although he appeared in only three games at Memphis, center James Wiseman may have already done enough to cement his status as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native arrived on campus as the top recruit in the nation, per 247Sports, and he did little to hurt his on-court reputation by averaging 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in three contests for the Tigers.
Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress
Just got around to watching James Wiseman’s debut from opening night against South Carolina State. Good god, have mercy, what he did to those poor kids is illegal in approximately 17 states. If he plays with this kind of intensity all year, its a wrap. https://t.co/PQIraNlX64
His momentum was halted almost immediately, however, as the NCAA suspended him 12 games for impermissible benefits. Wiseman’s mother accepted $11,500 from current Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway for moving expenses in 2017.
While Hardaway wasn’t coaching Memphis at that time, the NCAA considered him a booster, which is why the exchange was a violation. Wiseman could have returned after serving his suspension, but he decided to leave school and prepare for the draft instead.
The 7’1″ Wiseman is a dominant interior force at both ends of the floor, and NBA scouts likely didn’t need to see much more of him to know that he is a special talent.
If the Golden State Warriors land the No. 1 overall pick, it is difficult to envision them passing on Wiseman. The Dubs will be stacked at guard once Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson return from injury, but they are lacking a dominant inside presence.
Golden State didn’t really have anyone resembling that en route to making five consecutive NBA Finals and winning three championships, but bringing in Wiseman to attract attention away from the likes of Curry, Thompson and D’Angelo Russell could help the Warriors go from the NBA’s worst team to title contenders in short order.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding guard Anthony Edwards when he committed to play for the Georgia Bulldogs, and he has lived up to it thus far.
While Georgia has not reached the NCAA tournament since the 2014-15 season, Edwards has the Bulldogs back on the map at 11-5 with quality wins over Memphis and Tennessee in their past four games.
As expected, Edwards is spearheading Tom Crean’s squad with a team-high 19.1 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals. Perhaps the only downside is that he hasn’t been terribly efficient in shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from beyond the arc.
SEC Network @SECNetwork
Anthony Edwards is putting on a show 🍿 https://t.co/jhZzlkzCFZ
Part of the reason for that is the fact that there is a lot of pressure on the 6’5″, 225-pound Edwards to fill it up as the clear top player on the team. As a result, he is attempting nearly 16 shots per game and carrying much of the scoring burden himself.
That may not be such a big issue if the Atlanta native goes No. 2 overall to the Hawks. Atlanta would likely love to get its hands on Wiseman due to its weakness at center, but Edwards would be a great consolation prize to play alongside likely 2019-20 All-Star Trae Young.
Young is attempting over 21 shots per game this season and averaging 29.1 points since he doesn’t have much offensive support. The concept of Young and Edwards sharing the load would be a scary thought for opposing teams, however.
Having two high-scoring guards would give the Hawks an advantage over most teams in the league, and considering how weak the Eastern Conference is beyond the top six teams, he could instantly make them playoff contenders.
There may be an NBA franchise not more desperate than the New York Knicks, so it is easy to envision them swinging for the fences in the draft.
If arguably two safer options in Wiseman and Edwards are off the board when they pick, Ball would make a lot of sense at No. 3 overall due to his combination of ability and star power—plus the fact that he fills a need.
The Knicks have a bunch of point guard options in Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., but none of them have emerged as the clear leader of the backcourt. That will change if New York selects Ball since he would likely be given every opportunity to run the offense.
Ball is a highly skilled ball-handler, and at 6’7″, he has a significant length advantage over most other guards.
That versatility allowed him to average 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists for the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks, including a pair of triple-doubles in his final two games. His shooting leaves something to be desired, though, as he hit just 25 percent of his three-point attempts.
LaMelo Ball had it going 😤
24 PTS, 8 AST, 5 3-PT FG
Ball’s older brother, Lonzo Ball, has also struggled as a shooter since going No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017. Now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Lonzo is shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor during the NBA career.
The possibility of LaMelo following in his footsteps could be a concern, as is the presence of his headline-making father, LaVar Ball. Givony added that LaMelo reportedly has an “erratic” work ethic as well.
There are some factors that point to LaMelo having a high bust probability, but he may also have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft, and the Knicks undoubtedly need to hit it big in order to break out of their current malaise.
Adding LaMelo to a young core that includes RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson would give the Knicks a ton of raw talent. Even if they continue to flounder, they would likely be one of the most talked-about teams in the NBA.