With the conclusion of the 2019-20 NCAA men’s basketball regular season fast approaching, it’s worth taking another look at the 2020 NBA Draft prospects.
While quite a bit will change on big boards and mock drafts following the conference tournaments and March Madness, some of the top players have already convinced NBA teams that they deserve serious consideration when the draft rolls around on June 25, 2020.
Others still have plenty of time to improve their draft stock on the floor and in workouts and interviews. For what it is worth, former top prospects coming into their freshman campaigns who could go back to school for their sophomore campaigns (for example, Florida’s Scottie Lewis and Duke’s Wendell Moore) were not included on this list.
Note that statistics are pulled from Synergy Sports Tech, Bart-Torvik.com, KenPom.com, RealGM or Sports-Reference.
1. LaMelo Ball, USA
Guard, 6-foot-7, 18 years old
The main reason to believe in Ball as the top player in the 2020 NBA Draft is because of his ridiculously high upside. With his unique size, he can put up a triple-double on any given night. Even when Ball was playing against much older professional competition in Australia’s NBL, Ball nearly averaged a triple-double per 36 minutes. Meanwhile, his defensive stats were also much better than expected, and his basketball instincts are strong. It is difficult to find an accurate read on Ball, given how many different teams he has played for in recent years. However, there should be enough to like about him for a team to select him with one of the first few picks.
2. Onyeka Okongwu, USC
Big, 6-foot-9, 19 years old
While he’s a bit undersized at 6-9, he can play bigger than his height, given his 7-foot-2 wingspan. For example, his block percentage (10.0%) ranks among the top five of all freshmen this season. He is more celebrated for his defensive ability, but the offense is there, too. Okongwu is averaging 1.14 points per possession as an offensive finisher, per Synergy, which ranks in the 98th percentile among all NCAA players. Put it all together, and the USC big man currently has the best box plus-minus in college basketball. Even if there might not be as much star potential as a player such as Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, he feels much closer to a sure thing in the NBA.
3. Anthony Edwards, Georgia
Wing, 6-foot-5, 18 years old
Under head coach Tom Crean, the University of Georgia freshman has been a revelation in transition offense. Edwards ranks among the top five nationally in total scoring on these plays, per Synergy, averaging 5.7 points per game. He looks his best when his shot attempts come closer to the rim, especially considering his 6-foot-9 wingspan. Farther from the basket, meanwhile, more than half of his 3-pointers have been unassisted. This shows he is capable of creating his own shot. Edwards, however, is shooting just 30.3% from beyond the arc on the season. But the reason to like him as a top-three pick is more about flashes of greatness, and he is averaging 21.8 points per game in February.
4. Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Guard, 6-foot-5, 20 years old
Haliburton is a skinny, lengthy guard measured with a 7-foot wingspan though and 170-pound frame. But most important is his valuable 3-and-D skill set. Before his injury, his 3-point percentage (41.9%) and steal percentage (3.8%) were both among the best in the NCAA. As a distributor and lead ballhandler, despite an unusually low usage rate, his assist rate still ranks in the top 10 among all underclassmen at high-major programs. Haliburton has been productive enough to suggest he can take over as the starting point guard in the NBA as soon as next season. There may be a low ceiling, but there is also a very high floor.
5. Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm
Guard, 6-foot-5, 18 years old
Much like Ball, there is a lot to like about Hayes due to his size and overall upside. He can be a lead ballhandler and has been measured with a 6-foot-7 wingspan. Hayes led France to the silver medal in 2018 at the U17 World Cup, averaging 21.4 points and 4.4 assists with 3.6 steals per 36 minutes. He is shooting 39.0% from beyond the arc in Eurocup action and has been able to produce well as a scorer as he has grown into a bigger role.
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