The 2020 NBA Draft marked the first time the league conducted the festivities virtually, but was still met with rousing success.
Most mock drafts were spot on heading into Wednesday’s selection day, with projected Top 3 picks Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball being the first names off the board, respectively. But like every other draft, there were several prospects who were surprisingly picked way too early, allowing several high-touted players to slide off from their projected landing spots.
These types of scenarios usually give youngsters even more motivation to prove teams who passed on them wrong. Today, we’ll be looking at the top 3 steals in the recently concluded 2020 NBA Draft.
Honorable mentions: Saddiq Bey, Tyrese Maxey, Precious Achiuwa, Isaiah Stewart, RJ Hampton, Tre Jones
Mock Draft Projection: Top 5
Landing spot: Selected by the New York Knicks at 8
Toppin is arguably one of the most exciting and athletically-gifted players from this year’s NBA draft crop, and is considered a prototype modern-day big who would be perfect in today’s NBA game.
While Wiseman carried the most upside among bigs in the NBA draft, it was the 22-year-old Toppin who was deemed as the player who can contribute the most right away.
Most mock drafts pegged the Dayton star to be taken fourth overall by the Chicago Bulls, a team who looks to make a splash under new head coach Billy Donovan. Chicago, however, threw a curveball with its NBA draft pick, electing to go with projected late first-rounder Patrick Williams instead.
The Cleveland Cavaliers picked next and were expected to select Toppin, especially given the uncertainty involving some of their veteran frontcourt players and Toppin’s identity as an Ohio-based NBA draft prospect after his NCAA career with the Dayton Flyers. The Cavs, however, also went the other way, bolstering their wings with Isaac Okoro.
Toppin was still available by the time his hometown New York Knicks were on the clock at eight.
Turns out, he was also the ‘Bockers prime target all along in the NBA draft. The team even considered trading up the draft since they were positive he will be long gone by that time.
The Knicks liked Toppin so much in the NBA draft that they risked mockery by taking yet another power forward to add to their log-jam at that position.
Sure, he has his limitations on the defensive end, but having a frontcourt partner like Mitchell Robinson can help alleviate those concerns. Plus, his nuclear athleticism alone should be enough to bring energy and excitement back to the Mecca.
Toppin definitely loves his post-NBA draft situation, considering he’ll be playing close to the streets where his father, Obadiah AKA “Dunker’s Delight”, rose to prominence as a streetball legend.
Mock Draft Projection: Top 10
Landing spot: Picked at No. 12 by the Sacramento Kings
Haliburton’s stock rose weeks before the NBA draft, with some believing he could crash into the top 5. If not, it seemed foolish for the bottom top 10 teams to pass up on his well-rounded skill set.
While Haliburton is pegged as the most technical playmaker in the NBA draft, it’s evident that the flamboyant LaMelo Ball would likely be selected first before the Iowa State standout.
It came quite a shock when the point guard-seeking Detroit Pistons, who owned the seventh pick, elected to go with Killian Hayes. Four picks later in the NBA draft, Haliburton was still on the board much to the delight of the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings were on the board for less than a minute when they hurriedly locked in their NBA draft selection. They couldn’t resist picking the best talent available, despite already having another promising point guard De’Aaron Fox in their roster.
The 6-foot-5 facilitator, after all, has good size for his position and has all the makings of a solid all-around player. Maybe some teams were turned off in the NBA draft by his slow-winding set-shot, but Haliburton’s success rate begs to differ. He made 41.9 percent of his triples in 22 games for the Cyclones in his second year.
It remains to be seen if that form will hold up against advanced NBA defenses, but Sacramento definitely got great value for their NBA draft pick.
Mock Draft Projection: Top 5
Landing spot: Went at No. 9 to the Washington Wizards
Apart from Ball, Deni Avdija was probably the most hyped prospect entering the NBA draft. That type of attention, of course, can play like a double-edged sword for a young guy entering the league.
In recent drafts, we’ve seen the best international prospects go into the top 5. The 19-year-old Israeli swingman is arguably the top overseas guy this year, but he somehow slid all the way to ninth.
Avdija was a relatively unknown guy before he shot up the NBA draft boards following claims that his game is similar Luka Doncic. Others believe he is more of a Danilo Gallinari or Hedo Turkoglu type.
Ultimately, it’s the Doncic comparisons that likely hurt his NBA draft stock. The Slovenian stud has been nothing short of phenomenal in just his first two seasons, so teams were likely disappointed to witness that Avdija does not possess the same tools.
He may not be a prodigy like the Mavs star, but the former Maccabi Tel Aviv standout does have a unique set of skills which were dissected before the NBA draft. Avdija is not a consistent shooter just yet that would make him a 3-and-D guy, but his playmaking as a point-forward is vastly underrated. The hops are also there, evidenced by his dunk-heavy highlight reel in the Euro League.
NBA draft experts expected Avdija to be scooped by the Cavs at no.4, since they need help in the wings. The Wizards couldn’t be happier that a player of his caliber just happened to still be available, since he fits there needs at the moment.
The future of the John Wall-Bradley Beal tandem remains bleak, so adding a guy like Avdija to bolster their wings is a good sign.