This article is part of our NBA Mock Draft series.
With Thursday night's Draft Lottery in the books, it's time to look ahead to the 2020 NBA Draft. Set for October 16, the draft will take place shortly after the conclusion of the NBA Playoffs.
Coming into the year, this draft class was already shaping up as one of the most difficult to evaluate in recent years. While something of a consensus top-three has emerged, only one of those players (Anthony Edwards) played a full college season. James Wiseman left Memphis after three games, while LaMelo Ball has spent his formative years bouncing from country to country.
On top of the uncertainty embedded in the 2020 class, teams will have less opportunity than ever to scout and evaluate prospects in the lead-up to the draft. The pre-draft process as we know it is essentially non-existent. Teams will have no choice but to rely on the league's virtual scouting combine, which is scheduled to be held at regional sites in September. But as is the case during non-pandemic times, most top prospects are not expected to participate.
It is unlikely that many, if any, top 2020 draft prospects would agree to the workout sessions that would be shared virtually with the league's teams from the combine sites. But there will be an opportunity for players who want to be evaluated in a limited combine workout environment to do so for NBA teams, sources said. - Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN
As of now, in-person meetings and workouts are not allowed, though that could change in the coming weeks.
The confluence of these factors only adds to the mystery surrounding the 2020 class, which has drawn comparisons to 2013, when as many as five prospects were rumored to be in play for the No. 1 pick entering draft night. While there isn't a Zion Williamson or Anthony Davis-level prospect sitting at the top, that doesn't mean the draft isn't stocked with NBA talent.
That 2013 Draft, at the time considered one of the weakest in years, produced Victor Oladipo, CJ McCollum, Rudy Gobert and likely two-time-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, in addition to a slew of productive role players. The lottery was littered with some notable busts -- Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Ben McLemore -- but such is the case, to varying degrees, in any draft.
Looking at the 2020 class, that rule will continue to apply. As much as some teams may like Wiseman, Ball, or Edwards, each carries significant question marks. Further down the board, the variability only escalates. Considering the scouting restrictions, teams in the mid-to-late lottery will be forced to rely on a combination of limited evaluations and even more potluck than a normal draft.
Beginning with the Timberwolves, here's our first look at how the lottery could play out:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards | Guard | Georgia
Picking first overall for the second time in five years, the Timberwolves are faced with a difficult decision. Drafting for need over talent is typically ill-advised, but Minnesota has two core pieces locked up in D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Pairing Russell with LaMelo Ball would be a trainwreck defensively, while a Towns-James Wiseman frontcourt would also be fairly redundant. Edwards carries more question marks than you'd like for a potential top pick, but he has major upside on both ends of the court. Is there a chance he's the next Josh Jackson? Sure. But there's also a chance he develops into a Victor Oladipo-like attacker.
2. Golden State Warriors
LaMelo Ball | Guard | Illawarra Hawks
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson coming back healthy, Golden State isn't exactly in need of guard help, but is there an organization you'd trust more to maximize Ball's ability? While Ball didn't shoot nearly as well as the BallIsLife Instagram account would lead you to believe, he'd be an excellent fit in the Warriors' perimeter-focused system. Learning under Curry would do wonders for his decision-making, and there's a case to be made that playing for a competitive team right away could help eradicate some of his defensive effort issues. At the very least, Golden State could take Ball and hold him as a trade chip.
3. Charlotte Hornets
James Wiseman | C | Memphis
I'm not sold on Wiseman as a sure thing to be a good NBA player, but the physical tools are fairly overwhelming. Even with just three college games under his belt, Wiseman showed enough for scouts to project him as a lob-catching monster with better-than-average touch for his size. Again, drafting for need near the top is often a risky proposition, but the Hornets do have a Bismack-Biyombo-contract-sized hole at the center position.
4. Chicago Bulls
Deni Avdija | F | Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Jumping up into the top-four on lottery night might be the break Chicago needed to add another high-upside piece to what's already an intriguing young core. On paper, the Bulls have at least one I like that guy guy at every position, but the Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Otto Porter foursome is yet to translate to on-court success. Injuries have played a part, but the Bulls are still a piece or two away from truly competing in the East. Avdija may not be an immediate difference-maker, but he can play multiple positions and add much-needed playmaking -- both in the halfcourt and in transition.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Tyrese Haliburton | G | Iowa State
The Cavs have taken a guard in the lottery in each of the last two years, but neither Collin Sexton nor Darius Garland have looked like franchise-changing players thus far. Haliburton, too, may not have savior potential, but he's a rock-solid guard with great size and decision-making skills. In two seasons at Iowa State, Haliburton shot 50.9 percent from the field, 42.6 percent from three and 77.5 percent at the line, while racking up 2.7 combined blocks/steals per game.
6. Atlanta Hawks
Obi Toppin | F | Dayton
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but Toppin to Atlanta is probably the most fun scenario -- outside of the best player in college basketball landing in Golden State. The knocks against Toppin are his age (he'll turn 23 in March) and his on-ball defense, but he's a ridiculously efficient offensive talent with peak Amar'e Stoudemire-like athleticism. With John Collins and Clint Capela up front, the Hawks don't need another big, but Toppin would be overqualified as another pick-and-roll partner for Trae Young.
7. Detroit Pistons
Killian Hayes | G | Ulm (Germany)
With Haliburton off the board, the Pistons could take a swing for the fences with the 19-year-old lefty. Detroit has perhaps the least-talented roster in the league, and in a draft like this one, there's little reason to try to play it safe at No. 7. The 6-5 Hayes will require some development, but he has the foundational skills to develop into a lead guard for a franchise in desperate need of a young star.
8. New York Knicks
Onyeka Okongwu | F/C | USC
At this point, the Knicks should probably budget to fall 2-to-4 spots below their projected slot each year. After falling to No. 8 on lottery night, New York will likely miss out on a few targets, but landing Okongwu this late in the lottery would be a steal. At 6-9, he doesn't have ideal size, but he was one of the best shot-blockers in the nation last season, and he's an incredibly efficient finisher around the rim.
9. Washington Wizards
Isaac Okoro | G/F | Auburn
With John Wall set to return, the Wizards have designs on making the playoffs next season, and Okoro is the type of prospect who could contribute to winning right away. Arguably the best wing defender in the draft, Okoro has prototypical size and strength to bother the league's top scorers. On offense, Okoro is a confident, powerful finisher, but he shot under 30 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman.
10. Phoenix Suns
Patrick Williams | F | Florida State
Despite missing the playoffs, the vibe around the Suns is infinitely more positive than it was back in mid-March. Phoenix has a legitimate star in Devin Booker, a promising young big in Deandre Ayton, and a deep supporting cast of three-and-D wings. Pairing Williams with Mikal Bridges would give the Suns two long, high-upside defensive forwards to combat the best scorers in the Western Conference. Plus, Williams would add insurance if Phoenix doesn't retain Kelly Oubre and/or Dario Saric long-term.
11. San Antonio Spurs
Aaron Nesmith | F | Vanderbilt
Perhaps the best shooter in the class, Nesmith hit better than 52 percent of his threes as as sophomore. San Antonio ranked 28th in three-point attempt rate during the regular season and could use a true sharpshooter to offset a backcourt whose shooting is shaky at best.
12. Sacramento Kings
Devin Vassell | G | Florida State
Just like that, the Kings are back to being the Kings. After flaming out in Orlando, Sacramento looks like it's back in rebuilding mode. Marvin Bagley can't stay healthy, Bogdan Bogdanovic could walk in free agency, and Buddy Hield might also be on his way out the door. Likely in need of shooting and guard depth, Vassell, who hit better than 40 percent of his threes in two seasons at Florida State, would make sense.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Precious Achiuwa | F | Memphis
Some scouts love Achiuwa's motor and upside, while others view him as an energy guy off the bench, at best. Late in the lottery, Achiuwa is worth a roll of the dice. His ability to run and finish in transition fits the Pelicans' identity, and they could badly use anyone willing to go all-out on the defensive end. If everything comes together, Achiuwa profiles as a Montrezl Harrell type.
14. Boston Celtics (via MEM)
Saddiq Bey | F | Villanova
Boston has the luxury of choosing between a win-now player or more of a developmental project. Bey fits more of the former, having two years of experience at Villanova under his belt. As a sophomore, Bey averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds, while hitting 45.1 percent of his threes. At 6-8, he can defend multiple positions, which could come in handy down the road when Gordon Hayward (likely) moves on after next season.