2020 NBA Draft Grades

The 2020 NBA Draft was unlike any other. After a five-month hiatus, the league resumed its annual draft, held virtually this season, last month. With the start of the 2020-21 campaign less than a few weeks away, it’s time to issue official grades for the 2020 NBA Draft. 

Grades for the 2020 NBA Draft

Atlanta Hawks: B

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Despite a 2020 NBA Draft class that lacked a ton of immediate impact players, the Atlanta Hawks found one of them with the sixth overall selection. Onyeka Okongwu is considered one of the better bigs in this class. His size, standing at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and weighing 245 pounds, should translate well into the league. Okongwu excels at rim-running and rim-protecting. The University of Southern California product is lauded for his defensive abilities, which is a big need for Atlanta. Offensively, he’ll need some work. The Hawks also added Skylar Mays, a senior guard out of LSU, who should be able to contribute offensively off the bench next season. Both will benefit from playing alongside the youthful and talented Clint Capela and Trae Young.

Boston Celtics: C

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The Boston Celtics failed to make any major splashes on draft night. Consider this grade as an average draft. The Celtics entered the night with four selections in the Top 50. With the 14th overall pick, Boston selected the best shooter in this year’s draft, Aaron Nesmith from Vanderbilt. Then, with the 26th pick, Boston picked up Payton Pritchard, a four-year guard from Oregon. Both project as good rotational pieces, which works with the talented Celtics’ lineup of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. Lastly, Boston added Yam Madar, a defensive-minded guard from Hapoel Tel Aviv. While the Celtics traded away for future draft selections, they fell short of adding any additional rim protection.

Brooklyn Nets: B+

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The Brooklyn Nets superteam will be healthy next year, and there’s still potential to add another superstar in James Harden. While the Nets only acquired one draft selection during the 2020 NBA Draft, this was a smart decision. Brooklyn sent the 19th pick away to acquire Landry Shamet, a lengthy wing who can immediately contribute as a role player. The Nets also swapped out the 55th pick, Jay Scrubb, for Reggie Perry from Mississippi State. Perry is a classic late second-round selection: an offensive-minded big who needs plenty of development.

Charlotte Hornets: D

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The Charlotte Hornets took the exciting and newsworthy LaMelo Ball with the third pick. Ball is considered one of the biggest risk-reward selections in this draft, which could be concerning for a team in full rebuild mode. Yes, Ball is one of the flashiest ball-handlers and passers in this draft. However, Ball’s jump shot needs work and his defense is a question mark. Add in a crowded guard corps in Charlotte with Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, this pick is only smart for selling tickets. It will be interesting to see how Charlotte’s three second-round picks fare, in Vernon Carey Jr., Nick Richards, and Grant Riller. 

Chicago Bulls: B-

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With the fourth-overall selection, the Chicago Bulls took Patrick Williams from Florida State. Williams was the youngest player in the 2020 NBA Draft and still very raw. The freshman recorded zero starts during his lone collegiate season. The upside? The Florida State product has a prototype build to succeed as an athletic forward in this league. Standing at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Williams jumped on draft night thanks to his outstanding team workouts. With the 44th pick, Chicago took 6-foot-11 center Marko Simonovic out of Montenegro. Simonovic is a lengthy outside threat, who needs help on the defensive end. Still, the Bulls are years away from serious contention.

Cleveland Cavaliers: B+

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While the Cleveland Cavaliers only had one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the front office got this one right. Cleveland selected Isaac Okoro, a wing forward from Auburn, with the fifth overall selection. Heading into draft night, Okoro was one of the most polished wings in this draft. Like many of his fellow draftees, Okoro still needs to develop some consistency on the offensive side of the floor, especially with his jump shot. However, the 6-foot-6 and 225 pound forward has an NBA-ready body, and the ability to defend multiple positions. Okoro fits nicely with Cleveland’s young nucleus of guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton

Dallas Mavericks: A+

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The Dallas Mavericks had a busy draft night and walked away with one of the best grades from the 2020 NBA Draft. Dallas entered the night with just two picks but walked away with three and the five-year NBA veteran Josh Richardson. With their two original picks, Dallas selected Josh Green, a standout wing from Arizona, and Stanford’s Tyrell Terry. Terry should be considered the steal of this draft at 31st overall. Terry is one of the best shooters in this draft, and despite his smaller frame, should work nicely in the modern NBA ala Young or Stephen Curry. Dallas then turned a trade for Seth Curry into Richardson and Tyler Bey, the 36th pick. These four additions are key pieces to building a more talented and diverse roster around budding superstar Luka Doncic.

Denver Nuggets: B

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The Denver Nuggets enjoyed a successful run last season. Denver finished as the third seed in a stacked Western Conference and earned a berth in the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers. With Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic in store, Denver wasn’t in desperate need of adding talent to this roster. The Nuggets selected the floor-spacing 7-footer Zeke Nnaji with the 22nd pick. Nnaji hails from Arizona. There’s no question that Nnaji can further develop his game alongside Jokic as both play a very similar style of play. Denver also drafted R.J. Hampton with the 24th pick. Hampton has the potential to be a steal of this draft. The explosive guard was a top recruit coming out of high school. He opted to play overseas in New Zealand instead of a single college basketball season. An injury-riddled campaign shorted Hampton’s draft stock, but he has all the tools to become a star in the league. 

Detroit Pistons: A

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The Detroit Pistons had one of the busiest nights during the 2020 NBA Draft. Detroit walked away with three Top 20 selections, all of whom possess serious potential. The Pistons took Killian Hayes seventh overall, a lefty guard from France. Hayes is lethal in the pick-and-roll and one of the better guards in this draft. Detroit also added Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, two athletic wings with floors of being solid 3-and-D options in the league. Detroit finished 20-46 last season and was one of the least talented teams in the league. It’s all about adding prospects and developing those prospects in this type of situation. The Pistons also added veterans Trevor Ariza, Rodney McGruder, and Tony Bradley in draft-night deals. 

Golden State Warriors: A-

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The Golden State Warriors were in a unique position on draft night. After the loss of Kevin Durant to the Nets two years ago and a year of injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State ended up with the second pick. The idea was to add an NBA-ready talent with the second pick and place this rookie into a talented lineup of Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green. Unfortunately, the news of Thompson’s Achilles injury throws a wrench into this equation, but the Warriors still enjoyed a successful draft night. Golden State added James Wiseman, a rim-running-and-protecting center with the potential for great things. The Warriors also picked up Nico Mannion, a very smooth pass-first point guard from Arizona. 

Houston Rockets: F

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The Houston Rockets are a sinking ship. First, general manager Daryl Morey stepped down. Then, the Rockets traded away Russell Westbrook after the superstar requested a ticket out of Houston. While the Rockets added John Wall in return, another superstar in the form of Harden desperately wants out. To add more bad news for Houston fans, the Rockets suffered an unsuccessful draft night. They traded away Ariza and a mid-first round pick for future draft selections. In the end, Houston added one prospect in Kenyon Martin Jr. with the 52nd pick. Martin Jr. is the son of former 15-year NBA veteran Kenyon Martin, a player with simply average potential.

Indiana Pacers: C+

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It’s not easy to grade a team with one late second-round selection. The Indiana Pacers took Cassius Stanley, an explosive freshman wing from Duke, with the 54th pick. Stanley was fairly inconsistent at Duke, playing mainly in off-the-ball situations. Regardless, he’s one of the most explosive athletes in this draft and has a lot of raw potential in the league. 

Los Angeles Clippers: A-

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The Los Angeles Clippers are another team looking to add talented pieces to a playoff roster. Los Angeles accomplished just that with the 2020 NBA Draft. The Clippers turned Shamet, Rodney McGruder, and the 57th pick into two middle-late-round picks and Luke Kennard. Kennard is a valuable asset to go alongside the other stars with the Clippers. Daniel Oturu should fill in as a nice rotational big, and Jay Scrubb was a JUCO star in college. 

Memphis Grizzlies: A

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The Memphis Grizzlies are a team that has a clear-cut identity and looking to build into it. They accomplished this on draft night. Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman are two gritty and tough-minded players who both fit this bill. Bane hails from TCU and profiles as a big-bodied and physical guard. Tillman is a 6-foot-8 power forward/center with Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. Both should transition seamlessly into the grit-and-grind mentality of the Grizzlies, led by Ja MorantDillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke.

Miami Heat: B+

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The Miami Heat used their only pick of the night at 20th overall to draft Precious Achiuwa from the University of Memphis. Achiuwa is a solid fit for this franchise, especially with the ability to study playing behind Bam Adebayo. The forward/wing combo stands at 6-foot-9 and a strong 223 pounds. In addition to his solid stature, Achiuwa has a proven ability to play above the rim. Scouts describe his energy as his greatest asset, which fits very nicely into Miami’s system.

Milwaukee Bucks: F

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Heading into draft night, the Milwaukee Bucks hoped to add valuable pieces around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee possessed just two late-round picks that night, so this was better accomplished through trades. There was an apparent sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings for Bogdan Bogdanovic. This would have been a great addition, but Bogdanovic never agreed to the deal and it was quashed. Since then, the Bucks successfully traded for Jrue Holiday, but this was accomplished post-draft. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: B

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The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the 2020 NBA Draft with the number one pick. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the 2020 draft class was void of a clear-cut number one selection. Ultimately, the Timberwolves went with Anthony Edwards from the University of Georgia, the consensus first pick. This move was successful and necessary. Edwards fills a need next to Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, however, there are questions about his ceiling. Minnesota also flipped the 17th pick into Ricky Rubio to add an NBA veteran to the roster. Leandro Bolmaro went 23rd while Jaden McDaniels went 28th. Bolmaro is a lengthy guard that struggles with his jump shot, while McDaniels has the necessary tools and size for a wing at 6-foot-10, but struggles mightily with consistency. 

New Orleans Pelicans: A-

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The New Orleans Pelicans continued to build for the future on draft night. The Pelicans took Kira Lewis Jr.from the University of Alabama with the 13th pick. Lewis scored a lot in Alabama’s fast-paced system, averaging 16.7 points per game, and has shot at least 35 percent from deep in two consecutive years. He’s another guard that needs to develop defensively, but his game works nicely with the young talent in New Orleans. The Pelicans also added a lottery-protected pick for 2023 and two future second-round picks in pick-swaps.

New York Knicks: C+

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The 2020 NBA Draft got off to a great start for the New York Knicks. New York took the homegrown talent, Obi Toppin, with the eighth overall pick. The Knicks had eyed Toppin for a long time, and while the 22-year-old needs a lot of defensive development, this pick is exciting and should sell seats. It’s a natural Knicks’ pick. Take the kid from New York who throws “dunk-contest” style throwdowns in-game, and you sell some seats. Draft night went downhill from there. New York stood with the 23rd pick while a few talented names remained on the board in Terry, Desmond Bane, and Hampton. Instead, New York traded down to take Immanuel Quickley at 25. It’s not to say Quickley is a bad pick, considering he won SEC Player of the Year honors, but Terry and Bane were likely better fitted here.

Oklahoma City Thunder: C-

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Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti had a busy night. Shortly after acquiring Danny Green from the Lakers for Dennis Schroder, the Thunder sent Green to the Philadelphia 76ers. In exchange, the Thunder received an aging Al Horford and two draft picks. The Thunder ended up with Theo Maledon at 34th because of this deal. Oklahoma City also ended up taking Aleksej Pokusevski at 17th in the aftermath of the blockbuster Chris Paul trade with the Phoenix Suns. Finally, the Thunder swapped their 53rd pick with Washington for their 37th pick which became Vit Krejci. Oklahoma City heads into a rebuild, and it should be noted how these three international prospects pan out. 

Orlando Magic: B+

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After an injury-riddled freshman campaign at the University of North Carolina, Cole Anthony’s draft stock fell. Still, Anthony has the potential to be one of the more talented players in this draft. In addition, Anthony fuels some competition into the point guard position in Orlando, currently led by Markelle Fultz. It’s easy to draw comparisons between the two. Both were high-profiled high school recruits that struggled during their one season in college. Orlando Magic fans are hopeful a little competition brings out the best in both of these young guards.

Philadelphia 76ers: A

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It’s a new day for the Philadelphia 76ers with President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey. The highlights from the 2020 NBA Draft night come from Morey’s ability to add veteran shooters to a roster that desperately needs them. Philadelphia added both Green and Seth Curry in exchange for future picks. It’s unfortunate to let go of valuable draft pieces, but Philadelphia is in a win-now mode. The 76ers were also gifted with Tyrese Maxey still available at 21. Maxey is a very capable combo guard standing at 6-foot-3. The Kentucky product can score in bunches, displays a nice shooting touch, and can create open shots with his handles. 

Phoenix Suns: D

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The Phoenix Suns entered draft night with the 10th pick. The Suns have a couple of roster needs to surround the new duo of Paul and Devin BookerOne, for certain, is adding length and strength in the paint. However, the less obvious need is adding a score-first combo guard that could create a lethal three-guard lineup with Paul and Booker. Phoenix reached in selecting Jalen Smith, a big-bodied and athletic shot-blocker from the University of Maryland, with the 10th pick. At the time, both Haliburton and Lewis Jr. were still available. It fits a need, but this pick was too much of a stretch for the Top 10.

Portland Trail Blazers: C+

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The Portland Trail Blazers acquired Robert Covington ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft. This is a good addition to the lineup of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Unfortunately, Portland had to depart with their first-round pick in this deal. As a result, the Trail Blazers took CJ Elleby at 46th overall. Elleby is a left-handed wing with a proven ability to score. While Elleby isn’t super athletic or explosive, he may find rotational minutes in the coming years. This was an uneventful and less-than-sexy night for Portland. 

Sacramento Kings: A+

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The Sacramento Kings had one of the best draft nights in the league. It started with a gift because Tyrese Haliburton was still available at 12. Haliburton is viewed as a perfect complementary guard to De’Aaron Fox. The contrast of speed versus size and Haliburton’s advanced basketball IQ is seen as an exemplary move by the Kings. Sacramento also landed Robert Woodard II at 40th, which is considered a steal. The Kings then took Jahmi’us Ramsey at 43rd, an unproven gamble with a higher ceiling than most late-round picks. Additionally, the Kings added a pair of future picks.

San Antonio Spurs: A

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The San Antonio Spurs did what they do best in selected high-IQ players who fit perfectly in the system. While Devin Vassell and Tre Jones are not super-sexy picks, both provide high value at their respective draft slots. Vassell is one of the purest shooters in this draft and Jones was one of the best guards in the college landscape. Jones doesn’t possess a ton of NBA athleticism or size, but if he could succeed with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, then he’ll likely do well with Gregg Popovich

Toronto Raptors: B+

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The Toronto Raptors are another franchise that usually holds its own on draft night. The 2020 NBA Draft is no different. In a draft lacking future superstars, the Raptors successfully drafted two prospects that fill needs and fit the system. Toronto took Malachi Flynn with the 29th pick, a guard that looks and players similar to both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleetFlynn stands at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, which may be considered small, but displays a high basketball IQ and toughness in his game. Jalen Harris went 59th overall from the University of Nevada. Harris offered great offensive production for a mid-major school and could be a dark horse pick. Toronto knows a thing or two about dark horse picks as VanFleet produced offensively as a junior for a mid-major school.

Utah Jazz: B+

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The Utah Jazz kicked off draft night by successfully dumping Tony Bradley for cash and future considerations. Utah then selected Udoka Azubuike at 27th and Elijah Hughes at 39th. Azubuike is a bruising 7-footer that may not have a place in today’s NBA. Still, he’ll mature playing besides Rudy Gobert. Hughes is a prototypical wing-build from Syracuse. While his stock wasn’t incredibly high, this is a good selection at 39. 

Washington Wizards: B

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The Washington Wizards had a solid draft night, adding two high-IQ players in Deni Avdija at ninth overall and Cassius Winston at 53rd. Avdija enjoyed a highly-successful overseas career and possesses a high ceiling because of his playmaking and defense. Winston is considered undersized for a point guard, but he’s another great system guy coming from Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. 

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