The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery Order Is In

The 2020 NBA Draft lottery took place last night, and the results are in. Fans of some teams will be overjoyed with their meteoric rise up the draft board. Others will bemoan their favorite team’s precipitous fall.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Chicago Bulls were the lucky benefactors of an improved draft position. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Cavs, the Hawks, the Pistons, and the Knicks, their draft positions suffered as a result. After the dust clears though, one question remains: what should these lotto teams do with their picks?

1. Minnesota TimberwolvesAnthony Edwards

Needs

The Wolves are in a pretty solid place as far as lottery teams are concerned, especially on offense. They already have a generational offensive player in Karl Anthony-Towns. De’Angelo Russell is a young, crafty P&R dual threat. Malik Beasley has shown flashes of nuclear scoring, as discussed by Premium Hoops’ own Scott Levine. Josh Okogie is a legitimately high level wing defender. Jordan McLaughlin shows promise as a third guard.

Aside from Okogie, what this team really needs is defenders with a high overall ceiling to grow with this core. Acquiring D’Angelo Russell started to solidify the core to some extent, and they do not have a workable defensive backbone. When your best player is also a center who doesn’t protect the rim, the result is that you need to get creative with roster construction and rotation strategy. That’s the only real criteria for me if I’m the Wolves – a good defender, and bonus points if they don’t play the 1 or the 5.

The Player

Given those criteria, my number 1 overall draft selection as the Minnesota Timberwolves would be Anthony Edwards. Edwards is a prototypically sized shooting guard at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. He’s a wonderful downhill athlete and very strong, which makes attacking the rim relatively easy for him at times. Ant is capable of making TOUGH shots at an outlier level. Due to spacing issues in a Georgia offense that lacked shooting, he took some difficult attempts during his lone college season. On the plus side, he was pretty good at making them even against high level competition (see: Michigan State).

Ant is a player who should eventually become a good on-ball defender, if coached well. On defense, like on offense, Edwards has shown flashes of brilliance. Breakaway steals and engaged on-ball defense appear in the tape, but so do ugly defensive lapses. Edwards has the tools to be an all-star caliber player and has many avenues to succeed. As a result, he’s a tempting option for a front office still finding ways to maximize their promising core.

2. Golden State WarriorsOnyeka Okongwu

Needs

The Warriors are in an interesting position. Their poor season can be attributed almost entirely to injuries suffered by their most important players. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green (who make up over 70% of Golden State’s cap allocation per spotrac) all missing a significant portion of the season, poor results were to be expected. It’s clear the Warriors intend to compete for a championship next season, and therefore their priorities differ greatly from the other lottery teams. This situation is reminiscent of the 1997 NBA Draft, where the Spurs capitalized on David Robinson’s poor injury luck to land themselves franchise cornerstone and future hall of fame player Tim Duncan.

The Warriors should trade this pick for a player who can contribute now. I’m not sure who might be available, but this is the best option if the team wants to compete at the highest possible level next season. That said, if they do choose to use the pick, the Warriors should prioritize players who can contribute from day one who can play a role on a playoff team. It would be especially nice if the player doesn’t need high usage to produce. Given those criteria, Onyeka Okongwu offers a compelling fit. Onyeka is a physically imposing center prospect at 6’9″ 245lb with ridiculous vertical athleticism and promising lateral agility. He put up statistically dominant performances all season (21.2 points/11.3 rebounds/1.4 assists/3.5 blocks/1.6 steals per 40 minutes, courtesy of College Basketball Reference). In other words, Okongwu undoubtedly produced in a reasonably strong PAC12 conference.

The Player

Off the bat, Onyeka will be an attractive roll option on offense who offers scheme versatility on defense. His ability and willingness to roll hard to the rim and rise for lobs, combined with his high level touch around the rim, give him the ability to fill a role that Golden State has missed since the tenure of JaVale McGee. Reliable vertical spacing would be a huge addition to an offense that already capitalizes on the lateral gravity Stephen Curry creates as a shooter.

As a defender, Okongwu’s plus lateral agility and high level footwork project to allow him to operate in multiple different P&R schemes. Adding another versatile, athletic defensive player to a team that already rosters defensive mastermind Draymond Green would cause headaches for opponents. This would be especially true in the playoffs, where adjustments and counters are a prerequisite to success.

3. Charlotte HornetsLaMelo Ball

Needs

Charlotte has a few intriguing young prospects, but trying to make the playoffs as a low seed year after year has taken it’s toll. The roster is moving in the right direction behind pull-up sniper Devonte’ Graham and do-it-all combo forward PJ Washington. Despite the promising start to their long-awaited rebuild, the Hornets desperately need consistent contributions on the wing. Malik Monk has shown flashes, but has battled off court issues and struggles to do anything but score. As an undersized shooting guard, he needs to do more to stake his claim for minutes. Miles Bridges has looked better, however he too has struggled to consistently make an impact.

Unfortunately for them, this draft is not flush with jumbo initiator prospects. That being said, this draft has two high level primary initiator prospects that are big (6’5″ and 6’7″ respectively) if not exactly “jumbo.” Here, the Hornets signal the beginning of a new culture and put a stamp on the direction of their rebuild.

The Player

LaMelo Ball is a high level basketball mind and sees things others just don’t see. Growing up in a system that valued creativity, LaMelo is willing to try difficult passes, and he completes those passes more than anyone has a right to. His shot needs work. He’s tentative to attack the rim. However, with an NBA strength and conditioning team to help him improve his core strength, I believe both can be fixed.

On defense, Ball’s length remains an underutilized tool. He likes to gamble in the passing lanes and his discipline is poor, but these could be fixed with proper coaching. His hip flexibility is better than Lonzo’s is even now. It’s quite possible LaMelo could be a better defender than Lonzo and Lonzo is very good.

4. Chicago BullsKillian Hayes

Needs

The Bulls have a promising core of young players in Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Coby White. What Chicago is missing is a pass-first primary initiator to get the more dependent offensive players on the roster into their spots. They could really benefit from adding a player that can create advantages off the dribble and use those advantages to create for teammates. If available, the Bulls should be looking at LaMelo Ball and Killian Hayes, two tall, pass-first guards, both with legitimate heliocentric upside.

The Player

LaMelo will almost definitely be gone in the top three picks of the draft, but would be a high-upside gamble and potentially the best player on the board at the #4 pick, if available. In this simulation, he goes to Charlotte one pick before this. Even then, I don’t love the fit for a prospect I deem nearly equivalent to Killian Hayes. Ball would take time to incubate, as his effort on defense wanes as previously mentioned. Although I project him to be a capable off-ball defender due to his incredible length and feel for the game, low effort defense can not be tolerated in a back court that already features Zach LaVine. LaVine tries on defense, but his penchant for falling asleep on backdoor cuts is well known. As a Bulls fan myself, I wouldn’t be upset with Ball, but I don’t think he’s the best fit OR my personal pick for the best player likely available at the Bulls draft slot.

That honor goes to Killian Hayes, who will almost definitely be available at #4 if reports by insider like Jon Wasserman of Bleacher Report are correct. Hayes is my #1 player in the 2020 NBA draft class, just barely edging out LaMelo Ball. He’s is a strong 6’5″ lead guard who wins with technically sound footwork, deceptive deceleration, and strength. Killian’s pull-up jumper is high level, and he operates the P&R well despite significant left-hand dominance. These attributes suggest potential heliocentric upside, which is exactly what the Bulls should be targeting to tie together their talent. Killian Hayes is a great pick for a team that needs a high-ceiling creator who can defend at a high level.

5. Cleveland CavaliersDeni Avdija

Needs

The Cavaliers have taken combo guards in the lottery of back to back drafts, and the fit on the court has suffered. Sexton has blossomed as a scorer, but his court vision remains sub-par and his play-making for others lacks. Likewise, Garland came on late as a score-first guard with deep pull-up gravity who can really stretch a defense, but his passing will take time to incubate. Garland has played played very few games for an NBA rookie, resulting from an injury that kept him out for most of his lone college season. It’s common for young point guards to struggle early, but his inexperience makes this an even steeper hill to climb.

As a result of past decisions, Cleveland is still in the nascent stages of their rebuild, so taking the best player available is the strategy here. Although it would be a difficult pill to swallow to draft a point guard for the third straight year, the Cavs should take LaMelo Ball or Killian Hayes if they’re available, but Ball almost definitely won’t be and Killian lands with the Bulls in this mock. At this point, Deni Avdija’s fit as a secondary playmaker and team defender is too strong to ignore.

The Player

Deni Avdija is a capable secondary playmaker who can initiate in the P&R himself at times. When not creating himself, Deni is a willing and intelligent cutter who makes incisive reads. Both of these skills will help grease the wheels of an offense that struggles with creation under scoring guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Some concern exists about Deni’s shot, as he was worryingly bad from the free throw line and his three point shot was inconsistent. I believe in Deni as a shooter. Over the quarantine period, Avdija worked on his mechanics and the results are promising.

On defense, Deni is a solid team defender who isn’t easily beat. He’ll need to add strength, especially in his lower body, but his instincts are sound. These attributes scream “high level glue guy” and there’s potential to be more. While many might suggest Isaac Okoro or Devin Vassell here, Deni Avdija’s shooting potential and playmaking ability give him the slight edge for me.

6. Atlanta HawksDevin Vassell

Needs

The Hawks have the sun in the center of their solar system already in Trae Young. It’s time to fill out the rest of the roster with guys who can play two-way basketball. However, the Hawks can still focus on upside at the same time. At the 6th pick in the lotto, the Atlanta Hawks should find the best two way player they can who has the potential to be a second complimentary star to cornerstone Trae Young.

The Player

Devin Vassell may not scream “high upside” at first glance. Many evaluators have Vassell mocked later in the first, commonly anywhere from the 7-12 range. Regardless of this, I believe that Devin Vassell is a unique two-way prospect. He’s the best team defender in the draft, a trait that will incur favor from coaches given the gaps left behind by one of the league’s worst defensive players. He shoots the three well, which will give Young space to create. What goes unmentioned about Devin Vassell is that he could potentially be a player who can create for himself in isolation situations.

Although the sample size is small, Vassell showed a willingness to combine dribble moves to enthrall defenders. The skeletons of a working iso/post spin game are there if a coaching staff wants to encourage it. Atlanta is in a good position to give Vassell the repetitions he needs with either the starters or the bench unit to get the best out of his on-ball game.

7. Detroit PistonsAleksej Pokuševski

Needs

The Pistons just started their rebuild, and they have basically nothing set in stone. They should continue to use the time where they’re outright bad to take risks with huge payoffs. The Pistons can stay bad and secure a high pick in next year’s highly touted 2021 class, featuring prospects such as Cade Cunningham. For that reason, the Pistons should shoot for the stars.

The Player

This is the range where I start to seriously consider Aleksej Pokuševski as an option. Poku’s a prodigious basketball creative. He tries things that others wouldn’t dream of. Some of the plays Poku has made are things a legitimate 7 foot+ prospect should not physically be capable of doing. The upside play here is immense. Poku played in a terrible league in second division Greece, but his performance popped.

Poku has dribble/pass/shoot equity as a legitimate 7 footer at only 18 years old. The physique will come, but the handle, passing acumen, and shooting versatility are frankly unbelievable for a guy with his body. On the defensive end, Poku plays the passing lanes well and blocks shots at an elite level due to his outstanding length and timing.

8. New York KnicksCole Anthony

Needs

The Knicks are also still in the fledgling rebuild under a new-look front office, but they have a promising start with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. They should continue to use the time where they’re outright bad to take risks with huge payoffs. The Knicks would do especially well to avoid taking a center if possible, because the value play is bad at this pick. Everything else is fair game. New York could use additional on-ball creation too, as RJ Barrett is over-worked as a primary initiator.

The Player

Cole Anthony offers promising upside as a pull-up three point shooter with the ability to warp defenses. Anthony has flashed the ability to create when he has the shot going too, and fills a role on a team with an overfilled frontcourt rotation and also lacked perimeter creation. While Anthony looked great in high school, AAU, and FIBA competition, an injury and an ill-fitting roster resulted in a subpar freshman season. Cole lacked on-ball burst and struggled to beat his man off the dribble, which made it all the more important that his pull-up jumper fall consistently. Those concerns remain, but in this range I would take the risk on Cole.

Cole’s ability to space the floor spacer for a team with two developing shooters in Barrett and Robinson would help the development context immensely. The value play is good too, as he’s likely a devalued asset at this point due to recency bias from some teams. I still believe in Cole to produce in the NBA as his burst will return and improve as he grows as an athlete. As we saw with Devonte’ Graham, pull-up creation is highly valuable and can compensate for other shortcomings while a prospect works on those skills.

9. Washington WizardsIsaac Okoro

Needs

John Wall will be back next season. Bradley Beal seems committed to the Wizards’ cause. Neither one will fix their copious defensive shortcomings. The Wizards need a defensive cornerstone. Ideally that player is also low usage and a capable ball mover who can capitalize off of others’ advantages.

The Player

Isaac Okoro is a pretty seamless fit here. Okoro is a tenacious on and off ball defender with immense positional strength and a high feel for the game. He succeeds on offense as a cutter, but his on-ball creation is underrated as long as he doesn’t have to put the ball on the deck. The shot is bad, and I don’t know if it will ever be better than average., but these are the sacrifices you make in this draft, unfortunately. That being said, Okoro is an INCREDIBLE defensive player. He can legitimately guard 1-5 in stretches and he creates events off-ball that result in easy opportunities on offense. That kind of player would provide a huge boon to the worst defensive team in basketball this season.

10. Phoenix SunsKira Lewis Jr.

Needs

The Suns made a compelling run in the bubble play-in games, just missing out on a playoff spot. They’re actually well-stocked at the wing position, which is something most teams in the league can’t say. The only minor weak link in a pretty solid Suns starting lineup is Ricky Rubio, who’s inability to create consistent half-court offense off the dribble requires the Suns to get creative with their off-ball movement to an inordinate degree. Rubio is totally fine, and will still play a significant role moving forward. However, if the Suns could bring in another lead guard to play with either Rubio or Booker in the short term, they could groom that guard to eventually take over for Rubio in the future.

The Player

Kira Lewis Jr. is the fastest player in the draft. Young for a sophomore, Kira’s game is predicated on his ability to blow right past pretty much every defender he faces. He streaks down the court in transition in a way that makes him a blur. He’s not just a speed merchant though; KLJ showcased a breakout pull-up game from 3 with compact and reactive footwork. He needs to do a better job distributing, and his physicality will hinder his forays at the rim, but Kira is an ideal fit as a third guard for this Suns team.

11. San Antonio SpursPatrick Williams

Needs

The Spurs are restocking the cabinet after a league best playoff streak ended this season. They have talent at the guard spots with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonny Walker. Keldon Johnson looked promising in the bubble restart as well. The Spurs could use high-upside front court help, especially if the player can defend.

The Player

Patrick Williams is a super fun prospect. He was a capable team defender at Florida State, especially helping at the rim. His shooting mechanics look good even though the volume was suspiciously low. Williams is also one of the youngest prospects in this draft. I would bet on Patrick Williams’ strength and defensive play making to keep him on the court while he works on the shooting and passing.

12. Sacramento KingsTyrese Maxey

Needs

At this point, the Kings are at an impasse. After Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic’s front office resignations, the Kings are looking for direction. They have their franchise point guard in place in two-way star De’Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield is a sniper, but he seems to be not long for the city of Sacramento. The Kings could use a backcourt partner for De’Aaron Fox to help ease the burden on him as a creator, especially in the half court.

The Player

Tyrese Maxey had the misfortune of experiencing a lot of the same contextual issues as Cole Anthony. Playing on a Kentucky team with very little shooting, Maxey was asked to play off-ball and space the floor for Ashton Hagans. Maxey’s shooting wasn’t great this season, but I fully expect him to rebound to his former AAU glory in this category, as the mechanics are good and the free throw indicators and range are there.

Maxey is an impressive finisher with both hands. He’s capable of contorting his body like an acrobat or surviving contact due to his compact but strong upper body. These same physical abilities allow him to bully guards on defense, although you would like to see him be more active with his hands in the passing lanes. Maxey should be a great complimentary guard to De’Aaron Fox.

13. New Orleans PelicansJames Wiseman

Needs

The Pelicans have Zion Williamson as the core of their rebuild, which is about as promising as it gets. Having scorching hot scorer Brandon Ingram in tow adds to the fun. Solid glue guys like Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart offer cohesiveness, and both (especially Lonzo) still have room to improve significantly. While I would rather take a guard here, few good fits are available. What’s more, the Pelicans seem to be after a center that can play with Zion. Derrick Favors is unfortunately past his best, and the Pels don’t trust Jaxson Hayes for whatever reason.

The Player

While I’m not as high on him as others, James Wiseman from Memphis is an interesting option in the lotto range. Wiseman is a talented athlete who should add immediate value as a rim protector in drop coverage. He also projects to translate early as a solid rim runner and rebounder. Wiseman is an interesting combination of upside and early production in the lottery, even if his potential playoff contributions come into question. Wiseman could focus on defending the paint, allowing Zion to roam more freely like he did in college. This role would suit Zion’s outlier recovery ability on long distance blocks.

14. Boston CelticsTyrese Haliburton

Needs

I actually think Boston should try to package this pick and another pick from this year’s draft (26 or 30) to move up, if they can. The Celtics are flush with young talent but not brimming with roster spots and the primaries are all going to go earlier in the round. However, if they make the pick here, the Celtics should target a guard to develop behind Kemba Walker. They’re lucky enough to be well-stocked on the wings so focusing on the future seems prescient.

The Player

Tyrese Haliburton isn’t a traditional point guard. He lacks the burst to create off the dribble. His shot looks funky. He’s slight of frame. Despite these facts, Haliburton offers unique utility as a glue guy. Haliburton sees a step ahead and is quick to link plays when he receive the ball. He keeps the rock moving, and despite the odd-looking mechanics, Hali shoots pretty well from three as long as he has time to load up. These traits will be perfect fits next to jumbo creators like Jayson Tatum. Tyrese also wreaks havoc as a roaming off-ball defender. Once he recognizes a lazy pass, he’s adept at jumping the lane and pushing the break himself. He could learn a thing or two from Marcus Smart, and the Celtics already-strong defense would grow even stronger.

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