After several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA held its annual draft lottery on Thursday night.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were awarded the first overall pick for the second time in the past decade -- the other came in 2015, when they selected stud center Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Wolves had a 14% chance of winning the lottery, the same as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Charlotte Hornets were the real winners, snagging the third overall selection after having just a 6% chance at the first overall pick.
The draft, typically held in June, has been pushed back to October 16 this year because of the public health crisis.
Here's how we see it playing out in our first mock draft now that the order is officially set:
1. Minnesota Timbewolves: Anthony Edwards, Guard, Georgia
The Wolves could use a more polished player to complement young veterans Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, so Edwards will need to acclimate on the quicker side. His lone season in college wasn't without blemishes, but he more than held his own and often showed flashes of his premium athletic gifts and smooth, natural game. Minnesota can ease him in behind Malik Beasley.
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, Center, Memphis
It almost feels unfair that the perennial contender Warriors should get a pick this high, but here we are. LaMelo Ball is probably the best available player at this spot, but he doesn't make much sense on a Dubs team that will be looking to contend again in 2020-21.
Wiseman is massive, a question mark, and a massive question mark. He played only a few games in college before eligibility questions derailed his career, but the output was extremely encouraging in a very small sample. Wiseman would be something of a departure for a team built around high-octane offense, but there's no doubting his rare athletic gifts, and he can probably contribute on defense right away.
3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, Guard, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
The Hornets are on the record as saying they'll take the best player available rather than filling a positional need. The question then is what their big board looks like, and who's available when they're picking.
GM Mitch Kupchak recently said the team simply doesn't have enough NBA-quality talent to compete at a high level on a nightly basis. It's hard to see Ball changing that dynamic significantly early in his career, but the Hornets can afford to be patient if necessary.
4. Chicago Bulls: Deni Avdija, Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Avdija made the most of his opportunity to shine while most other prospects were sidelined during the pandemic, taking home MVP honors in the Israeli Premier League at the age of just 19.
The 6'9" combo forward has a unique high-energy game inside his big frame, flashing ball-handling skills, frequent cutting to the rim, and an affinity for launching threes.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro, Forward, Auburn
With a game built around defensive versatility and intangibles, Okoro's not the splashiest prospect in this draft, nor was he an especially touted recruit coming out of high school not too long ago. But Okoro turned heads with his intensity and dogged perimeter defense as a freshman, and some reports say he can D-up against all but centers.
Even without much of an offensive game to speak of, Okoro already has the makings of a prototypical glue guy type. If he can develop that side of his game, he could be a star.
6. Atlanta Hawks: Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton
Toppin led the college ranks in dunks and took home the Naismith award as the top player in the country. His high-flying aerial attack should give Trae Young another target for lobs along with John Collins and Clint Capela.
7. Detroit Pistons: Onyeka Okongwu, Center, USC
Okongwu's old-school skill set isn't in the highest demand these days, but he forced his way into the top-10 off overwhelming dominance as a freshman at USC. He racked up blocks and steals at an elite rate, crashed the boards, and flashed a soft touch and impressive footwork in his still-developing offensive game. Okongwu could be the steal of the draft.
8. New York Knicks: Tyrese Haliburton, Guard, Iowa State
Knicks fans were bummed to be relegated to the eighth pick, but Haliburton would be a nice consolation prize. The wiry combo guard has great vision as a distributor and knocks down his shots at high rates, and his length should make him at least an adequate perimeter defender despite his light frame. Haliburton's not a lead guard, and there are kinks to work out of his game like his low release, but he could develop into a really nice complementary piece.
9. Washington Wizards: Killian Hayes, Guard, Ulm (Germany)
Hayes is only 19 but has plenty of professional experience, most recently in Germany's Bundesliga. Most scouting reports rave about his 6'5" frame and smooth playmaking ability, though there are concerns about his overall athleticism and ability to create his own shot off the dribble. They say not to draft on positional need, but the cupboard was pretty bare for the Wizards last season when John Wall and Bradley Beal were both out.
10. Phoenix Suns: Aaron Nesmith, Forward, Vanderbilt
The Suns are set at small forward with Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre, but Nesmith would be very tempting here without a can't-miss guard to take instead of him. The sharpshooter made 41% of his career three-pointers in college, including an insane 52% on more than eight attempts per game last season.
11. San Antonio Spurs: Saddiq Bey, Forward, Villanova
12. Sacramento Kings: RJ Hampton, Guard, New Zealand Breakers (Australia)
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Tyrese Maxsey, Guard, Kentucky
14. Boston Celtics - Kira Lewis Jr., Guard, Alabama
15. Magic - Devin Vassell, Forward, Florida State
The speedy Lewis was a prolific scorer at Alabama and could fit in nicely as understudy to Kemba Walker while providing some instant offense off the bench.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Smith, Forward, Maryland
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Precious Achiuwa, Forward, Memphis
18. Dallas Mavericks: Cole Anthony, Guard, North Carolina
19. Milwaukee Bucks: Cassius Winston, Guard, Michigan State
20. Brooklyn Nets: Patrick Williams, Forward, Florida State
Achiuwa's combination of size and athleticism are off the charts, and he can probably be useful right away just based on his defensive prowess, but there are major questions about his offense. .. Cole Anthony's lone season in Chapel Hill was disappointing relative to expectations, but it'd be foolish to write him off now given how highly touted he was as a prep player. .. Cassius Winston's polished game and penchant for draining threes could be a good fit for Milwaukee. .. Williams has the prototypical size for a versatile power forward, but his college production was only OK, and he's very raw offensively.
21. Denver Nuggets: Josh Green, Guard, Arizona
22. Philadelphia 76ers: Nico Mannion, Guard, Arizona
23. Miami Heat: Jahmius Ramsey, Guard, Texas Tech
24. Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon, Guard, ASVEL (LNB Pro A)
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Robert Woodard, Forward, Mississippi State
Mannion doesn't exactly fit the Sixers' usual preference for long players, but he's far from undersized for a point guard at 6'3". He underwhelmed as a freshman relative to expectations, and there are concerns about his athletic limitations, but he is a reliable ball-handler and has a natural feel for the game. It's not hard to see him being useful if he can tighten up his decision-making and improve his shot.
26. Boston Celtics - Tyler Bey, Forward, Colorado
27. New York Knicks - Tre Jones, Guard, Duke
28. Toronto Raptors - Leandro Bolmaro, Forward, FC Barcelona (Spain)
29. Los Angeles Lakers - Devon Dotson, Guard, Kansas
30. Boston Celtics - Cassius Stanley, Forward, Duke
The Celtics round out a nice draft with Bey, a strong defender who showed glimpses of a soft shooting touch, and Stanley, a wing who is a freakish athlete. The Knicks go back to the well at guard, adding Jones, the brother of Tyus Jones.