Which Teams had the Best and Riskiest Picks in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery
Examining which teams made the best and riskiest selections at the conclusion of the 2020 NBA Draft lottery.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 • 9:50 PM ET
Obi Toppin could be the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft.
While all NBA Draft picks come with risk, some selections seem riskier than others.
Potentially good investments
James Wiseman - Golden State Warriors - C - No. 2 overall
Wiseman seemed like the pick all along for the Warriors at No. 2 overall, regardless of the latest news of a new injury to Klay Thompson. With plenty of perimeter firepower still intact, a versatile big man in the middle seemed like the logical choice for Golden State.
After being ruled ineligible by the NCAA in November 2019, Wiseman declared nearly a month later that he would begin preparations for the NBA Draft, ending his college career after only three games at the University of Memphis. In those three games, however, Wiseman showed why he was one of the most discussed prospects entering college. He averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and shot 76.9 percent from the field as a Tiger, while also making 70 percent of his free throws, showing good touch for a big man. The 7-footer also averaged three blocks per game and looks like he has the potential to become an All-Star level center early in his career.
Onyeka Okongwu - Atlanta Hawks - C - No. 6 overall
When watching Okongwu at USC, his play reminds of Bam Adebayo — tough, physical, hustle, skilled. It will be interesting to see if Okongwu can have the impact Adebayo has had early in his career, but if his freshman year in Los Angeles was any indication, Okongwu could quickly become a factor. The 6-foot-9 center averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman with 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. A presence on the defensive end like Okongwu backing up the likes of Trae Young, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish should only bolster the Hawks’ chances of taking a giant leap forward this season.
Killian Hayes - Detroit Pistons - PG - No. 7 overall
Hayes also looks like an intriguing point guard prospect. At 6-foot-5, he has good size with very impressive passing skills that seem effortless, while also having the ability to score if needed. While the French prospect shoots left-handed and likes to take opponents off the dribble that way, he has no problem going right. And with the Pistons lacking in young talent, Hayes could be a good building block for the future. The only question would be if Hayes is physical enough to excel at the toughest position to play in the league.
Obi Toppin - New York Knicks - F - No. 8 overall
While Toppin’s three-point percentage dropped dramatically from his freshman to sophomore season, it’s difficult to see how the power forward could have continued shooting at the 52.4 percent clip from three he shot as a freshman. Toppin still shot 39 percent from three last season, but upped his scoring average from 14.4 points per game to 20 points per night as a sophomore. He has supreme athleticism and looks like he could play the small forward or power forward position. Toppin could be the steal of the draft, and the Knicks may have finally found their biggest building block of the future.
Tyrese Haliburton - Sacramento Kings - PG - No. 12 overall
Haliburton not only may have taken “best dressed” honors on draft night, he seems like he could be the best point guard in the draft with Killian Hayes only being more of an unknown. As a sophomore last season, Halliburton averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. He also shot 50 percent from the field, 41.9 percent from the three-point line and 82.2 percent from the free throw line. With numbers like those and good size at 6-foot-5, it’s difficult seeing him not being successful at the next level. It will be interesting to see how he fits in Sacramento with De’Aaron Fox already in the backcourt. If the Kings can make it work, though, they could have their backcourt for at least the next half-decade.
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The jury is out
LaMelo Ball - Charlotte Hornets - PG - No. 3 overall
Ball has all the hype, flash, and he could have the game to go with. In 12 games with the Australian Basketball League last season, he averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. His highlight reel passes have made defenders look foolish, and he has impressive size for a point guard at 6-feet-7 inches. Defense is certainly a concern with Ball, but there’s no reason to believe that he won’t work on that end of the floor. If he can improve his three-point shot (25 percent last season) and free throw percentage (72 percent), Ball’s standout quickness could allow him to become a dangerous player at the next level.
Selecting No. 3 overall, the Hornets need as many talented players as they can find. Charlotte already has promising young players in Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, but neither are the flashiest of players who can put fans in the seats and garner prime time games on television. Ball certainly has that ability.
Patrick Williams - Chicago Bulls - SF - No. 4 overall
Williams’ freshman season wasn’t overly impressive, as the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 9.2 points and four rebounds in nearly 23 minutes per game. He’s athletic with good size, has exceptional defensive skills and his shooting percentages weren’t bad for a taller wing player, either. His playing style resembles that of Jimmy Butler, whom the Bulls drafted No. 30 overall in 2011. Will he become that level of player? The jury is out.
Anthony Edwards - Minnesota Timberwolves - SG - No. 1 overall
Here’s the good: Edwards averaged 19 points per game as a freshman and at 6-foot-5, his 5.2 rebounds per game is promising for a player his size.
Here’s the not so good: He seems like a shooting guard that can’t shoot that well. Edwards shot just 40 percent from the field in his only year at Georgia, and it didn’t complement his 29 percent clip from three-point range. What also doesn’t help is that Edwards averaged roughly the same amount of turnovers (2.7) as assists (2.8) per game. For a shooting guard, hopefully he can improve his free throw percentage as well, which was only 77 percent. Unless Edwards can improve his shooting, it’s difficult to see how he can be an All-Star level shooting guard. Being selected No. 1 overall is a lot to live up to, but he could fit well in the backcourt with D’Angelo Russell if he can defend at a high level.
Isaac Okoro - Cleveland Cavaliers - SF - No. 5 overall
Okoro shot the ball well from the field (51.4 percent) in his only season at Auburn, despite shooting 29 percent from three. He also shot just 67.2 percent from the free throw line. At 6-foot-6, Okoro seems a bit short to be a full-time small forward, and if he finds himself in a shooting guard role, hopefully he can improve on his three-point and free throw shooting. The Cavs already have two small guards in their backcourt, so a smaller small forward isn’t overly surprising.
Deni Avdija - Washington Wizards - F - No. 9 overall
In 26 games with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the EuroLeague last season, Avdija averaged just four points in only 14 minutes per game. He shot 43.6 percent from the field and 27.7 percent from beyond the arc, while also averaging just 2.6 rebounds per game at 6-foot-9. If this isn’t risky, what is?