Andy Larsen analyzes the first round of the NBA Draft
Georgia's Anthony Edwards (5) shoots over Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt Jr., right, and Arkansas guard Desi Sills (3) during an NCAA college basketball game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
As the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft unfolds, the Tribune’s Andy Larsen will break down and grade each pick live as it occurs on this page. Keep refreshing throughout the night for a quick take on each player.
No. 1 - Minnesota: Anthony Edwards
I don’t think that the Timberwolves had a better choice here. But Anthony Edwards is a guy who loves football first, isn’t a strong defender, and takes questionable shots. He has the most talent in the draft, but will he use all of it? It’s to be determined.
No. 2 - Golden State: James Wiseman
Makes sense as the Warriors need a big man to go with their perimeter-oriented stars, but whether James Wiseman will fit into the new NBA is to be determined. Centers have been declining in value recently, but Wiseman is a huge, promising, athletic one.
No. 3 - Charlotte: LaMelo Ball
It’s a good thing for Charlotte, in my mind, that Ball fell slightly to the Hornets. Ball has terrific passing vision and size, and while I’m not all the way sold on him as a prospect — defense and shooting needs to come along way — Ball has talent.
No. 4 - Chicago: Patrick Williams
Patrick Williams rocketed up draft boards in literally the last 48 hours to find himself being selected at No. 4. He’s a guy with the tools and a good jump shot and rim finishing, but probably needs to learn how to play in an NBA offense.
No. 5 - Cleveland: Isaac Okoro
Isaac Okoro is the best defender in the draft. But his offensive skills are so minimal at this point that I think it’s going to be a really difficult transition for him. Potential is huge, or he could be a bench guy.
No. 6 - Atlanta: Onyeka Okongwu
I like the value at No. 6: I think Onyeka Okongwu can be one of the best players in the top 10 of this draft thanks to his athleticism, movement, and skill level. But Atlanta just traded for Clint Capela, they have John Collins. Where does he fit?
No. 7 - Detroit: Killian Hayes
I think Killian Hayes is a very good talent — someone putting up his level of production at such a young age is pretty impressive. But his size, passing ability, and smarts are older than his age, and he should translate well.
No. 8 - New York: Obi Toppin
I worry about Obi Toppin defensively, but man, he’s athletic. He gets compared to Amare Stoudamire, and now he goes to Stoudemire’s second NBA team to add to their glut of power forwards.
No. 9 - Washington: Deni Avidja
This represents a little bit of a slip for Avidja, and yet I think it more accurately reflects his level of contribution in the league. He’s a heady player on the court who can defend, but not a shooter, not a tremendous athlete.
No. 10 - Phoenix: Jalen Smith
It’s a reach, to be sure. Smith has offensive skills, but he struggles significantly at the defensive end in pick and roll coverage. They could have traded down to make this same pick and get something to help later, though.
No. 11 - San Antonio: Devin Vassell
Maybe the very best 3-and-D prospect in recent memory. Is an incredibly smart on and off-ball defender, and shot 42% from three last year. He has a chance to be more, but even if not, he’s just going to be a very good NBA player.
No. 12 - Sacramento: Tyrese Haliburton
This is a fall for Haliburton, who looked likely to go in the top-10. Unfortunately, it means going to the Kings, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. They don’t look especially likely to in 2021; still, a good pick for them.
No. 13 - New Orleans: Kira Lewis Jr.
It’s fine. Kira Lewis Jr. is fast, but a little out of control right now. Maybe he figures that out, and he has the ability to shoot. But there’s some edges that need real smoothing here.
No. 14 - Boston: Aaron Nesmith
Aaron Nesmith is potentially the best shooter in the draft, with the ability to shoot catch-and-shoot, on the move, around screens, whatever. And he’s long enough to usually hold his own defensively. He should fit in.
No. 15 - Orlando: Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony isn’t a great passer, makes some poor shooting decisions with the ball, and is a little smaller than you like. But he can score. Everyone compares him to Austin Rivers, like Rivers, it might take him a few years to figure it out.
No. 16 - Detroit: Isaiah Stewart
Well, Isaiah Stewart tries hard? And has decent length? But he doesn’t have modern NBA skills like passing or shooting, nor does he have athleticism. There were just other, better players available.
No. 17 - Oklahoma City: Aleksej Pokusevski
OKC traded Ricky Rubio, No. 25, and No. 28 to Minnesota for this pick, because they had to jump Dallas to get the man known as Poku. He runs and shoots with guard skills and is the skinniest 7-footer you’ll see. We don’t know what position he’ll be in the league, but he has the chance to be a star.
No. 18 - Dallas: Josh Green
Green is already a very good defender and figures to be able to earn minutes that way, he also can knock down the open catch-and-shoot three. Now it’s about using his elite athleticism to add other elements to his game.
No. 19 - Detroit: Saddiq Bey
This pick was part of a three-way deal that sent Landry Shamet to the Nets and Luke Kennard to the Clippers. With their third pick in the top 20 of this draft, the Pistons take Saddiq Bey, another 3-and-D wing prospect who should be a good role player in the league.
No. 20 - Miami: Precious Achiewa
It’s a good value at the selection, and I’ll be curious whether he’s a good fit in the NBA. He can score through hustle, rebound, and defend on the perimeter. Just lacks some skill, but it could develop.
No. 21 - Philadelphia: Tyrese Maxey
Tyrese Maxey is just a smart player and maybe the best guard defender in the draft; it was extremely surprising to see him get through the 20s. Naturally, new Sixers GM Daryl Morey snapped him up.
No. 22 - Denver: Zeke Nnaji
I like this pick well enough for the Nuggets, who add a young big man athlete with more fluidity than you usually see from the position. If he can figure out how to defend on the perimeter, he’ll be just fine.
No. 23 - Minnesota: Leandro Bolmaro
The Knicks traded this pick for No. 25 and No. 33, giving Minnesota a player with good feel for the game. My comparison for Bolmaro is that he’s like a 20-year-old Joe Ingles but without the elite jumpshot right now.
No. 24 - Denver: R.J. Hampton
R.J. Hampton was a highly touted high school prospect who went to Australia to prove himself, just like LaMelo Ball did. Ball was good, Hampton really struggled, and so he ends up here. Denver traded up to get this pick from the Pelicans.
No. 25 - New York: Immanuel Quickley
He wasn’t usually considered a first round pick, so this is surprising. He’s quick and can shoot, it’s just a question of whether or not he’s a good enough passer to play point guard in the league, if not, he’s not big enough.
No. 26 - Boston: Payton Pritchard
Another small guard that may just not have the athleticism or size to make it in the NBA; but he can shoot, play make, and score. Also will be interesting to see what he can do when he isn’t “the guy.”
No. 27 - Utah: Udoka Azubuike
Udoka Azubuike is a really good plodding big man, with impressive dunking ability and rim protection skills. But he moves much slower than, say, Rudy Gobert, and the NBA has largely moved past that player profile. That’s why he was projected to go mid-second round. This was a reach.
No. 28 - Oklahoma City: Jaden McDaniels
At No. 28, it’s a reasonable gamble for a team with seemingly infinite first round picks moving forward. But McDaniels has a long way to go with his body, his skillset, and his basketball mind to make an impact in the NBA.
No. 29 - Toronto: Malachi Flynn
A lot of scouts compare Malachi Flynn to Fred Van Vleet, so why not select the former when the latter becomes a free agent? Toronto GM Masai Ujiri could have found another skilled guard at the end of the first round.
No. 30 - Boston: Desmond Bane
Boston gets a wing player who can dribble, pass, shoot, and defend, all right now, all with the 30th pick. The only question mark is the wingspan and whether he’ll be able to contribute inside, but he should be an NBA player for a long time.