The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip off on December 23rd, but not before we welcome in a new class of rookies on Thursday.
Last year’s NBA Draft was a foregone conclusion with Zion Williamson heading to the Pelicans first overall, but it appears punters are faced with a few tough decisions this time around with LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman all presenting a strong case for the No. 1 overall pick.
This year’s market is laden with value from top to bottom, so if you’re looking to get the season started nice and early, be sure to read our entire 2020 NBA Draft Preview below!
No. 1 Overall Pick
Last year this was a no-brainer – Zion Williamson was the consensus No. 1 pick right across the board. But this time around, there are a few potential trade scenarios worth entertaining before you go ahead and make a bet.
Minnesota holds the No. 1 pick, but since they probably won’t contend for at least another year, there’s a chance the Wolves could look to trade down with just about anybody inside the top ten in order to stock up on future draft assets.
To make a long story short, the Wolves are in a firm rebuild mode as new team president Gersson Rosas looks to build around Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, so here’s a few likely scenarios that could play out on Wednesday:
- the Wolves play it safe and draft who they think is the best overall player in the draft to set them up for the future. On paper, Anthony Edwards fits their system the best by offering a guard combo that likely pushes Russell to the back court.
- the Wolves draft LaMelo Ball in the hope of flipping him almost instantaneously to a team in desperate need of a point guard (see Charlotte).
- the Wolves reveal that they are high on Edwards and trade down to the No. 3 spot with the Hornets, giving Charlotte a free crack at either Ball or James Wiseman.
Out of those three scenarios, I think the third one is most likely to play out, leaving Wiseman as the value bet to go No. 1 – whether it be to the Hornets or maybe even the Warriors, who look determined to throw a spanner in the works.
Overall, it’s difficult to see Wiseman falling outside of the top two no matter where he winds up.
He’s quite easily the most well-rounded player on and off the court when compared to Ball and Edwards, and looks more than capable of making an impact right away.
Traditional centres aren’t as desired as they used to be, but since a talent like Wiseman comes around only once every so often, there’s a good chance one of these teams gets desperate.
Tip: James Wiseman @ $8.00
No. 2 Overall Pick
The Warriors have kept their cards close to their chest all offseason since they drew the second pick in the lottery.
Over the last few weeks Golden State’s representatives have been very cryptic about which way they might be leaning in the draft, but just like the Wolves at No. 1, I’m not entirely convinced the Dubs will keep this pick anyway.
The general consensus is that the Warriors need a centre, and with Wiseman potentially off the board in this scenario, they may wind up trading down with a team like the Bulls or Cavs.
If that’s the case, I think LaMelo Ball could be the pick here.
Even with concerns about his jumper and overall defence, Chicago makes a ton of sense considering Ball is a) one of the most talented players available, and b) he’s a great trade chip if things don’t pan out.
Outside of the Bulls, I would’t completely rule out Washington making a move, or on a more exciting note, some kind of crazy scenario that sends him to New Orleans to unite with his brother Lonzo.
Tip: LaMelo Ball @ $3.75
No. 3 Overall Pick
Based on what I said earlier, I think Anthony Edwards goes to the Wolves at three.
The 19-year-old is a three-headed monster made up of size, strength and raw athletic ability – just what the Wolves were lacking at times last year when KAT was on the sidelines.
Some might say there is no room for Edwards alongside Russell, but based on the way he handled the traditional two role last year in his lone season at Georgia, there’s plenty to suggest the Wolves could make this hybrid combo work in the long run.
Tip: Anthony Edwards @ $3.40
No. 4 Overall Pick
Ever since the Mavs struck gold with Luka Doncic two years ago teams have been scrambling to uncover the next wave of international talent.
Nineteen-year-old Israeli Deni Avdija is just what teams are looking for, possessing a rare combination of patience and speed on and off the ball that often gave opposing defences plenty of problems last year in the EuroLeague whenever he drove through the paint.
Shooting wise, Avdija is still a work in progress, but if the Bulls hold onto the fourth pick, or even if someone like Atlanta chooses to trade up, he should be going top five regardless.
Tip: Deni Avdija @ $2.10
No. 5 Overall Pick
Most experts agree that Tyrese Halliburton will be one of the steals of this year’s draft class, and after looking at his stats, it’s not hard to see why.
In two seasons at Iowa State Halliburton shot 50% from the field and over 40% from three, but perhaps better yet, he also averaged 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals a game last year with the Cyclones.
A player like this will absolutely be on everyone’s radar, especially considering he’s been incredibly well-liked off the court in his interviews.
The Bulls could potentially look his way at No. 4, but I wouldn’t discount the Cavs adding another guard to compliment last year’s fifth overall pick Darius Garland.
Tip: Tyrese Halliburton @ $10.00
Killian Hayes Draft Position
Killian Hayes is another top international prospect garnering some attention, depending on who you talk to.
The 19-year-old point guard is held in high regard by several teams across the league due to his quick feet and high assist numbers last year, while others are more reluctant to take him on based on his struggles from the three-point line.
Plenty of teams like the Suns are hungry for a backup point guard, but it’s tough to know whether any are desperate enough to draft Hayes inside the top five.
Tip: Over 7.5 @ $1.65
R.J. Hampton Draft Position
Hampton has plenty of national intrigue heading into the draft after spending a season with the New Zealand Breakers last year.
The 19-year-old averaged 8.8 points-per-game and shot over 40% from the field in his lone NBL season, but it’s tough to know just how high (or low) his draft stock could fall heading into Thursday.
Fortunately, there are a ton of point guard needy teams in the middle of the first round that are looking to add some depth to their roster.
There’s a very strong chance the Kings, Celtics, and even the Magic take a look at Hampton, so the Under 15.5 looks good value here.
Tip: Under 15.5 @ $1.83
Tyrese Maxey Draft Position
The more I read about Tyrese Maxey, the more convinced I am he’ll be taken somewhere very close to the Top 10.
Firstly, Kentucky players are a proven commodity when it comes to the draft, so there’s a good chance several teams will have Maxey high on their boards after averaging 14 points and four rebounds in his lone season with the Wildcats.
More specifically though, Maxey has just about everything you’d want from a 6-foot 3 guard.
He can shoot, he’s tough and physically intimidating, while he’s also said to have a tremendous attitude off the court.
Just about every team should want a young guy like Maxey on their roster, so I’m with the Under again here.
Tip: Under 16.5 @ $1.87
2020 NBA Draft Order
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Charlotte Hornets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. New York Knicks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Phoenix Suns
11. San Antonio Spurs
12. Sacramento Kings
13. New Orleans Pelicans
14. Boston Celtics (from Memphis)
15. Orlando Magic
16. Portland Trail Blazers
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Brooklyn)
18. Dallas Mavericks
19. Brooklyn Nets (from Philadelphia)
20. Miami Heat
21. Philadelphia 76ers (from Oklahoma City)
22. Denver Nuggets (from Houston)
23. Utah Jazz
24. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana)
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver)
26. Boston Celtics
27. New York Knicks (from Los Angeles Clippers)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (player selection will be sent to the Thunder as part of the Dennis Schroder trade)
29. Toronto Raptors
30. Boston Celtics (from Milwaukee)