As far as we know, the 2020 NBA Draft will still go ahead in under two months' time. With no pre-draft workouts expected and obviously no March Madness, projecting prospects just got a whole lot harder for teams.
However, there is still a lot of talent in this draft. And while the majority of these players hold a vast amount of untapped potential, others possess some positive traits that will translate over to the NBA nicely.
Unlike last year’s draft which was headlined by Zion Williamson, there is no clear frontrunner for the number one overall pick. Could teams pick the flashy floor general in LaMelo Ball at one? Or could the talented big man Onyeka Okongwu get his chance under the spotlight?
We may even see more teams go the route of best fit, rather than the usual best player available. So many options, yet so little time for NBA teams to prepare for this draft due to the disruption being COVID-19.
The Chicago Bulls sit right inside the top ten, and many are speculating whether this is the year for the Bulls to return to glory by getting a top-two pick. It seems fitting, right? The hiring of Arturas Karnisovas, followed by the firing of Gar Forman, followed by the Michael Jordan documentary. Optimism is high in Chicago, can the 2020 NBA Draft keep those optimism levels high?
In order to get a reliable draft order, we used Tankathon.com, and surprisingly enough, the Chicago Bulls were given the first pick.
Let’s kick this thing off.
1. Chicago Bulls
LaMelo Ball (Illawarra, Point Guard)
One thing to know about LaMelo Ball is that he is not afraid of the spotlight whatsoever. The 19-year-old ticks a lot of boxes as an NBA prospect and is one of the very few players that possess an elite strength heading into the league. That being his passing, which is second-worldly.
Ball's passing and playmaking for a youngster is incredible and he will be able to run an NBA offense from day one. I'm not saying LaMelo is pretty good as a passer here also, I'm saying he's one of the best to enter the league in a long time. He sees angles that other prospects (not even other players in the NBA) see, and he has the confidence to believe that every pass he makes is going to result in a bucket.
On top of his extraordinary passing ability, LaMelo is dynamite in transition. He led the NBL in points per 100 possessions in transition last season and excelled at making the right play with the ball in his hand.
As a scorer, Ball's jump shot needs work, however, he does have the range to eventually become an NBA shooter despite being just 25% from three on 6.7 attempts per game with Illawarra. His finishing at the rim numbers are well above league positional average at 56%, and he has shown consistently that he can avoid contact and finish at the rim with an array of gather step layups, as well as countless types of flashy reverse layups.
Defensively, Ball also has a lot of work to do. Even though he will often give consistent effort on the defensive end, LaMelo finds himself in no man's land far too often. The good news is that the potential on that end is there, and if coached right he can become a very good defender in the pros, just like his brother Lonzo.
Did I mention LaMelo is also 6-foot-7 with a 6-11 wingspan, and possibly still growing? His frame for a point guard is outstanding, and when you combine that with lightning-quick speed and an incredibly tight handle, you've got a player with extremely high upside.
In terms of team fit, LaMelo Ball is exactly what the Chicago Bulls need. Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists to go with 1.6 steals in the NBL, and is the exact prospect that fits the criteria of what the Bulls are trying to do.
He can take pressure off of Zach LaVine with his ability to create plays and break down a defense, while also having the positional size to play one through three in certain lineups. Did someone ask for somebody to get Lauri Markkanen the ball? LaMelo Ball will do just that.
2. Atlanta Hawks
Anthony Edwards (Georgia, Shooting Guard)
One player who is almost guaranteed as a top-three pick and whose name has been floating around as the best prospect in this year's draft is Georgia Bulldogs' guard Anthony Edwards. The freshman from Atlanta is one of the most lethal scorers in this class and has true potential to be an NBA superstar.
Starting with some of Edwards' strengths, he is a great finisher at the rim. Despite the numbers which will improve once he hits the pro level, Edwards was around 54% on everything around the rim (excluding post-ups) in the half-court set. He isn't afraid of contact and possesses great upper-body strength resulting in defenders consistently bouncing off of him when he drives to the hoop.
As a scorer, Edwards is as gifted as they come. He has a quick first step, and when going off the dribble he can consistently transition from complex dribbles, spins, and hesitations into pull-ups, step-backs, and other elusive side steps which often finds him wide open.
One note about Edwards which needs improving on is his shot selection. Georgia gave him free rein at times, and Edwards often found himself taking extremely difficult early-shot clock jumpers. With NBA spacing, Edwards' efficiency will drastically increase, and he will have a lot more opportunities to get better looks at the rim.
As a defender, Edwards has the frame to disrupt passing lanes, the strength to hold his defender from getting to the rim, and the agility to stay in front of his man while guarding out on the perimeter. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-9 wingspan as a two guard, he will easily be able to guard most ones, twos, and threes in the league with his super-versatile archetype.
Anthony Edwards finished his freshman year at Georgia with numbers of 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists with an eFG% of 47.3. Given the comparisons to Donovan Mitchell and Victor Oladipo, there is a lot to like when it comes to a ceiling.
With the second pick, the Atlanta Hawks select Anthony Edwards. Star guard Trae Young has been looking for another scorer that can create his own shot in the half-court set to take a little bit of pressure off of him for the last two seasons, and Edwards offers exactly that.
He can be reliable as a secondary playmaker, and his defensive skills will be extra necessary when playing alongside Trae who is not a good NBA defender. Edwards will have more opportunities in Atlanta to play in pick-and-roll situations with high flyers who like to play above the rim in John Collins and newly-acquired center Clint Capela.
3. Detroit Pistons
Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, Point Guard)
A crafty point guard with gifted court vision and the defensive awareness which will translate comfortably over to the pros. Meet 18-year-old Killian Hayes, one of the youngest players in this year's draft.
Despite being raw in some of the more technical areas, Hayes has made some dynamic progress in his game this year while playing in Germany. He is a gifted playmaker already, who, like LaMelo, will be able to run an NBA offense from day one. Hayes has very high basketball IQ and the ability to sling passes off the dribble and hit cutters and open shooters swiftly with either hand due to elite precision and timing. He averaged 5.4 assists this season and is comfortable playing both on and off the ball.
Hayes' frame is another plus to his draft stock. He is 6-foot-5 with a 6-8 wingspan, meaning he can comfortably outmuscle smaller guards at the pro level. That added strength Hayes possesses makes him more confident when getting to the rim. He has shown the ability to finish through contact and he has superb touch at finishing floaters and runners, some as deep as the free-throw line extended.
As a shooter, Hayes isn't just there yet. His numbers from the catch-and-shoot are concerning, however, there are reasons to buy the shot due to the rapid improvements he made from last season to this season. One would think Hayes continues to grow in that area. He was around 35% on the year and is projected to sit at around 36% from three once he hits the NBA level. Aside from three-point shooting, Hayes is solid as a three-level scorer on low volume.
As a defender, Killian Hayes has solid technique when in a stance and has shown versatility with his ability to guard both guard positions. He shouldn't be a liability when switched onto wings in pick-and-roll situations. Hayes being very active off the ball shows he could develop into a disruptive defensive helper. He can get into passing lanes, and he proved that this season by averaging 2.1 steals per 36 minutes.
With the Detroit Pistons set to pick third, Killian Hayes is the obvious choice as they look to reshape their franchise and kickstart a rebuild. Detroit traded away Andre Drummond at this year's deadline and will most likely look to shop Blake Griffin over the summer.
They are committed to building around another French native in Sekou Doumbouya. Adding another top pick that can create plays on the ball will certainly help their cause of getting the most out of Doumbouya. Hayes has the potential to be a star point guard in the NBA and has drawn comparisons by many to All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.
4. Golden State Warriors
Onyeka Okongwu (USC, Center)
One of the best athletes in this year's draft is big man Onyeka Okongwu. He is a great straight-line athlete with quick reflexes and hands who will be a force not to be messed with once he adds more strength at the pro level.
While not only being a talented athlete, Okongwu is a big-time energy player who will never take a play off and is up for the challenge of defending anybody. He will never back down from an opponent.
On the defensive side of the floor, Okongwu boasts an 88.5 defensive rating. He averaged 8.6 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game, making him an extremely high-level rebounder. He was also in the top 1% in the nation in put-backs off of offensive rebounds this season, where he was good for 68.3% on 60 attempts. With that contagious energy of his, Okongwu will have no problem providing consistent production as a rebounder once he hits the pro level.
He can protect the rim with the best of them as well. Onyeka averaged 2.7 blocks per game and has shown time and time again that he can switch out onto wings and some guards on the perimeter and hold his own comfortably.
Okongwu excels as a pick-and-roll defender. He is extremely mobile and versatile at 6-foot-9 and is able to drop, switch, and hedge consistently. He will be very comfortable in a variety of defensive schemes from day one, and he possesses all of the right skills to become a future All-Defensive player in the NBA given he continues to develop.
On the other end of the floor, Okongwu is great around the basket. He was around 67% on the year, and with big hands, he rarely will drop passes. He has a quick leaping ability to go with an impressive vertical and can score with either hand thanks to an elite soft touch at the rim.
Okongwu is great as a back-to-the-basket player and does an excellent job at sealing off defenders. He displayed a vast range of advanced post moves, and one scout called him Hakeem Olajuwon-like with his use of spins, drop steps, and fakes.
Outside of the paint, Okongwu is an improving shooter who projects to eventually be able to knock down threes at an NBA level. He shot 42.9% on jump shots at USC this season on 35 attempts, and with correct spacing and improved mechanics, there is no reason Okongwu can't be at least a semi-reliable shooter from the mid-range.
One huge strength that goes unrecognized for Onyeka Okongwu is his small forward-type handles. He can easily bring the ball up and start the fast break after a rebound, and with a very quick crossover and first-step for a big man, he draws Bam Adebayo type comparisons. The point big is starting to become a common trend.