The 2020 NBA Draft will be one of the most intriguing drafts in recent memory. The circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult to truly gauge the talent of the best prospects in this year’s draft class. With that said, here is my initial big board of the top 30 draft-eligible players for 2020.
Keep in mind that some of these prospects still have time to return to college with the new deadline set to August 17.
1. Anthony Edwards, Shooting Guard, Georgia
In essence, Edwards is a pretty good encapsulation of this entire draft class. There is obvious talent here, but the flaws are so glaring that you just cannot call him a “sure thing.”
You probably already know this, but this is a draft without a true marque prospect that everyone agrees will be the “next big thing” at the next level. No one even knows who will be the No. 1 pick in this draft. Edwards is widely regarded as one of the best possibilities for top selection, but he is far from flawless. For starters, he was not interested in playing much defense last year for Georgia. Add that in with some rough decision making on offense and you have a prospect that admittedly has bust potential.
However, I think a large part of his downfalls showcased in his freshman year can be marked up to him being on a terrible Bulldog team that provided little talent around him. His overall athleticism, shot-making ability, and alpha-dog mentality gives me enough confidence to make him the top prospect. Think of Edwards as a Donovan Mitchell/Victor Oladipo type. His upside on getting to the rim with ease will translate to the next level, and I think he will try much harder on defense once he reaches the NBA. Even in an uncertain draft, I’m willing to bet on Edwards being a borderline future all-star.
? Anthony Edwards’ dunk!
? That dance celebration!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 23, 2020
2. LaMelo Ball, Point Guard, New Zealand
I’m not here to degrade Ball as a prospect because of who his dad is or because of his choice to forgo college basketball and play overseas. Instead, what I care about is the fact that he is BY FAR the best passer and ball handler in the 2020 draft. His ability to orchestrate an entire offense with ease at such a young age is a great indicator that he is going to be among the league’s leaders in assists over the entirety of his pro career.
I was never all that fond of his brother when he was coming out of college, and I genuinely think LaMelo is a better all-around prospect than Lonzo was. If it wasn’t for his shooting struggles and his terrible shot selection, I would’ve had the youngest Ball brother atop of this big board. Even with those flaws, I still like LaMelo’s athleticism and genius offensive play-making ability more than Lonzo’s. Rain down your hate all you want for this ranking, but LaMelo is the best point guard in the class.
Prospect Play of the Day: Potential top pick LaMelo Ball threads the needle to Aaron Brooks in transition. A lot of sublties to this one with the early eye contact, timing/pace, and english on the pass. Full film breakdown with Ball live from Wollongong: https://t.co/HM7LeNkEaO pic.twitter.com/oVQBdIiCRO
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 18, 2020
3. Onyeka Okongwu, Power Forward/Center, USC
The majority of scouts and basketball talking heads have Edwards and Ball in their top five players of this draft. I think it’s fair to say one of those two guards will end up being the No. 1 overall pick. But from this point on, everyone’s opinions are all over map. So be ready for some surprises starting now!
For me, I’m going with the big man from Southern California as my third-best player simply because he has little-to-no bust potential. Okongwu just doesn’t have many flaws in his game. He has great athleticism combined with good size, he is incredible at running rim-to-rim on the fast break, he has a nice jump shot even at his size, he can effectively guard just about any position on the floor, and he is a good ballhandler.
In summary, he is the ideal big man for today’s game. The reason why he isn’t ranked as high as Edwards or Ball is because his ceiling isn’t quite as high as theirs are. However, Okongwu is pretty comparable to Bam Adebayo. This guy can start for any team in the league from day one. Okongwu is the best big man of the 2020 draft.
4. Killlan Hayes, Point Guard, France
While born in America, Hayes played pro ball overseas for the last several months. Hayes was near the bottom of the first round near the start of the 2020 draft process, but he has since flown up draft boards due to his improved game over the past year. Like Okongwu, Hayes has little flaws in his game but there is a limited ceiling here. At 6-foot-5, Hayes showcased impressive length and effort on defense. Plus, he added a very impressive step-back jump shot that has some scouts comparing him to Luka Doncic.
I’m not quite that high on Hayes, as he still isn’t anywhere near being as good of a shooter as Doncic is. That’s where he has to improve the most. However, I really like his ability to control an offense. Like Ball, Hayes is one of the draft’s best passers and he has elite-level basketball IQ. I’m confident Hayes will be a starting point guard in the league for years to come.
5. Devin Vassell, Small Forward, Florida State
This is probably the highest you will see Vassell on anyone’s big board, but this isn’t a “Hey look at how different my thinking is” ranking. I genuinely think Vassell is this good. In fact, no other prospect flew up my big board after film study more than the sophomore from Florida State did. He is not only the best 3-and-D player in this draft class, but he is also the best all-around defender. Period.
His instincts are incredible both on the ball and off the ball on that side of the floor. Plus, his 6’10″ wingspan for a small forward enables Vassell to cause havoc in opposing offense’s passing lanes. He plays hard on both sides of the floor, and his jump shot is NBA-ready after shooting 41.5% from deep last season. Similar to Hayes and Okongwu, there is very little bust potential here. At the peak of his career, Vassell can easily be the best defender on a championship team while also being the third or fourth best offensive option. There is real value here, and he might end up being the steal of the draft.
Devin Vassell checks plenty of boxes Suns GM James Jones seems to prioritize in prospects:
– 6'6" with 6'10" wingspan
– Two-way versatility off the charts to play 2-4 (41.5% on 3s; 2.8 STL% + 4.1 BLK%)
– Oubre, Bridges, Johnson, Vassell wing quartet would all fit together great pic.twitter.com/3HkaSbozvT
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) May 30, 2020
6. Tyrese Maxey, Combo Guard, Kentucky
I’m not sure what scouts are missing here, but Maxey is absolutely one of the better players in this draft. Yet most mock drafts have him going anywhere from the late lottery to the high teens. Someone please make it make sense because that’s crazy to me.
While Maxey can easily play the point, he can also play alongside an established lead guard. If you haven’t already sensed a theme here, I tend to like prospects who have very low bust potential and real talent on both sides of the floor. That’s exactly what Maxey possesses. While his jump shot needs a little more improvement, he is good defender, a great finisher at the rim, and a very clutch player.
Tyrese Maxey my goodness pic.twitter.com/MNQ81Tk4r2
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) November 6, 2019
Maxey is the definition of an NBA guard. Several teams are going to feel really stupid when they pass on him.
7. Tyrese Haliburton, Point Guard, Iowa State
I think this is where the first considerable drop-off in talent occurs. I feel very confident that the top six guys will be pretty successful at the next level. From here on out, the bust potential for each prospect increases with each player. Out of the rest of the class, I would put my money on Haliburton having the best chance at success. He is possibly the smartest overall player left, and he is an awesome passer. I don’t doubt his ability to run an NBA offense as a lead guard.
However, I do have sincere worries about other parts of his game. His rail-skinny frame will be exploited by opposing defenses, he isn’t a particularly great finisher at the rim, and while he has good shooting numbers, I completely despise his jump shot mechanics. Overall, Haliburton screams “role player.” And there isn’t anything wrong with that. You can’t win championships without those guys. I just don’t see a player worthy of a top-5 pick.
8. Kira Lewis Jr., Point Guard, Alabama
I’m a lot higher on Lewis Jr. than the general consensus (which has him getting selected in the middle of the first round). The reason why is he’s essentially a more out of control Tyrese Maxey. The sophomore from Alabama is an uber fast lead guard who can accurately finish at the rim in a variety of ways. His jump shot is fine, his athleticism is fine, and his defense is well…fine!
His biggest weakness is that he is still pretty raw as a prospect. He can get very wild at times which is a pretty big problem considering his skinny frame. But these things could possibly be corrected. At the very least, I can see him being a valued role player similar to what Haliburton will be. However, he does have a higher ceiling as Lewis Jr. is still one of the younger players in the draft.
9. James Wiseman, Center, Memphis
I can write over a thousand words on Wiseman as a prospect, and I still don’t think I can accurately encapsulate what he will be at the next level. He is honestly one of the biggest boom-or-bust players I have ever scouted. He could be the next great big man in the sport, or he could just be an athletic rim-runner who never reaches his full potential. I lean more toward the latter.
I’ll freely admit that no one in this class has a higher ceiling than Wiseman. He looked like a hall of famer in three games at Memphis against bad competition. His combination of size, length, athleticism and shooting touch is incredibly impressive. Sounds like a No. 1 pick right? Absolutely not. He regularly gets totally lost on defense, he bites on way too many shot fakes, and his shot selection on offense makes LaMelo Ball’s look like Ray Allen. There is so much work to be done to Wiseman’s fundamentals on both sides of the floor, and I consider him a big project. He should be a starter in the league for years to come, but a team will be disappointed if they pick him in the top five. If picked No. 1, he could be a borderline bust.
10. Obi Toppin, Power Forward. Dayton
This is probably the lowest you will see Toppin on most draft boards, but let me explain why. At first, I had Toppin squarely in my top five best players, like most people do now. Honestly, he was in consideration for the top spot. Then….I watched his film. Let’s do positives first. Like what the consensus says, Toppin’s offense is great. He plays above the rim as one of the more athletic players in the class, and he has a jump shot that’s pro ready. It’s not an elite shot, but it will keep defenders modest.
That all sounds great… but there is an entire dimension to the game which Toppin is quite frankly terrible at: defense. With no exaggeration, he is the worst defender out of the major prospects in this class. He gets absolutely abused in the pick-and-roll, his hips are too stiff to ever guard someone quicker than he is, and he is too fragile to guard any big post player on the block. Plus, he isn’t exactly a great rebounder either.
Look, Toppin is your guy if want 18 ppg, seven rpg, highlight reel dunks, and one of the worst defenders in the league. There are plenty of those guys in the pros, they earn their money and their teams don’t win championships. This just isn’t my type of basketball player.
Brutal pick-and-roll defense from Obi Toppin pic.twitter.com/ueRugHoAqo
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) February 13, 2020
11. Cole Anthony, Point Guard, North Carolina
I just can’t see Anthony being a good defender at the next level, so his potential is stunted. Like Edwards, he was on a bad team in college which nuked his efficiency, but his talent is so obvious. He has good athleticism for his size, his competitive fire will keep him in the league, and I love his jump shot. On a bad team, his bad shot selection will not improve and neither will he. But if picked to a good franchise Anthony could have a Lou Williams type of career.
12. Deni Avdija, Small Forward, Israel
Thanks to a huge improvement in his jump shot which happened in just the last few months, I’ve bumped Avdija from being a total bust in this class to a solid role player. He is essentially a point-forward due to his handle and passing abilities. I never see him being an elite defender or shooter, so I can only have him so high. His feel for the game is pro-ready. I see a path where he is an average team’s fourth or fifth best player.
13. Aaron Nesmith, Shooting Guard, Vanderbilt
I really, really wanted to put Nesmith in my top 10 simply because he is the best pure shooter in this class. His shooting stroke is relatively perfect, and in just 14 games of action last year (due to injury), he averaged 23.0 ppg while shooting an impressive 52% from three-point land.
Yes, Nesmith is not a good passer, and he is not great off the dribble. He is the textbook definition of a one-tool player. But if a prospect does one thing really well in college, then he will do it well at the next level. Nesmith will be a valued shooter in the pros.
14. Tyrell Terry, Point Guard, Stanford
In my mind, Terry is basically a lesser version of Trae Young. He has limitless range and is not afraid to shoot from 30-feet away – where his talent really shows is he shot 40.8% from that far away. It’s not ideal, but he has shown he is justified in taking those shots. Like Young, Terry is terribly undersized and lacks pro-athleticism. Plus, he will get exposed on defense. He is a candidate to return to school, but he is a borderline lottery pick in this draft.
Tyrell Terry’s gravity is absolutely absurd pic.twitter.com/r7QrSqiGh9
— Dom Tesoriero (@dom_tesoriero) July 15, 2020
15. Isaac Okoro, Small Forward, Auburn
Okoro is the “reverse Obi Toppin” of this class. I would put Okoro right behind Vassell as the second-best pure defender in this draft. Seriously, Okoro’s combination of length, athleticism, and defensive IQ will keep him in the league for a long time.
HOWEVER, the Auburn freshman is way too raw on offense. He is a terrible three-point shooter, and he is below average from the free-throw line. Okoro is a player that will need to be picked by a team that has a plethora of good offensive players. If not… Yikes.
16. RJ Hampton, Combo Guard, New Zealand
Like Ball, Hampton is a highly-ranked recruit out of high school who decided to play ball in New Zealand. This makes for a rather tough evaluation considering that Hampton doesn’t quite have Ball’s ceiling.
Still, Hampton has obvious NBA speed and athleticism for a 6’5″ guard. Plus, he plays hard which gives him solid defensive upside. He needs a few more years of development, but there is a big chance that he is a steal.
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) April 17, 2020
17. Patrick Williams, Power Forward, Florida State
Williams is incredibly intriguing. He came off the bench for the Seminoles as a freshman and only averaged 9 ppg and 4 rpg. Its always a big risk to take a prospect this high with such limited production, but his flashes of talent earn this ranking. Williams is already a great rim-protector and good defender. Couple that with his solid shooting potential and at worst you have a solid role-player.
I just see a very limited ceiling with Williams, which places him in the middle of this round.
18. Jalen Smith, Power Forward, Maryland
I’m higher on Smith than most scouts, and that’s fine with me. I’ve always like Smith due to his combination of size/athleticism and impressive shooting touch for a big man. He does need to improve his situational defense, but I like what I’ve seen from him as a rim-protector in spurts. He feels like a high-energy guy off the bench who possesses starting potential.
19. Jahm’ius Ramsey, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
Ramsey reminds me a lot of guys like Monta Ellis, JR Smith, and Kevin Porter Jr. from last year’s class. The freshman from Texas Tech has extremely impressive highlights along with a beautiful jump shot. He was a lights-out shooter from three-point land last year, but he isn’t fundamentally sound as a prospect. He is a bit hot-headed on offense, and he needs to be more locked in at the free-throw line.
Still, Ramsey is a really fun player in this class.
Texas Tech freshman Jahm'ius Ramsey is quietly having a solid season. He hit four 3's and finished with 18 points in an 85-50 win over Oklahoma State ? pic.twitter.com/fFfGwaOxAh
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) January 4, 2020
20. Isaiah Stewart, Power Forward, Washington
Stewart is a pretty divisive prospect. I’ve seen some people have him near the lottery, but I’ve seen others have him outside of the first round. I fall in the middle of these groups. Stewart has a great attitude and plays incredibly hard on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t have NBA athleticism, and his jumper needs improvement. But the tools are here, and I have a feeling Stewart will figure things out.
21. Isaiah Joe, Shooting Guard, Arkansas
Every year, I pick a player that is mostly slated to go in the second round by the majority of NBA scouts and give him a first round grade. After all, every single draft has a diamond-in-the-rough success story out of the second round. My money is on Joe to be that guy in this class. His ultra-quick release on his pretty jump shot is a very good indicator he will be a good shooter at the next level. While he may return back to school, I see a guy ready to be a spark plug off the bench in the pros right now.
22. Xavier Tillman, Center, Michigan State
Tillman is one of the more fun prospects in this class. Despite being undersized for a big man at 6’8″ and lacking elite athleticism, Tillman used his basketball IQ and 7’1 wingspan to be an elite defender in college. Not only will that translate to the pros, but his experienced, winning personality will make him a team and crowd favorite as an energetic role player. He is one of the sleepers of this year.
SEND IT IN XAVIER TILLMAN pic.twitter.com/OeCGueD8Uv
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 31, 2019
23. Precious Achiuwa, Power Forward, Memphis
There is a ton of bust potential with Achiuwa, as he is incredibly raw. He is a non-shooter from the field and from the free throw line, and he is non-passer. However, guys who play as hard as he does find a way to stick around in the league. He runs the floor very well and he is an elite rebounder. There is obvious second-unit potential here with room to grow.
24. Grant Riller, Point Guard, College of Charleston
Riller is this draft’s small-school darling. Many scouts call the senior a “3-level scorer” but I think his real value is his uncanny ability to finish at the rim. While he was an elite scorer in college, he only shot 35% from the 3-point line in his career. Plus, he turned the ball over too much.
At his age, what you see is what you get: A high-energy guy who can score in spurts off the bench.
Prospect Play of the Day: Grant Riller is one of the draft's most prolific, efficient ISO scorers. Does a great job of creating space with step backs in either direction. The Charleston guard averaged 21.8 PTS on 55% from 2 and 36.4% from 3 last season. Can really fill it up. pic.twitter.com/lWLsasoPjZ
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) April 5, 2020
25. Tre Jones, Point Guard, Duke
Much like his brother Tyus, the ACC Player of the Year fills the mold of a pass-first, high-IQ, second-unit point guard at the next level. His scoring package could use more improvement, but Tre is going to take care of the ball while successfully getting the offense in a solid flow. He will be the same player he was at Duke but with less scoring production.
26. Cassius Winston, Point Guard, Michigan State
His overall speed leaves a lot to be desired and his athleticism will probably make him a bad defender at the next level. However, he is one of the best pure shooters in the draft, and Winston is a very experienced winner. He will be a contributor in at least some capacity.
27. Desmond Bane, Shooting Guard, TCU
Bane is an athletic, experienced shooter who has decent potential to be a steal if he is placed on a team that has other athletic defenders. He has an NBA-ready body with the athleticism to match. He’s a winner with good basketball IQ.
Bane is a very good candidate to rise up this board in the coming weeks.
Man, TCU’s Desmond Bane did Gillespie pretty bad here. pic.twitter.com/RwarM8xrgS
— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) February 29, 2020
28. Saddiq Bey, Small Forward, Villanova
Bey is a pretty solid 3-and-D player in this class. He is a good shooter with good measurements and decent athleticism, but he has a pretty low ceiling. I struggle to see him being a yearly starter in the league with his lack of elite talent, but he will be a solid contributor on any team’s second unit.
29. Immanuel Quickley, Combo Guard, Kentucky
Quickley has good potential as a shooter off the bench due to his ability to be a non-negative on the defensive end of the floor. His high IQ (no pun intended) will keep him in the league for at least five to six years. Quickley’s lack of playmaking ability makes him a bit of a one-note player.
30. Aleksej Pokusevski, Center, Serbia
He’s an uber-skinny seven-footer who has good passing and ball skills. I have no idea if he will be able to put more muscle on his frame whenever he arrives in the U.S, but if he doesn’t, his career will be a short. If he does, he can be a poor man’s Kristaps Porzingis. Huge boom-or-bust player.
And that’s KSR’s first Big Board for the 2020 NBA Draft. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next versions of the board as more information about prospects becomes available. Version 2.0 will come out shortly after the deadline to withdraw on August 17, and the final big board will drop at the start of October before the draft happens on October 16!