Now that the 2019-20 NBA season is back in action, eight of the teams that didn’t play in Orlando are focusing more on the upcoming draft this October.
It’s been a long time since the annual event, originally slated for June, was postponed due to the season itself being suspended back on March 11.
With less than two months until the annual event, the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery was held on Thursday. Shockingly, the Minnesota Timberwolves landed the top pick. Meanwhile, the balls did not bounce in the favor of the long-downtrodden New York Knicks. This could lead to new Knicks president Leon Rose looking to pull off a blockbuster trade.
With that in mind, here’s a look at our predictions for the top-10 picks of the 2020 NBA Draft following the lottery.
1- Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, guard, United States
For the first time in franchise history, Minnesota moved up in the lottery. That’s an insane stat in and of itself. It also means that new front office head honcho Gersson Rosas will have his pick of the litter.
Look for Minnesota to consider moving down from one. Although, it’s going to be hard for the team to pass up on someone of Ball’s ability to distribute the ball to All-Stars D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s already a plus-level passer and is deadly from distance. This would make for an elite young trio in the Twin Cities.
2- Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, guard, Georgia
Trade: Warriors deal second pick to the Knicks for eighth pick, Julius Randle and 2021 first-round pick
The five-time defending Western Conference champs will do everything possible to move this pick. Given that Minnesota has no need for James Wiseman with Towns on the roster, expect the star former Memphis center to be available.
We’re going to go in a different direction here. Golden State uses the trade exception it acquired in the Andre Iguodala deal last year to pick up Randle while acquiring a future first-round pick from New York. Meanwhile, the Knicks’ new brass makes that flashy trade and brings in a potential face of the franchise in that of Edwards. It’s a win-win.
3- Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman, center, Memphis
The likes of Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham make for a tremendous back-court pairing in Charlotte. P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges have also shown flashes at forward. This leaves the center position as a major target area for Michael Jordan and Co.
Luckily, a player many had pegged as the top overall player in this draft is available at three. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the Hornets would pass up on the possibility of adding Wiseman to this talented young core.
4- Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, forward, Israel
Point guard could be a target area now that the Bulls are dead set on playing Zach LaVine at the three with last year’s lottery pick Coby White manning the shooting guard position. Although, that’s now going to be depend on who the Bulls’ new head coach is.
Instead of going with need, the Bulls add a multidimensional wing in that of Avdija, who already has elite passing ability and has expanded his game to the perimeter. He might not be on the same level of international sensation Luka Doncic, but this kid can flat out ball.
5- Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, forward, Dayton
Collin Sexton and Darius Garland seem to be the future back-court pairing for the rebuilding Cavaliers. The team also just recently extended small forward Cedi Osman.
With Kevin Love firmly on the trade block, look for general manager Koby Altman to find his replacement. It comes in the form of reigning Naismith Player of the Year Obi Toppin, who averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in a shortened final college season at Dayton.
6- Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro, forward, Auburn
Always aggressive Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk is going to look for another outside option to go with the sensational Trae Young moving forward. That’s especially true after Atlanta acquired big man Clint Capela in a blockbuster deal ahead of February’s trade deadline.
In the 6-foot-6 Okoro, Atlanta would be acquiring a young man that already boasts a solid mid-range game (51% shooting for Auburn last season). While the wing has not expanded his game to beyond the three-point arc, his ability to create would come in handy with Young moving forward. It just makes too much sense.
7- Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, guard, France
The Pistons must think long and hard about initiating a rebuild. This team has been irrelevant on the NBA stage for some time now. That could potentially lead to Detroit moving Blake Griffin’s bloated contract, using the seventh pick as a sweetener for another team. Alas, that might not be possible given the current economic situation around the NBA.
Instead, the Pistons add a high upside guard in Hayes who would have likely been a top-three pick if he decided to play college ball domestically. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 assists on 39% shooting from distance in the EuroCup this year.
8- Golden State Warriors (from Knicks): Onyeka Okongwu, forward/center, USC
There’s some intrigue to the idea that Golden State could look for another guard behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, especially after the team added another front-court player in the hypothetical trade we mentioned above. That’s not going to happen.
Instead, the Warriors go upside with this 6-foot-9 forward/center combo. Okongwu averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds on 62% shooting in his only season with the Trojans. At the very least, he’d provide depth behind Draymond Green, Eric Paschall and Marquise Chriss in San Francisco.
9- Washington Wizards: R.J. Hampton, guard, New Zealand
Regardless of how John Wall returns from the Achilles’ injury he suffered during the 2018-19 season, Washington needs to find a new running partner for star two-guard Bradley Beal. Simply put, Wall and his bloated contract is not a long-term option in the nation’s capital.
With that in mind, Washington brings in another star youngster who bypassed college to play professionally overseas. A potential dynamic option to go with Beal, Hampton would have likely been a top-two pick had he decided to play stateside.
10- Phoenix Suns: Cole Anthony, guard, North Carolina
Look for Phoenix to use this pick and the contract of Ricky Rubio as a way to find a long-term solution at point guard next to superstar Devin Booker. By virtue of their 8-0 record in the Orlando bubble, the Suns are a legit playoff contender heading into the 2020-21 season.
Although, Anthony might be too hard to pass up on. Here’s a kid who averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists for North Carolina last year. While he doesn’t have a sharp three-point game, Anthony boasts the ability to create off the dribble. That would come in handy with Booker’s elite outside shooting ability.