NBA Draft Order 2020
Unlike drafts of years past, there is no clear-cut top player in the draft. This draft has several players with B+ potential but perhaps no A-list superstar prospects. Anthony Edwards, a guard out of Georgia, James Wiseman, a center out of Memphis, Obi Toppin, a forward out of Dayton, LaMelo Ball, a guard who played for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, and Deni Avdija, an Israeli-Serbian international player are the best players in the draft class. Other guys like Killian Hayes, a French international point guard, Isaac Okoro, a defensive specialist out of Auburn, and Onyeka Okongwu, a big man out of USC, have a ton of potential as well.
How Does NBA Draft Positioning Work?
The first fourteen picks of the NBA draft belong to the teams who failed to qualify for the postseason. These teams will enter what is known as the draft lottery in which they each receive a specific number of ping pong balls in a lottery machine. The team with the worst regular-season record gets the most ping pong balls, the team with the second-worst record gets the second-most balls, and so on. Last season, the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies had the sixth and seventh-worst records in the NBA, but despite this, they earned the first two picks in the draft. The first four picks in the NBA draft are determined by the lottery system, and then the remaining teams are aligned by inverse order of regular-season standings.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
Top Needs: perimeter defense, rim protection, wing talent
Next season, the Wolves should feature one of the league’s most potent young offenses revolving around endless pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops between the highly skilled duo of D’Angelo Russell and Karl Anthony-Towns. However, the Minnesota roster is lacking on the other end of the floor. High-value defensive players are needed to make this team a real threat to make the playoffs for just the second time since 2004. The Wolves could look to target a versatile forward who can defend on the perimeter or a big man who can provide rim protection alongside KAT.
Top Targets: Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Onyeka Okungwu
2. Golden State Warriors
Top Needs: rebounding, shooting, bench scoring, NBA-ready wing
The number one pick would be a strange place for the Warriors to find themselves – they have won three championships in the past half-decade and haven’t had the number one overall pick since 1995. Once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get healthy, this roster should be right back to contend for another title, and this draft pick could provide them with a high-upside addition to their championship core. The Warriors could go in many different directions with this pick, and a trade should not be discounted as a strong possibility. Golden State could use a rebounding and interior defense boost, but they could also look to add to their pace-and-space offense and embrace modern small-ball with another athletic wing. This will be one of the most exciting picks to watch as it is so up-in-the-air.
Top Targets: Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin
3. Charlotte Hornets
Top Needs: star potential, wing talent, scoring depth
The Hornets have been better this season than perhaps most expected after they opted not to resign Kemba Walker over the offseason thanks in large part to the impressive play out of backcourt duo Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, both of whom are averaging 18+ points per game this season. However, the Hornets sorely lack in the way of real star talent – both Graham and Rozier could be better utilized in a bench role on a winning team. The forward duo of Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington has some upside but could be improved upon. Neither guy is a particularly exceptional shooter, particularly Bridges, who is only shooting 33.0% from 3-point range this season. Mostly, the Hornets need to maximize their upside with their lottery pick and add a player with huge potential to develop alongside their impressive young core.
Top Targets: Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija, LaMelo Ball
4. Chicago Bulls
Team Needs: wing depth, star potential, two-way talent
Despite some awful coaching from Jim Boylen, the Bulls have compiled some young, talented players who are continuing to develop into reliable NBA pros. The core of Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markannen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Kris Dunn, all of whom are under 25 years old, is an exciting group of talent to build around. However, they lack in two-way star potential. The Bulls could use a player who can create offense and shoot from range on offense as well as provide positional versatility and one-on-one physicality on defense. The point guard position is likely resolved between the trio of Dunn, White, and LaVine, and the big-man pairing of Carter Jr. and Markannen needs more time to gel together. Otto Porter Jr. is going to be a free agent after the 2020-21 season, and the Bulls should be looking to replace him with a young, high-upside wing in this draft.
Top Targets: Deni Avdija, Isaac Okoro, Obi Toppin
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Top Needs: defense, wing talent, playmaking depth
The Cavaliers spent their last two first-round picks on guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, both of whom have some enticing offensive upside. However, neither guy profiles as an elite passer, and the Cavs will need a go-to playmaker to create shots for the rest of their offense. The Cavs also need an infusion of defense in the roster as they allow the second-most points per 100 possessions in the NBA this season. Perimeter defense is sorely needed, in particular, if the Cavs want to get back to playoff contention. The Cavs already have a handful of big men under contract, so their backcourt will need to be the focus in this draft.
Top Targets: Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, Onyeka Okongwu
6. Atlanta Hawks
Team Needs: shot creation, perimeter defense, backup playmaking
The Hawks’ offense lives and dies by Trae Young at the moment, and he’s answered the call as he’s currently fourth in the NBA with 29.6 points per game and second in the NBA with 9.3 assists per game. However, the Hawks could sorely use some help for Young in the offense as he’s the only consistent source of offense in the starting lineup. They could also use a player who can take over the offense when Young is on the bench as the team’s offensive rating without Young in the lineup is abysmal – they score 14.1 points fewer per 100 possessions with Young off the floor. Finally, the Hawks need to continue to add defensive potency in the lineup next to Young. DeAndre Hunter should develop into a high-level defensive wing, but the Hawks could use another guy with a 3-and-D upside.
Top Targets: Killian Hayes, LaMelo Ball, Deni Advija
7. Detroit Pistons
Team Needs: star potential, everything else
Like an out-of-control boat in a sea of choppy waters, the Pistons are rudderless at the moment and lack any clear identity or direction. The team is on track to make its first top-five selection since Darko Milicic in 2003, and they have to make sure the player they select this time around is much more of a hit. Outside of Luke Kennard and Christian Wood, both of whom are likely better-served as role players, there isn’t any exciting talent to build around in Detroit. Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose are both 31 years old now, and neither player should be considered a part of the long-term future of the team. The Pistons could go in a variety of directions with this pick, and the positional fit isn’t a consideration with the shortage of talent on the roster.
Top targets – Killian Hayes, Deni Advija, Cole Anthony
8. New York Knicks
Team Needs: lead point guard, floor spacing, playmaking
The Knicks have put together an intriguing young core of players in RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Ignas Brazdeikes. It remains to be seen how much collective talent is actually in that group, but what the Knicks are lacking is a lead guard who can create shots for their young core. The Knicks’ top target in this draft is to nab a franchise point guard who can create offense for himself and his teammates. Luckily for them, there are plenty of those guys in this draft class.
Top Targets: Cole Anthony, Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton
9. Washington Wizards
Top Needs: interior defense, shot-blocking, perimeter defense
The Wizards have had a surprisingly great season, at least on the offensive end. Washington has scored the 6th-most points per game this season behind 30.5 points per game out of Bradley Beal. However, they have the worst defensive rating in the NBA as they have allowed 115 points per 100 possessions. The Wizards need help in all facets of defense and could use a defensive anchor in the middle of the court. They’ll have some good options in the lottery and could also look to add a perimeter defensive specialist.
Top Targets: Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, Patrick Williams
10. Phoenix Suns
Top Needs: playmaking, shooting, frontcourt defense
The Suns have fixed their long-time point guard issue this season with the arrival of Ricky Rubio as the Spanish guard has led the Suns’ offense to the most assists per game in the NBA. However, Rubio is 29 and doesn’t quite fit the timeline of the Phoenix core of young players that features Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Kelly Oubre, and Mikal Bridges. The Suns should look to find a long-term young point guard to learn behind Rubio and develop for the future. They could also look to find a better defender to play in the frontcourt alongside Ayton, depending on if they want to start both Oubre and Bridges next season.
Top Targets: Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, Patrick Williams
11. San Antonio Spurs
Top Needs: scoring, long-term upside, playmaking
The Spurs find themselves in a weird position as their veteran core in DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay are all going to be free agents in the next couple of years. Their roster isn’t quite good enough to justify significant outlying salaries, but the organization does not tank typically, so they still might. The Spurs need to find some long-term offensive upside with this pick, and there’s a variety of directions they could take with this selection. Finding a good scoring guard to play alongside Dejounte Murray and Derrick White should be the top priority.
Top Targets: Theo Maledon, Devin Vassell, Precious Achiuwa
12. Sacramento Kings
Top Needs: wing talent, rebounding, perimeter defense
This offseason, the Kings will see Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kent Bazemore become unrestricted free agents, which will leave the team light on the wings. Even if Sacramento brings back one or both of those players, they could look to bolster their wing depth. Alternatively, the Kings could look to find a long-term frontcourt partner for Marvin Bagley. It seems that the front office sees him as more of a center than a power forward, but it would be interesting to see which of the many versatile forwards in this draft they would like to pair with Bagley. The Kings are a young team on an upward trend and should be able to bolster their roster with another young talent.
Top Targets: Aaron Nesmith, Onyeka Okongwu, Saddiq Bey
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Top Needs: perimeter shooting, stretch big, defensive depth
One year ago, the Pelicans looked like they were falling apart as a franchise. Anthony Davis wanted out and was holding the team hostage in negotiations. Then, Zion arrived as the Pels were gifted the first overall pick by the lottery gods. As if that weren’t enough, they landed a boatload of picks from the Lakers and a young core of talent in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart. This is going to be a playoff team next year with a solid core in place for years to come. The Pels should look to use this pick to add young wing talent around their core, either in the form of a stretch forward or a two-way wing.
Top Targets: Precious Achiuwa, RJ Hampton, Devin Vassell
14. Boston Celtics (from the Memphis Grizzlies)
Team Needs: rebounding, backup point guard, young wing talent to develop
The Celtics have one of the more complete rosters in the NBA at the moment, but that’s not to say that there aren’t any holes to fill. The most prominent position of need is center where the trio of Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Robert Williams III has been unspectacular this season. The Celts could use a player who can provide high-level rebounding and interior defense at a more consistent rate. The level of center talent at this point in the draft isn’t spectacular, though, so they could look to use this pick to address their lack of a clear-cut backup point guard on the roster – Brad Wannamaker and Carsen Edwards don’t quite cut it when Kemba Walker is off the floor. They could also look to add a high-upside young wing player as Gordon Hayward’s contract is coming due in 2021, and Boston may not have enough money to extend him with Jaylen Brown’s contract extension kicking in and Jayson Tatum needing a new deal shortly.
Top Targets: RJ Hampton, Precious Achiuwa, Nico Mannion
15. Orlando Magic
Top Needs: offense, shooting, playmaking
The Magic have put together a super-sized defensive juggernaut around Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and others – they rank 9th in defensive rating this season. However, they rank just 24th in offensive rating and are in definite need of a boost on that end of the floor. That can come in a variety of forms, whether it’s shooting power to play next to Markelle Fultz/Michael Carter-Williams at point guard or a new lead combo guard to be charged with creating offense for the team. The Magic will have options, but their focus has to be on boosting their offensive efficiency this offseason.
Top Targets: Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, RJ Hampton
16. Portland Trail Blazers (from the Brooklyn Nets)
Top Needs: perimeter defense, rebounding, 3-and-D talent
Damian Lillard has put the team on his back this season as he ranks fifth in the NBA with 28.9 points per game. The Portland front office has some work to do to get this roster back to contention, though, and it starts with finding some 3-and-D wings to replace the lost production from the departures of Al Farouq-Aminu and Maurice Harkless prior to this season. The Blazers could also look to bolster their frontcourt with some additional rebounding, but with Jusuf Nurkic healthy, their center position seems to be stabilized. Forwards will be the top priority for the Blazers.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
Top Needs: perimeter defense, rim protection, wing talent
Top Targets: Patrick Williams, Vernon Carey Jr. Saddiq Bey
18. Dallas Mavericks
Top Needs: win-now depth, perimeter defense, young big man
After drafting Luka Doncic in 2018 and trading for Kristaps Porzingis this past offseason, the Mavericks are suddenly a borderline championship contender. Dallas leads the NBA in offensive rating this season thanks to elite production from their star duo, particularly likely First-Team All-NBA guard Luka Doncic. The Mavs could use some additional defensive production, particularly on the perimeter, where they are a bit limited at the moment. Dallas also needs to address the future of the frontcourt spot next to Porzingis. Both Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber are under contract until 2023, but Powell is coming off a torn Achilles, and it would be prudent for the Mavs to add another body to compete with those two. Most of all, the Mavericks need win-now depth with upside to grow alongside Doncic and Porzingis.
Top Targets: Josh Green, Saddiq Bey, Vernon Carey Jr.
19. Brooklyn Nets (from the Philadelphia 76ers)
Top Needs: sharpshooting, perimeter defense
Kyrie Irving’s first season in Brooklyn didn’t exactly go according to plan with the point guard now out of the lineup for the remainder of the year and the Nets in danger of missing out on the postseason. Still, with Kevin Durant trending towards being healthy to start the 2021 season, the Nets likely see themselves as contenders. The biggest weakness in their supporting cast for their superstar duo is a lack of long-range shooting. Joe Harris is going to be a free agent following this season and will likely price himself out of Brooklyn. Caris LeVert will be relied upon as a spot-up shooter, but he’s shooting a career-high 38.1% from deep this year as compared to 34.2% for his career, and this isn’t a major strength of his. Other than LeVert, the Nets have little in the way of reliable shooting. If they can find a sharpshooting wing in this draft who can provide supplementary offense and a bit of perimeter defense, they will have succeeded.
Top Targets: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Josh Green, RJ Hampton
20. Miami Heat
Top Needs: scoring forward, shot creation
Miami suddenly has one of the deepest collections of young talent in the NBA and is a dark horse championship contender this season. They have done a great job of finding lesser-known talent in recent seasons, particularly with their backcourt guys like Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro. Bam Adebayo is also producing far greater than anyone expected him to. Still, the Heat could use another young scoring forward to match the timeline of the rest of their exciting core. With veterans like Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic in tow, the Heat are juggling between a long-term rebuild and win-now competition, and this pick will ideally help them in both regards.
Top Targets: Jaden McDaniels, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Stewart
21. Philadelphia 76ers (from the Oklahoma City Thunder)
Top Needs: depth at all positions, shooting
The Sixers have put together a starting lineup that can shift big with Al Horford and Joel Embiid in the frontcourt or smaller depending on defensive matchups. They rank 6th in defensive rating this season, but are middle-of-the-road in most offensive metrics and could benefit from some additional shooting between Ben Simmons and Embiid. The Sixers also generate the 5th-least bench points per game, so a scorer off the bench should be a top priority for the team in this draft.
Top Targets: Tyrell Terry, Theo Maledon, Tyrese Maxey
22. Denver Nuggets (from the Houston Rockets)
Top Need: versatile forward, frontcourt depth, shooting
The Nuggets have drafted better than just about anyone over the past several seasons. Still, they’re reaching the unfortunate point in time when their young players are going from over-producing assets on rookie deals to potential cap casualties. That unfortunate reality came to light this season when the team shipped off Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, two solid role players. Now they need to replace the shooting those players provided and replenish their depth as more guys will become casualties. Frontcourt depth is also a real need as Paul Millsap is now 35 years old and clearly on the decline of his career.
Top targets – Jalen Smith, Tyler Bey, Nico Mannion
23. Utah Jazz
Top Needs: bench scoring, point guard for the future
The Jazz have had a hard time spreading the scoring load this season as beyond Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic. There haven’t been many players on the roster capable of generating offense consistently. The arrival of Jordan Clarkson helped bolster what has been the 6th-worst scoring bench in the NBA, but the Jazz should continue to search for answers to their bench scoring issue. The Jazz should also be looking for a long-term partner for Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt as Mike Conley has been a flop in his first season with the team, and he’s now 32 years old. The Jazz can kill two birds with one stone and find a rookie bench producer with the upside to be a long-term backcourt starter.
Top Targets: Immanuel Quickley, Theo Maledon, Devon Dotson
24. Milwaukee Bucks (from the Indiana Pacers)
Top Needs: perimeter shooting and defense
The Bucks have been the best team in the NBA during the regular season, and there isn’t much that could be added to what is one of the league’s best rosters top-to-bottom. However, after losing Malcolm Brogdon last offseason, Milwaukee doesn’t have the same two-way physical wing presence and could look to address that with this pick. Most of all, they’ll be looking for a player who can help them in a clear win-now window. Perimeter shooting and defense are the calling cards of all great role players, and you can never have enough of either skillset in the modern NBA.
Top Targets: Tyrese Maxey, Josh Green, Jahmi’us Ramsey
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from the Denver Nuggets)
Top Needs: two-way wing talent, upside
OKC is sitting on a boatload of draft picks they acquired from their offseason purge of talent in Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Jerami Grant. However, aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there aren’t any young players on the roster who have real long-term starting appeal. The Thunder have to hit on a series of draft picks to rebuild this team into a contender, and it starts with this first-round pick. This will be a dart throw by Sam Presti to find a high-upside wing player to fit in next to SGA for the long-term.
Top Targets: Jaden McDaniels, Tyler Bey, Leandro Bolmaro
26. Boston Celtics
Top Targets: Leandro Bolmaro, Tre Jones, Jaden McDaniels
27. New York Knicks (from the Los Angeles Clippers)
Top Targets: Jaden McDaniels, Tre Jones, Aleksej Pokusevski
28. Los Angeles Lakers
Top Needs: playmaking, shooting
In Los Angeles, LeBron James has evolved into a dominant floor general this season as he leads the NBA with 10.6 assists per game and is one of the game’s best passers. However, the Lakers struggle to generate offense without the King on the floor and are overly reliant on mediocre guards like Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. The Lakers’ frontcourt is solid, but the team could use some help in the backcourt with this draft selection, specifically in terms of playmaking and shooting.
Top Targets: Devon Dotson, RJ Hampton, Elijah Hughes
29. Toronto Raptors
Top Needs: size, shooting
No organization has done a better job of juggling coinciding timelines of rebuilding and contending than Masai Ujiri’s Raptors. The next project for Ujiri is going to be finding a long-term frontcourt partner for Pascal Siakam as Marc Gasol (35) could retire as soon as this coming offseason and Serge Ibaka will turn 31 in September. The top priority for that frontcourt acquisition should be rebounding and long-range shooting. The Raptors should also look to bolster their current contending roster with additional shooting power.
Top Targets: Aleksej Pokusevski, Isaiah Stewart, Zeke Nnaji
30. Boston Celtics (from the Milwaukee Bucks)
Top targets – Zeke Nnaji, Jalen Smith, Aleksej Pokusevski
31. Dallas Mavericks (from the Golden State Warriors)
32. Charlotte Hornets (from the Cleveland Cavaliers)
33. Minnesota Timberwolves
34. Philadelphia 76ers (from the Atlanta Hawks)
35. Sacramento Kings (from the Detroit Pistons)
36. Philadelphia 76ers (from the New York Knicks)
37. Washington Wizards (from the Chicago Bulls)
38. New York Knicks (from the Charlotte Hornets)
39. New Orleans Pelicans (from the Washington Wizards)
40. Memphis Grizzlies (from the Phoenix Suns)
Top Needs: perimeter defense, shooting
The Grizzlies’ first-round pick is going to convey to the Celtics barring a late-season collapse and surprisingly high lottery luck for the second year in a row. The team has put together an exciting young core but still needs to add some perimeter defense to play alongside Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. Of course, like most teams, the Grizzlies could benefit from additional shooting as well.
41. San Antonio Spurs
42. New Orleans Pelicans
43. Sacramento Kings
44. Chicago Bulls (from the Memphis Grizzlies)
45. Orlando Magic
46. Portland Trail Blazers
47. Boston Celtics (from the Brooklyn Nets)
48. Golden State Warriors (from the Dallas Mavericks)
49. Philadelphia 76ers
50. Atlanta Hawks (from the Houston Rockets)
51. Golden State Warriors (from the Utah Jazz)
52. Sacramento Kings (from the Houston Rockets)
53. Oklahoma City Thunder
54. Indiana Pacers
Top Needs: shooting, shooting, and more shooting
The Pacers currently don’t own a first-round pick as they sent theirs to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of their sign-and-trade for Malcolm Brogdon, the last offseason. Indiana has put together a talented and deep roster that defies their small-market limitations, but they have one glaring weakness – shooting. Only the Knicks generate fewer 3-point makes this season than the Pacers. Indiana will benefit from the return of a hopefully-healthy Victor Oladipo next season, an adept spot-up and catch-and-shoot long-range shooter. Still, they could certainly use some more shooting from their role players and will likely look to address that in the draft.
55. Brooklyn Nets (from the Denver Nuggets)
56. Charlotte Hornets (from the Boston Celtics)
57. Los Angeles Clippers
Top Needs: rebounding, wing depth
The Clippers will need to maximize their second-round picks as they owe virtually all of their future first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder after their trade for Paul George. It’s unlikely the Clippers find any high-level players this late in the draft, but if they can find a player who can chip in with rebounding or provide some wing depth, that will be a win.
58. Philadelphia 76ers (from the Los Angeles Lakers)
59. Toronto Raptors
60. New Orleans Pelicans (from the Milwaukee Bucks)
Top Needs: shooting, shot-blocking
The Rockets currently don’t have a selection in this draft but may attempt to trade back into the second round to add some cheap depth to the roster. If they do, they will likely be looking to add even more shooting to the best 3-point sniping roster in basketball as well as a small-ball shot-blocking presence to take some pressure off P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington.
NBA Draft Picks FAQ
Who is the Best Player in This Draft?
Unlike some drafts of years past, there is no clear-cut top player this year. A handful of guys could stake a claim to that title, including LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin, and Onyeka Okungwu.
Who are the top 5 players in the 2020 Draft?
My current rankings show LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Deni Avdija, and Killian Hayes as the top five players in this year’s draft class. However, other players like Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okungwu, Cole Anthony, and Tyrese Haliburton could also be in the conversation.
What Team Has the Best Picks?
The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently expected to have two top-16 picks at #3 and #16, which is the best draft capital of any team. However, the Celtics are the only team with three first-round picks as they own their pick as well as the first-round pick from the Grizzlies and Bucks.
Which Team is Going to Win the Lottery?
The Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves are currently tied with the best odds to earn the first overall pick as each team has a 14% chance to win the draft lottery. The winner of the draft lottery is awarded the first overall pick.
When is the NBA Lottery and NBA Draft?
Both the lottery selection and the draft have been postponed due to complications resulting from the advent of COVID-19. The NBA lottery is currently tentatively scheduled for August 25th, and the NBA draft will be on October 16. It would not be surprising to see either date change at this point.