Due to a number of reasons, the most compatible prospects do not always land on the teams with the best fit in the NBA Draft. What about this class of prospects?
We’re less than a month away from the 2020 NBA Draft, and if you’re a huge fan, there’s no doubt that you’ve seen almost every single possible scenario, as well as 1,000 mocks and prospect breakdowns at this point. The point of a mock draft is to project how the NBA Draft will go.
However, just because a player is projected to go somewhere doesn’t mean that it’s the best landing spot for them.
Every single year, there are several top prospects that don’t work out partially due to the situation they land in. That being said, let’s dive into what would be the most ideal fit for several lottery prospects in this year’s NBA Draft.
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia – Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards is in luck because this is a fit that has a very good chance of happening. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the ideal spot for Edwards for a plethora of reasons. The main concern with Edwards coming into the NBA is his efficiency issues. Edwards was a prolific scorer in his sole season at Georgia averaging 19.1 points per game, but only shot 40.2% from the field and 29.4% from three.
With a lack of talent on Georgia, Edwards shot the ball 15.8 times, and played 33 minutes per game. This was a major reason for his inefficiency. He was simply relied on for instant offense. That’s a tough spot for an 18-year-old freshman. In Minnesota, Edwards would find himself in a spot where he wouldn’t be leaned on as the first or second option immediately. The team has D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns, two All-Stars to lighten the load for Edwards. If Edwards landed in a place like Charlotte, he’d be relied on a lot more in his rookie season, which would ultimately just lead to more inefficiency.
Additionally, Malik Beasley is the current starting shooting guard for the Timberwolves and while Jarrett Culver is there behind him, Culver can play the three as well. I don’t see much competition for Edwards in terms of playing time early in his rookie season. If Minnesota decides to keep the pick, I do see them taking Edwards, which would be the best situation for him.
LaMelo Ball, PG, Australia – New York Knicks
It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for Knicks fans to see LaMelo Ball drafted to another team on draft night. The fit is truly perfect in terms of basketball, and in terms of Ball playing at Madison Square Garden. Ball, who is my top prospect in this draft, is an incredible passer who would fit best next to a scorer, a big man he can throw lobs to, and shooters. R.J. Barrett is that scorer and Mitchell Robinson is that big man. The Knicks don’t have shooters yet, but it is expected they’ll sign or acquire some in the offseason.
In addition, a major concern with LaMelo Ball’s game is his defense. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s main focus is defense, and I think Ball would develop tremendously defensively under him.
Ball averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game in just 12 appearance in Australia, which is extremely impressive for an 18-year-old in a pro league. As a result, Ball will likely be drafted top three. The only chance the Knicks have to land him is if they trade up, and unfortunately, that’s a deal that probably doesn’t get done with the assets the Knicks have right now.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis – Golden State Warriors/Washington Wizards
James Wiseman is one of the most controversial draft prospects this year. As the top player in the 2019 high school recruiting class, Wiseman was widely looked at as the potential top-pick in the NBA Draft before the season started. Then, Wiseman only ended up playing three games for Memphis. In those three games, he averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks.
The NBA scouts seem to really like Wiseman, while Draft Twitter hates him. I stand in the middle, as there are some reasons to like Wiseman and some to not. Wiseman has great size at 7’1,” as well as great athleticism. Also, he’s a phenomenal shot-blocker. The main issue with Wiseman is that he’s an old school big man. He’s going to score most of his points at the rim and can’t shoot. That’s something that limits Wiseman’s potential in the NBA.
It’s easy to say that every single player’s ideal fit would be the Golden State Warriors. However, Wiseman’s profile is similar to bigs they’ve had in the past. JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, and Festus Ezeli were all old school bigs. If the Warriors want to go in that direction again, then Wiseman can fit in very well there. Additionally, several of Wiseman’s weaknesses would be hidden on a team as good as the Warriors.
The Wizards are an unlikely scenario for Wiseman, but a good fit if Washington decides to move up. With Rui Hachimura and possibly Davis Bertans (if Washington re-signs him) as the Wizards’ future forward, Wiseman’s defense and rebounding would be a nice complement to their scoring.
Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton – Cleveland Cavaliers
Obi Toppin is by far one of the most exciting players in this year’s NBA draft. His off-the-charts athleticism combined with his scoring and shooting ability makes him an appealing option for any team. The 2019–20 Wooden Award winner averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 block per game while shooting 63.3% from the field and 39.0% from deep. A major question mark with his game is his defense, which isn’t very good, but his athleticism gives me hope that he won’t be a complete liability on defense.
The Cleveland Cavaliers need all the talent they can get. With the Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter, and Dylan Windler picks of the last two years, there’s a decent chance that Cleveland can look for help in the frontcourt. It also wouldn’t be surprising if they trade Kevin Love at some point during this offseason, opening up the power forward spot for Toppin. Toppin is the perfect high-floor, high-ceiling player for the Cavaliers, and will probably average approximately 15 points per game if starting in his rookie season.
Deni Avdija, SF, Israel – Chicago Bulls
The Bulls aren’t that far off from being a playoff team. They have some young talent in Wendell Carter, Lauri Markannen, and Coby White, and have some established veterans such as Otto Porter Jr., Zach LaVine, and Thaddeus Young. However, given the way the league is trending, the Bulls can use more wings.
Avdija is a 6’9” small forward who played well for Maccabi Tel Aviv in June and July once the team restarted games after the COVID-19 shutdown. After the restart, Avdija averaged 14.1 points over 12 games, shooting 32.8% from beyond the arc, which is some of his basketball of his professional career thus far. His shot needs to and will likely improve after some time in the NBA, but Avdija is a solid defender and good passer as well.
Avdija is another player who will likely do best where there’s talent around him, and a team that has that is the Chicago Bulls.
Killian Hayes, PG/SG, France – Detroit Pistons
The Pistons need a lead guard. It seems like they haven’t had a very good point guard in 10-15 years. That being said, the answer is sitting right in front of them: Killian Hayes. Hayes is is a favorite of draft Twitter and rightfully so. The 6’5″ French point guard reminds me of Goran Dragic.
Hayes averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 assists per game in Germany this past year, signaling he’s likely ready for NBA minutes sooner rather than later. Detroit would be one of his opportunities to grab those minutes early into his career.
It’ll take some time for Hayes to develop his three-point shot, as he only shot 29.4% from behind the arc this past season, but his 87.6% free throw percentage shows that his potential to be a really good shooter is there. While Hayes develops that shot, he will have a lights-out three-point shooter in Luke Kennard playing right next to him.
Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC – Charlotte Hornets/Washington Wizards/Golden State Warriors
Onyeka Okongwu is by far my favorite center in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound USC product averaged 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game in his freshman season in 2019–20. Okongwu is a freak athlete who’s drawn comparisons to Bam Adebayo. Despite the James Wiseman hype, it’s entirely possibility that Okongwu, not Wiseman, is the best center in this class.
That being said, the best landing spot for Okongwu would probably be the Hornets, Wizards, or Warriors, all of whom are in need of a center. If drafted to the Hornets or Wizards, Okongwu would likely become a top-three player on the roster within his rookie season. In Charlotte, Okongwu would probably start next to second-year power forward P.J. Washington, who averaged 12.2 points per game and shot 37.4% from three on 4.0 attempts in his rookie season. This would form a formidable frontcourt for the future for Charlotte, giving them a legitimate young core that they haven’t had in years between Okongwu, Washington, and Devonte’ Graham.
In Washington, Okongwu would pair up nicely with Hachimura and potentially Bertans, similar to Wiseman. As mentioned before, almost any player can fit in well with Golden State, but given the Warriors’ need for a center and Okongwu’s athleticism, it would be an even better match than most.
Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State – Golden State Warriors
If I had to pick one player that would fit in best with the Golden State Warriors, it’s Devin Vassell. Everything about the fit is absolutely perfect. Vassell is one of the best shooters in the draft. He shot 41.5% from three on 3.5 attempts per game this past season at Florida State. Combine that with his elite defense, and Vassell and the Warriors are a match made in heaven.
Any 3-and-D prospect would fit in well with Warriors, and Devin Vassell is surely the best 3-and-D prospect in this year’s NBA Draft. Add an elite three-point shooter who will be able to contribute right away to the Warriors lineup, and it’ll create even more space for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to operate.
However, the only way this happens is if the Warriors trade down from the no. 2 overall pick. A Warriors-Knicks trade seems so ideal in terms of draft fit for each team, but it’s hard to believe a deal could get done with what the Knicks have to offer. The Warriors would want Mitchell Robinson, and the Knicks shouldn’t give him up to move up six picks in what’s considered to be the worst draft class in a long time. That being said, Vassell to the Warriors could be a dream.
Tyrese Haliburton, PG/SG, Iowa State – Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have taken wings the couple of drafts with De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter. Huerter has been playing shooting guard for Atlanta, but I think the Hawks could use another guard to play behind/alongside Trae Young. That’s where Tyrese Haliburton comes in.
The Hawks have been looking for shooters to surround Trae Young with, and Haliburton would be another one of those guys. Haliburton shot 41.9% from downtown on 5.6 attempts per game. He also averaged 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game. A main concern for Haliburton is his ability to finish at the rim, which is a huge weakness for him. This has led many to believe that Haliburton will play more shooting guard in the NBA than point guard. If that’s the case, there’s no reason why Haliburton can’t co-exist and have huge success next to Young.
Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn – Chicago Bulls/San Antonio Spurs
Isaac Okoro is a player that will likely be a huge plus on defense early in his career, which will earn him minutes right away. However, his offensive game is what needs some development.
The Bulls are a wing needy team that can deal with taking a work-in-progress shooter. They already have players like Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., and Lauri Markkanen, who can hit the three at a high percentage.
A team that would likely do really well with Isaac Okoro if they traded up is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have a knack for finding solid defensive talent, as well as developing talent. Okoro would fit in both categories for the Spurs.
Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF, Vanderbilt – New Orleans Pelicans
Aaron Nesmith is in he conversation for best shooter in the draft. In just 14 games in 2019–20, Nesmith made 60 three-pointers for Vanderbilt, shooting 52.2% from beyond the arc on 8.2 attempts per game. As stated in my NBA Draft profile for Nesmith, according to Synergy, via The Stepien, the 6’6″ SG/SF ranked in the 99th percentile in jump shots, 99th percentile in catch-and-shoot, and 97th percentile shooting off screens.
The Pelicans’ number one priority is going to be surrounding Zion Williamson with shooting, and Nesmith is the perfect player for that.
Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama – Phoenix Suns
Kira Lewis is going to be the player in this draft who forces everyone to ask how he fell so far. At 6’3″, 165 pounds, Lewis is currently supposed to be drafted at the backend of the lottery, or in the late teens. However, Lewis will raise his stock tremendously during pre-draft workouts and combine activities, to the point that he’s in the conversation for a top-10 pick. His speed and athleticism is off the charts. He’s also a great scorer and very good passer, as he averaged 18.5 points and 5.2 assists per game during the 2019–20 season for Alabama.
Ricky Rubio is the starting point guard for the Phoenix Suns right now, but the Suns can use another point guard who can play next to Devin Booker long term. Lewis could be that guy. The Suns are on the rise after going 8-0 in the bubble, and are stacked with young talent such as Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. Lewis would be the next piece to their puzzle.