With the 2020 NBA Draft just nine days away and a wealth of uncertainty regarding its overall talent, top prospects and the teams making the first two picks, it’s time to start diving in.
This draft has had the reputation of being a bad one, and it’s partially true. There are no sure-fire stars in this draft. There’s a wealth of players who could become reliable role-players but no one wants to take them high over a player who out of nowhere becomes a star. None of the consensus top prospects can actually shoot. It has the bad label for a reason.
Picking high is not where teams want to be. As it would be for most teams toward the top of this draft, trading down or out is likely Minnesota’s best option at No. 1 overall. But trading down means someone else has to trade up, and if picking high isn’t a hot commodity, than trading up to do so is even worse.
There could be some candidates, though. This mock, which will be revealed in parts leading up to Nov. 18, has Charlotte getting him anyways (Hint hint), but if the Hornets wanted to secure themselves LaMelo Ball, moving up to No. 1 would ensure them of that. What would a deal look like though? Minnesota probably isn’t looking for future picks with D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns on the roster – they should be a playoff team next year. That means win-now pieces would be the asking price in return for Minnesota. Charlotte doesn’t exactly possess that, with Nicholas Batum being the closest thing they have; his contract is an abomination and doesn’t really provide fair return though. The Knicks and Pistons could also be interested in moving up. Veteran help is a little easier to find in these spots, but Blake Griffin and Towns are problematic defensively, never mind Griffin’s own troublesome contract, injury history and the overall the lack of value for Minnesota in the deal. New York would have to stack a couple players for it to be worth it for Minnesota, and even then a deal is underwhelming.
Moving way down the draft, Phoenix at No. 10 overall could want Ball to pair with Devin Booker in the backcourt, but veterans logical for Minnesota don’t totally exist on the Suns’ roster. Orlando is another team that could present options at No. 15 overall – Aaron Gordon has been a long rumored trade candidate and would give the Wolves a nice defensive-minded player who can play next to Towns on the other end. Is he worth the No. 1 overall pick in this draft? Possibly. Markelle Fultz had a nice year, but any hope for him to be their point guard of the future still seems slim. Picking Ball and pairing him with Nikola Vucevic’s passing would be impossible to guard, and Ball would give the Magic legitimate talent on the perimeter. Gordon getting moved reduces the big man logjam in Orlando’s front-court, and gives Minnesota legitimate shooting and defense.
The value is the biggest question with the deal. This draft isn’t great, which makes a player on Gordon’s level expendable for the first pick. The Wolves need contribution right away – any rookie in any draft class is a question mark when it comes to that. With Gordon, you know what you’re getting, you’re plugging a hole and increasing the talent on your team significantly.
Gordon opens up the discussion of Minnesota using the pick in exchange a star rather than a simple trade-down. Stars that seem to be available this offseason could include Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday and Victor Oladipo. Beal is the best fit and the best player of the three, but Washington seems keen on keeping him and John Wall together for one last go-around since Wall’s contract prevents the Wizards from fully rebuilding. What can Minnesota send that wouldn’t trigger a true teardown? No. 1 overall and Jarrett Culver doesn’t do much. If Washington is trying to compete as best it can, they aren’t going to want future picks loaded into a Beal deal.
Jrue Holiday could fit well in Minnesota and takeover as more true of a true point guard, moving Russell to the 2-spot where he can score. Holiday provides good defense to a team that needs it, and him for No.1 overall straight up has momentum for being fair, depending on how New Orleans views this draft. Both Ball brothers on the same team might be a scenario the Pelicans wish to avoid for publicity reasons, but replacing Holiday with the younger Ball brother isn’t a bad succession plan.
There’s nothing concise about Oladipo’s availability on the market. He’s also the worst fit of the three next to Russell. Neither are super high percentage shooters and both are most effective with the ball. Plus, trading No. 1 overall for someone with Oladipo’s health record is risky. An acquisition of the first pick for Indiana also doesn’t jive with the age and trajectory of their roster, which is one that just added Malcolm Brogdon last summer and isn’t too far away from being a contender.
Those are the most obvious moves for Minnesota that require trading out or down. Stunners can happen (AKA, Oklahoma City), and the Timberwolves could gladly take an extra pick to makeup for the one they shipped out for Russell in February. But the Wolves window is now, and if Holiday and Gordon are both off the table, Minnesota’s going to have to play the cards they’ve been dealt.
No.1, Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, Georgia
The first pick of the 2020 NBA Mock Draft is Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. Ranked second on the big board (The second edition is coming soon, click here for the first), Edwards was the pole-sitter for most of the college basketball season until time allowed for a review of Ball. Edwards is dynamic on both ends. He just needs to put a lot of things together.
Edwards’ best skill right now is getting to the rim. He’s a long 6’5 and possess hyper-athleticism, which can get the best of him at times but results in unstoppable drives to the hoop. He’s not a player teams are going to be able to just throw a wing at and call it a day. Defenders need quick foot speed, immense size and even some rim protection ability to stop him.
Edwards’ efficiency isn’t quite there yet. He had too large of workload assigned to him at Georgia, thanks to poor point guard play. Head coach Tom Crean tended to overcast him at times due to the unreliable backcourt. That burden has created worries about his shot creation and shooting ability – which are both valid. The jumpers needs to fall at the next level, and the concerning part is that his shot form isn’t exactly a mess.
Still, 77.2 percent from the free throw line is an encouraging sign, and perhaps playing off someone like Russell won’t tire him out as much, leading to more jump-shots actually falling.
The fit between him and Russell might seem suspect, but Edwards is a good player off the ball thanks to his athleticism and knack for finding holes in a defense. He can cut, catch, take a quick dribble and lay it right in. He’s a menace in transition.
The Wolves desperately need a defensive presence. Edwards has serious potential on that end thanks to his size and ability to move fluidly and quickly, but the results have been sub-par given expectations. A lot of it could be chalked up as a simple lack of effort, with defense taking a backseat to his offensive load in college, but there does seem to be some awareness issues when not locked onto an opponent.
Fine tuning is needed. Edwards has every tool necessary to be a high-end defender in the NBA. The Wolves should be able to get him there, especially since they’re going to need everything they can get on the defensive end of the court.
Edwards may not be the best player in this draft, but that doesn’t totally matter because this draft is anyone’s guess. Minnesota is in the worst possible spot here. Trading down or out would be a saving grace.