NBA Draft: Who made the best lottery picks?

Josh Lloyd
·8-min read
Anthony Edwards (pictured) poses after being picked No.1 in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The No.1 overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards (pictured), poses for a photo. (Getty Images)

It was a wild NBA Draft night. We heard that Klay Thompson suffered a serious leg injury.

Al Horford was traded to the Thunder, Trevor Ariza was sent to Detroit along with Pick 16 so Houston could continue to save money. And we also had the actual draft picks.

Pick 1.

The Timberwolves had been rumoured to take LaMelo Ball for a while, but in the days leading up to the draft, Anthony Edwards’ name was being mentioned a lot more.

That is the way it went with Edwards joining Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota.

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I don’t like the Edwards pick. Despite his athleticism, I worry about how he plays on the court. He seems to lack feel for the game with poor shot selection and poor shot execution, hitting under 30 per cent of his threes for Georgia.

He was often out of position offensively and defensively and didn’t move the ball well. I fear the Wolves made this move because Edwards ‘fits’ better next to Russell. I think it might be a rough rookie year. C+

Pick 2.

The Warriors were looking to shop this pick, and with the Klay injury news, the thought was that maybe they pivot.

But it had been obvious for a while that they were lasered in on James Wiseman at number two.

They made that pick. Like Edwards at one, I don’t really like this selection.

I don’t think Wiseman is the best centre in the draft (that honour goes to Onyeka Okongwu), but the size and rim-protecting is obviously appealing.

I think his defence will be an issue for a team looking to compete immediately, so maybe he is limited to a smaller role on the Warriors as a rookie. C

Pick 3.

I had LaMelo Ball as my number one player in the draft, so the Hornets get a nice bonus seeing him available at number three.

Melo is going to enter the league as an elite passer, even if his shooting and defence is a big question.

He should be a starter immediately and be someone people want to watch, which hasn’t happened in Charlotte for a while. A-

LaMelo Ball (pictured) attends the game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at Galen Center on March 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Professional basketball player LaMelo Ball, right, attends the game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at Galen Center on March 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Pick 4.

The Bulls made the first shock pick of the draft, selecting Patrick Williams of Florida State at number four.

Williams, who didn’t start in college, is a young small, power forward, with defensive upside.

But his offensive ability is in question a little, as is his shooting. He will likely be a bench player this season and the pick comes with quite a bit of risk. I’m not sure this is the best use of pick four, even in a weak NBA draft. C-

Pick 5.

Isaac Okoro was widely touted as the best defensive prospect in the draft. The Cavs have a terrible defence, as well as a huge hole at small forward, so he should fit seamlessly into their starting lineup on opening night.

Okoro is a good passer, but his shooting like Edwards, Wiseman, and Ball before him, is a big question.

An elite finisher, Okoro does have a path to be a solid offensive player, but the Cavs are picking him for his defence here. B+

Pick 6.

The Hawks traded for Clint Capela at this year’s trade deadline, but he never played a game for the team. Now, in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Hawks took another centre, in Onyeka Okongwu.

USC Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu (21) looks on during the college basketball game between the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans.
USC Trojans forward Onyeka Okongwu (21) looks on during the college basketball game between the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I think Okongwu is the best centre in the draft, so I understand the value play here, and with rumours the Hawks are involved in looking to acquire Gordon Hayward, could Capela be on the way out already?

Okongwu can defend on the perimeter, protect the rim, and there is some offensive upside there as well, despite being undersized. I like the pick. A-

Pick 7.

I love this for Detroit. Killian Hayes, my number two player on the board, ends up in Detroit, a team that doesn’t have a point guard of the future.

Hayes should be able to play starter’s minutes almost immediately, and despite poor three-point numbers in Europe, I think his shooting will be fine in the NBA, given he was able to be almost a 90 per cent shooter from the line.

He is very left hand dominant and that could be a problem, but he has size and this is the pick of the draft so far. A+

Pick 8.

Ah, it doesn’t matter who drafts for the Knicks, they still screw it up.

The Knicks went with Dayton power forward Obi Toppin at pick eight.

Toppin, who is one day younger than Jayson Tatum (who has completed three seasons in the NBA already) is possibly the worst defensive player in the draft, but he did have a lot of dunks that appeared in highlight packages.

His shooting was solid, but he isn’t a good free-throw shooter and he wasn’t able to use strength to back guys down at the college level, so I have no idea how that works in the NBA.

I hate this pick. D

Pick 9.

Deni Avdija, who many had going at number four, falls all the way to number nine.

I wouldn’t let him fall a little more, because his inability to shoot is a real concern, but it’s not a bad pick by Washington. Avdija can pass, he can defend, he is a strong cutter and finisher and playing off John Wall and Beal should give him some easy looks, but I worry that he doesn’t actually do anything very well.

But, there is an opening on the wing in Washington and he could slide straight in. It’s a fine pick, but a little underwhelming. C+

Pick 10.

The Suns came in hot with what is the first legitimate surprise of the draft, selecting Maryland big man Jalen Smith.

‘Sticks’, as the nickname suggests, has very skinny legs, but he is a rim-protecting, three-point shooting big man and I could see him being able to play next to Deandre Ayton in the future.

For now, he is probably just a backup for this season, but Smith has some Myles Turner like upside as a player.

He shot 37 per cent from deep at Maryland as a sophomore as well as blocking 2.4 shots per game. Like the Cam Johnson pick last year, it feels like a reach, but there was talk Smith would go at 13 to New Orleans, so maybe, it’s totally fine. C-

Pick 11.

The Spurs finally missed the playoffs and I think they knocked the pick out of the park, selecting Devin Vassell from Florida State.

Vassell was a 40 per cent three-point shooter for two years in college and he is in the discussion, with Okoro, to be the best defensive player on the wing in this class.

Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles is seen during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Devin Vassell #24 of the Florida State Seminoles is seen during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion on March 4, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Spurs don’t really have any three-point shooters on their team either, so Vassell could find himself playing as a rookie, which is unlike most Spurs rookies. A-

Pick 12.

A lot of people were calling Tyrese Haliburton a slider in the draft, but this is exactly the range I think he should’ve gone.

He is best playing off another guard, like De’Aaron Fox and can be a good connecting piece as a secondary distributor.

He is allergic to getting to the line and his shooting form is funky, even though it went in, but the analytics love him and I think there is a chance that this fit makes some sense for the Kings. B

Pick 13.

I had Kira Lewis Jr at number four on my board, so for the Pelicans to pick him here is a clear move to grab the best player available.

They have Lonzo Ball, who will be a restricted free agent after this season, and just acquired Eric Bledsoe, but Lewis is young, super-fast, and can shoot, which could open up a lot for Zion Williamson. I love this pick for the Pelicans even if the fit isn’t obvious straight away. A

Pick 14.

The Celtics round out the NBA lottery by taking a sharpshooting wing from Vanderbilt, Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith shot a blistering 52 per cent from three on over eight attempts per game last season, but it is important to note, he played in only 14 games.

As a freshman, he hit only 33 per cent from deep, so don’t buy that he is unquestionably the best shooter in the draft.

Nesmith also can’t do anything else. He can’t pass, he can’t really create for himself and his defence is not elite. But, the Celtics aren’t plugging holes in the starting lineup and if he hits threes at 40 per cent, then he has a role on a team pushing for a title. B-

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