The date for the eventual arrival of 2020 NBA Draft might be up in the air, but our preparation at Blazer’s Edge is pressing forward. The Trail Blazers, as the standing currently sit, will make two selections in the upcoming draft (barring a trade). The first of the those two picks should land in the middle of the first round.
Before we dive into an expanded field of individual profiles, we are going to introduce our prospect rankings. This will come in three installments; one from each of our NBA Draft contributors. Each initial Big Board features 20 prospects—a ranking that will eventually expand to 50+ players.
To get things rolling, here are the first 20 players on Steve Dewald’s draft board and a few thoughts regarding the uncertainty inside the top tier of the 2020 class.
Steve’s Big Board
|1.) Anthony Edwards||G||Georgia|
|2.) James Wiseman||C||Memphis|
|3.) Tyrese Haliburton||PG||Iowa State|
|4.) LaMelo Ball||G||USA|
|5.) Onyeka Okongwu||F/C||USC|
|6.) Killian Hayes||PG||France|
|7.) Obi Toppin||PF||Dayton|
|8.) Isaac Okoro||G/F||Auburn|
|9.) Deni Avdija||F||Israel|
|10.) Tyrese Maxey||G||Kentucky|
|11.) Theo Maledon||G||France|
|12.) Cole Anthony||PG||North Carolina|
|13.) Aaron Nesmith||SF||Vanderbilt|
|14.) Precious Achiuwa||F/C||Memphis|
|15.) RJ Hampton||G||USA|
|16.) Saddiq Bey||F||Villanova|
|17.) Devin Vassell||SG||Florida State|
|18.) Kira Lewis Jr.||PG||Alabama|
|19.) Patrick Williams||F||Florida State|
|20.) Josh Green||G/F||Arizona|
Edwards On Top....Just Barely
In a typical draft class, the first four to five prospects arrive in a clear hierarchy. The 2017 NBA Draft class comes to mind. Markelle Fultz, prior to whatever may or may not have happened with his shoulder/confidence, was the clear-cut top prospect. Behind Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox comprised a pick-your-need ordered tier of quality prospects.
The 2020 class does not present that same luxury. I’ll let you in on something now: each of our upcoming rankings features a different player in the top spot. For me, I landed on Anthony Edwards based on his clear alpha mentality and physical gifts. Sure, his shot selection and streaky shooting from beyond the arc represent worrisome traits for the team poised to call his name on draft night. But so much of what makes his game great cannot be taught.
Obi Toppin wasn’t the only player to announce his arrival at the Maui Invitational this past season. Despite overall team struggles, Edwards burst into the national spotlight with a dazzling 37-point performance against a veteran Michigan State squad.
One thing is clear when you watch No. 5 take the court: he is a bowling ball of a guard that challenges each defender that crosses his path. Does he make sense for every team vying for the top selection in the lottery? No. His ball-dominant style is a clunky fit for the teams that already have a promising group of guards, or hope to have a promising backcourt (Cavs...cough, cough). But if he gets a chance to take the reins of an offense willing to endure growing pains, he has the tools to produce Westbrook-like stat lines.
Don’t get me wrong, Edwards placement at the top of my board is an even blend of his strengths and the weaknesses of the players competing against him in this class. Believe me, I wanted to like LaMelo Ball when I started this process. His highlights are stellar when he exposes defenses that aren’t set. Ball receives praise for his size, passing instincts and rebounding at the point guard position. At this juncture, I have seen a limited amount of footage that suggests that Ball would be a net positive on offense in half-court sets against NBA defenders. For that, Edwards gets the nod.