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The basketball world might be static, but NBA draft stocks are nevertheless fluid.
With nothing but time on their hands, evaluators can take a fine-tooth comb over all available film, and that’s much better news for some prospects than others.
After laying out a mock first round, we’ll examine which prospects are moving up and why.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
4. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn
5. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
7. Chicago Bulls: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
8. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
11. San Antonio Spurs: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
12. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova
18. Dallas Mavericks: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Leandro Bolmaro, SG/SF, Barcelona
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Robert Woodard II, SF, Mississippi State
22. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Tyrell Terry, PG, Stanford
23. Miami Heat: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
24. Utah Jazz: Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos II
27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado
28. Toronto Raptors: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
Prospects on the Rise
Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
While James Wiseman was the presumed leader of the big-man prospects, Onyeka Okongwu forced his way atop the ladder in the eyes of many evaluators. It probably helped that Wiseman suited up just three times at Memphis, but Okongwu helped his own case by playing a more modern game.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor hit on several contemporary strengths of Okongwu’s, including “handles the ball like a wing,” “makes slick passes” and has the defensive versatility to “drop, switch or hedge” in pick-and-roll coverage. O’Connor also made a comparison to Bam Adebayo, another 6’9″ big man who just punched his first All-Star ticket on the strength of his defense and playmaking.
Okongwu doesn’t have a jumper—neither does Adebayo—but if he did, teams might be tripping over themselves to bring him on board.
As it stands, his floor as a rim-runner and high IQ role player and ceiling as a do-it-all defender who creates shots and punishes mismatches the other way could entice a team to take him with a top-five pick.
Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
If NBA front offices feel the same way about Killian Hayes that many draft analysts do, the French floor general won’t be waiting long to hear his name called.
Every big board that surfaces seems to place Hayes higher and higher. The Athletic’s John Hollinger slotted Hayes third overall. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman had him second. O’Connor made Hayes the highest-ranked prospect on his board.
“While playing last season in Germany for Ratiopharm Ulm, Hayes showed skill beyond his years, taking stepbacks, side steps, and fearless pull-up jumpers,” O’Connor wrote. “Most NBA players, let alone teenagers, don’t possess the type of footwork required to attempt such complex moves, but Hayes is ahead of the curve.”
O’Connor’s report on Hayes included comparisons to James Harden, Manu Ginobili and D’Angelo Russell. Those speak to Hayes’ creativity, footwork and execution (and don’t do enough justice to his defense). He elevated his floor and his ceiling this past season, and as evaluators continue finding flaws in other top prospects, his ability and upside stand out in this class.
Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
It seems scouts are just now catching up to Kira Lewis Jr., which makes sense since he’s probably the best blazer in this draft.
He reclassified to start his college career early, meaning he’s the same age as some of the draft’s top freshman (19 as of April 6). But comparing him to them almost feels unfair, because his numbers and film trounce the competition.
As Hollinger observed, Lewis has a sneaky-good chance of being special:
“He’s a young point guard with size, shooting and some pop as a leaper. He’s blazing fast in transition, has a secure handle, generates a ton of space on step-backs, can make reads in pick and roll, and is more than capable of guarding the position. Statistically, his markers were all hugely positive (high rates of steals and blocks, good shooting) and the tape backs it up.”
Lewis toyed with defenders most of the season, but his sizzling play down the stretch should keep his stock trending up. Over his final nine outings at Alabama, he averaged 23.2 points, 6.7 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from deep.