The draft predictions in this article are just the common picks from external publications. They are not the opinions of anyone affiliated with the Orlando Magic or the team’s partners or sponsors.
1. LaMelo Ball | Minnesota Timberwolves
Media outlets with him at #1: ESPN, The Athletic, Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, NetScouts Basketball
Previous Team: Illawarra Hawks
Strengths: Passing, Offensive Creativity, Instincts, Ball Handling, Transition Offense, Floaters
Weaknesses: 3-Point Shooting, Shot Selection, Pick-and-Roll Defense
NBA Comparisons: Jason Williams, Pete Maravich, Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers
Physically, LaMelo is similar to his older brother, Lonzo. He also shares some of the same abilities and weaknesses as his big bro. In particular, he’s an elite passer like the current New Orleans Pelican. He also thrives in transition, and has comparable instincts and anticipation. Three-point shooting, as was the case for Lonzo when he first came into the NBA, is currently a weakness, as the 6-foot-7 guard shot just 25 percent from beyond the arc with the Illawarra Hawks, an Australian pro team, this past season. The key difference between the two, though, is that LaMelo is a scoring threat out of the pick-and-roll and is far more efficient and creative scoring around the basket when he accelerates inside. He’s crafty, shifty, and extremely aggressive when he drives into the paint, which is something Lonzo isn’t. Shot selection, however, is an issue for the Chino Hills, California native, who will sometimes settle and take deep step-back threes that have little chance of going in. Some of his movements in the half court are Trae Young-ish. His defense needs work, but, like his brother, he has quick feet and good hands, which helps him come up with deflections. His pick-and-roll defense was very poor in Australia, so that must improve or else he will be a major liability on that end. Could LaMelo turn into a taller version of Kyrie Irving with better passing ability? Is his floor Austin Rivers, also with better vision? Jason Williams, the former Sacramento King and NBA champion with the Miami Heat, is another player he reminds some people of because of his pizzazz and flashiness, especially in the open floor. He definitely draws comparisons to all three of those players.
2. James Wiseman | Golden State Warriors
Media outlets with him at #2: ESPN, The Ringer, The Athletic, SI.com, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: Athleticism, Offensive Potential, Shot Blocking, Rim-Running, Lob Threat, Post Moves
Weaknesses: Defending in Space, Playmaking, Range Shooting
NBA Comparisons: Chris Bosh, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Hassan Whiteside
Wiseman, who withdrew from the University of Memphis while serving a suspension from the NCAA after playing in only three games, is widely considered the most talented big man in this draft. Many have compared him to Anthony Davis (athleticism, mobility), Chris Bosh (skill, shooting form) and Hassan Whiteside (defensive technique). Barely playing in college could hurt his draft stock, although most think he will be chosen somewhere in the top five. Offensively, the 7-foot-1, 240-pounder runs the floor extremely well and has a very smooth face-up game, which is primarily why he’s drawn comparisons to Bosh. Sealing off defenders in the post is something else he does well, and his footwork, awareness and touch around the basket makes him a scoring threat in an old-school, let-the-big-man-go-to-work offensive structure. Defensively, his methods are similar to Whiteside, as he will hunt for blocks and slide in over from the weak side to contest shots near the basket. Where he could struggle at the next level is defending on the perimeter. He doesn’t defend in space that well, which could make it tough for him to stay in front of speedsters when he gets switched onto them in pick-and-roll.
3. Anthony Edwards | Charlotte Hornets
Media outlets with him at #3: ESPN, The Athletic, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: Isolation Scoring, Athleticism, Strength, Explosiveness, Free Throw Rate
Weaknesses: Playmaking, Defensive Effort, Shot Selection, Offensive Efficiency
NBA Comparisons: Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, Andrew Wiggins
A stronger, more physically gifted version of Donovan Mitchell – that’s a good way to describe Edwards, who averaged 19.1 points in his one season at Georgia. Victor Oladipo is another player Edwards compares to, as the two are built similarly and have analogous athleticism, speed, power, and elusiveness. Edwards’ step-back jumper is elite and his advanced combo dribble moves, notably a sweeping crossover going to his left, make it almost impossible to prevent him from creating space to rise up for his shot. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder excels in transition, which is how he generated many of his points in college, and he’s extremely explosive when he attacks the basket. Although he’s currently more comfortable operating in isolation, the Atlanta native has the potential to be a prolific pick-and-roll scorer. A hero-ball approach did cause some inconsistency issues with the Bulldogs. Additionally, his defensive technique and footwork was poor in college. Many, however, believe he will eventually become a solid defender, mostly because of the physical tools he possesses.
4. Deni Avdija | Chicago Bulls
Media outlets with him at #4: ESPN, The Athletic, SI.com, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, USA Today, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: Playmaking, Ball Handling, Versatility, Defensive Potential
Weaknesses: 3-Point Shooting, Free Throw Shooting, Scoring Arsenal
NBA Comparisons: Hedo Turkoglu, Dario Saric
Is Avdija going to be the next great point forward in the NBA? That’s what many observers think, as his vision, instincts and playmaking are off the charts. A player the 6-foot-9 Israeli compares to is former Orlando Magic great Hedo Turkoglu. It’s unknown whether Avdija, just 19 years old, can develop into a premier scorer, though. Unlike Luka Doncic, who some have compared him to, Avdija doesn’t have outstanding footwork or balance, which makes it tougher for him to create his own shots or make difficult ones (like step-back jumpers). He runs the pick-and-roll well, which Turkoglu was amazing at, but he’s definitely more effective passing out of them than scoring. His outside shooting is a work in progress, too, as he didn’t shoot it well from distance for Maccabi Tel Aviv this past season. But, his versatility is so unique that whichever team selects him can plug him into any role and he will make it work. He’s excellent in transition (will often grab rebound and push the ball); he’s comfortable spotting up on the perimeter when he’s playing off the ball; he can post up against smaller defenders; defensively he’s tough and fearless (kind of like Dario Saric).
5. Obi Toppin | Cleveland Cavaliers
Media outlets with him at #5: ESPN, The Athletic, SI.com, Bleacher Report, SB Nation, USA Today, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: Athleticism, Explosiveness, Offensive Creativity, Efficiency, Transition Offense
Weaknesses: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Low Post Defense
NBA Comparisons: Amar’e Stoudemire, Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Nobody in this draft is better at scoring when rolling to the basket than Toppin, who has drawn comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire, although he is a little shorter than the former perennial NBA All-Star. Toppin, who shot 63.3 percent from the field this past season for the Dayton Flyers, sixth best in all of college basketball in 2019-20, is extraordinarily athletic. He dunked on many defenders in college, and will probably do the same in the pros. What makes the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder an even more intriguing prospect, though, is that an offense can run through him, as he makes excellent passes out of the post or when he gets the ball on a short roll in the middle of the lane. He’s an above-average 3-point shooter as well, knocking down 39 percent of his tries during his final college year. The big question on the Brooklyn native is whether he will be able to defend at the next level. His defensive technique looked very poor at Dayton, which caused opponents to frequently fly by him or outmuscle him down low. Unless he dramatically improves in this area, it’s going to be critical for the team that drafts him to have someone who can defend in space play alongside him.
6. Tyrese Haliburton | Atlanta Hawks
Media outlets with him at #6: The Athletic, SI.com, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, USA Today
College: Iowa State
Strengths: Offensive Versatility, Length, Playmaking, Protecting Ball, Spot Up 3-Point Shooting, Defensive Instincts
Weaknesses: Scoring Arsenal, Pick-and-Roll Offense, Free Throw Attempts (rarely absorbs contact)
NBA Comparisons: Shaun Livingston, Lonzo Ball, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Carter-Williams
What’s most striking about Haliburton, who played two seasons at Iowa State, is his 7-foot wingspan, always a plus with length being so critical in the NBA today. The big concern for the 20-year-old is his thin frame and lack of zip when he puts the ball on the floor. Haliburton, one of college basketball’s most improved players last year before injuring his wrist in early February, has a very awkward-looking jump shot, although he shot over 40 percent from downtown in college. The player that Haliburton plays a lot like is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as like the OKC Thunder star Haliburton has a smooth mid-range game. Not only can he consistently knock down jumpers from 10-to-15 out, the Oshkosh, Wisconsin native hits runners and floaters with ease, as his height makes it easy for him to shoot over the top of many defenders. Also a positive for teams considering drafting him is his high basketball IQ, as he limits turnovers and plays under control. Although he will struggle guarding burlier guards, Haliburton’s length should help him be a solid defender at the next level.
7. Killian Hayes | Detroit Pistons
Media outlets with him at #7: The Ringer, SI.com, CBS Sports, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: Playmaking, Vision, Step-Back Jumper, Finishing Around Basket, Defensive Potential
Weaknesses: Speed, Left-Hand Dominant, Effectiveness Without Ball
NBA Comparisons: James Harden, D’Angelo Russell, Manu Ginobili
Hayes has local ties, even though he grew up in France, where he played for the pro team, Cholet, for two years before signing with the German club, Ulm, prior to last season. The 6-foot-5 playmaker was born in Lakeland, Florida, as his father, DeRon, is from there and was playing in the ABA at the time of his son’s birth. Hayes, more of a combo guard, has James Harden-ish skills. Aside from the fact that he’s a left-hander like the Houston Rockets superstar, Hayes relies on his coordination and shiftiness to outwork defenders rather than supreme athleticism and nimbleness, which he generally lacks. The 19-year-old is an exceptionally good passer, which has created a debate as to whether he or fellow top prospect, LaMelo Ball, has better court vision. Hayes is a decent outside shooter, probably better than LaMelo in this area, but that does need some retooling. The biggest problem with Hayes is that he’s very turnover-prone, as he’s still learning the point guard position. He’s very left-hand dominant, so learning to make plays going to his right will be critical. While Harden is certainly his ceiling, D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, formerly teammates in Brooklyn, are probably more realistic comparisons.
8. Also Killian Hayes | New York Knicks
Media outlets with him at #8: Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, USA Today
9. Onyeka Okongwu | Washington Wizards
Media outlets with him at #9: ESPN, The Athletic, SI.com, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, USA Today,
Strengths: Defensive Versatility, Defensive Instincts, Switchable, Defending in Space, Great Hands, Lob Threat, Screening
Weaknesses: Range Shooting, Playmaking, Offensive Creativity
NBA Comparisons: Bam Adebayo, Clint Capela, Antonio McDyess
One major reason why the Lakers and Heat both reached the Finals was that they each had a big man who can switch onto anyone defensively and be effective. Anthony Davis for L.A. and Bam Adebayo for Miami are two of the best in the NBA at staying in front of speedsters in pick-and-roll action, which creates fewer mismatch opportunities for opponents. The big man in this draft that has the talent to do the same is USC’s Okongwu, who has the lateral quickness, footwork and IQ to be an excellent switch defender. The 6-foot-9, 245-pounder, who averaged 2.7 blocks and 1.2 steals in his one and only college season, can defend in space, critical in today’s NBA.
10. Isaac Okoro | Phoenix Suns
Media outlets with him at #10: The Ringer, NetScouts Basketball, CBS Sports
Strengths: On-Ball Defense, Transition Defense, Switch Defense, Attacking Basket, Absorbing Contact
Weaknesses: 3-Point Shooting, Offensive Creativity
NBA Comparisons: Marcus Smart, Stanley Johnson, Jaylen Brown, Tony Allen
What really stands out about Okoro is his strength, as the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has the physical tools to wear down opponents on both ends. Offensively, he’s an excellent driver and finisher around the basket. Importantly, he’s ambidextrous, so he can effectively attack and finish with both hands. Initiating and absorbing contact is something the Atlanta native should have no problem doing at the next level. He averaged 4.8 free throw attempts in his one season at Auburn. Defensively, it’s very difficult for opponents to back him down or power past him. On-ball defense is his calling card, and he can effectively guard positions one through four. Perimeter shooting is his main weakness, as Okoro made just 28.6 percent of his 3-point attempts in college. He’s also a poor mid-range shooter, so he will need to make major improvements offensively to transform into an elite scorer in the pros.
11. Patrick Williams | San Antonio Spurs
Media outlets with him at #11: The Athletic, SI.com, SB Nation, USA Today
College: Florida State
Strengths: Defensive Potential, 3-Point Shooting Potential, Size, Strength, Pull-Up Jumper
Weaknesses: Offensive Creativity, Unpolished
NBA Comparisons: OG Anunoby, Al-Farouq Aminu
It’s no surprise that Florida State was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams this past season considering they had two of the nation’s top defenders in Devin Vassell and Williams, although Williams played far fewer minutes than his fellow Seminole draft prospect. Only four players in the ACC in 2019-20 had a better block percentage than the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Williams, and all four of them were 6’10 or taller. As he continues to fill out, there’s a belief that he will be perfect in a small-ball four-man role, although he has enough versatility offensively to play the three.
12. Devin Vassell | Sacramento Kings
Media outlets with him at #12: SI.com, CBS Sports, The Athletic
College: Florida State
Strengths: Team Defense, Defensive Versatility, Instincts, 3-Point Shooting, Length
Weaknesses: Offensive Creativity, Strength, Initiating Contact, Attacking Basket
NBA Comparisons: Andre Iguodala, Paul George, Robert Covington
The best 3-and-D player in this draft may possibly be Vassell, who shot just a shade under 42 percent from 3-point range in his two seasons at Florida State combined and in his sophomore year averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks. The 6-foot-7, 194-pounder hounds the passing lanes as well as any prospect we’ve seen in recent memory, which helps him deflect passes away or simply prevent opponents from executing effectively in the half court. The role he will most likely fill at the next level on the offensive end is as a spot-up shooter, suggesting he will need to play alongside a point guard that excels getting defenses to collapse in the paint so that he can be the beneficiary of kick-out passes. The Suwanee, Georgia native has a 7-foot wingspan, which helps him guard multiple positions. Clearly, his inability to create scoring opportunities for himself (or for others) is his primary weakness. His ball handling is poor and he rarely absorbs contact when he drives inside.
13. Aaron Nesmith | New Orleans Pelicans
Media outlets with him at #13: CBS Sports, USA Today
Strengths: 3-Point Shooting, Offensive Efficiency, Defensive Potential
Weaknesses: Offensive Creativity, Playmaking
NBA Comparisons: Buddy Hield, Terrence Ross, Khris Middleton, Duncan Robinson
The best pure outside shooter in this draft might be Nesmith, the Vanderbilt swingman who shot a blistering 52.2 percent from 3-point range during his truncated sophomore season. A foot injury limited him to 14 games. Nesmith’s shot release looks similar to Buddy Hield’s, a good sign considering Hield is now one of the NBA’s premier 3-point shooters. Another player the 6-foot-6, 213-pounder from Charleston, South Carolina plays like is Terrence Ross. Nesmith runs off screens and stays balanced when he squares up similar to the Magic sharpshooter.
14. Cole Anthony | Boston Celtics
Media outlets with him at #14: Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, SB Nation, USA Today
Strengths: Shot Creation, Offensive Creativity, Aggressiveness, Rebounding
Weaknesses: Offensive Efficiency, Playmaking, Decision Making, Shot Selection
NBA Comparisons: Coby White, Jamal Murray
A shoot-first point guard – that’s Anthony in a nutshell, at least based on what he showed in his one year at UNC. Among all the players on this list, none are better at creating shots for themselves than the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, whose dad, Greg, played in the NBA and is currently a TNT and NBA TV commentator. Interestingly, Anthony plays a lot like last year’s UNC product, Coby White, who had a solid rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. Anthony has a host of moves that he uses to generate space in the half-court as he’s searching for his sweet spots. He’s extremely creative with the ball in his hands, as his versatile scoring arsenal makes it very difficult for defenders to predict where he’s going and when he’s going to rise for his shot. Being able to score from all three levels is a major plus, too, although he was very erratic in college as he made just 38 percent of his shots. Another player the 20-year-old compares to is Jamal Murray, as like the Denver Nuggets star Anthony is very comfortable in pick-and-roll situations and changes speeds and directions well as he’s moving.
15. Kira Lewis Jr. | Orlando Magic
Media outlets with him at #15: The Athletic, CBS Sports, SI.com, USA Today, Bleacher Report
Strengths: Speed, Transition Offense, Playmaking, 3-Point Shooting Potential, Defensive Awareness
Weaknesses: Turnovers, Pick-and-Roll Offense, Strength
NBA Comparisons: De’Aaron Fox, Collin Sexton, Dennis Schroder
The fastest point guard in this draft is probably Alabama’s Lewis, who plays much like Collin Sexton, another former Crimson Tide star. Lewis’ end-to-end speed makes him an extremely dangerous player in transition, which is how he accumulated many of his points in college. When he’s flying up and down the court, Lewis reminds many of De’Aaron Fox, although Fox is much more explosive vertically. Blowing past defenders off the dribble is Lewis’ forte. Also impressive about the 6-foot-3, 165-pounder is his ability to drive in either direction. His handles are strong going to his left or right. Where he has a chance to be better than Fox, Sexton or Schroder at the next level is from long distance. The 19-year-old shot 36.6 percent from downtown in his sophomore season at Alabama. Decision making and passing are two of his key weaknesses.
16. Precious Achiuwa | Portland Trail Blazers
Media outlets with him at #16: Yahoo Sports, USA Today, NetScouts Basketball
Strengths: High Energy, Athleticism, Explosiveness, Physicality, Mobility, Ball Handling, Defensive Versatility, Rebounding
Weaknesses: Range Shooting, Offensive Creativity, Turnovers, Decision Making, Playmaking
NBA Comparison: Montrezl Harrell
The NBA player Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9, 225-pounder out of Memphis, most compares to is Los Angeles Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell, the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year. One of the reasons for that is the energy Achiuwa plays with, which is largely what has made Harrell so impactful the last couple years. Achiuwa, who averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks during his one and only season in college, hustles for every loose ball and is relentless on the offensive glass. He is fearless when he looks to attack, and he is very good rolling to the basket and finishing. Another player the former Montverde Academy star plays a bit like is Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, although Achiuwa is definitely slightly more athletic. Like Turner, the Port Harcourt, Nigeria native has great timing when he rises to block or alter shots.
17. Also Precious Achiuwa | Minnesota Timberwolves
Media outlets with him at #17: ESPN, The Athletic, CBS Sports
18. Tyrese Maxey | Dallas Mavericks
Media outlets with him at #18: The Athletic, CBS Sports
Strengths: Touch Around Basket, Offensive Craftiness, Aggressiveness, Defensive Potential
Weaknesses: Offensive Efficiency, Playmaking, 3-Point Shooting
NBA Comparisons: Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson are the two players Maxey, a 6-foot-3, 198-pound combo guard, most compare to. The best part of Maxey’s game is his relentlessness on the offensive end. Rarely is he ever stagnant. He’s always moving. Also impressive about the Dallas native is that he’s a versatile scorer. He can beat you from the outside, mid-range and at the basket when he attacks. His best shot is his floater. Although he only shot 29.2 percent from 3-point range in his one season at Kentucky, Maxey is a competent outside shooter. The big question on the former McDonald’s High School All-American, though, is whether he can adapt to playing the point guard position at the next level. He’s undersized as a shooting guard, so if he can learn to orchestrate an offense, he will have far greater impact for whichever team chooses him. Unlike Williams and Clarkson, Maxey projects to be a plus on the defensive end, mostly because of the intensity he plays with.
19. Aleksej Pokusevski | Brooklyn Nets
Media outlets with him at #19: SB Nation
Strengths: Playmaking, Offensive Versatility, Offensive Creativity, Length, Ball Handling, Spot Up Shooting
Weaknesses: Strength, Athleticism, Unpolished, Lateral Quickness
NBA Comparisons: Toni Kukoc, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic
Every few years there’s an international “man of mystery” in the draft, and in 2020 that guy is Pokusevski, a 7-foot, 205-pound Serbian who doesn’t turn 19 until December. Considering he has been playing against inferior competition overseas, it’s difficult to assess how he will fare in the NBA. He has an all-encompassing offensive repertoire. He can shoot, pass, make plays off the dribble, and play at a fast tempo. Toni Kukoc is one potential comparison, while there are pieces of Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis in his game. Another player he is similar to, although with a much thinner frame, is Nikola Jokic, as like the Denver Nuggets All-Star Pokusevski has supreme vision and instincts, suggesting a team can run an offense through him and let him make plays for others. Clearly, he is way too unpolished to believe he can step in right away and make an impact. But, once his body fills out, don’t be surprised if Pokusevski turns out to be the big steal of the 2020 draft. It’s unknown at this point whether he will come over to the NBA right away. He has a buyout clause in his contract with Olympiacos.
20. Jalen Smith | Miami Heat
Media outlets with him at #20: ESPN, SB Nation
Strengths: Shot Blocking, Rim-Running, 3-Point Shooting, Athleticism
Weaknesses: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Post Offense, Playmaking
NBA Comparisons: Serge Ibaka, Myles Turner, Mo Bamba
The second best shot blocker after USC’s Onyeka Okongwu in this draft is probably Maryland’s Smith, who averaged 2.4 blocks to go along with 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his sophomore season with the Terrapins. There are questions about Smith’s defensive ceiling as a whole, though. His footwork is poor, which makes it tough for him when he gets switched onto speedsters in pick-and-roll. The same applies when he has to guard a wing in open space. Offensively, the 6-foot-10, 225-pounder has a chance to be the best stretch big in this draft. He made 36.8 percent of his 3-point tries in 2019-20, a 10 percent improvement from his freshman season.
Other players commonly included in internet mock drafts between picks #15-30 (in alphabetical order): Desmond Bane, Saddiq Bey, Tyler Bey, Leandro Bolmero, Malachi Flynn, Josh Green, RJ Hampton, Theo Maledon, Isaiah Stewart, Tyrell Terry