5 of the most intriguing prospects in this NBA draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
There are no sure things in the 2020 NBA Draft. At least there doesn’t appear to be. No Zion Williamson, no Ben Simmons, no Anthony Davis. And certainly no LeBron James or Tim Duncan. While there aren’t any guaranteed franchise cornerstones at the top of the draft, there are several intriguing options in the first round. Guys who could develop into All-Star caliber players and improve their teams significantly.
Here are a handful of the most intriguing players in the 2020 NBA Draft:
LaMelo Ball, Guard, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
Ball could very well be the first overall pick. He worked out for the Timberwolves earlier this week and is arguably the most talented player in this draft. Ball’s older brother Lonzo was the second pick of the 2017 draft, but it’s LaMelo who has the higher upside. The younger Ball spent part of last season playing professionally in Australia. He has terrific size for a point guard at 6-foot-7 and plenty of time to improve at just 19 years old. Like his brother, LaMelo has poor shooting fundamentals. But he’s considered a better ball handler and pick-and roll-playmaker than Lonzo. LaMelo is a very good passer but needs to improve significantly on the defensive end.
Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton
Toppin is flying under the radar as the draft approaches, not receiving the same amount of hype as less accomplished prospects. He’s arguably the most NBA-ready player in this draft. Toppin was named the AP College Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds for Dayton. He also shot 39 percent from three-point range. At 6-9 and 220 pounds, Toppin is an explosive athlete with the versatility to shine in the pro game. His defense needs work, but he’s certainly capable of playing at a high level on the offensive end right away. He’s a likely top-five pick who would make a lot of sense for the Warriors with the No. 2 selection.
James Wiseman, Center, Memphis
Wiseman has the potential to be a game-changing big man on both ends of the floor. He arrived at Memphis a year ago as the top ranked freshman in the country and averaged just under 20 points and 11 rebounds in three games before eligibility issues cut his season short. Wiseman’s skill set is very enticing. He’s 7-1 with a 7-6 wingspan, runs the floor very well and has the ability to become an elite rim protector at the NBA level. There are plenty of question marks when it comes to Wiseman’s NBA future. But there is also plenty of talent. Teams picking in the top five could end up regret passing on Wiseman.
Tyrese Haliburton, Guard, Iowa State
Haliburton has emerged as one of the most enticing prospects in this draft. His sophomore year at Iowa State was cut short by a wrist injury. But it was a pretty impressive season nonetheless — he averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 assists and shot nearly 42 percent from three-point range. Haliburton has a terrific feel for the game and is one of the more polished guard prospects in this draft. He made a ton of improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons in college. That upward trajectory should continue at the pro level. He has all the tools required to develop into an All-Star performer in the backcourt.
Cole Anthony, Guard, North Carolina
Anthony is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He’ll enter the NBA with a chip on his shoulder, eager to prove those who doubt he’ll make much of an impact at the pro level. He’s also had to answer questions about whether he is a good teammate. This much is certain: Anthony was an excellent playmaking lead guard at the college level. He missed a good chunk of his freshman season at North Carolina due to a knee injury. But when he was healthy, he was a very good player on a bad Tar Heels team, averaging 18.5 points and 4.0 assists. He’s a good scorer and above-average passer. And perhaps most importantly, he’ll have no shortage of motivation as he begins his professional career.