The WSC 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

Here in the We’re Still Cool Newsroom, we love our sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minor league, an e-sports league or a major league. Someone here is paying attention to a game. But, the league that has the most fans on our staff is the NBA. That’s why we have to have an NBA mock draft. With the official NBA draft scheduled for November, here’s our first official mock draft!

Our mock draft is based on watching highlights, games, reading reports from sports websites, scout interviews, personal analysis of team needs and a very rough talent ranking.

The most valuable players in the NBA right now (other than superstars) are players who can play and defend multiple positions. In particular, players between 6 feet 6 inches and 6 feet 9 inches. The next most valuable players are bigs who can defend their position and defend on the perimeter. 

In my assessment of talent, those two types of players are generally ranked higher than on other mock drafts.

This is a bad draft. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying. The players with star potential are brutally flawed. However, there are some role players worth paying attention to.

Let’s get started.

1. Minnesota – LaMelo Ball (G) – LaMello was a garbage player in Australia. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted. His shooting percentages there reflected that. I still don’t know if he can analyze video, or run a play. That’s partially because his father pulled him out of highschool early. That said, it looks like his father will have little to do with his career.

He’s already surrounded himself with new management, and a personal coach with an NBA pedigree (Jermaine Jackson). A sign of that, is him signing with Puma, taking advantage of money that his older brother will likely never get thanks to his father’s blunders. 

Why is he my number one pick? Because, as a Youtube reality TV star, he’s box office. He’s been measured at 6-7, but there are rumors that he’s actually 6-9. That means LaMelo Ball has the potential to play or guard potentially 4 positions. He’ll likely settle into the point guard or small forward position. Even if he fails to become a star, he is a Swiss Army knife player that could survive in the league well past a decade.

2. Golden State – James Wiseman (Center) – Golden State needs a center. He may be the best player in this draft. There are some doubts he should be this high, but that’s the NCAA’s fault, not his. The whole thing stinks of being a money grab. How can you fine an amateur? That’s pay to play. And the doubts of his talent make little sense. There is a ton of film on Wiseman already. If he could have entered the draft straight out of high school, he would have been a top 10 pick. What’s changed since then? I suspect that Golden State won’t overthink this. If they do, it might mark the end of an era.

3. Charlotte – Obi Toppin (Center) – I have Obi listed as a Center. Charlotte needs a Center. He’s also the best player available. Simple. That said, why do I think Obi’s a center? His lack of lateral quickness. He can guard power forwards and small forwards, but it’s not ideal. I see him as a modern Amare Stoudamire. Imagine this guy running pick and rolls and skying for the ball.

4. Chicago – RJ Hampton (Guard) – I want ALL the heat for this one. Let’s think about this rationally. RJ Hampton, a 6 foot 5 guard, who can guard both backcourt positions is being pushed down mock draft boards because he went abroad to play on a team where he had to earn minutes? HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?! Isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t the fact that he went through that, and came out the other end a better player, prove that he’s not afraid of hard work? 

I watched 4 of his games. Don’t ask why. At the beginning of the year, he was clearly physically weaker than adults. He was benched when he made mistakes. However, he rapidly improved. Before his injury, he was playing significant minutes in an environment where he had to earn those minutes. Now imagine him beside White, with Lavine moved to the 3, Lauri at the 4 and Carter at the 5? He would probably be the hardest worker on a very dynamic, flexible starting 5. Chicago has spoken to Hampton during this process already. Also there’s rumors that he’s grown an inch and put muscle on his frame.

5. Cleveland – Anthony Edwards (Guard) – If this drop happens ESPN will explode. Edwards is predicted to be the top draft pick on multiple boards. That said, he’s not that good a player. He’s undersized at the 3. He’s not a solid enough shooter to play the 2. We know what type of SG can succeed, if they lack shooting. Guys like Demar, who have brilliant footwork and draw fouls, or hard core defenders. Edwards is neither. In high school he avoided playing against his peers. And then he selected a bad University team, with a bad coach to avoid playing big games and giving himself a built-in excuse for losing. 

So why does he get selected here in my draft? If the Cavs pick a poor shooting SG it should be someone like Okoro, who is easily the best wing defender in this draft on tape. Why? Sorry Liz, Cleveland has a really bad front office. Maybe the worst in the league. 

Currently, all of their best players are Centers (Love, Tristan, Drummond, I’m probably missing one). They drafted 2 point guards who don’t mesh together with their top picks in the last back-to-back drafts. 

They need to trade Love and Drummond, get pennies on the dollar and build a team that makes sense. Getting a shooting guard who can’t shoot, who needs the ball in his hands, when they have 2 guards who need the ball in their hands to play, is SO Cleveland.

6. Atlanta – Deni Avdija (Wing) – Back to sensible front offices we reach Atlanta, who I have grabbing Deni. Apparently, the internet is higher on Deni than NBA scouts. I get why. In reality, Deni is a big guy who can guard multiple positions. He’s an excellent secondary ball handler, good at cutting to the rim off-ball, and is secretly really athletic. 

What his highlights, and the one practice video I watched, show were this big wing who could shoot out to the perimeter. He’s really good shooting threes when he’s in an empty gym. Also being a white European, there are scouts who assume that he can’t defend. 

The boy CAN defend. Nearly every position on the floor, which is why I see the Hawks picking him up. His perimeter shooting might be theoretical, but I can see the Hawks nurturing that skill and letting him be a desperately needed perimeter defender for them.

7. Detroit – Jaden McDaniels (Wing) – At Washington, Jaden was miscast as a PF and it had a really negative impact on his play. He’s a tall wing. Potentially, a poor man’s KD and on a team desperate for talent, he makes a lot of sense. No, I don’t see this as a reach. There’s a ton of footage of what he can be from his AAU and high school days. If he’s slotted at the 3 with Doumbouya at the 4, then it’s a matter of keeping Christian Wood and playing him at the 5. With Kennard at the 2 and Rose at PG, Detroit will finally be in a position to fix their bench and figure out how to get the most out of Blake Griffin, who sadly may have to play limited bench minutes for the rest of his career.

8. Knicks – Kira Lewis (PG) – If you follow the Knicks podcast/social media part of the internet, you understand that any other selection is wrong. Lewis is the perfect point guard to grow alongside RJ. He can defend his position and stretch the floor with his shooting. With someone like RJ as the potential star on the team, and the player with the next most potential being Robinson, you need a point guard who can run pick and roll with Robinson, or head to the corner to shoot the three when RJ runs the pick and roll.

9. Washington DC – Onyeka Okungwu (Big) – Okungwu has been called the best defensive big in a long time. He falls this far because his offense is all inside. That said, he can guard both power forward and center spots. On a record defying offense like the Wiz, I can see him coming off the bench and playing either role while the rest of the team shoots a billion 3 pointers.

10. Phoenix – Tyrese Haliburton (PG) – On a podcast I was listening to, a well connected insider said that scouts see Haliburton as the safest pick in the draft. Do not be surprised if he is selected much earlier. That said, he’s kind of a boring player. In a more stacked draft he probably gets selected in the mid 20s and plays in the league for over a decade. That said, I think he would be perfect alongside Booker, the star SG on the Suns. This is where I hope he lands.

11. San Antonio – Isaac Okoro (Wing) – Wow, I have the Spurs selecting the best wing defender in this draft. What a surprise. If he gets drafted by them, and becomes the only superstar in this draft, would anyone be surprised? Let’s move on.

12. Sacramento – Devin Vassell (Wing) – from best defensive wing we move to potentially the best perimeter shooting wing in the draft. The Kings have a tough decision at Shooting Guard coming up. The uber-talented Buddy Hield is not happy, but he is well paid. They also have to decide if they want to pay Bogdonavic, who stole the starting role from Hield and is becoming a free agent. A team with their record shouldn’t pay both. 

Vassell would give them the flexibility to play him at the SG or SF spots and he would be on a cheaper rookie contract, allowing the Kings to let one of these players go. Vassell drops this far because some of the footage that leaked out of his practices shows REALLY bad shooting form that contradicts his stats and video from his NCAA play.

13. New Orleans – Saddiq Bey (SF) – I value big wings who can potentially guard multiple positions and Saddiq is a PRO who ticks off way too many boxes. With Ingram going into free agency, he also acts as insurance.

14. Boston – Cole Anthony (PG) The Celtics have one position of need and 3 first round picks. If they do not trade at least 2 of these picks we should consider their draft a failure. I have Anthony here, because they could use a backup point guard, but if we’re being honest, they should fill that role with a vet. This would be a bad situation for Anthony. He should want to be a starter on a bad team, but this is around the time I think he gets picked and this is a team with a “need.” Unfortunately, the Celts REALLY need a Center, but I can’t justify them taking one here. If they do pick a C, I really like who I selected for them later in this draft.

15. Orlando – Jalen Smith (Big) – It wouldn’t be an Orlando Magic selection if they didn’t select a long athletic big guy who plays the same position(s) as everyone else on their team. Ideally, this is where Cole Anthony falls, and he’s paired alongside Fultz for the next decade. Failing that, I can see the Magic trading Aaron Gordon, slotting Isaac to the SF spot when he’s healthy, and playing Jalen as the PF. Isaac, Smith and Vucevic would be an excellent starting front court, with the army of bigs like Birch and Mo Bamba coming off the bench. Another option here would be Michigan State’s PG, Cassius Winston, but I’m not sure if Fultz and Winston would work as a backcourt.

EDIT: I still stand by my pick of Jalen Smith here, however, an insightful video by Youtuber Alpha points out that due to internal development of young Orlando NBA G leaguer Chuma Okeke, the position with the most need for the roster is a guard to play alongside Fultz. I’ve mentioned Cassius Winston, who I believe can play alongside him in a 2 point guard lineup originally. But I should also mention TCU’s Desmond Bane, a 6 foot – 6, 3 point specialist who is on most mock draft first rounds. Another name Orlando may consider is Junior College player Jay Scrubb, who is rated everywhere from first round to undrafted. If they select a guard here, that could push Paul Reed to the end, or out of the first round.

16. Portland – Josh Green (wing) – I have to admit that I didn’t know who he was until I started putting this mock draft together. This is the first of 3 University of Arizona players on my board. Josh Green is a physical specimen. A 6-6, 210 pound athlete who can shoot from distance with ease. Last year, Portland started a post-retirement Carmelo Anthony at the SF position. Even though he’s listed at the shooting guard spot, his size, perimeter shooting and athleticism would make him the perfect small forward to play on the Blazers

17. Minnesota – Paul Reed (big) – I have to admit that this one is a tough one to justify. I really like Reed’s footwork and defensive acumen. So much so, that I have him here, when other mock drafts have him in the second round. I think he can legit guard 3 positions. He’s that good. He also uses his footwork well on offense to slither around defenders. But Reed’s shooting form is not good. If you’re a scout that sees his positives this is where he falls. The Wolves need a big to pair with KAT. Since, KAT loves shooting from the perimeter, pairing him with an athlete like Reed, who should start his career playing in the paint, should work.

18. Dallas – Precious Achiuwa (forward) – Precious is an excellent, big, mobile and physical defender. There’s going to be a team that eventually utilizes him properly on defense. But, he needs work on the other side of the court. A lot of confidence building and repairing his form is needed. Dallas can be patient with him on that end with 2 premier players over 6-8 with Luca and KP.

19. Brooklyn – Killian Hayes (guard) – If Brooklyn can’t move this pick for vets, the next best option is to get an experienced player from overseas. I have them selecting Killian Hayes, a left hand dominant guard who has been playing against adults for a while now. Another foreign player who fits that description is Barcelona’s Bolmaro. But he only has a season of experience at the adult level. Meanwhile Hayes has shown the potential to be a special player with undeniable athleticism, and the discipline to play within a system. Also Hayes, a French National has an American father, so the transition to the US would be a lot easier. 

On some draft boards this is a huge drop for Hayes, but he literally doesn’t dribble with his right hand more than one bounce. If I think that I would have a shot defending someone, I’m not putting them in the lottery of my mock draft.

20. Miami – Tyrese Maxey (PG) – What do you give a team with everything? A point guard as insurance in case Goran Dragic leaves in free agency, or suddenly declines when he turns 35. I like Maxey and believe he’s a solid fit for the Heat.

21. Philly – Jahmi’us Ramsey (Guard) – If this big guard’s perimeter shooting is real (he shot over 40% from 3 this year) he solves a lot of the Sixers problems. He needs to work on his defensive footwork and free throw shooting, but if he’s a guard on a team where the offense is initiated by their Power Forward (Ben Simmons) then concerns about his passing don’t matter. He can pick and pop, OR head to the corner with Ben handling the ball.

22. Denver – Tyrell Terry (Guard) – I just finished writing a long explanation of why Denver should look at Theo Maledon, a guard from France, but Denver has Jokic. They need a guard who can shoot and play off the ball. Terry is a garbage defender. He will be exploited on that half of the court. But he’s a special perimeter shooter. As an offensive microwave, getting passes from the Joker and playing the point when needed, Terry would be a great fit.

23. Utah – Nico Mannion (Guard) – This is a bit of a meme pick. Multiple draft boards have Nico as a first rounder. I don’t see it. So I asked myself what team would draft a mediocre, over-hyped, white player in the first round?

With Indiana not selecting a pick until 54 in this draft, the only answer was Utah. With Joe Ingles going into free agency, they could select a wing as insurance, or they could select a more modern center and trade Gobert who is spectacular in the regular season, but almost unplayable in the playoffs, because he can’t defend outside the paint.

I’m sorry Nico is not a first rounder, Look at his negatives on Tankathon. Look at the tape. He rarely attacks the paint off of screens. He shot below 35% from 3 and that’s all of his highlights. All those perimeter passes into the paint off of screens are getting deflected in the NBA.

For real options, any of the 3 guards I mention as options for the Lakers at pick 28 would be excellent.

24. Milwaukee – Patrick Williams (Forward) – I don’t think the Bucks can afford to keep this pick. It will likely be part of a package to get a vet to play alongside Giannis. If they keep this pick, I think this is a solid selection. Williams can guard slower shooting guards, and most small forwards. But the scouts I’ve heard, describe him as a power forward. If teams see him as a Small Forward, his ability to shoot the 3, and his size at 6-8 means he might climb boards. Another good spot for him may be Minnesota’s pick at 17, if they can convince KAT to play the 5 and let Williams play the power spot.

25. OKC – Tyler Bey (Forward) – I was trying to justify why Aleksej Pokuševski should be selected here, but there’s a better option on the board. At 6-7 Bey is undersized at the Power Forward position, but he can guard small forwards with his length and athleticism as well. He is an older prospect at 22, that might not fit OKC’s timeline, but he is a talented perimeter shooter.

26. Boston – Vernon Carey Jr. (Big) – I did not watch Duke this year. Other than their point guard, none of their players captivated me. That said, I think Carey has a chance to be a special player at the next level. He does ALMOST everything you want from a big in the modern NBA. This is the only player the Celtics should draft, filling their biggest need. This is where they should draft him. Without the high school star label, I believe he can carve a very long career with his tool set.

27. NYC – Aaron Nesmith (Forward) – If the Knicks are able to select Nesmith or Tyler Bey here, this draft is a win. He falls this far on my board because there are better defenders at the SF spot, who can switch and cover multiple positions in this draft. Also, there are teams that could use him, but lack the foresite to select him earlier. 

Too many NBA front offices value athleticism over talent when drafting. Years later, they have a locker room full of athletes, but few basketball players. The teams that succeed in the NBA are the teams that value both athletes and skilled players, and surround them with enough coaching so that the athletes can become basketball players and the skill players reach their athletic peaks. 

With a new front office, I believe the Knicks understand that and have people who can sell that idea to their ownership. Nesmith is an other-worldly shooter. Yes, he’s a poor defender, but if the Knicks can move Randle and fill his position with a more defensive player, Nesmith can be hidden on defense. This would be a steal this late in the draft.

28. LA Lakers – Tre Jones (Point Guard) – The champs could really use some help at the PG spot. Lebron prefers vets and Tre has spent 2 years at Duke. This is another team that could select Cassius Winston or even Grant Riller. Both are older, experienced NCAA guards.

29. Toronto Raptors – Zeke Nnaji (Center) – According to reports, every player that the Raptors have interviewed are mobile Centers or 6 foot 5, lesser known guards.

According to a Reddit poll, Raptors fans want Xavier Tillman at this spot. Zeke and Xavier share a lot of skills in common. Both have incredible footwork that allows them to defend out to the perimeter. Both get a fair share of steals on defense. Xavier gets more shot blocks and is a better passer. Zeke has shown more potential as a shooter. I think they both would be excellent options at this pick. However, only one of these guys (Zeke) has been reported to have had multiple interviews with the Raps.

30. Boston – Aleksej Pokuševski (Tall guy) – Why don’t the Celtics draft and stash a player who is on every mock draft I’ve read, despite the player having issues with effort and being way too skinny for being 7 foot tall? 

The fact that he’s on every first round draft board I’ve seen probably means he has a promise from a team. Boston has more picks than they could ever use, and a roster that they should think is good enough to win a title. Maybe they could use a backup point guard and a center, but a title hunting team shouldn’t draft a backup point guard, and they don’t need 4 picks to get a center. These guys can afford to gamble on this kid. 

If he fit a need, and Denver were deeper in this round, maybe. But there’s too much talent left where they select a player. OKC has a number of future draft picks coming their way as well. Maybe they could take a gamble. However, if Aleksej fails as a 30th pick no one will care. Boston has too many picks anyway. I could see them being the team that made the promise.

Other players to follow:
Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Grant Riller, Robert Woodard, Jordan Nwora and Cassius Stanley