That’s one week from today and there are a lot of intriguing prospects, but no undisputed No. 1 overall pick in the mold of a Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons or Karl Anthony-Towns in recent years.
It also hasn’t helped that much of the pre-draft work has been done via zoom or solo workouts. It’s easily the most irregular draft season in NBA history. But all teams in the NBA and every other sport have had to adjust and maneuver with the times while doing their due diligence to make the best personnel decisions.
We’ve studied the Draft with the same due diligence here at The Shadow League and this is where we think the Top 5 players in the 2020 NBA Draft will fall.
#1 – Minnesota Timberwolves
Team Needs/Desires: Quality Depth/Starpower
The Wolves made some moves at the trade deadline. Moving Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Robert Covington and Gorgui Dieng. The franchise is set to move ahead with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell as their centerpieces. Two players they acquired at the deadline played well in Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez. The kicker is both are restricted free agents. The team has serious depth issues and a pretty bare cupboard to work with.
So drafting the youngest of the Ball brothers is a move I think they’ll make. I’ve heard he could go anywhere from 1-9 in the draft. The skillset is undeniable even with his shaky shot selection and lack of desire to defend. This team has many glaring holes and adding him at a position of need is vital. He or Russell can play off the ball when on the floor together. You can make the argument that Lonzo’s youngest brother is he’s the top talent in the entire draft.
#2 – Golden State Warriors
Anthony Edwards – Georgia
Team Needs/Desires – Size (Ideally)
We know about the organically drafted and built core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. At the trade deadline, they added Andrew Wiggins, a guy who’s sort of an enigma although he’s a 20-point per game career scorer while shooting 45% from the floor and 35% from three.
I can see them moving this pick for a veteran player, but if not Edwards is the best player on the board regardless of fit. Of course, the Dubs have been tied to every player projected to go in the Top 10 which can really help their bargaining position and leverage. With Ball going #1, I think Edwards is too good to pass on. He’s a great athlete with the upside to be a superb two-way player (Dwyane Wade potential). Having an NBA-ready body doesn’t hurt either.
#3 Charlotte Hornets
James Wiseman- Memphis
Team Needs/Desires – Last summer the Hornets signed former Celtics guard Terry Rozier in free agency and although I don’t fancy him an ideal lead guard, he’s solid enough to do the job. They also added forwards P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges, and former Kansas star Devonte’ Graham popped on the scene unexpectedly to show he’s a player. They could use depth just about everywhere but there’s a glaring hole at the center position.
The talent-strapped Hornets could use a difference-maker and rim protector who can also run the floor. It may not happen for a year or two but I believe Wiseman is all of that. The youngster just needs time to develop as all bigs usually do when coming into the pro game. He didn’t play that much in college for one reason or another and needs some consistent game action. Michael Jordan drafted Kwame Brown who became a bust, but he wasn’t nearly as gifted as this kid. Wiseman’s ceiling is much higher.
#4 Chicago Bulls
Team Needs/Desires – The Bulls have plenty of quality talent on their very young roster. Injuries have derailed that talent from gelling and when healthy, they lack a conductor to bring all those ingredients together.
Chicago’s been searching for a Derrick Rose replacement since his injuries sped up his decline and he was traded. They could use some depth as well, but not with the fourth pick, this is where you get a different maker who’s a starter, a potential superstar even.
As we edge closer to draft night Hayes seems to be a riser on the draft board. Chicago needs a playmaker at point guard and Hayes has great size, versatility a quickly developing offensive skillset, and above-average court vision (he’s better than Dante Exum).
Could you imagine a three-guard lineup with Hayes, Zach LaVine and Colby White? The possibilities are endless, especially fi you can get a couple of them to defend. The team also has a need at small forward so you could see Deni Avdija or Isaac Okoro headed to the “Windy City”.
#5 Cleveland Cavaliers
Deni Avdija – Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Team Needs/Desires – Cavs need any and everything. Most significantly, they are devoid of a franchise player to build around, and IMO this isn’t the draft to find that type of player. They seem to be okay sticking with the Colin Sexton and Darius Garland backcourt and yes they’re both talented but have a ceiling much closer to who they are now and not much higher.
The roster has plenty of size, but I don’t believe any are long term solutions. The focus should be on adding top talent and here’s the chance to.
He’s a very intriguing prospect and a struggling franchise like Cleveland in the post-LeBron era can’t really afford to pass on him. You could see the Warriors take him at No. 2 but if he falls it won’t be that far. He’s good enough for the Cavs to run a lot of their offense through him, although his long-range shooting must improve. Some added strength will be needed to compete on the NBA level, but his upside and basketball IQ is superb. Avdija can also play power forward, especially in today’s small ball era.
These are just projections as anything can happen between now and draft night, but get familiar with these five youngsters who will be the stars of the show.