It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s crop of young prospects. The 2020 NBA Draft is full of NBA ready talent and teams are already trying to position themselves to have a chance at the #1 pick. There is more depth of high-end talent in this draft than 2019 and the race to be the #1 pick looks to be one of the closest in years. RJ Barrett was the consensus preseason #1 last year but was quickly surpassed after the world got a look at how dominant his Duke teammate Zion Williamson was. This year there is no consensus. The following prospects each have the potential that teams could fall in love with come June 20th 2020.
Deni Avdija, F Maccabi Tel Aviv
Kia en Zona
Avdija is a 6’8” wing with guard-like handles and NBA level slashing ability. He spent his last season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, playing 44 games with the senior squad and seven with the junior. He has been cast as a secondary playmaker and slasher with Tel Aviv’s senior squad but has shown that he has the ability to be a primary offensive creator with the juniors. He averaged 24.5 ppg 11.5 rpg and 6.3 apg during his time with the junior squad and 3.7 ppg 2 rpg and 0.6 apg on only 9.7 minutes per game with the seniors. He played a lot of five with the senior squad and held his own defensively and on the boards despite his lack of size for the position and his lack of lateral speed. He looks to have an improved role on the senior squad this coming season and it will be exciting to see how he fares with more responsibility against pro competition.
Anthony Edwards, G Georgia
Edwards is one of the most complete shooting guard prospects in years. He stands 6’5” 215 pounds and is an incredible athlete. He is able to finish at the rim no matter how tough the angle is and has the bounce to dunk on almost anyone. He’s improving his jump shot and has added a solid step-back to his arsenal of moves. He is very comfortable with the ball in his hands and I’m very interested to see how Tom Crean uses him next year at the University of Georgia. To get the most out of his skills, I envision him making the jump to primary ball handler but he may prefer to start his college career off-ball. He’s already an elite slasher, able to time up his backdoor cuts and baseline alley-oops perfectly. He has the size, athleticism, strength, and foot speed to be a potentially elite wing defender. Edwards currently sits at one on my big board heading into the season.
James Wiseman, C Memphis
Wiseman is the pick by most to be the 2020 number one pick and it’s easy to see why. He is 7’0” tall and has a 7’6” wingspan. He is an extremely fluid athlete, able to get down the court in transition easily and has a solid post game. He has been developing his jump shot and has started to hit it with a bit of consistency out to about 15 feet. He has really nice touch that gives me hope that he can develop a three-point shot. While he isn’t the defensive monster you would imagine him to be, he is able to move laterally very smoothly and is very good at challenging shots around the rim. His quick feet allow him to guard smaller players on the perimeter but I wouldn’t classify him as a switch big yet. He has the potential to be an elite two-way NBA center and I’m excited to see how new Memphis coach Penny Hardaway uses him this season.
Cole Anthony, G North Carolina
Son of former NBA player Greg Anthony, Cole is the top American point guard prospect in this class. The North Carolina commit stands 6’1.5” and has a 6’4.5” wingspan. He is an excellent athlete with nice bounce and explosiveness. He has a very quick first step and routinely uses it to collapse the defense on PnR actions. He loves to split the PnR and is very dangerous in the mid-range. Defensively he hasn’t been asked to do too much thus far in his career, but has the requisite athleticism and instincts to be a very solid defender for his position. He is a very unselfish passer and usually finds the open man but is still an improving playmaker and will get better as he begins to read defenses quicker. He’s everything you can ask for in a modern NBA point guard, even if he’s a bit undersized.
Theo Maledon, G AVSEL
Maledon is my personal favorite point guard prospect in this draft. He hails from France and currently plays for ASVEL in the LNB Pro A (Top French Division). He will be freshly 19 by the time of the draft next year and is a very enticing prospect. He stands 6’5” and has fantastic length and athleticism for the position. He is a solid shooter both in the midrange and from behind the three-point line. Maledon has terrific touch finishing around the hoop and has a beautiful floater he uses when the defense cuts off his drives. His playmaking is improving and he’s becoming a very solid passer off the dribble. He is an improving defender who is learning how to use his size to his advantage. He does a great job of getting around screens on the perimeter and is able to track his man off-ball like a hawk.
RJ Hampton, G New Zealand Breakers
Hampton recently decided to turn pro and head down to Australia’s NBL to play for the New Zealand Breakers rather than attend the University of Kansas. He’s a 6’5 point guard with very solid burst and elite athleticism. He is an improving three-point shooter with a very fluid jumper and looks like he will be a knockdown shooter in the future. Hampton will be tested in the NBL and I’m interested to see how he reacts from being the undisputed man in high school to being a regular player who isn’t guaranteed playing time in the NBL. His attitude and maturity have been praised in the past and will be put to the test down in Australia.
LaMelo Ball, G Illawarra Hawks
LaMelo Ball might be the most talented individual offensive player in this draft. He’s grown to almost 6’7” and is shaping into quite an athlete. He has incredibly deep range, a silky smooth jumper, and an extremely tight handle. His court vision has improved drastically since his freshman year of high school and he has the ability to be a primary offensive initiator. He’s going to have to prove a lot about his character and defensive ability in the NBL, and if he does he has a real shot to go number one. He has the size and quickness to be a solid defender, but hasn’t been asked to defend at a high level at this point in his career. LaMelo is arguably even more talented than Lonzo Ball was at this age, and with all that potential comes a lot of expectation. I can’t wait to see the youngest Ball’s talents on display in the NBL this season, with a potential matchup with RJ Hampton looming in the distance. Ball announced his intentions to travel down to Australia and play in the NBL about a week after Hampton did.
Scottie Lewis, F Florida
Jaden McDaniels, F Washington
Killian Hayes, G Cholet (France)
Nicco Mannion, G Arizona