The 2020 NBA Draft and six-month wait is finally over. According to the ESPN broadcast, every pick was great and no team made a bad pick. Let’s get back to the days when a pick was made, Jalen Rose gave a bad comp for the pick, and then Bill Simmons and Jay Bilas would actually argue and debate the picks. Give real opinions without fear that someone’s feelings would get hurt. Today, I will do that for the first 10 picks. Feel free to hop in the comment section and debate with me. That’s what makes the draft fun.
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1: Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards was a bucket at Georgia. There is no denying the potential this kid has in the NBA. At 6″ 6″ (was 6′ 5″ last time he played in an organized game) and with a 6′ 10″ wingspan, he can get any shot he wants on the offensive end. With his athletic frame, he also has shown a reliable jump shot and creates open looks better than any wing player in the draft. Minnesota took him because of both his potential and the fit he has with their young stars in D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Edwards should be able to provide a scoring punch from the wing and has the athleticism and physical tools to be a great defender in the NBA.
The fear with Edwards is all between the ears. He was a football star at a young age and didn’t take basketball seriously until he was in high school. He has said he doesn’t like watching basketball and showed little to no effort on the defensive end in college.
Does all this sound a little familiar to anyone? Number 1 overall pick, all the physical tools and potential to be great but has a questionable drive for greatness and is going to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Have I been writing about Andrew Wiggins this whole time?
Edwards has everything he needs both skill-wise and physically to succeed in the League. It is up to him to do it and the Timberwolves believe the skills outweigh the question marks. Personally, I tend to shy away from players who display questionable effort on the defensive end. However, Edwards is a walking bucket and, at worst, projects to being a good stats/bad team player down the line, with the potential to be the second-best player on a title team.
2: Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman
James Wiseman and the Warriors are a perfect marriage. The Warriors address their need for size and athleticism on both ends, while Wiseman gets time to develop around some of the best players in the League who will help him understand what it takes to win at an NBA level. Wiseman is a freak, standing tall at 7′ 0″ with a 7’4″ wingspan, who can run and move well for his size. He has great touch around the rim and on his jumper. Potentially, he could become the next stretch-five unicorn in the league.
For this season, Wiseman will have a limited role, doing what he does best while working on other skills in practice. He will rim run, rebound, and defend the rim for a Warriors team that desperately needs someone to fill that role.
In the future, after the Warriors Dynasty with Steph, Klay (who will be out for this season with a heartbreaking Achilles Tear), and Draymond is over, they will have a valuable piece to be the next step in the Warriors timeline.
3: Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball
Probably the right place and pick for LaMelo Ball and the Hornets. Charlotte fans need something to get excited about and there is no player in this draft with as much boom or bust potential as LaMelo. He sees the floor better than any player in the draft, has the best handle in the draft, and is 6′ 7″. The jump shot form is horrible and he hasn’t shown the ability to shoot with any consistency in a small sample size. He also does not play defense, to the point where he had the worst defensive rating in the Australian Basketball league last season.
The same things were said about brother Lonzo coming out of UCLA and, while Lonzo hasn’t developed his jumper, he has become a very good defensive point guard in today’s league. The main difference between Lonzo and LaMelo is LaMelo’s handle. Lonzo has always felt uncomfortable dribbling the ball, while LaMelo at times looks like Jason Williams (White Chocolate, not the one from Duke or the one who shot his limo driver). If all goes well, LaMelo could be the type of player that fills arenas. The type of player you can’t go to the bathroom during the game because you might miss something special at any moment.
It is just as likely, however, that LaMelo is out of the league in four years and will be seen as a kid who was given too much too soon and never fulfilled his potential due to stubborness. I can see a future where it all starts with MJ showing up to practice. He remembers what Lavar said and never forgot, so he laces up and embarrasses LaMelo in front of the team while belittling him into the next Kwame Brown.
My money is on LaMelo being a good stats/bad team player for his career. I don’t think his game will adapt to other stars well and he won’t be good enough to get a team over the hump on his own.
4: Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams
My favorite prospect was taken by my favorite team. The only bad thing I have heard people say about Patrick Williams is that he didn’t start at Florida State. Williams would have started and been a star on any other team in college. Florida State made the Sweet 16 in 2019 and brought back six players from that rotation. Williams reached out to Florida State and wanted to go there so he could “Learn how to defend.”
Most highly recruited high school players are worried about shots, minutes, and having plays run for them. Williams wanted to get better on the defensive end. He is 6′ 8″ with a 6’11” wingspan, has huge hands, and packs 225 pounds of muscle. He is a freak at the age of 19 (the youngest American player in the draft). Williams can guard 2-5 in the NBA right now. He also knows how to play within a role and be productive without being a star. Something most NBA rookies can’t say.
Offensively, there are no holes in his game. Williams is a solid B shooter, playmaker, finisher, and ball handler. Nothing stands out as an exceptional skill but unlike every other player in this draft, he doesn’t have one huge flaw. He just has to continue to improve and he will be a productive player in the NBA for a very long time.
Every single team in the NBA could use Patrick Williams. He will fit in great as the 3 for the Chicago Bulls and should help them on the defensive end where they desperately need a wing defender. The Bulls brought in Billy Donovan to coach this year, largely because he is so good at developing young players. The Bulls picked Williams to be the guy Donovan works to develop.
5: Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro is the best wing defender in the draft and will likely start for them right away at the 3. He also is one of the class’s best athletes. The most likely prospect to win a dunk contest in this draft is Okoro.
The one issue with Okoro is his jumper. It is bad. He shot only 67% from the free-throw line, which is typically the best indicator for a player’s ability to shoot in the NBA. I like the player a lot but I also get some Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vibes from his game.
The Cavaliers needed defensive help on the wing and got the best wing defender available. Not a bad pick, but I just like other players more.
6: Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu
The fit is strange for Onyeka Okongwu, as the Hawks already have Clint Capela and John Collins on the roster. Okongwu is legitimately a great defensive player and will provide frontcourt depth and a lob option for Trae Young.
Okongwu has the potential to be the next Draymond Green or Bam Adebayo defensively. The type of player that can make the entire team better defensively just by being there. He is athletic enough to switch onto smaller players and hang with most NBA bigs. Once he gets into an NBA training program and puts on more muscle, he will be able to handle his own with players like Embiid in the post and switch onto guards in the pick and roll. Okongwu also needs to learn to play within a teams’ defensive system better. He has a bad habit of chasing blocks and doesn’t communicate well enough on defense yet. He has the hustle and the ability to get to those heights on that end.
Offensively, he shows promise in the post and has a good touch with both hands inside. The jump shot has a lot of work before he can rely on it. He has the playmaking ability and handles to drive from the outside if he can get the jumper to a place where it is respected. Looking ahead for Okongwu and the Hawks, I think there is a trade coming from them that will move either Capela, Okongwu, or Collins before the season starts or by the deadline. The Hawks are trying to make the playoffs this year and, with their current roster, I am not sure it is in the cards for them at the moment.
7: Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes
Killian Hayes has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft. He handles the ball well and can make moves you don’t see others make in this group of players. The film of him looks a lot like D’Angelo Russel with the double step backs, floor vision, and beating opponents with craftiness instead of athleticism. He can make shots a lot of others in this draft simply can’t at this point. The moves are there, but the jumper needs to follow.
Hayes is not a great athlete. He has a similar physical profile to a player like James Harden. Good balance and change of pace, but not very fast or explosive. He also is too dependent on his strong hand and needs to get better with his right hand to use that side of the court at the next level.
This was a good pick by the Pistons. Detroit has a lot of work to do to be a real force in the Eastern Conference and they did the most with their picks. If it all works out, he is a guy I wouldn’t be surprised to hear is a multiple-time All-Star in the NBA.
8: New York Knicks: Obi Toppin
The Knicks do it again. It is like New York is allergic to quality point guards. Obi Toppin is a good player, one of the most versatile offensive players in this draft. He can score at all levels and has amazing leaping ability. But, the Knicks picked him because he was a hometown kid who would sell jerseys. He does not play defense and has shown no ability to guard any position let alone multiple. On top of his poor defense, he also is 22 years old. He is older than Frank Ntilikina, who was picked in the 2017 NBA Draft for the Knicks. There is not much room for him to get better going forward and there were better players and fits left on the board.
The Knicks need three things to put around RJ Barett and Mitchell Robinson: playmaking, shooting, and culture. Obi is not a playmaker and, while he has shown flashes of a jump shot, he spends a lot more time clogging up the paint. The Knicks should have taken Tyrese Haliburton with this pick. Tyrese would have brought a veteran level presence and playmaking to this team at the age of 20.
Obi is a fun and good player, but I feel bad for Knicks fans going forward, who deserve a point guard for more than the two weeks Jeremy Lin gave them.
9: Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija
Deni Avdija falling to this point in the draft was a pleasant surprise for the Wizards. Most mock drafts had him going at four to the Bulls or five to the Cavaliers. The Prince of Tel Aviv is 6′ 9″ and can pass, rebound, defend, and handle like few at his size. The jump shot has good form and he possesses good touch around the rim. The problem is the inconsistency with that jump shot. Only shooting 56% from the free-throw line in his professional career thus far leaves a lot of worry for Washington fans.
The good news is everything else. Deni fits well with what the Wizards have already and, at worst, will end up a lot like Dario Saric, who is a productive NBA role player. If he develops a jump shot, I get a lot of more athletic Toni Kukoc vibes watching his game which in today’s NBA would make him a truly special player.
10: Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith
This pick made very little sense to me. I really like Jalen Smiths’ game. The ability to protect the rim and shoot three-pointers is valuable in today’s NBA. The Suns must believe he has the ability to play the four next to their first overall pick from two years ago, DeAndre Ayton, because, if not, they just wasted the 10th pick on a player who won’t even get 20 minutes a game next season.
Still on the board were two players who could have had an immediate impact on this current Suns team. Devin Vassell would provide perimeter shooting and defense right away to space the floor for Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Vassell is exactly the type of player the Suns were looking for last year in and Cam Johnson.
The best fit for them however was Tyrese Haliburton. Chris Paul is 35 years old with two more seasons left on his contract. He will not be around for much longer. Bringing in Tyrese to back up Paul and learn from one of the greatest PG’s the game has ever seen would have given the Suns a valuable replacement when Paul moves on. In addition, Haliburton’s game would’ve paired nicely next to Devin Booker. He could consistently guard the opposing team’s best playmaker and spread the ball when Booker has it.
If Jalen Smith can play next to Ayton, then this pick is a good one, but I don’t think that is very likely.