That's right! The 2019 NBA Draft feels like it was just the other night -- because it was -- and the look ahead to 2020 has already begun. While 2019 was considered a very top-heavy class with a cavernous drop off after the top three of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett, 2020 is the exact opposite, as this class features at least 20 players at this very moment who have legitimate cases for the lottery.
The order of this mock was determined by 2018 record.
1. New York Knicks: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Penny Hardaway deserves all the credit in the world for bringing the Memphis program back to prominence. The jewel in the center of Hardaway's recruiting crown is Wiseman, the No.1 overall player who has a playing style that looks like a carbon copy of Anthony Davis, albeit at 7-1 with an amazing handle. Provided the wheels don't totally fall off at Memphis, the No. 1 pick is Wiseman's to lose.
2. Phoenix Suns: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
It's astounding how the Phoenix Suns are just refusing to find a long-term answer at point guard. No, Tyler Johnson and Ty Jerome don't count. Those woes could finally be ended if they took Anthony, a blindingly fast guard with insane explosion and an improving jump shot. Anthony is on track for a top five selection next season, provided Roy Williams doesn't Nassir Little him and stick him on the bench.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaiah Stewart, PF, Washington
After firing Lorenzo Romar, Washington has become the one of the best in the Pac-12 basketball in recent years, as UCLA has been stuck in neutral. In turn, superstar recruits like Stewart have decided to head up to Seattle before making their journey to the NBA. Built like a Sherman tank at 6-9 and 245 pounds, Stewart will bang down low like an old-school power forward, but has enough fluidity and finesse in his game to pop outside and knock down jumpers with regularity.
4. Chicago Bulls: Theo Maledon, PG, France
2020 is supposed to be a terrific year for international prospects, with Maledon and Israel's Deni Avdija as the consensus top two players. Maledon gets the edge here because his game is a bit more refined at this point. After showing off his impressive court vision and 3-point shot at the Jordan Brand showcase, Maledon should have a relatively quick and easy transition to the NBA.
5. Atlanta Hawks: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis
Achiuwa was another superstar recruit who was seduced by Hardaway's Memphis program. If he decides to bolt after just one year as a Tiger, some NBA team is going to get a tremendous toolbox of superstar traits. With A+ leaping ability, a soft touch around the rim, and a jumper that opposing defenses need to respect, Achiuwa is almost a guaranteed lottery pick, albeit one who needs a little fine-tuning.
6. Washington Wizards: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Edwards has battled with Wiseman for the top spot in the recruiting rankings all year long, and shouldn't have to wait long to hear his name called in the 2020 draft. Edwards can create his own shot from basically anywhere on the floor, has range out to 25 feet, and will tear the rim off the backboard if you let him. Whomever gets him is getting star material.
7. New Orleans Pelicans: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
Can you really let a guy with the nickname 'The Ginga Ninja' fall past No. 7 in any given draft? Didn't think so. Mannion will get on the floor thanks to his basketball IQ, passing, and penetration ability, but will surprise everyone with his raw athleticism and deadly 3-ball. Mannion has every skill that a big point guard needs in this modern NBA era of fast pace, switching on defense, and treys.
8. Boston Celtics (from Memphis): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
You also can't let a guy who has been balling in Rec Specs fall out of the lottery. Smith likely would have been drafted after averaging 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds during his freshman season at Maryland, but returned to get stronger and improve his jumper. If he does both of these things, a lottery team will get their hands on a versatile big man with handles, good post defense, and a high basketball IQ.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
The son of former Miami Dolphins offensive tackler Vernon Carey Sr., who played from 2004-2011 -- aren't we getting old? -- Carey Jr. was the big fish that Mike Krzyzewski and Duke reeled in this recruiting season. He needs to work on developing a jumper and slimming down just a bit, but Carey's bruiser mentality, rebounding, and soft touch near the rim will force a team to use a premium pick on him.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand
Hampton turned down offers from the likes of Duke and Texas Tech to play with the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL, where he'll face LaMelo Ball's Illawarra Hawks. Hampton gets the edge in this mock, however, because of his more refined and translatable game. A lethal shooter with the handles and aggressiveness needed to get the rim on a consistent basis, Hampton's year abroad won't impact his draft stock in any significant way.