Head to Head: Who Will Be the NBA’s Top Five Draft Selections?
November 5, 2020
As the strange year of sports continues amidst the worldwide pandemic, the NBA draft is set to take place on Nov. 18. With a plethora of talent available to be selected in this year’s draft, several teams at the top of the draft order have an opportunity to make some franchise changing picks.
Head to Head: Who Will Be the NBA’s Top Five Draft Selections? Bagley’s Top 5
5. Cleveland Cavaliers | Onyeka Okongwu | USC | PF/C
Onyeka Okongwu is an absolute beast in the paint which is exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers need moving forward. Okongwu averaged 16.2 points per game, 8.6 assists, and shot 61.6% from the field last season. He was absolutely ferocious with highlight-reel slams and relentless blocks helping lead USC to a 22-9 record. The Cavaliers should be looking to move on from both Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, so Okongwu can take their position and hopefully learn from the highly talented Andre Drummond.
4. Chicago Bulls | Deni Avdija | Maccabi Tel Aviv | G/F
The next Luka Doncic? Maybe. Maybe not. But Deni Avdija may be a risk worth taking for a franchise that used to be at the top of the world but in recent years has found themselves consistently at the bottom of the league. Avdija is very athletic for standing at 6 feet and 9 inches tall, and he possesses the handles and shooting abilities of a guard. In 2018, he led Israel to gold in the under 20 European championships as a 17-year-old, which is what originally got NBA scouts attention. He may be just what the Bulls need to pair with their young stars Zach Lavine, Coby White and Lauri Markkanen in order to turn the franchise around.
3. Charlotte Hornets | LaMelo Ball | Illawarra Hawks | G
This may be the best Ball brother we have seen yet but this time we don’t have to deal with the antics of his father. LaMelo Ball has been playing in the Australian National Basketball League for the last year and has averaged 17 points per game, 6.8 assists and 7.6 rebounds. Charlotte was left hanging after the departure of their star guard, Kemba Walker, and LaMelo might be the best possible player to replace him and alter the crash course that the Hornets are on.
2. Golden State Warriors | James Wiseman | Memphis | C
The Golden State Warriors absolutely played everyone as this year they have the No. 2 pick in the draft and very likely could be playing in the 2021 NBA finals. James Wiseman should be the clear choice for the Warriors as they’re well equipped at the guard spots with the Splash Brothers but could use some big man help. Wiseman only played three games for Memphis, he did produce 19.7 points per game, 10.7 rebounds and shot nearly 77% from the field. With Draymond Green beginning to lose his touch and the Warriors lacking a legitimate center, Wiseman is the clear choice.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves | Anthony Edwards | Georgia | G
The Timberwolves have the No. 1 pick in the draft and it could be the final piece of the puzzle to finally make them a contender and compete in the Western Conference. After trading for D’Angelo Russell in order to please their franchise star Karl Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves should look to select Edwards No. 1 overall. The guard out of Georgia not only has extremely good handles and a consistent jump shot, but he is incredibly athletic and explosive. While at Georgia he averaged 19.1 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Combining him with Towns and Russell could produce great results for the franchise on the fence of being a competitor.
Head to Head: Who Will Be the NBA’s Top Five Draft Selections? Pearce’s Top 5
5. Cleveland Cavaliers | Onyeka Okongwu | USC | C
After the success of Heat center Bam Adebayo in their run to the Finals, Okongwu’s stock has been rising. The comparison is hard to miss; a versatile defender, coming along as a playmaker, athletic, good post-game and a great handle for his size. He’s an inconsistent shooter and is a little small for the position, but he has an overall very good skill set for his size and will only get better. Cleveland doesn’t need guard play after taking Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in the last two drafts. A center makes sense for them here, and they’d feel pretty good about coming away with a player with this much potential.
4. Chicago Bulls | Isaac Okoro | Auburn | F
The Bulls need wings. They’ve recently drafted guard Coby White and center Wendell Carter Jr., both of whom the team should still have faith in. They have been treading water as a lottery team for a few years, but this team with a proud history is hungry to win. Enter Isaac Okoro. A great defender with solid shot selection and who knows how to move the ball. He is a do-it-all wing who looks like he has a high floor. Like most of these top prospects, though, his shot needs to improve. Still, he should have value as a winning player who fits right in with this young Bulls roster.
3. Charlotte Hornets | James Wiseman | Memphis | C
Rumors are saying that Charlotte loves Wiseman, and I think they’ll get him. This roster has no clear direction since Kemba Walker left in free agency. They have some solid young pieces in Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and Devonte’ Graham, but they lack a player with true star potential. They should take whoever they believe is the best player available. That’s what they get here in Wiseman, who will come in and immediately be the core of the team. He is an athletic marvel who was heralded in high school for his high motor and strong frame. He didn’t play many games in college due to eligibility issues, so it’s tough to grade him based on what we’ve seen recently. If his defensive IQ improves and his shot stays solid, he can be a really good center in the NBA. The Hornets will likely stay and pick at three unless they feel they need to trade up for Wiseman, but either way, I think they’ll get their guy.
2. Golden State Warriors | Deni Avdija | Maccabi Tel Aviv | G/F
This one might be controversial, but in my opinion, it’s been trending this way for a while. Avdija is a relatively unknown prospect from Israel, but he may have the most potential out of anyone. A good playmaker with good size and skill, high defensive IQ and strong intangibles, Avdija looks like the type of player the Warriors would love. I think Golden State’s need for a center is overblown and they will likely pick one up in free agency, which is why I steered away from Wiseman here. This is a rare situation where a team picking at the top of the lottery also has a title-ready roster. Golden State is only here because of major injuries to the Splash Brothers which knocked them out for the season, and with the team coming back healthy, they will be right back in contention. So in my opinion, they will draft a player they believe is ready to win now, or they will trade down for more win-now pieces. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what the Warriors might do, and I still think the most likely option is to trade down with a team that has fallen in love with Wiseman or Ball. If they stick here and make the pick, though, it makes sense to go with the guy who has a high basketball IQ, projects as a solid defender and brings playmaking off the bench. His shot still needs to come around, but he has a high ceiling and will be able to play right away.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves | Anthony Edwards | Georgia | G
Edwards is probably the best prospect in a class where no one is sure about anything. He is extremely athletic with a strong frame and a ton of bounce. Still very raw, he needs to get more consistent with his shot selection and improve his playmaking. For a guy as young as he is, it makes sense to bank on him to improve from where he is right now. He is a natural fit on a young Wolves roster and would be a nice backcourt mate for D’Angelo Russell. I should also mention that Minnesota has put this pick into the trade market and there’s a chance they could trade down in order to get more win-now players. They don’t have their first round pick next year, so this team is looking to compete in a strong Western Conference. Edwards would help with that, but maybe another team is looking to get ahold of him and breaks the bank to trade with Minnesota. Whether it’s the Timberwolves or someone else picking here, Edwards is a likely choice.
You may notice the lack of LaMelo Ball in my top five. Ball’s draft stock is falling after reportedly doing poorly in interviews and he is a flawed prospect. Questions about his shot, defense and even personality have him slipping down draft boards. There’s still a chance one of these teams takes him, or another team may even trade up to get him. For now, though, I’m dropping LaMelo Ball out of my top five.