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2020 NBA Draft Tracker: Pick-By-Pick Analysis of the First Round

Sports Illustrated's NBA draft expert analyzes every first-round pick of the 2020 NBA draft.

That’s a wrap on the 2020 draft, which unfolded mostly according to plan for four picks, and then spiraled into a somewhat chaotic blur. In a draft where teams were all across the board in their views on a wide range of players, surprises were certainly to be expected. Scroll down to find Jeremy Woo’s instant analysis on all 30 first round picks, as they happened on Wednesday night.

Top 3 Picks

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

In the end, the Timberwolves made the pick most around the NBA expected they would, going with Edwards as their choice. Minnesota mulled this decision from every angle, calling teams until the last possible second in an attempt to maximize the value of the pick, but Edwards was ultimately the strongest fit, as well as who they felt was the best prospect. He will take some time to figure things out, and the Wolves will have to invest fully in his growth. But Edwards is the draft’s most gifted scorer, arguably its most impressive athlete, and comes with real upside. Minnesota will hope he evolves into the third star they’ve been seeking to play with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis

No surprises here: Wiseman was widely expected to be Golden State’s choice at No. 2, and it would appear the Warriors intend to keep the pick. Wiseman is the most physically gifted big in the draft, with a huge wingspan and above-average mobility, and he should slide into the Warriors’ rotation and enter an optimal situation for his development. Playing alongside Golden State’s veterans should lead to easy buckets and help maximize Wiseman early in his career, as he works to develop his jump shot and expand his skill set to become a more versatile scorer. The worst news of the day was that Klay Thompson is now dealing with a potentially serious leg injury, and it’s unclear if that impacted Golden State’s decision to stand pat. But the Warriors made this pick to position themselves for the present and future, and Wiseman could eventually be their centerpiece if he reaches his ceiling, as Steph Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green enter their 30s.

3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks

After much discussion both in the public sphere and behind closed doors, Ball was the right pick for the Hornets, and the organization will focus its efforts on developing him into an All-Star-level centerpiece. Ball has great size for his position, but more importantly is a visionary playmaker who excels in the open floor, and the type of connective talent Charlotte’s roster has sorely lacked. If his jump shot comes along, he’s going to be very difficult to stop, and if the Hornets can find the right pieces around him, Ball can be the engine driving their rebuild. There’s risk here, but Ball is terrific value at No. 3, and a player the Hornets and their fan base should be able to get excited about. One thing is for certain: no matter what he does as a rookie, the spotlight will follow.

4. Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

Chicago’s decision to take Williams will stand as one of the most fascinating evaluations in this draft, both in the short and long-term, and this is a major swing on upside, but also a measured one. Williams was viewed by teams as a potential lottery pick dating back to the spring, and as the entire NBA pored over game film and assessed the draft over the course of the year. The youngest college player in the draft, Williams quietly came into play as Chicago’s likely choice over the past couple days. His physical traits, versatility, and budding skill potential would suggest he can evolve into the type of two-way forward every team in the league covets, capable of scoring inside and out, as well as switching onto bigs and wings defensively. This is Arturas Karnisovas’ first selection at the helm in Chicago, and it should stand as a memorable one, one way or another.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

The Cavaliers’ selection of Okoro comes as something of a surprise to many around the NBA—Cleveland had been thought to have interest in Okoro, but that talk had quieted in recent weeks, and as of Wednesday morning, the discussion shifted toward Obi Toppin—and the Knicks’ apparent pursuit of the Dayton big man via trade. Okoro is actually a nice fit with the Cavs’ core, which currently consists of three score-first guards and has little defensive backbone, and should be able to log minutes for them on the wing next season. If his jump shot improves, his upside is substantial, but for a lot of teams, the if was a bit too much to take the leap. This pick makes sense for the Cavs now that they’ve made it, but was not what many were expecting.

6. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC 

The Hawks’ selection of Okongwu here is a commitment to shoring up their defense long-term behind Trae Young. Several teams attempted to trade up for him, but Atlanta’s comfort drafting ultimately won out and made him the choice here. Per sources, Okongwu is dealing with a toe injury that could cause him to miss a small amount of time to start the season, but that was a non-issue for teams as far as the medical piece was concerned. Atlanta’s recent trade for Clint Capela suggests Okongwu will come off the bench to start the season, or that the Hawks may move on from Capela. But Okongwu was the most NBA-ready defender among the available bigs in this draft, and gives the Hawks a young piece at the position they needed most long-term. 

7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, Ulm (France)

The chatter I’d heard in league circles for the past few days pointed to Hayes as the Pistons’ preferred target. Detroit had been seeking a long-term playmaker to build around and determined Hayes was their guy, as it became apparent Patrick Williams would go higher. Hayes is a promising, crafty guard who has made tremendous progress over the past couple of years, and his size for his position and knack for making good decisions endeared him to teams who scouted him carefully. He won’t dominate with his athleticism and may struggle in the NBA initially, but the Pistons are operating with an eye toward the future, and they land a player they feel will be a real piece for them as they build moving forward.

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8. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin, F/C, Dayton

It is not an understatement to call the Knicks’ love of Toppin one of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA. As of Wednesday morning, New York was attempting to move up in the draft, and rival teams were widely speculating that Toppin was their target. As it turns out, he was available to them at their pick, and will step in immediately as one of the faces of their team. Toppin was the best player in college basketball last season, and while he’s 22 years old—ancient for a lottery pick—his unique, late-blooming trajectory has produced some optimism that he’ll deliver on his promise. Toppin has defensive concerns that the Knicks will have to work around. But the presence of several bigs on their roster should not be viewed as a serious issue, as R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and now Toppin are their only essential pieces of the future. Toppin should be in the mix for Rookie of the Year if he hits the ground running.

9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

We knew someone was going to fall in the lottery, and with Okoro rising to No. 5 as Cleveland’s choice, Avdija ended up being the player who fell. Wizards boss Tommy Sheppard has long operated with an open mind toward international talent, and unexpectedly lands a player who fits quite well with Washington’s current pieces. Avdija has great size and passing vision for a forward, and the hope is that he’ll develop into a player capable of bringing the ball up the floor and running secondary offense once his ballhandling gets up to speed. Avdija comes with some defensive concerns, but he’s a strong value for Washington at No. 9, and a player they likely weren’t expecting to be on the board. The Wizards are hoping to push for the playoffs this season, and they’ll hope Avdija’s pro experience helps him acclimate quickly.

10. Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith, C, Maryland

The Suns delivered the first massive surprise of the draft for the second year in a row, grabbing Smith, a player who many felt was ticketed for the teens or early 20s. There were certainly teams who were optimistic about his long-term future—Smith is a talented shooter for his size and also a capable shot-blocker, a combination of traits that are always in demand. But his physical stiffness and limited mobility was concerning for a number of scouts, and he rated as a late first-rounder on my personal board. The Suns already have a long-term center in Deandre Ayton, which suggests they view Smith as someone who can play power forward, which is a disputable presumption in a league where teams are playing smaller and faster. Phoenix could well be vindicated here, but this fit is questionable based on what we know right now.

11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State

Vassell is the exact type of player the Spurs have always coveted, pairing high-level defensive instincts with a promising offensive skill set that centers around the threat of his jumper. San Antonio has loaded up on guards in recent years, but needed a defensive-minded wing who could space the floor, and Vassell wound up falling to them at No. 8. He’s not particularly explosive, which may limit him to a complementary role. Still, the Spurs are hoping he’ll be very good at it, and he’ll help them defensively right away.

12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

The No. 4 prospect on my draft board, Haliburton has potential to be the steal of the draft here for Sacramento, who can pair him immediately with De’Aaron Fox in what could be a dynamic backcourt. Haliburton is at his best when playing off of scorers, and his genius playmaking skills could be what ultimately greases the engine for the Kings, and might help bring the best out of Marvin Bagley as well. Haliburton was in play for some teams in the middle of the lottery, and it’s a little bit surprising how far he slipped—the Suns, in particular, may regret passing. But he’s a great fit here, and my personal favorite player in the draft.

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis, PG, Alabama

New Orleans adds to a strong collection of young talent with Lewis, whose ability to play on and off the ball should enable him to mesh effectively with Lonzo Ball when they share the floor. Lewis may be the fastest player in the draft, and fits neatly with the Pelicans’ identity as an uptempo team built around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Lewis’ size may be an issue on defense situationally, but he has no pronounced hole in his game otherwise, and won’t have to bite off more than he can chew in terms of minutes next season. He was considered in play in the 8-10 range, and the Pelicans will be happy to have him here. 

14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Aaron Nesmith, G/F, Vanderbilt

I had Nesmith falling into the 20s after hearing from a wide range of teams that his medical was a real concern—the foot fracture that ended his season early at Vanderbilt is still an issue, and may cause him to miss time this season. But the Celtics have talent on the wing and don’t need him to play much right away, and have to view him as a potentially special shooter once healthy. Nesmith has beautiful shooting form and looks convincing enough on tape that teams by and large were unconcerned with his small sample size (it helps when you make more than 50% of your attempts on eight threes per game). This has the potential to be a strong pick for Boston, presuming he returns to full health.

15. Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

This is a bold move by the Magic, and one that could certainly pay off, as they take the dive with Anthony, a player who appeared to be slipping into the 20s on draft boards. He was a highly-rated high school prospect who struggled in his lone year at North Carolina, and his performance raised more questions than answers for many teams. However, he’s almost certainly a better player than he showed in college, and he also dealt with a midseason injury, which created a buy-low opportunity for teams once it became clear he would fall out of the lottery. Orlando needs backcourt depth, and will hope Anthony can realize his potential alongside Markelle Fultz.

16. Detroit Pistons (via Rockets): Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

Stewart is a player many teams have grown to love, and for whom the Pistons were willing to pay up, sending a future first-rounder and second-rounder to the Rockets in exchange for the chance to draft him here. Stewart is a rugged, tough center who knows exactly what his strengths are, and he eventually rose in the draft, with at least one other team angling to move up and select him, I’m told. Detroit will hope he’s a culture-setting piece for them, and his willingness to do the small things should help make the rest of his team better. He’s more of a floor pick than an upside swing, but the Pistons ended up picking three times in the first round, and get their man here.

17. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Timberwolves): Aleksej Pokusevski, F, Olympiacos (Serbia)

The worst-kept secret in the NBA this draft cycle was how fascinated Sam Presti and the Thunder were with Pokusevski’s potential. The Thunder ended up using the fruits of multiple trades to pull this off, sending Ricky Rubio (acquired from the Suns in the Chris Paul deal), the No. 25 pick and the No. 28 pick (acquired from the Lakers for Dennis Schroder) to the Timberwolves to move up. Pokusevski’s narrow frame was a non-starter for some teams, and the fact he played in Greece’s second division made him a divisive, challenging eval for most everyone. The Thunder have the long view and the roster space to bring him over, get him in the weight room, and see what they have this season.

18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green, SG, Arizona

The Mavericks were thought by many to covet Green, and while some teams sensed there was a chance he would fall into the 20s, he ultimately was the choice for them here. Dallas had been shopping this pick for months, I’m told, but ended up happy with their options and settled on Green, whose athletic ability is off the charts and portends real upside on the defensive end. His struggles to create with the ball will matter less when he shares the floor with Luka Doncic, and Dallas will try to groom him into a useful 3-and-D wing. His shooting and overall floor game must improve, but he makes sense here as a development piece.

19. Detroit Pistons (via Clippers): Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova

The Pistons picked up this pick in a three-team dealt that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and Landry Shamet to the Nets—one that is worth unpacking as it pertains to next season’s title race. But for Detroit, Bey is outstanding value. Most teams expected him to land in the 10-14 range, and while his upside is not massive, he’s a productive, consistent two-way player with three-point range who can play either forward spot at his size. Detroit placed a high premium on character and reliability with their draft, landing Hayes and Isaiah Stewart in addition to Bey here. Safe to say, this has shaped up as a solid first draft class for Pistons GM Troy Weaver.

20. Miami Heat: Precious Achiuwa, F/C, Memphis

Achiuwa fell in the draft a bit, but ended up in a nice situation with the Heat, whose strong development program could be exactly what he needs to access his full potential. Achiuwa is a bit unpolished and is an older player, but he was highly productive in his lone year at Memphis and has the physical tools and powerful athleticism to develop into a rotation piece. The fact he’s somewhat stuck between positions at power forward and center won’t be an issue for the Heat in theory, and lineups that feature Achiuwa and Bam Adebayo could be extremely tough for opposing teams to deal with in time. Some scouts questioned Achiuwa’s feel, but if there’s a team that can get him to play to his strengths as a rim-runner effectively, it’s probably Miami.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

Maxey could end up as one of the better value picks in this draft, falling out of the teens to a nice, cushy landing spot in Philadelphia. As a capable defender and undersized two-guard who needs to learn to play away from the ball, it’s hard to think of a better situation for him than playing alongside an oversized, brilliant playmaker like Ben Simmons. Some scouts viewed him as a talent with lottery-level upside, and the Sixers will hope he’s the next Kentucky product to take a major leap at the NBA level. He’ll have time to learn how to fit in and should benefit from landing in a competitive situation immediately. Maxey will begin as a role player for Philly, but could be an outstanding bench piece and potential starter in time.

22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Zeke Nnaji, F/C, Arizona

Nnaji was one of the players known to be in the mix as Denver eyed a big at this pick, and fits their criteria as an athletic, high-energy rebounder with potential to space the floor. Scouts were all over the board on Nnaji, with some viewing him as an early second-rounder and others placing him in the 20s, citing concerns with his skill level and lack of feel as a passer. The Nuggets are a nice fit considering what he does well, and give him a nice opportunity to develop. With Denver potentially losing Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Paul Millsap in free agency, Nnaji is a good addition to their bench as an insurance policy depending how things shake out. With Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Smith long gone, Nnaji is a fair option here.

23. Timberwolves (via Knicks): Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona (Argentina)

The Knicks moved this pick to Minnesota for No. 25 and No. 33 after acquiring it from Utah earlier today. Currently in-season with Barcelona, Bolmaro, a native of Argentina, was viewed as the draft’s top stashable prospect. He’s a legitimate talent with NBA aspirations who the Timberwolves can keep overseas and bring over when the time is right. He’s a gifted playmaker with great size, and international scouts have always loved his feel and competitive spirit. His average athleticism and shooting struggles were also concerns for some, but he has the talent to be an eventual piece for Minnesota, and keeping him overseas looks like an excellent solution to the Wolves’ roster crunch.

24. Denver Nuggets: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers

A player some had pegged for the lottery, Hampton took a bit of a tumble here on draft night, and it’s one that, quietly, was somewhat predictable. He took a risk playing in New Zealand this season, and his stock dropped after his play in the NBL raised questions about his feel and shooting ability. But he’s a high-octane athlete and another interesting pickup for the Nuggets, who have had recent success taking upside swings on players like Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol. They’ll hope Hampton is their latest reclamation project.

25. New York Knicks (via Timberwolves): Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky

The Knicks acquired this pick after trading up and then trading back, eventually netting their man here. Quickley was not a widely projected first-rounder, but was viewed as a serious sleeper by some teams, and the presence of former Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne on the coaching staff and William Wesley in their front office points to some of the thinking here. My understanding here was that Quickley did wonders for his draft stock over the past month, putting on remarkable shooting displays for several teams behind closed doors. Knicks fans may walk away slightly confused, but from my perspective, this is a nice bet by New York. 

26. Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon

Pritchard was long rumored to have first-round interest, and that came true here as the Celtics selected a player they hope rises to the occasion as an immediate plug-and-play backup. Pritchard consistently exceeded expectations on winning teams at Oregon and is known for his intense competitiveness. His low center of gravity makes him unusually hard to defend for a small guard. He will face an adjustment against NBA length, but the Celtics’ strong supporting cast will help him. This is a surprise pick, and not a traditional upside play—there were more talented guards still on the board. But the Celtics were clearly searching for immediate help, and they get it here.

27. Utah Jazz (via Clippers): Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas

This is a somewhat mystifying selection by the Jazz—Azubuike was a second-round prospect for me—but he is a strong fit for their defensive scheme and the most physically imposing player in this draft. Azubuike has minimal skill level with the ball in his hands and will primarily be a lob target and screener off the bench, but there is always a place for athletic, enormous centers. Particularly, it seems, in Utah.

28. Timberwolves (via Thunder): Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington

McDaniels is a nice buy-low opportunity for the Timberwolves, who were thought to have him in the mix at No. 17, and were able to navigate backward and still get him here. McDaniels has often been a mystifying player, but teams are always intrigued by players his size who have perimeter skill and shot-blocking instincts. This is a pure upside swing for the Wolves with their final first-round selection, but a justifiable one for sure.

29. Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State

The feedback from teams on Flynn has been overwhelmingly positive over the last couple months—almost everyone was impressed in interviews—and he’s a tough, consistent performer with no real holes in his skill set. His size and advanced age are viewed as his only real drawbacks, and we saw Toronto win a title in 2019 deploying a pair of guards who match that criteria neatly. His feel and playmaking ability are stellar, and if Flynn follows in their footsteps, this could be another steal for the Raptors.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (via Boston Celtics): Desmond Bane, SG, TCU 

The Grizzlies traded with the Celtics to select Bane, who many viewed as an appealing sleeper and will give them a quality shooter on the wing alongside Ja Morant. This is a nice pick for Memphis, with Bane likely able to step into the rotation immediately as the Grizzlies push for the playoffs. He’s an older prospect, but Memphis’ main objective is simply to put pieces around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, and makes sense here.


31. Dallas Mavericks (via Warriors): Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

32. Charlotte Hornets (via Cavaliers): Vernon Carey, C, Duke

33. New York Knicks: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

34. Philadelphia 76ers: Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)

35. Memphis Grizzlies: Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State

36. Dallas Mavericks: Tyler Bey, F, Colorado

37. Oklahoma City Thunder: Vit Krejci, G, Casademont Zaragoza (Czech Republic)

38. Detroit Pistons: Saben Lee, PG, Vanderbilt 

39. Utah Jazz: Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse

40. Sacramento Kings: Robert Woodard, F, Mississippi State

41. San Antonio Spurs: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

42. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Nick Richards, C, Kentucky

43. Sacramento Kings: Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech

44. Chicago Bulls: Marko Simonovic, C, Mega Soccerbet (Serbia)

45. Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville

46. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. Elleby, G/F, Washington State

47. Boston Celtics: Yam Madar, PG, Hapoel Tel Aviv

48. Golden State Warriors: Nico Mannion, G, Arizona

49. Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Joe, SG, Arkansas

50. Atlanta Hawks: Skylar Mays, G, LSU

51. Golden State Warriors: Justinian Jessup, G, Boise State

52. Houston Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy

53. Washington Wizards: Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

54. Indiana Pacers: Cassius Stanley, G, Duke

55. Los Angeles Clippers: Jay Scrubb, SG, John Logan JC

56. Charlotte Hornets: Grant Riller, G, Charleston

57. Brooklyn Nets: Reggie Perry, F/C, Mississippi State

58. Philadelphia 76ers: Paul Reed, F/C Depaul

59. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Harris, SG, Nevada

60. Milwaukee Bucks: Sam Merril, G, Utah State