SLAM’s 2020 NBA Mock Draft

by April 17, 2020
101,443

SLAM will be revealing one pick per day. This page will be updated as each pick is announced via our social media channels: @SLAM & @SLAM_HS. Follow along.

Each member of the SLAM Fam was assigned a team to pick for. Below are the results + explanations.

  1. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Anthony Edwards (6-5 Guard, Georgia)

CLASS: Freshman (18 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 19.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 40% shooting from the field

First things first: The Golden State Warriors are not about to draft a third Splash Brother. Anthony Edwards may not be a great three-point shooter, but that’s arguably the only thing he doesn’t already do at an elite level. As he showed pretty much every night during an SEC Freshman of the Year campaign at Georgia—and as comparisons to Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, and even Dwyane Wade make clear—the 6-5, 225-pound combo guard has all the tools necessary to be a difference maker in the NBA. With Steph and Klay both in their 30s and coming off major injuries, the Dubs need to be thinking about the backcourt of the future. Edwards could be their next All-Star SG. — Ryan Jones

  1. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: LaMelo Ball (6-8 Guard, Illawarra Hawks of the NBL)

AGE: 19 years old

2019-20 STATS: 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 steals, shooting 38% from the field

I’m gonna ignore that this pick adds a third point guard to a young team and just roll with the kid that I think is an incredible talent that any team would be lucky to have. Last we saw of LaMelo, he was a 6-7 point guard who can shoot from deep, put the ball on the floor and make the smart pass. Now I hear he’s sprouted to 6-8, grown into his lanky frame and become a more confident playmaker. That’s tough to pass on, regardless when the pick is being made. I realize this would create a logjam at the PG spot—LaMelo, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland seem unlikely to successfully share the ball—but it gives Cleveland a hell of a group of young players to develop and/or trade for other guys as the next season nears (or in the distant future). — Adam Figman

  1. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: James Wiseman (7-1 Center, Memphis)

CLASS: Freshman (18 years old)

2019-20 STATS (three games): 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, shooting 77% from the field

Karl-Anthony Towns’ capacity to match imposing physical size with guard-like quickness has proven to be the quality that separates him from many of the League’s bigs. James Wiseman has a skill-set, frame and athletic ability that almost mirrors that of Towns. Wiseman, who left Memphis after just three games, has consistent 20-point, 10-rebound potential written all over him. Pairing a forceful yet talented big man duo with D’Angelo Russell could be the right way to finally bring the Wolves back to the hunt. — Max Resetar

  1. ATLANTA HAWKS: Obi Toppin (6-9 Forward, Dayton)

CLASS: Sophomore (22 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, shooting 63% from the field and 39% from three

The 6-9 redshirt sophomore became a SportsCenter regular thanks to his high-flying finishes, but overall was a super-efficient scorer despite a high usage. Prior to the NCAA suspending all remaining games, the Brooklyn native had positioned Dayton as a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Flyers held a 29-2 record—easily the best season in school history.  He was already named National POY by USA Today, CBS Sports, NBC Sports and The Athletic, and is widely considered the front-runner for the prestigious Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award. Additionally, Toppin was the only unanimous selection for the AP All-America teams. While the Hawks already have John Collins and Clint Capella in the paint, Toppin’s resume is worthy of serious consideration. — Franklyn Calle

  1. DETROIT PISTONS: Deni Avdija (6-9 Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv)

AGE: 19 years old

2019-20 STATS: 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, shooting 51% from the field (19.8 mpg)

Four of the highest ceiling prospects have already come off the board, but the Detroit Pistons can still pocket a valuable building block with this No. 5 pick as they turn to the future. Despite the fact that they already have ambiguously tantalizing combo forward Sekou Doumbouya and breakout stretch Christian Wood, the Pistons should take a long look at 19-year-old utility forward Deni Avdija. Avdija has impressed as a transition quarterback in the Israeli Premier League and looks comfortable enough handling the ball and pulling up from beyond the arc to project as an intriguing offensive option at the next level. Defensively, his length and discipline should help him at least make an impact, but if he’s going to see time at the three, or even at the four, in today’s small ball era, he’ll need to show that he can match NBA speed and athleticism.  — Austin Kent

  1. NEW YORK KNICKS: Cole Anthony (6-3 Guard, North Carolina)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, shooting 38% from the field and 35% from three

This just makes sense for so many reasons. 1) The Knicks continue to search for a consistent playmaker at the point guard position. Cole uses his explosive athleticism to get to the paint and put constant pressure on the defense. Which brings us to 2) The Knicks offense currently ranks 29th in the NBA and they desperately covet scoring. Cole averaged just under 20 points per game for the Tar Heels and, while a solid facilitator, is more aggressive than passive. Right now, the Garden needs that. And, of course, there’s 3) Cole grew up in New York City and his father, Greg Anthony, was a PG for the Knicks from 1991-95, when the team was making deep playoff runs. As long as Cole takes care of the ball and RJ Barrett improves his perimeter shooting, the two could form the backcourt that turns things around for a franchise that hasn’t finished over .500 since 2012-13. — Alex Squadron

  1. CHICAGO BULLS: Tyrese Haliburton (6-5 Guard, Iowa State)

CLASS: Sophomore (20 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.5 steals, shooting 50% from the field and 42% from three

The underachieving Bulls showed that they need help in several areas—shooting and defense in particular. Iowa State sophomore point guard Tyrese Haliburton excels in those domains, and then some. Haliburton, who just turned 20, averaged 15.2 points (on 50/42/82 shooting splits), 6.5 dimes, 5.9 boards and 2.5 steals this season. A pass-first playmaker, he would fit perfectly alongside scorers Coby White and Zach LaVine. Standing 6-5 with a crazy wingspan, Haliburton could easily guard positions 1-3, giving Chicago more switch-ability on the perimeter. And not to be overlooked, Haliburton brings great character to a team—lauded by Iowa State coach Steve Prohm for his “winning demeanor.” — Ryne Nelson

  1. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: RJ Hampton (6-5 Guard, New Zealand Breakers of the NBL)

AGE: 19 years old

2019-20 STATS: 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, shooting 40% from the field

RJ Hampton, a 6-5, 185-pound point guard would be a nice, perhaps long-term fit for the Charlotte Hornets. The 19-year-old, who skipped college and took his talents to Australia, would have an uphill battle for minutes in a backcourt featuring Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier. Hampton is an elite ball-handler—able to break down defenses with dribble penetration—and has plenty of athletic ability. Unlike most of his peers in the 2020 NBA Draft, RJ had a taste of the fierce competition that awaits him in the League. His New Zealand Breakers faced both the OKC Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies in a pair of exhibition games last October, and though his jumper struggled, Hampton knows he’s well on his way: “I’m having a lot of fun.” — Marcel Mutoni

  1. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Onyeka Okongwu (6-9 Forward, USC)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 1.2 steals, shooting 62% from the field

If you’d heard of Onyeka Okongwu before 2018, it was probably as a footnote in a story about his world-famous high school teammates. Okongwu played at Chino Hills with the Ball brothers, where he spent his early years in anonymity before LaMelo left California for Lithuania. Thrust into a leading role, Big O led Chino to a state title, and added a 35-point, 14-rebound, five-block performance against Zion Williamson at the 2018 Hoophall Classic along the way. In one season at USC, the crazy athletic 6-9 big showed enough potential to warrant top-5 pick consideration. Okongwu’s NBA comparisons range everywhere from Montrezl Harrell to Bam Adebayo—at minimum, he’s a versatile defender who can step in right away and protect the rim for a Washington team sorely lacking in that area. Projecting him alongside a healthy Wall, Beal, Hachimura and (maybe) Bertans in 2020-21 would certainly have Wizards fans eyeing a return to the postseason. — Abe Schwadron

  1. PHOENIX SUNS: Nico Mannion (6-3 Guard, Arizona)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 14.0 points, 5.3 assists, 1.2 steals, shooting 39% from the field

Nico Mannion is one of the smoothest and most skilled point guards in this year’s draft. His father, Pace Mannion, played in the NBA and finished his career in Italy, where Nico was born. Once they moved back to the states, Nico played in Phoenix at Pinnacle High School and then for the Arizona Wildcats. At 6-3, he has great pace and court vision. He’s smooth off the bounce and can create for himself and his teammates. He’s a shot maker and has all the tools to be an elite guard at the pro level. Phoenix is a good fit for Mannion, as he can learn alongside Rubio in the city where he’s been playing for years. — Bryan LaRussa

  1. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Jaden McDaniels (6-9 Forward, Washington)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, shooting 41% from the field and 34% from three

I’m well aware of what happened in his lone season at Washington and what scouts and analysts have said regarding a player that they feel teams should take caution with. I know about the benchings at UW, critiques of his decision-making on the court and the other asterisks that might have been attached to his name. But the Spurs’ culture—and everything they stand for—couldn’t be a better place for McDaniels to start his NBA career. There are valuable OGs on that roster—Patty Mills, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge—and another Washington guy in Dejounte Murray that could take the incoming rook under their wings. And did I mention being in the same vicinity and learning from a HOFer in Tim Duncan? The Spurs have a “we-over-me” ethos and a track record that speaks for itself. San Antonio is a perfect destination for someone with Jaden’s stature and skill set. — Drew Ruiz

  1. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Isaac Okoro (6-6 Forward, Auburn)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, shooting 51% from the field

A year ago, you might not have known the name Isaac Okoro. Coming out of McEachern High School in Atlanta, GA, Okoro was a four-star recruit who didn’t have the hype he likely warranted. That changed quickly, though. The 6-6 freshman was surrounded by seniors in the starting lineup at Auburn and still separated himself. With his versatility and explosiveness, Okoro climbed the ranks and shouldn’t fall past this spot in the 2020 Draft. Isaac is a lockdown defender who can score in a variety of ways but doesn’t demand the ball offensively. He’ll have no problem letting guards De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovich (should they all return) run the show, sliding in seamlessly right away and hopefully helping the Kings level up after a disappointing 2019-20 season. — Alex Squadron

  1. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: Precious Achiuwa (6-9 Forward, Memphis)

CLASS: Freshman (20 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, shooting 49% from the field

First off, this pick is for Queens, NY, being that I can’t remember the last time the borough had an NBA lottery pick. Coming off an eventful freshman season, Precious Achiuwa averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game before the sports world was put on freeze. Achiuwa should be a major addition to the young highlight reel Pelicans. The 6-9, 225-pound forward has all the tools to make an impact right away. With Lonzo Ball coming off his best NBA season and Zion’s short, but dominant, run, the Pelicans should look to add another forward with their star Brandon Ingram possibly testing the FA market this summer. Regardless, Precious will bring more athleticism and explosiveness to a budding roster. — Nick Torres

  1. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Devin Vassell (6-6 Guard, Florida State)

CLASS: Sophomore (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, shooting 49% from the field and 41% from three

With the Blazers set to enter the 2020-21 season at nearly full strength after an injury-filled 2019-20 campaign, the team needs reinforcements to shore up its roster and make a run at the Western Conference’s best. A rookie that could step in and provide shooting and defense on the wing would help strengthen the team’s supporting cast around the Lillard-McCollum-Nurkic core. Enter Devin Vassell. The 6-6 guard from Florida State evolved into the team’s leading scorer (12.7 PPG) after averaging under five points in his freshman season. He showed off his range with the Seminoles, shooting at or above 41.5% from deep in each of his two seasons. Vassell also brings value on the defensive end, with averages of 1 block and 1.4 steals per game. The forward is the essential 3-and-D complement that Portland has lacked in recent years. He projects as an instant contributor with the potential to take over the wing from the Blazers’ older forwards. — Isaiah De Los Santos

  1. ORLANDO MAGIC: Theo Maledon (6-4 Guard, ASVEL of the EuroLeague)

AGE: 18 years old

2019-20 STATS: 7.4 points, 3.1 assists, shooting 46% from the field and 37% from three

There are a lot of good guards on the the board that are excellent talents, but from the standpoint of trying to find a solid backcourt mate for Markelle Fultz, the Magic should consider Theo Maledon. Highlights are obviously skewed, but his decision making as a playmaker seems to be there, both in transition and half-court play. He plays with a patience that is rare to see in an 18-year-old in the EuroLeague. This past season for ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, he shot 37% from beyond the arc. If he wants to maintain a spot in the NBA, he’ll need to maintain that shooting percentage as his three point attempts go up. — Arvind Pitchai

  1. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (VIA BROOKLYN): Tyrese Maxey (6-3 Guard, Kentucky)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, shooting 43% from the field

Earlier in this mock, the Wolves snagged James Wiseman with the No. 3 pick, pairing him with star Karl-Anthony Towns to give them a massively talented frontcourt for the foreseeable future. With the recently acquired D’Angelo Russell reliably running point, the Wolves still need a wing who can get buckets. Maxey is super shifty and already sports an impressive floater package. He has a strong handle and can effectively slash into the teeth of the defense. He’s also a fantastic on-ball defender. And while his three-point percentages are subpar, his feathery floater touch and excellent free throw percentage (83% on the season) suggest he will be just fine. His 6-3 frame may be on the small side for a SG, but his tremendous strength compensates for the slight height disadvantage. Maxey is young and has tons of room to grow. The Wolves should take a shot on a kid with huge upside who could transform into a perennial 20-point per game scorer. — Isaiah Freedman

  1. BOSTON CELTICS (VIA MEMPHIS): Josh Green (6-6 Guard, Arizona)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 12.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals, shooting 42% from the field and 36% from three

The Celtics are locked in for the future. They have an All-NBA point guard in Kemba Walker, budding superstars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a lockdown perimeter defender in Marcus Smart, and the perfect complementary pieces to round out the roster. This gives them the flexibility to take the best, most talented player available—Arizona freshman Josh Green. One of the top defenders in the draft, the shooting guard can cover 1-4 with his 6-6, 210-pound frame and 6-10 wingspan. Offensively, he is an elite athlete who can handle the ball and hit open shots, as he knocked down 39.5% of his three-point attempts in the second half of the season. He fits with what the Celtics continue to stockpile—competitive, versatile wings who can cover and play multiple positions. Green is just 19 years old, but can contribute right away as a role player for a Celtics team that has current championship aspirations. — Ben Simon

  1. DALLAS MAVERICKS: Isaiah Stewart (6-9 Forward, Washington)

CLASS: Freshman (18 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, shooting 57% from the field

Sitting right on the verge of serious contention, the Mavericks will be looking for a player who provides reliable depth and immediate contribution. Washington big man Isaiah Stewart fits that mold. As a freshman, Stewart was a model of consistency for the Huskies. A 250-pound forward with a 7-4 wingspan, Stewart combines impressive athleticism and mobility with a polished finishing ability, making him a perfect fit in a pick-and-roll with Luka Doncic. He shot 77% from the FT line and showed a solid midrange touch. Stewart’s biggest strength, however, is that few, if any players in the draft play with a higher motor. While his back-to-the-basket offensive game may not translate to the next level, his energy and physicality will certainly make him effective as a rim protector and a rebounder on both ends. With Dwight Powell recovering from a ruptured achilles, Stewart can provide immediate depth at the 4 or 5 for a Mavericks team looking to win now. — Sam Squadron

  1. MILWAUKEE BUCKS (VIA INDIANA): Vernon Carey Jr. (6-10 Center, Duke)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, shooting 58% from the field

There’s a reason why Vernon Carey Jr. was voted ACC Freshman of the Year in his lone season at Duke. The 6-10 lefty has an efficient offensive game and can score in a multitude of ways. Vernon has a quick first step and is extremely tough to guard within five feet of the basket. He’ll be joining a team already poised to make a deep playoff run, so there will be little to no pressure for the rook to carry a large load. However, if there’s anything we learned from Vernon Carey Jr in college, it’s that he shows up when it matters most. — Theus McBee

  1. BROOKLYN NETS (VIA PHILADELPHIA): Saddiq Bey (6-8 Forward, Villanova)

CLASS: Sophomore (21 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, shooting 48% from the field and 45% from three

Bey is an athletic forward standing at 6-8, 216 pounds that has levels to his game, but the biggest draw is that he’s a knockdown shooter. He shot 45% from beyond the arc in his sophomore year at Villanova, up from 37% in his first year. The Julius Erving award winner could be a perfect fit for the Nets, who are currently the fifth worst three-point shooting squad in the League based on percentage. Brooklyn will be getting back major offensive pieces next year in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but with the contract of Joe Harris in question, Bey could be a strong addition should the Nets need to fill that role. — Camille Buxeda

  1. DENVER NUGGETS (VIA HOUSTON): Jalen Smith (6-10 Forward, Maryland)

CLASS: Sophomore (20 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, shooting 54% from the field and 37% from three

Jalen Smith is a rim-running, athletic big with great hands. He’s also a willing and gifted post player who can step out and shoot the three. The 6-10 power forward has a high motor—Smith can bring chasedown blocks, offensive rebounds, and defensive toughness to the Pepsi Center. For good measure, he’s got the lateral speed and shiftiness necessary to defend at the next level. The Baltimore native is fresh off a stellar sophomore season, in which he led Maryland to a 24-7 record and a Big Ten title. Stix was the best player on a Terps team on pace for a 3-seed and poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and Smith would pair well with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in Mike Malone’s system. Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant are all free agents this summer. Smith fits Denver’s position need, and he projects to be the kind of player most GMs are looking for in 2020: a stretch-four who defends. — Eli Schwadron

  1. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (VIA OKLAHOMA CITY): Aaron Nesmith (6-6 Forward, Vanderbilt)

CLASS: Sophomore (20 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 23.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, shooting 51% from the field and 52% from three

When JJ Redick fled from the City of Brotherly Love on the first day of free agency last summer, the Sixers’ long-range marksmanship took an immediate hit. Through 65 games, Philadelphia ranked 14th in three-point field goal accuracy (32.6%), down from eighth the season before. The solution? Enter Aaron Nesmith, the best pure shooter in this year’s draft. Vandy’s 6-6 sophomore slinger averaged 23 points and 4.9 rebounds over 14 games while shooting 52% from deep, before a season-ending stress fracture in his right foot. Nesmith was the fifth-leading scorer in the nation and was on pace to have one of the best three-point shooting seasons in college basketball history. Possessing a combination of size, strength, and deadeye shot-making ability, Nesmith’s game is tailor-made for the modern NBA and fills a much-needed void in Philly. — Peter Robert Casey

  1. MIAMI HEAT: Killian Hayes (6-5 Guard, ratiopharm Ulm of Basketball Bundesliga)

AGE: 18 years old

2019-20 STATS: 12.8 points, 6.2 assists, 1.5 steals, shooting 46% from the field and 39% from three

Already an Eastern Conference playoff contender, Pat Riley will search for the final pieces of the puzzle starting in the 2020 Draft. As Goran Dragic enters unrestricted free agency, the Heat will likely target youth to take over the reigns. Although he’s only 18, Killian Hayes boasts the experience and toughness it takes to make an impact in the NBA immediately. Originally born in Lakeland, FL, before moving to France due to his father’s pro career, Hayes has used basketball to bridge the gap between both countries. After playing against older opponents his entire childhood in Europe, Hayes turned professional in France at the age of only 16. During his career with Cholet, Killian also represented the French National team. Now a 6-5 PG with a tight handle, sharp vision and the ability to finish at the rim, he holds all the intangibles NBA scouts seek. The Lakeland native took the opposite journey to the League, and the risk may be worth the reward. Once idolizing Dwyane Wade, Hayes now has the chance to honor Flash as he returns to his home state and aims to ignite South Beach once again. — Daren Scarberry

  1. UTAH JAZZ: Aleksej Pokusevski (7-0 Forward, Olympiacos B of the Greek A2 Basket League)

AGE: 18 years old

2019-20 STATS: 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 blocks, shooting 49% from the field and 32% from three

It’s time to meet your future favorite player, and he goes by the name of Poku. Joining the storied lineage of Serbians (Vlade, Peja, Nikola) in the NBA, Aleksej Pokusevski is the youngest prospect in this year’s draft, not turning 19 until the day after Christmas. And while his 7-0 frame has caused folks that have never heard of him or seen him play to make assumptions, don’t get it twisted—Poku is a point guard trapped in a center’s body. Just like KD (6-10), Giannis (6-11), Jokić (7-0), and Porzingis (7-3), he’s a vertically inclined man with playmaking ability and perimeter skills. Unfortunately, he’s barely seen any EuroLeague action for Olympiacos since joining the club at the age of 13, but he’s had the privilege of learning from legendary Greek teammates Vassilis Spanoulis and Georgios Printezis, along with former head coach David Blatt. While this season he was assigned to play with the development team, Olympiacos B, his time spent with the Serbian national squad has been fruitful and excited NBA scouts. Last July, he opened the FIBA U18 European Championship with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 7 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals in a win against Germany. If Poku somehow slips this far to Utah, a team who flew to Athens to see him play in November, they’re in for a treat. — Aron Phillips

  1. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (VIA DENVER): Jahmi’us Ramsey (6-4 Guard, Texas Tech)

CLASS: Freshman (18 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, shooting 44% from the field and 43% from three

Jahmi’us Ramsey, the highest ranked recruit to ever attend Texas Tech, finished off the 2019-20 regular season as Big 12 Freshman of the Year. He’s an explosive combo guard with a great jump shot who can create space, elevate and finish with authority at the rim. Put simply, Ramsey gets buckets. Ramsey would slot right into an Oklahoma City Thunder backcourt that has thrived under the guidance of head coach Billy Donovan and veteran point god Chris Paul. Integrated into a system with a strong track record of player development, Ramsey could carve out a role as a long-term rotation piece in OKC. — Dave Schnur

  1. BOSTON CELTICS: Zeke Nnaji (6-11 Forward, Arizona)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 16.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, shooting 57% from the field

Two Celtics picks and two Arizona Wildcats. After choosing Josh Green at 17, the Celtics can afford to take a shot on a sleeper. That comes in the form of Zeke Nnaji. I say sleeper, but he was actually much more productive than Green in their one season of college. The Minnesota native averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds (including 3.1 offensive boards, giving him the highest total in the Pac 12), while shooting 57% from the field, second best in the conference. The Celtics’ roster is filled out, but they do have one glaring need: a big man who can run the floor and play above the rim. Nnaji can do just that… and then some. He’s an elite finisher who even showed an ability to knock down jump shots. The building blocks are there for him to be an efficient three-point shooter. Nnaji still has glaring struggles on the defensive end, but with Daniel Theis, Vincent Poirier, and Robert Williams under contract next season (Enes Kanter is under a player option), there’s time for him to develop. It’s a low risk, high reward pick that could hopefully fill one of the Celtics’ few holes. Oh, and if you’re short on a pregame National Anthem performer, Zeke Nnaji can do that too.  — Ben Simon

  1. NEW YORK KNICKS (VIA CLIPPERS): Jordan Nwora (6-7 Forward, Louisville)

CLASS: Junior (21 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, shooting 44% from the field and 40% from three

During the past two seasons, Jordan Nwora established himself as the go-to guy for the Louisville Cardinals and deserves to be taken in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft. At 6-7, he’s extremely versatile and has a well-rounded offensive game. Nwora led the Cards in scoring for the second straight year, averaging 18 points on 44% shooting from the field and 40% from deep. He can spread the floor and create spacing for a Knicks team that ranked dead last in total threes in 2019-20. If the Knicks take Cole Anthony at the No. 6 spot to pair with RJ Barrett, they’re going to be searching for reliable prospects like Nwora—athletic forwards who can run in transition, knock down jumpers consistently and don’t clog the paint. — Alex Squadron

  1. TORONTO RAPTORS: Yves Pons (6-6 Guard, Tennessee)

CLASS: Junior (21 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, shooting 49% from the field and 35% from three

While the SEC’s DPOY doesn’t boast the numbers of other first round picks, he has elite athleticism that allows him to guard positions 1-4. Pons is another skilled defensive player, similar to OG Anunoby, who will help the Raptors in an Eastern Conference that is deep at the G/F position. At 6-6, Pons averaged 2.4 blocks per game last season. He will fit right in to Toronto’s talented bench squad. Although his defensive prowess is what will get him drafted, Pons shot 35% from the three-point line in his last season as a Volunteer. This makes him an intriguing possible deep threat, and given the Raptors’ track record of developing talent (Siakam, VanVleet, Powell), he will have a great opportunity to develop his offensive game further. — Greg Cohen

  1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Tyrell Terry (6-1 Guard, Stanford)

CLASS: Freshman (19 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals, shooting 44% from the field and 41% from three

LeBron loves a point guard that can shoot, and Terry does just that. He’s a score-first PG who also possesses impressive passing ability. Terry is a three-level scorer and a particularly elite three-point shooter. This past season, he shot 48% on catch and shoot threes and is also capable of knocking down jumpers off the dribble. He has a very good feel for the game, knowing when to pass and when to look for his own offense. Tyrell can operate out of the pick-and-roll and moves very well off the ball, similar to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Overall, he’s a playmaker that will develop into a premier guard in the League. — Christian Quezada

  1. BOSTON CELTICS (VIA MILWAUKEE): Tre Jones (6-3 Guard, Duke)

CLASS: Sophomore (20 years old)

2019-20 STATS: 16.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals, shooting 42% from the field and 36% from three

The oldest position on the Celtics? Point guard. Although Kemba Walker is still earning All-Star appearances, he is less than a month away from being 30. Brad Wanamaker, despite just two years in the NBA, is already 30. Carsen Edwards provides some youth, but might be better served as an off-ball gunner. The Celtics are young and talented at pretty much every other position (center was solved with our last pick). Increased PG depth could provide a nice cushion. Tre Jones brings just that. But the 6-3, 185-pound guard is more than the prototypical backup point guard. Sure, he has a high floor. That happens when you receive ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. Not only can he contribute right away, but he has the chance to grow into a legitimate NBA starter. After shooting just 26% from three during his freshman season, he bumped his average up to 36% this year. He’s a mature, smart guard who can complement the Celtics’ stars by playing defense, facilitating, hitting open threes, and scoring when needed. With Jones and Marcus Smart, they could have one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA. He’s already a great backup option right now, but as Walker climbs into his 30s, Jones has a chance to be the Celtics’ point guard of the future. — Ben Simon

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