2020 NBA Draft Preview: Selections 1-10
Being selected in the top 10 of the NBA Draft is an honour in itself but it doesn’t guarantee a Hall of Fame career. While these picks are easily the most anticipated and exciting, they can also be the most infuriating for fans if their favourite organization goes in a different direction then they had hoped.
While each draft has clear cut favourites there are always bound to be a few reaches for talents projected to go farther down in the draft. With these top 10 picks the potential is endless, but in the game of basketball nothing is a sure thing.
Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Pick #10 Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
With a six-foot-five frame and great length, Tyrese Haliburton is loaded with upside. While his measurables are what catch your eye immediately, his game isn’t too shabby either. Haliburton has a tremendous shooting ability and can pull up comfortably from well past the NBA three-point line. With his great size and shooting ability it allows for Haliburton to rise above shot contests, as well as use his length to get around defenders at the rim.
Halliburton's playmaking abilities are solid but it is hindered by his slow pace of play. Haliburton will need to learn to increase the tempo on offence if he wants to cut it as an NBA caliber point guard. With the recent acquisition of Chris Paul, the Phoenix Suns are no longer looking for a starting point guard but are in desperate need for a serviceable back-up. While top-ten picks aren’t usually made with the purpose of coming off the bench, Haliburton will be learning closely from one of the greatest to ever play the sport of basketball.
Paul will be an incredible mentor for Haliburton, similar to how he assisted in the development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this past season in OKC. Haliburton will be given plenty of time to grow as a player, and with a contender slowly forming around him, Haliburton will be ready to blossom at the perfect time.
Source: Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
Pick #9 Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu, USC
If you aren't familiar with Onyeka Okongwu, lets just say don’t be surprised if he puts your favourite player on the receiving end of a posterizing dunk by the end of the 2021 season. Okongwu is a fantastic athlete as well as an absolute force on the interior. Okongwu easily erases shots inside the paint on one end of the court and throws down viscous dunks on the other. With his size and strength, Okongwu is incredibly hard to stop from getting to the rim, and even if there is contact initiated he has no issue playing through it.
Okongwu may be one of the best defenders in this draft, coming off an insane 2.7BPG campaign with the Trojans this past season. Okongwu may be a dominant player on this inside but is rendered useless outside of it. His ability to shoot the ball or set up scoring opportunities for others is almost non-existent, this will need to be improved if he plans to carve out a lengthy career in the Association.
Okongwu and the Washington Wizards would be a great fit as the young developing Wiz Kids are looking to find their way back into the playoff picture. After narrowly missing out on the postseason last year after all-star, Bradley Beal went down, it became clear that this team needs to increase its depth. With Beals return, alongside John Wall, the Wizards are set up to become an exciting team to watch.
With Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant rapidly improving their game, the addition of Okongwu to their starting frontcourt could be a dominant trio for years to come. Okongwu is a force to be reckoned with and if he continues to work on his game, he could become a near unstoppable player in the future.
Source: Michael Woods/Associated Press
Pick #8 New York Knicks: Isaac Okoro, Auburn
A freak athlete, Isaac Okoro looks more than ready for the NBA. With superb slashing ability and great court awareness, Okoro is primed to take off as a star in the NBA. Okoro’s athletic ability allows him to break down defences on route to the rim and can finish both with authority or finesse.
Okoros ability on offence is fairly limited currently as his outside shooting needs improvement, but Okoros confidence stands tall as he is not afraid to take (and make) big shots down the stretch. Okoro is an above average defender and is only continuing to improve on this facet of his game.
With Okoro going to the New York Knicks, a young and exciting duo between Okoro and RJ Barrett will be set to explode inside the confines of Madison Square Garden. Both of these young wing players have the ability to push the pace to a tempo only few can match, with lethal finishing ability to punch home tough finishes at the rim. While Barrett may be more polished overall currently, Okoro has star potential in spades.
Okoro's addition to the Knicks may be the push the struggling franchise needs to return to the glory it once held.
Source: Getty Images
Pick #7 Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm
The lefty from France, Killian Hayes, is about to take the NBA by storm. Hayes is similar to other point guards in this draft such as Tyrese Haliburton and Theo Maledon in size, but blows them out of the water when it comes to overall skill. Hayes possesses a polished game that translates in any league. Hayes' game speaks for itself as he has been dominating the pros in Germany since he was only 16 years old.
Hayes has a killer step back jumper that he hits with efficiency, and may very well be the best all-around passer in the draft. His ability to scan the court and find the open man is second to none as he can zip the ball past defences with a plethora of passes. With his size and athletic ability, Hayes is incredibly tough to guard as his length makes it difficult for defenders to contest his shots. Hayes legitimately may have no weakness in his game, the main factor in his future success may lay in the hands of the organization selecting him.
If Hayes is selected by the Pistons they will continue to dive deeper into their rebuild as big name players such as Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin have been reportedly engaged in trade talks for the past few months. Regardless of where they end up, Hayes is a no brainer selection. By acquiring Hayes, he will help create a winning culture in Detroit as well as benefit his young teammates' development as they will have a far easier time scoring the ball while Hayes is on the floor.
Hayes will be paired with fellow Frenchman, Sekou Doumbouya, the Pistons first-round draft pick from this past year and the two will be able to stretch the floor together, and also work well in pick-and-roll scenarios. With the overhaul in culture and the commitment to the future, the Pistons along with Hayes could be heading towards a better tomorrow.
Source: Matt Stamey/Associated Press
Before we make fun of his shooting form, hear me out, Vassell is for real. One of the best two-way players in this year's draft class, Vassell can be productive within any set on the floor. With a long wingspan on his six-foot-seven build, Vassell is capable of covering anyone on the floor.
Vassells aforementioned jumpshot may not be the prettiest piece of work, but you can't argue with its effectiveness. Vassell shot just over 41% from deep this past season at Florida State, and nearly 50% from the field. This is a testament to his ability to find his rhythm anywhere on the floor and get shots over his defenders. Vassell is equipped with a deadly fadeaway jumper, as well as a picturesque floater which is made so successful because of his length.
Vassells top notch athleticism makes him a threat on both ends of the court as he is able to pick defenders pockets, swat away shots, and overall become an absolute pest for opposing teams.
His athleticism also gives him space to rise above the rim and finish strong off the dribble or at the receiving end of an alley-oop. While Vassell may need to find a softer touch near the rim, at only 20 years old, he will develop at a rapid pace.
Vassell going to the Atlanta Hawks could be the last piece they need to finish their rebuild, and transition to fighting for a playoff spot and more. With a deep roster filled with young talent, Vassell will move into the starting shooting guard spot and will work terrifically off of all-star Trae Young.
Young being a poor defender will give Vassell the opportunity to handle tough defensive assignments, as well as add a more versatile offence when compared to current starter Kevin Huerter. Huerter plays beautifully, but Vassell is clearly the superior player and fit on the roster. Along with other young, athletic, players such as DeAndre Hunter, and John Collins, the NBA could be looking at the future juggernauts of the Eastern Conference in the Atlanta Hawks.
Source: Euroleague Basketball vis Getty Images
Pick #5 Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv
An interesting prospect the Israeli, Deni Avdija, gives NBA scouts mixed emotions. Avdija is a phenomenal passer at six-foot-nine, 240lbs, able to dice up a defence in an electric fashion. Avdija may not look it, but he is a top-level athlete, able to play through and around contact, as well as able to rise up and slam home a deuce when the opportunity presents itself.
Avdija is as pure of a shooter from deep as they come. With textbook form Avdija doesn't miss on open opportunities often. While Avdija has all the makings of an all-star in the NBA he does raise a few concerns when analyzing his game. Avdija is a poor on-ball defender but he is able to effectively help off-ball. His competition in the NBA will be bigger and faster than he has faced before and this could spell trouble for Avdijas’ ability to make an impact while on the court.
The other major flaw in Avdijas’ game comes from his efficiency, with a focus on his free throw shooting. Avdija shoots well below average with a shooting percentage of 58.8% from the charity stripe. While he only attempted three free throws per game in his last season for Maccabi Tel Aviv, this needs to be corrected immediately or Avdija will play himself off the court. Unless Avdija is going to be averaging 28 and 12 like a prime Shaquille O’Neal, his shooting from the stripe needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Other than these few concerns Avdija still has tremendous potential and is a one of a kind talent. Avdijas fit on the Cleveland Cavaliers would work well. As big man Andre Drummond has opted-in on staying with the Cavs, a front court of Avdija, Kevin Love, and Andre Drummond, give them a great mix of scoring, rebounding, and playmaking. As Cleveland continues to move on in the post-LeBron era, Avdija will be the telling point to see if they are heading in the right direction.
While Avdija is a unique talent and has the potential to be a star, I foresee Avdija being the most likely candidate to be a bust in this year's draft.
Source: Dayton University
Pick #4 Chicago Bulls: Obi Toppin, Dayton
A young Charles Barkley esque skillset, Obi Toppin is rightfully a lock to be taken in the top five in this year's draft. Toppin is a pure scorer, able to get the job done at all three-levels. Toppin makes defenders pay down low with his top-end athleticism as he soars over defenders as he slams the rock home.
Toppin also has legitimate skill to his game, able to work effectively in the post, while also a great faceup player with a clean jump shot and handle to boot. Toppins ability to heat up quickly is a sought after trait, once he gets going it may not stop until the final buzzer sounds. Toppins all-around stellar game is what sets him apart from others in this draft, it is rare to find a player as composed and polished as Toppin is.
One downside to this complete game comes from his age. At 22 years old, Toppin is on the older side of the draft, but his superior skill to his peers makes up for his age. Toppin and the Chicago Bulls could be a deadly combination. Currently going through an identity change after an ibessmal tenure by Jim Boylen, Toppin is the perfect acquisition to help bring the Bulls back to prominence.
By using Toppin at the small forward position, his size and strength mixed with his complete package skill set will make the Bulls frontcourt one of the league's best in a matter of a few seasons. Along with Zach Lavine and Colby White, the Bulls will be able to push the pace on every possession while also having the luxury to get a bucket from anywhere on the floor, from any of their starting five.
While Toppin to the Bulls may seem like an odd fit now, have faith, and watch a new contender in the East rise slowly in the future.
Source: Getty Images
Pick #3 Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks'
By far and away the most popular and talked about player in this draft is LaMelo Ball. LaMelo has been in the spotlight ever since he entered high school after dropping insane highlights alongside his brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo at Chino Hills. While LaMelos path to the NBA draft has been anything but traditional, his game speaks for itself.
LaMelo has great size for a guard, as well as a tremendous ability to create shots for himself and others. LaMelos elite offensive ability is weighed down however by his poor defensive prowess. LaMelo will be bullied in the guard heavy NBA if he is not able to find a way to improve this facet of his game. LaMelo is also never afraid to shoot the ball which is his greatest strength and his greatest weakness.
LaMelos confidence is what has developed him into the upcoming star we see today but once he enters the NBA he will need to find his role and stay within it so as to not ruffle feathers of those within an organization. When addressing LaMelos shot we cannot ignore his unconventional form.
While his older brother Lonzo had similar struggles with his shooting form in the past he has been able to work past it and correct it. LaMelo is pointing towards that direction as well with his jump shot being released well below his neckline making this an easy recipe for disaster when trying to elevate his shots over defenders.
His jumpshot is concerning but still not necessarily a deal breaker on LaMelos potential. With the Hornets drafting LaMelo they will be able to use him as a combo guard depending on who he shares the back court with between Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham, and develop him as the focal point of the Hornets offence.
The Hornets have a disastrous track record when it comes to drafting players, but by selecting LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick they will not only rise in popularity but also in the Eastern Conference standings as LaMelo will make an immediate impact on their team.
Source: AP Photo
Pick #2 Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, Memphis
With the upcoming return of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as well as the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins last season, the Warriors are poised to make another run at the title but they have a glaring lack of depth at the centre position. Enter James Wiseman.
Wiseman is a legitimate seven-footer who can get the job done on both ends of the court. Wiseman also uses his athleticism and size to bully players down low, with an NBA ready build and a 7’4 wingspan, Wiseman will be able to battle with the best on the boards and even win out. Wiseman was the top ranked recruit in the nation coming into the 2020 season and amid his brief tenure in Memphis, Wiseman proved he was ready to take the next step by playing in the NBA.
He is mobile for a big man and possesses a scoring skillset that leaves even seasoned veterans in the NBA envious. Wisemans only real weakness is that he lacks an outside jumper. Although by going to the Warriors and playing alongside some of the greatest shooters to ever play the game, Wiseman will likely learn a thing or two quickly.
Wiseman will fit perfectly within Steve Kerr's’ game plan and will add another weapon for the Warriors to use when they begin to rise back up the NBA standings in 2021.
Pick #1 Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, Georgia
While not a surprise, this pick is rightly deserved. Edwards came into this season under a lot of scouts radars but quickly cemented himself as the consensus top pick in the upcoming draft. Edwards' freak athleticism coupled with his ability to play through contact and finish strong at the rim will make him an immediate impact player on the Timberwolves.
Edwards has also demonstrated that he feels comfortable creating his own shot off the dribble, as well as being able to pull up from NBA range with ease. This pick in all likelihood is going to be between Edwards and LaMelo Ball, but Edwards should be the clear cut top pick. Pairing Edwards alongside defensive liabilities Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell will give Edwards a key role to take on top perimeter threats in their future matchups, a task Ball would not be able to complete as he himself is a below average defender.
Edwards looks as if he is destined to become the next big thing, as his overall skill set is by far the greatest in this draft class. Edwards will continue to grow as a player and could become one of the best players in the league before his career is said and done. By taking Edwards with the first overall pick the Timberwolves will hope to build around their future big three and hopefully make a run for the playoffs in 2021.