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Deseret News 2020 NBA mock draft

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

How will this year’s draft unfold Wednesday? Utah Jazz beat writer Sarah Todd weighs in with her predictions.

It’s finally time for the NBA draft.

After eight months of uncertainty and the league facing challenges unlike anything we’ve ever seen, the 2020-21 season is right around the corner. The trade moratorium lifted on Monday and Wednesday’s draft is the next event in what is already shaping up to be a wild and fast-paced offseason.

Here is how I see the first round of the 2020 draft playing out, with the caveat of knowing some of this could end up wildly different once draft-night trades start to shift the draft order. This is both a mix of what I think teams will do and what I think they should do.

 Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
Georgia guard Anthony Edwards drives against Mississippi’s Breein Tyree (4) March 11, 2020.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves — Anthony Edwards, guard

There’s been a lot of talk of the Wolves taking either Edwards or LaMelo Ball here, but neither of them really offer what Minnesota needs. It feels like the more likely scenario is that they end up trading down to find someone who complements Karl-Anthony Towns and can offer some defense on the wing.

 Karen Pulfer Focht, Associated Press
Memphis’ James Wiseman dunks against South Carolina State on Nov. 5, 2019.

2. Golden State Warriors — James Wiseman, center

This one seems pretty cut and dry with the Warriors needing some help at the center position and Wiseman widely considered the safest bet with a ton of defensive upside.

 Rick Rycroft, Associated Press
LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks brings the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney on Nov. 17, 2019.

3. Charlotte Hornets — LaMelo Ball, guard

This is another spot where a trade could be possible. But, above all else the Hornets need some flashy star-level talent and Ball could be the start of turning things around in Charlotte. With his above average playmaking ability he could end up being a nice draw for other players to consider going to Charlotte.

 Matthew Putney, Associated Press
Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton reacts after making a 3-point basket against Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa.

4. Chicago Bulls — Tyrese Haliburton, guard

The Bulls would probably love to move up in the draft and take Ball, but even if it’s not possible they still need a high level playmaker and Haliburton seems to be the next best bet with that skill set.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers — Deni Avdija, guard/forward

Avdija is a two-way small forward who has a ton of potential to be a playmaker with more size than some of the smaller guards on a team, and he fits right into what the Cavaliers need.

 Associated Press
Cholet’s Killian Hayes, left, drives against an unidentified Chalon-sur-Saone player during the French Cup under-17 final in Paris on April 22, 2017.

6. Atlanta Hawks — Killian Hayes, guard

The Hawks need someone who can come in and run the team when Trae Young isn’t playing. On top of that Hayes would bring some defense to the position which the Hawks are severely lacking right now.

 Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press
Florida State forward Patrick Williams drives to the basket against Syracuse in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

7. Detroit Pistons — Patrick Williams, forward

Multiple outlets have reported that the Pistons have shown strong interest in Williams and may have even promised him their pick. He still have some offensive room to grow but he gives the Pistons a defensive rotation piece that could last them for years.

 Aaron Doster, Associated Press
Dayton’s Obi Toppin reacts during a game against Rhode Island in Dayton, Ohio, on Feb. 11, 2020.

8. New York Knicks — Obi Toppin, forward

Not only is Toppin a CAA client (the ties with CAA and the Knicks are ridiculous these days) but he’s also one of the most skilled offensive players in the draft. The Knicks could be looking to deal this pick or move in a defensive direction but Toppin would be a good pick no matter what.

9. Washington Wizards — Onyeka Okongwu, forward/center

The Wizards need someone to complement the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal and they need a center that is going to carry them forward. Okongwu could end up going higher on the board with his rising draft stock, but the Wizards would definitely take him if he’s left at No. 9.

 Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press
Florida State guard Devin Vassell watches a Virginia player with the ball during a game in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

10. Phoenix Suns — Devin Vassell, guard/forward

The Suns traded Monday to acquire Chris Paul and in that trade they lost some wing depth so getting in someone young and capable like Vassell to fill in a need would feel like the right thing to do.

 Laurence Kesterson, Associated Press
Villanova forward Saddiq Bey in action during a game against Providence, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Philadelphia.

11. San Antonio Spurs — Saddiq Bey, forward

With a team full of young guards, a multi-positional player like Bey who can add shooting and space to the frontcourt seems like just the kind of player that the Spurs would covet.

12. Sacramento Kings — Isaac Okoro, guard/forward

The Kings have been on the prowl for some perimeter defense and physicality to add to their roster. Okoro checks every box here with size, quickness and the ability to guard wings as well as larger NBA power forwards.

 Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
Vanderbilt forward Aaron Nesmith celebrates as time runs out during a game against Southeast Missouri State Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.

13. New Orleans Pelicans — Aaron Nesmith, guard/forward

The best shooter in the draft would be hard for the Pelicans to pass up when envisioning him playing on the outside with Zion Williamson on the inside. There’s a chance that the Suns could go with Nesmith and possible that Vassell could drop down to this position but either way I think both teams would be happy.

 Brandon Dill, Associated Press
Memphis forward Precious Achiuwa in action against Southern Methodist Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn.

14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis) — Precious Achiuwa, forward/center

The Celtics don’t need scoring from the perimeter, they have that covered in a number of ways, but they could definitely use a physical force that can play quickly off the block.

 James Crisp, Associated Press
Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey, left, drives near Auburn’s Danjel Purifoy during a game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

15. Orlando Magic — Tyrese Maxey, guard

The Magic could be facing losing some players in free agency and already need someone that can play pick-and-roll and complement Markelle Fultz. Maxey would be a great pick just outside the lottery if he happens to fall to them.

 Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. in action against Vanderbilt Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

16. Houston Rockets (via Portland) — Kira Lewis, guard

There’s a chance that the Rockets could be losing both James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the near future with reports that both players want out. That said, the Rockets could be in rebuilding mode soon and Lewis is a player whose draft stock is rising and potential upside is off the charts.

 David Zalubowski, Associated Press
Washington forward Jaden McDaniels dribbles the ball during a game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Boulder, Colo.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn) — Jaden McDaniels, forward

McDaniels offers a lot of raw talent that could be developed and kept waiting in the wings for the Wolves to use at the forward of the future.

 Rick Scuteri, Associated Press
Arizona guard Josh Green watches during the second half of a game against Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz.

18. Dallas Mavericks — Josh Green, guard

There are a lot of two-way wings in this draft and Green is among the best especially on the defensive side. The Mavericks have quietly shown interest in Green and know that if they don’t take him, he’ll be gone quickly.

 Rick Rycroft, Associated Press
Roderick “R. J.” Hampton of the New Zealand Breakers warms up before a game against the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League in Sydney, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.

19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia) — RJ Hampton, guard

He’s worked out for the Nets and has a connection with general manager Sean Marks, a native of New Zealand, where Hampton played rather than going the college route. There’s also a possibility that the Nets could be losing guards like Joe Harris in free agency and even more if they end up trading for Harden.

 Nick Wass, Associated Press
Maryland forward Jalen Smith after he cut the net after Maryland won a share of the Big Ten regular season title after defeating Michigan on March 8, 2020, in College Park, Md.

20. Miami Heat — Jalen Smith, forward/center

I think that everyone, including the Miami Heat, are interested in the pairing of Smith and Bam Adebayo. Smith is a big that can play on the perimeter which would give some protection to Miami with impending free agency and some contracts that are running out.

 Rod Aydelotte, Associated Press
TCU guard Desmond Bane looks to pass around Baylor defense on Feb. 1, 2020, in Waco, Texas.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) — Desmond Bane, guard

The Sixers need playmaking and speed, but more than anything they need a shooter that can play alongside Ben Simmons and also provide backup help at the guard position. Bane fits the bill.

22. Denver Nuggets (via Houston) — Aleksej Pokusevski, forward

Possibly a sleeper in this draft, Pokusevski has a ridiculous amount of upside and is possibly the most skilled big in the draft. He’s raw and would require some developing, but for anyone that takes him it could end up being a huge steal.

 David Zalubowski, Associated Press
Colorado guard Tyler Bey in action during a game Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Boulder, Colo.

23. Utah Jazz — Tyler Bey, guard/forward

I have a feeling that a couple of the guys the Jazz have been looking at (i.e. Green and Bane) will be off the board by the time the Jazz pick. They could very well try to move up in order to get one of those players, or they could take the best available player who also fills a need the team has. Bey is one of the best defensive wings in the draft and he would be a great fit and rotational player for the Jazz. Maybe if I beat this drum loud enough it will actually come to fruition.

 Young Kwak, Associated Press
Stanford guard Tyrell Terry prepares to shoot a free throw during a game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

24. New Orleans Pelicans (via Indiana) — Tyrell Terry, guard

This pick is reportedly heading to New Orleans as part of the trade with Milwaukee for Jrue Holiday, but hasn’t been made official. No matter the team, getting some more shooting on board with Terry would be a great choice.

 Rick Scuteri, Associated Press
Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji drives against Arizona State during a game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 4, 2020.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver) — Zeke Nnaji, forward

An effective and efficient two-way big Nnaji could be some protection for the Thunder if Steven Adams ends up leaving.

26. Boston Celtics — Leandro Bolmaro, guard/forward

There’s a lot of noise suggesting that the Celtics will either package some picks or look to stash a player overseas and Bolmaro would be the wise choice here if they can’t come up with a package to send the pick elsewhere.

 Isaac Brekken, Associated Press
San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn plays against Air Force during a game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Las Vegas.

27. New York Knicks (via Los Angeles Clippers) — Malachi Flynn, guard

If the Knicks take a big with their earlier pick then it would make sense for them to go for a playmaker with this late first-rounder. Flynn has been rising on draft boards and gaining a lot of chatter in recent weeks so getting him at No. 27 might actually be a steal.

 Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press
Mississippi State guard Robert Woodard II looks for an open teammate during a game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Starkville, Miss.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Lakers) — Robert Woodard II, guard/forward

Woodard is a great defender with a ton of offensive upside and at this point in the draft upside with some skill is great.

29. Toronto Raptors — Theo Maledon, guard

Getting a player on the development path and planning for a day when Kyle Lowry won’t be around would be a good plan for the Raptors.

 Ted S. Warren, Associated Press
Washington forward Isaiah Stewart in action against California during a game, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Seattle.

30. Boston Celtics — Isaiah Stewart, center

Again, I wouldn’t count on the Celtics ending up with this pick, which could end up in a package sent elsewhere, but Stewart should be a first-round pick.

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