Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

2020 NBA Mock Draft: How 3 Trades Could Shake Up Draft Night

Jonathan Wasserman

Scouts and executives are expecting trades to shake up the 2020 NBA draft. 

Some teams at the top will think they can find equal value later in the lottery. And there should be certain lower-placed teams searching for stars, willing to part with young prospects and future picks to move up. 

There will also be front offices looking to swap a top pick for an established veteran who can help the team sooner. 

In this mock draft, we executed three trade ideas that seem likely to be discussed by teams from now until November 18. 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards (Georgia, SG, Freshman)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

We're sticking with the Minnesota Timberwolves favoring Anthony Edwards over LaMelo Ball after president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas traded for D'Angelo Russell in February. It's tough to picture Rosas suddenly taking the ball out of Russell's hands and giving it to a teenage rookie whose maturity is questioned. 

Edwards could give the lineup another shot-creator, shot-maker and explosive athlete between Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Given his tools, skill level and production, the Wolves should expect his scoring to translate, and they may like the idea of him starting as a third option, which could help tighten his shot selection.

Like Ball's, Edwards' defensive effort wavered, but there appears to be more two-way potential tied to his 6'5", 225-pound frame.

The Wolves will make and take calls for potential trades with the No. 1 pick, though it seems unlikely they'll be offered an A-list star in this particular draft.

TRADE at 2. New York Knicks (via Warriors): LaMelo Ball (NBL Hawks, PG)

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

New York Knicks receive: No. 2

Golden State Warriors receive: No. 8, No. 27, Dallas Mavericks 2021 first-round pick, Frank Ntilikina

Losing seasons and franchise instability have turned free agents away from the New York Knicks. Even with a new front office, the team can't feel confident in its ability to just sign the next star. 

Instead, the Knicks could make a play for one of the draft's potential stars, and if they can get LaMelo Ball without giving up Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett or the Knicks' own 2021 first-round pick, president of basketball operations Leon Rose would presumably sign off. 

Aside from Ball's flash and pace that the team has been missing, he'd give the Knicks a special playmaker to build around, regardless of how his scoring skills develop. For a 6'7" point guard, his elite passing will translate. 

Ball could reach an exciting level of upside if his body continues to improve, his finishing gets better and his shooting starts to go from streaky to consistent.

3. Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman (Memphis, C, Freshman)

Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

Talent and fit should give James Wiseman the edge at No. 3 to the Charlotte Hornets. They'll think about Obi Toppin to improve their offense, but the long-term upside tied to Wiseman, who's roughly three years younger, 7'1", 240 pounds and has a 7'6" wingspan, should appear too enticing.

He'd add rim protection behind P.J. Washington as well as a monster finishing target for guards Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier. And while his offensive skill package needs time to develop, the Hornets shouldn't feel any rush to see results.

They'll presumably be in the lottery again next year for a 2021 draft that's expected to produce more star power than 2020's. The Hornets would bank on Wiseman's tremendous physical profile translating to easy baskets and shot-blocking, and they'd gamble on his post game, touch and passing improving.   

4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija (Maccabi Tel Aviv, SF/PF, 2001)

Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls could look to trade up for LaMelo Ball at No. 2. Or they could try to move back for a point guard like Killian Hayes or a wing like Devin Vassell. But they might be fine sticking at No. 4 and taking Deni Avdija, who has teams talking about his professionalism, toughness and coveted versatility at the forward spots. 

He'd be a nice complement to Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen with his off-ball scoring, unselfish passing and defensive competitiveness. And given his strong, 6'8" frame and experience in EuroLeague, plus the fact he played nearly double the number of games (59) this season compared to most NCAA prospects, Avdija figures to be one of the more NBA-ready prospects from this draft.

This could be Otto Porter Jr.'s final year in Chicago after he opts in. And there may even be questions about whether Markkanen is a long-term piece. Avdija makes sense for Chicago's present but also its future if the front office decides to make big changes to the roster.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)

Aaron Doster/Associated Press

More teams seem to have Obi Toppin ahead of Onyeka Okongwu, with the belief that Toppin's explosive offense is going to translate. The Cleveland Cavaliers would have a tough time resisting taking him considering his scoring—and its likelihood of carrying over. 

His defense may be a question mark, especially for this particular roster, but it might look very different a year from now, depending on whether the Cavaliers choose to re-sign Andre Drummond, trade Kevin Love or break up Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.

Cleveland also figures to get the quicker results from the 22-year-old Toppin than other top prospects, which is a plus for general manager Koby Altman, who might be feeling pressure. 

Toppin would start his career off the bench for the Cavaliers, adding power, athleticism, post offense and some shooting to the second unit. There is belief he may be best working as an NBA 5 long-term, and he could wind up being the starting center in 2021-22, giving Altman an out from having to overpay Drummond.

TRADE at 6. Sacramento Kings (via Hawks): Onyeka Okongwu (USC, C, Freshman)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Sacramento Kings receive: No. 6, No. 50, Kevin Huerter

Atlanta Hawks receive: No. 12, Buddy Hield

The Sacramento Kings may shop Hield to improve their draft position and chances at re-signing Bogdan Bogdanovic. Atlanta could show interest with its need for another scorer and shooter to play off Trae Young. 

In this deal, the Kings would have their eyes set on the No. 6 pick to select Onyeka Okongwu for his athleticism, post skills and defensive upside. Marvin Bagley III has struggled with injuries, but Sacramento could also picture both bigs playing together, with Bagley bringing more scoring versatility and Okongwu adding shot-blocking and rim protection. 

The Kings would also land Huerter, another shooter who struggled to make a sophomore leap.

TRADE at 7. Boston Celtics (via Pistons): Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa St., G, Soph)

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Boston Celtics receive: No. 7

Detroit Pistons receive: No. 14, No. 26, No. 30

The Celtics won't have interest in adding three more first-round rookies, including two from the late first round. And the Pistons might not feel confident in putting their eggs in one basket at No. 7. They may believe they can draft a similar prospect at No. 14 and have two more chances to find steals at No. 26 and No. 30.

Boston would only do this if it had a target who was available, so this deal would have to been contingent on Haliburton being available at No. 7. His passing, spot-up shooting, interchangeability between guard spots and overall maturity fit the Celtics' system/culture. 

While he'd give the second unit a trustworthy decision-maker behind Kemba Walker, coach Brad Stevens could also play them together, using Haliburton to facilitate or stretch the floor off the ball with his strong catch-and-shoot game from the wings and corners.

Trade at 8. Golden State Warriors (via Knicks): Devin Vassell (FSU, SF, Soph)

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors receive: No. 8, No. 27, Dallas Mavericks 2021 first-round pick, Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks receive: No. 2

Moving down makes sense for the Golden State Warriors if they determine there will be a similarly helpful player at No. 8 as there is at No. 2. They're likely to have trouble approving LaMelo Ball's fit for the lineup and locker room, and drafting a center like James Wiseman at No. 2 just isn't as sensible in today's NBA, particularly for an offense that's run through Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

But a wing like Devin Vassell should have Golden State's attention. The Warriors could use another three-and-D forward, and Vassell has become the most appealing one in the draft after shooting over 40 percent from three in both of his collegiate seasons and consistently making advanced defensive reads, rotations and plays on the ball.

He'd improve the Warriors' athleticism, give them another shot-maker and strengthen their team defense with his IQ and playmaking.

By trading, the Warriors can also squeeze two more first-round picks from the New York Knicks (one via Dallas in 2021), plus another needed perimeter defender in Frank Ntilikina.

9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro (Auburn, SF/PF, Freshman)

Michael Woods/Associated Press

Isaac Okoro gives the Washington Wizards' No. 29-ranked defense a potential stopper. They should buy into his powerful legs, strong frame, foot speed and toughness slowing down opposing wings and forwards.  

He's a limited creator, but Okoro scores efficiently from off the ball by finishing at a strong rate and rarely taking bad shots. 

Washington should see an impact-over-stats type of contributor in Okoro, who'll need to focus on improving his three-point shooting. 

10. Phoenix Suns: Killian Hayes (Ratiopharm Ulm, PG, 2001)

Without an obvious contributor for their 2021 playoff run at No. 10, the Phoenix Suns could look toward the future with Killian Hayes, arguably the top long-term prospect available and a strong future replacement for Ricky Rubio. 

Phoenix is also a favorable landing spot for Hayes, whose big weakness is three-point shooting. Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson would enjoy the point guard’s pick-and-roll passing skills and ability to manipulate defenses with hesitations and look-aways. 

There is ultimately a path for Hayes to emerge as the class’ top ball-handler if his finishing efficiency translates and his jump shot continues to improve. Between his playmaking, shot-creation, touch and signs of defensive awareness, he’s more well-rounded than Ball and Haliburton.

Late Lottery

Robert Franklin/Associated Press

11. San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Williams (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)

Power and skill versatility set Williams apart for a forward. With the Spurs now a lottery team, they'll be thinking more about the long term, and Williams is the draft's youngest NCAA prospect who delivered enticing flashes of shooting, live-dribble passing, physical finishing and defensive playmaking.


TRADE at 12. Atlanta Hawks (via Kings): Saddiq Bey (Villanova, SF/PF, Sophomore) 

The Hawks move back from No. 6 to No. 12 after acquiring Hield. They could still add a useful rotation piece here in Bey, who'd give them a needed frontcourt spacer and shooter. Between De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and now Bey, Atlanta would have a trio of interchangeable wings/forwards. 


13. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Smith (Maryland, PF/C, Sophomore)

The Pelicans could target Smith for his shooting and shot-blocking next to Zion Williamson. Derrick Favors is entering free agency, and compared to Jaxson Hayes, Smith offers more physicality, offensive skill and overall discipline.


TRADE at 14. Detroit Pistons (via Celtics): Cole Anthony (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)

The Pistons move down for Anthony, who gives the franchise a ball-handler and scorer to build with once Derrick Rose's run is over. Detroit could use the year to let Anthony learn and develop under Rose before giving him the keys. The Pistons would put more stock into Anthony's creation, shot-making, positional athleticism and potential to improve as a playmaker than his inefficient numbers at North Carolina, where he got hurt and didn't have much support. 

Nos. 15-20

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

15. Orlando Magic: Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama, PG, Sophomore)

Though some faith has been restored in Markelle Fultz, Lewis would give the lineup a different feel with his speed in transition and breakdown quickness off the dribble. Orlando will value his ability to create scoring opportunities while his shooting and decision-making execution take time to develop. 


16. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Nesmith (Vanderbilt, SF, Sophomore)

In Portland, Nesmith could compete for the starting small forward spot, where he'd give the lineup another off-ball scorer and shot-maker. Some scouts see him as the draft's top shooter, and the Blazers' guards could mask Nesmith's inability to create. 


17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nets): Precious Achiuwa (Memphis, PF/C, Freshman)

The Wolves could target Achiuwa for his defensive versatility, but the upside kicks in with the 6'9", 225-pound big if he's able to build on the flashes of face-up scoring and spot-up shooting. Until he fine-tunes his offensive skills, he'll contribute in a more limited role that calls for running, finishing, switching and shot-blocking.


18. Dallas Mavericks: RJ Hampton (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

Explosiveness separates Hampton, who thrives by attacking and getting downhill. He could slip without a bankable, signature skill, but he'd become a steal by building on his flashes of playmaking and improving his capable jump shot. 


19. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Josh Green (Arizona, SF, Freshman)

Brooklyn could see Green as a plug-and-play wing for a lineup that could use more athleticism, defense and off-ball scoring. He isn't an advanced creator, but in Brooklyn, he'd play to his strengths as a transition weapon, spot-up shooter, line-drive attacker and energetic defender.


20. Miami Heat: Jaden McDaniels (Washington, SF/PF, Freshman)

McDaniels' inconsistency at Washington was frustrating, but the Heat could be willing to bet on talent and skill. If the switch eventually flips, his creating and shooting would fit nicely at the 4 spot in Miami.

Nos. 21-30

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Thunder): Tyrell Terry (Stanford, PG, Freshman)

Terry's shooting and playmaking should attract the 76ers. Regardless of how his underwhelming tools limit his scoring potential, the Sixers could use to run pick-and-rolls or knock down jumpers off spot-ups and screens. 


22. Denver Nuggets (via Rockets): Aleksej Pokusevski (Olympiacos II, PF, 2001)

The Nuggets might as well continue swinging for home runs with Pokusevski on the board. There isn't much risk at No. 22 for a team in the Western Conference Finals, but there could be enormous rewards tied to the 7-footer's open-floor ball-handling, unique shooting versatility, passing skills and shot-blocking, even if Denver doesn't see results for a year or two.


23. Utah Jazz: Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

Between Jamal Murray, Tyler Herro and Devin Booker, Kentucky has been pumping out quality NBA 2-guards. The Jazz may want to bet on Maxey's shooting and playmaking improving. Regardless, he should give Utah a scoring combo guard and tough defender.


24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Pacers): Jahmi'us Ramsey (Texas Tech, SG, Freshman)

The Bucks could see Ramsey immediately providing shot-making off the bench. While there are questions about his playmaking and defense, his physical profile, jump shot and confidence suggest his scoring can translate.  


25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Leandro Bolmaro (Barcelona, SG/SF, 2000)

Bolmaro recently received minutes in the Spanish ACB SuperCup, giving scouts another opportunity to see his playmaking and energetic defense. The Thunder could try to bring him over right away, but he's also in a favorable situation with Barcelona, which could make him an attractive stash play.


TRADE at 26. Detroit Pistons (via Celtics): Zeke Nnaji (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)

Nnaji's game doesn't scream upside, but he could give the Pistons a reliable finisher, active offensive rebounder and mid-range shooting threat. Despite limited versatility, his established strengths seem likely to carry over, and his shooting figures to improve based on his touch.


TRADE at 27. Golden State Warriors (via Knicks): Nico Mannion (Arizona, PG, Freshman)

The Warriors managed to acquire this pick in their deal with the New York Knicks, and it even seems possible they'd move it to someone else. Regardless of who's making the selection, Nico Mannion should be in play as a best-player-available option for his passing skills, shooting versatility and production at Arizona. 


28. Los Angeles Lakers: Cassius Winston (Michigan State, PG, Senior)

Looking for an immediate contributor, the Lakers' search will lead them to Winston, who scouts talk about as an obvious steal candidate based on where he's projected to go. L.A. will look to capitalize on teams putting too much stock into his age and athletic limitations. Winston gives the Lakers an excellent ball-screen weapon and versatile shooter.


29. Toronto Raptors: Daniel Oturu (Minnesota, C, Sophomore)

Along with an impressive physical profile and volume production, Oturu has turned NBA heads with his improved shooting and scoring on the move. A team willing to buy his jump shot should see first-round value in his potential as a strong finisher, post scorer and stretch 5.


TRADE at 30. Detroit Pistons (via Celtics): Desmond Bane (TCU, SG, Senior)

Plus shooting, passing and defensive IQ paint Bane as an easy fit for every team. Without any obvious stars on the board, Detroit will just hope to add a role player, and Bane checks the right boxes with his consistent jump shot and improved playmaking.


Stats via and Sports Reference unless otherwise noted. 


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