NBA Draft: Projecting 2020 lottery picks
BOSSI'S BEST: NBA Draft picks we missed on
Now that the 2019 NBA Draft has come and gone, it’s time to take a look ahead to next year’s draft. Much is going to change over the next year, and players who aren’t currently being considered as potential high draft picks will make their way on to the radar, but until that happens Rivals.com National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi has his early look at the top college players – so you won’t see players like R.J. Hampton or LaMelo Ball on this list -- who could be projected lottery picks in 2020.
1. JAMES WISEMAN, MEMPHIS
Why he’ll go so high: Over the last year Wiseman has packed on significant muscle, increased his overall skill and gotten much more consistent as a rebounder, rim protector and scorer. He’s mobile, he can run the floor like a guard and he’s got touch to play in the pick and pop game. Wiseman has the most natural gifts of anybody who will be playing college basketball during the 2019-20 season.
What’s the plan to replace him?: With any luck, fellow five-star freshman Precious Achiuwa will stick around for a second year to be Penny Hardaway’s primary post option. If not, look for the Tigers to possibly turn things up on a versatile big like 2020 five-star Isaiah Todd.
2. ANTHONY EDWARDS, GEORGIA
Why he’ll go so high: Edwards has good size for a two guard, he’s an explosive athlete who can create for himself off the dribble and he’s got deep range on his jump shot. Given how much Georgia needs him to come in and produce right away and the type of game he plays, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him lead the SEC in scoring as a freshman.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Bulldogs looked to be in good position to land top-40 scorer Jabri Abdur-Rahim but his uncle Amir Abdur-Rahim accepted Kennesaw State’s head coaching job. Fellow 2019 classmates and four-star wings Jaykwon Walton and Christian Brown will be counted on to shoulder larger roles once Edwards is gone.
3. COLE ANTHONY, NORTH CAROLINA
Why he’ll go so high: Anthony is one of those guys who seems to have been passing his time until he gets to play in the NBA. He’s been around the game his entire life and has learned from his pro father Greg Anthony. Aside from the pedigree, Anthony is an accomplished ball handler and scorer with some pop in his legs who should be the No. 1 option at North Carolina as a freshman.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Heels signed four-star point guard Anthony Harris late in the 2019 class and he’s great insurance for Anthony’s expected early departure. High schoolers Caleb Love and Bryce Thompson are also major targets who could help offset a loss of Anthony.
4. ISAIAH STEWART, WASHINGTON
Why he’ll go so high: The thing about Stewart is that while he may not have some of the perceived upside of some others, he’s as complete as they come. Similar to a young Elton Brand, Stewart is a bruiser who overcomes being a little short for his position with long arms, wide shoulders and impeccable touch. The motor is always running high and he’s a threat to average a double-double as a freshman.
What’s the plan to replace him?: There really isn’t a similar player out there who could replace what Stewart may do as a freshman. However, keep an eye on four-star power forward Kendall Munson. He’s a bouncy in-state target who could help bridge the gap.
5. VERNON CAREY, DUKE
Why he’ll go so high: Today’s NBA values big men who can stretch the floor with their shooting and Carey is a five man who should have NBA range on his jumper. Duke has usually been a good stop for skilled big men who have aggressive mindsets on the offensive end and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Carey play a role very similar to what Wendell Carter did just a few years ago, only he would be featured even more than Carter who played alongside Marvin Bagley.
What’s the plan to replace him?: As of now, Duke looks to be focused on a pair of primary big man targets. Five-star Walker Kessler can really shoot the ball while top-50 standout Mark Williams is more rim protector/rebounder who is starting to find himself offensively.
6. JALEN SMITH, MARYLAND
Why he’ll go so high: The way things stand, the early portion of next year’s draft is looking like it could be heavy on first-year players from the high school class of 2019. Enter Smith. “Sticks” had a very good freshman year and is a rim protector who rebounds, runs the floor and has the skill to face the rim and shoot. Look for a huge step forward during his second college year.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Terrapins signed three big men in their 2019 class (twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell along with Chol Marial) so they’ve done some early prep. Four-star Dawson Garcia, top-50 prospect Cliff Omoruyi and many others have been associated with them from 2020.
7. JADEN MCDANIELS, WASHINGTON
Why he’ll go so high: A skilled combo forward with length and huge upside on the offensive end, there is zero doubt that McDaniels has the game to be a high-end lottery pick. Playing close to home and next to Stewart, he should be able to come out of his shell a little bit to show what he’s capable as. The key will be hitting the weight room and staying aggressive when his jumper isn’t falling.
8. SCOTTIE LEWIS, FLORIDA
Why he’ll go so high: There’s a chance that Lewis could be one of college basketball’s elite perimeter defenders as a freshman in Gainesville. He’s also a creative slasher, finisher and passer in transition who has made significant strides as a jump shooter. Lewis is also a hard worker with self-confidence for days.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Gators will have experience back in juniors Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke so they’ll be good there. As for potential high schoolers, it seems as if Mike White and his staff have offered every available guard in the 2020 class. Moses Moody, Jaden Springer and Karim Mane are up there but they are also in the top four for five-star B.J. Boston.
9. TRE JONES, DUKE
Why he’ll go so high: Surprisingly, Jones didn’t even give the NBA a serious look after a solid freshman year in Durham. As a sophomore he won’t lack for exposure because he’s at Duke and he’ll have a chance to make the team his. He’s already shown that he can defend and distribute at a high level, look for him to show more offense this season.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Blue Devils made sure to lock up Jones replacement early. Five-star point guard Jeremy Roach committed during the spring.
10. AYO DOSUNMU, ILLINOIS
Why he’ll go so high: For a while there was some real worry among Illini fans that Dosunmu would leave for the 2019 draft. Instead he’s made a good decision to come back and lead an Illinois team that should be much better this season. If the Illini win and Dosunmu continues to show his value as a slashing scorer and potentially big-time defender, it wouldn’t be a shock to see his stock to rise quickly.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Illini are all over several high scoring combo guards and guys like D.J. Steward, Adam Miller and Caleb Love are all relatively local and could come in and play big minutes right away.
11. ASHTON HAGANS, KENTUCKY
Why he’ll go so high: We had Hagans on this list last year but probably underestimated how tough it would be for him to play to his potential after skipping his senior year of high school. With a year under his belt at the SEC level, look for Hagans to make a huge jump forward. Will he be a great jump shooter? Not likely. But he can move the ball in transition, defend at a high level. Also, somebody at Kentucky has to step up and while five-star freshmen Tyrese Maxey and Khalil Whitney could be one-and-done threats as well, our money is on Hagans at this point.
What’s the plan to replace him?: Most likely, Immanuel Quickley will come back to Kentucky for a junior season and he would be a valuable leader. Five-star high schoolers Cade Cunningham, Sharife Cooper and Daishen Nix are also on the radar.
12. NICO MANNION, ARIZONA
Why he’ll go so high: Mannion keeps getting doubted but keeps proving that he can play with anybody. He’s a high-scoring shooter with range on his jumper, no fear when he drives and some pop in his legs. Can he add the strength and lateral quickness needed to be an above average defender? If that happens his stay in Tucson could be very short.
What’s the plan to replace him?: The Wildcats recently offered Caleb Love and flat-out told him they expect Mannion to be gone in 2020-21. D.J. Seward and Daishen Nix are among the other guards on their 2020 wish list.
13. JORDAN NWORA, LOUISVILLE
Why he’ll go so high: Nwora has a chance to be next year’s P.J. Washington. He plays a different game but, like Washington, he didn’t get the feedback he was hoping to hear from the NBA and decided to return to school. A big-time shooter with underrated skill as an off the dribble and mid range shooter, Nwora is a potential All-American candidate and will get plenty of exposure in the ACC. Keep an eye on freshman teammate Samuell Williamson as a sneaky one-and-done candidate because of his shooting and size.
What’s the plan to replace him?: Ideally, Williamson should be back for a second season. If not, guys like top-35 combo forward Jaemyn Brakefield, top-50 four man Dain Dainja and four-star JUCO wing Jayden Scrubb appear to be primary targets.
14. ZEKE NNAJI, ARIZONA
Why he’ll go so high: Somebody has to surprisingly outplay their high school ranking and after seeing him at USA Basketball’s U19 tryouts, Nnaji could be the guy. At 6-foot-10 with a sculpted frame and elite vertical athleticism, he’s got the physical tools to be a one and done guy. Add in that he’s got some touch as a jump shooter and has improved by leaps and bounds over the past two years. We could be seeing a guy who rises quickly up the draft boards.
What’s the plan to replace him?: Another Minnesota big man could be the guy, Dawson Garcia. In-state four man Osasere Ighodaro is on the rise and perhaps a guy like five-star wing Ziaire Williams could play as a stretch big man because of his 6-foot-8 size.