Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
The basketball world is buzzing with the NBA‘s arrival in the Disney-based bubble, and it’s spawning a rash of activity on the mock draft circuit.
With roughly three months to go before the actual talent grab, experts are building their mock draft boards through conversations with scouts and executives, plus their own evaluations of prospects and team needs.
What can we learn from these mock drafts with so much time remaining until the real thing? Quite a lot actually. After laying out our mock first-round predictions, we’ll give our top takeaways and observations from recent mocks by The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, NBC Sports Bay Area’s James Ham and NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster below.
2020 NBA Mock Draft
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, PF/C, Dayton
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: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn
10. Phoenix Suns: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
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: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF, Villanova
15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn Nets): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
18. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
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: Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
24. Utah Jazz: Josh Green, SG, Arizona
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets): Jahmi’us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B
27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers): Jalen Smith, PF/C, Maryland
28. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee Bucks): Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State
Takeaways and Analysis from Latest Expert Mocks
No Consensus at the Top
Anthony Edwards is the most popular prospect mocked at No. 1, and that holds true here. Both Vecenie and Ham open with Edwards, even though they have different teams making the pick (the Timberwolves and Wizards, respectively).
But Edwards isn’t a consensus choice in that spot, and that’s also true with this review. Dauster starts his draft with James Wiseman going to the Warriors, while Edwards goes No. 2 to the Cavaliers.
Vecenie and Ham also agree on No. 2 with LaMelo Ball going to the Suns and Hawks, respectively. But Dauster breaks the mold in an even bigger way, as his mock doesn’t have Ball going until fifth overall to the Pistons.
“He may have a high ceiling, but there’s also some bust potential at play,” Dauster wrote.
While the strength of a draft class isn’t solely defined by its top prospect, the fact no player ever fully separated from the pack is a big reason why this draft has an underwhelming reputation.
Near-Consensus on Top Tier
While the experts can’t agree on how this draft should start, they are almost in universal agreement about which prospects constitute the top tier.
The order is different, but the top 10 prospects are the same for both Vecenie and Dauster. Those are also the same prospects that make up our top 10 above: Edwards, Wiseman, Ball, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Killian Hayes, Devin Vassell, Tyrese Haliburton, Isaac Okoro and Deni Avdija.
Ham agreed on nine of the 10. He left out Okoro and included Cole Anthony.
While there are many interesting debates to have with this class, the top tier seems close to cemented.
Polarizing Prospects Are in the Eye of the Beholder
Whether it’s groupthink or just how the evaluations break out, there are often a lot of shared opinions in the mock draft universe. That’s what makes it interesting to find players with wide gaps between their mocked entry points.
Kira Lewis Jr. is the final lottery pick for Vecenie, but he doesn’t go until 21st for Ham and 24th for Dauster. We have Lewis at No. 15, so we’re seeing the same things as Vecenie on film.
“For me, Lewis is the highest upside player left on the board,” he wrote. “He’s arguably the fastest player in the draft. … I have Lewis higher on my board overall at No. 10 currently. I’m a big fan.”
Vecenie and Ham are a lot higher on Aleksej Pokusevski (both have him 18th overall) than Dauster, who doesn’t include the 7-foot Serbian in his opening round. Dauster, conversely, is the lone expert here who has Tyler Bey and Xavier Tillman as first-round picks, citing the former’s versatility and the latter’s combination of defense and distributing as their ticket to being top 23 picks.