NBA Draft

Each Lottery Team’s Top 3 Draft Options


Even with the unorthodox offseason, the NBA Draft rumor mill is in high gear with draft day a few hours away. Keep in mind that not everything you hear or read is necessarily true, as this is the perfect time for teams to send out smokescreens to throw off others – but we might have enough information to get a realistic look at who teams might pick come November 18th. Combining rumors, team needs, player fit and draft tendencies, here are the three most likely options for each team selecting in the lottery:

Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Anthony Edwards, SG Georgia
  2. Trade Down
  3. LaMelo Ball, PG Illawarra Hawks

Minnesota made a big move back in February, sending Andrew Wiggins and a future 1st round pick to Golden State in exchange for Karl-Anthony Towns’ friend, D’Angelo Russell. With two promising building blocks already in place, the Wolves are in great position to build a playoff contender for years to come.

Anthony Edwards has been the consensus #1 pick since the team won the rights to it back in August, and three months later, nothing has changed. Edwards is the most logical fit for a team that could use a running mate for Russell in the backcourt. While it’s likely Minnesota just takes Edwards first, the team is letting it be known the pick is available and will take a look at any offer they may receive.

Showing interest in James Wiseman is likely a smokescreen to bait Charlotte or Golden State into trading up, a fit that doesn’t make sense with KAT still running the show down low. A darkhorse candidate is former Illawarra Hawks point guard LaMelo Ball, someone who could end up being the best player in this draft when it’s all said and done.

Golden State Warriors

  1. James Wiseman, C Memphis
  2. Trade Down
  3. Deni Avdija, SF Maccabi Tel Aviv

While smokescreens are common leading up to the draft, Golden State has made it pretty clear – this pick is very much up for grabs. How much help would a 19-year-old rookie be to a team that’s ready to compete for the finals now?

That’s the question Warriors’ General Manager Bob Myers and company have been asking themselves for months. A package of Andrew Wiggins and the 2nd pick may be enticing to some teams, but likely won’t fetch more than someone like Jonas Valanciunas, which may not even be worth it for the Warriors. It seems unlikely the team will receive an offer good enough to convince them to part with the pick, so former Memphis center James Wiseman should hear is name called by Adam Silver when Golden State is on the clock.

Charlotte Hornets

  1. James Wiseman, C Memphis
  2. Trade Down
  3. Onyeka Okongwu, C USC

Devonte’ Graham and Miles Bridges took big leaps in their sophomore seasons, providing Charlotte with a nice duo to build around going forward. After moving up in the lottery into the top three, the Hornets have an opportunity to add to one of the more promising young cores in the league.

The player that’s caught Charlotte’s attention the most is the aforementioned Wiseman, a lanky seven-footer that brings athleticism and defense to any team that lands him. Wiseman is the perfect fit next to 2019 lottery pick PJ Washington, but will probably be gone by the time the Hornets are on the clock. Assuming Wiseman is out of the picture, trading down would be in their best interest. Onyeka Okongwu and Isaac Okoro have also been linked to them heavily, and may be available if a trade down to the 5-8 range is made.

Chicago Bulls

  1. Deni Avdija, SF Maccabi Tel Aviv
  2. LaMelo Ball, PG Illawarra Hawks
  3. Obi Toppin, PF Dayton

Before making this pick, Chicago needs to have an idea of what they want their identity to be. Coby White and Zach LaVine form an above-average young duo in the backcourt, and recent draft picks Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. have shown flashes when given the opportunity.

While the team has some good options, they don’t seem to have a very well-rounded team that can truly compete for a playoff spot. By all accounts it looks like Deni Avdija will be the pick if available, according to Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman. If Avdija is somehow gone or the team has a change of heart, rumors suggest they also love LaMelo Ball, who makes sense as a potential face-of-the-franchise type of player.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. Obi Toppin, PF Dayton
  2. Deni Avdija, SF Maccabi Tel Aviv
  3. Onyeka Okongwu, C USC

My favorite player/team fit in the entire draft this year is Obi Toppin to the Cavs, and it looks like that fit could very well end up happening. Cleveland went guard-heavy in last year’s draft, bringing in Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. a year after selecting Collin Sexton in the top 10.

It’s time to shift the focus to the frontcourt, however, making Toppin a perfect prospect assuming he’s still around at pick five. Kevin Love’s best days are behind him, but while he’s still on the roster, it would be wise to bring in a developmental talent to learn behind the former NBA Champion.

Atlanta Hawks

  1. Tyrese Haliburton, PG Iowa State
  2. Trade Down
  3. Deni Avdija, SF Maccabi Tel Aviv

It’s no secret Atlanta would like to trade the pick, the question is if any team will offer what they’re looking for. Teams like the Timberwolves and Celtics will put multiple firsts on the table, but the Hawks are ready to take a leap into the playoffs in Trae Young’s third year.

Assuming they stay put at No. 6, Tyrese Haliburton provides the Hawks with an all-around great player that can facilitate when Young is off the floor and provide even more three-point shooting. Expect Atlanta to target rookies that’ll be ready to play right away, something Haliburton and Avdija can provide.

Detroit Pistons

  1. Patrick Williams, SF Florida State
  2. Tyrese Haliburton, PG Iowa State
  3. Trade Up

Coming off a disappointing 2019-2020 season, Detroit is looking for young players to add to what they already have in Kennard/Doumbouya/Wood (assuming Wood re-signs this offseason). There are plenty of ways Detroit can go with this pick, and they have shown interest in many different prospects with varying skill sets.

Natural fits like Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes have dominated mock drafts so far, although recent reports suggest they have made a draft promise to Florida State’s Patrick Williams. While the common trend is lottery teams wanting out, the Pistons have also shown a lot of interest in LaMelo Ball, who has been spending the offseason working out in Detroit. Don’t be surprised if they make a move into the top three.

New York Knicks

  1. Killian Hayes, PG France
  2. Trade Up
  3. Onyeka Okongwu, C USC

It’s safe to say the Knicks haven’t exactly been the best when it comes to the draft. New York has two solid cornerstones in RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, but the rest of the roster leaves much to be desired. First-year General Manager Leon Rose has his work cut out for him and can go a lot of different directions this offseason, starting with pick No. 8.

If the team decides to stay put, Killian Hayes looks like the favorite, with Isaac Okoro and Onyeka Okongwu getting looks as well. While it’s hard to predict a trade up as the most-likely option, don’t be surprised if the Knicks make a move. LaMelo Ball provides New York with a face-of-the-franchise player that has as much talent as anyone this draft has to offer. Assuming James Wiseman is off the board before No. 3, Charlotte will be more than willing to listen to offers for teams that want to jump the pack for Ball.

Washington Wizards

  1. Onyeka Okongwu, C USC
  2. Isaac Okoro, SF Auburn
  3. Devin Vassell, SG Florida State

Washington has been one of the quietest lottery teams through the process so far, so it’s hard to get a feel for where they might be leaning. One player they have been all over is USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, a high-IQ, versatile big that fits the modern NBA perfectly. With Okongwu’s stock on the rise lately, this seems to be his floor. Wing options that fit well with the Wall/Beal duo can be found in Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Florida State’s Devin Vassell, two guys who should be around by the time Washington is on the clock.

Phoenix Suns

  1. Killian Hayes, PG France
  2. Kira Lewis Jr., PG Alabama
  3. Tyrell Terry, PG Stanford

Even with the acquisition of Chris Paul, Phoenix could still use additional reinforcement at point guard. Killian Hayes could fall down the board on draft night and is the ideal compliment to Booker in the backcourt. Kira Lewis Jr. looks like a De’Aaron Fox clone, and if he’s there at No. 10, Phoenix will seriously consider taking him. The Suns have put a big emphasis on adding three-point shooters, which is exactly what Stanford’s Tyrell Terry brings to the table if they choose to go that route.

San Antonio Spurs

  1. Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF Vanderbilt
  2. Patrick Williams, SF Florida State
  3. Saddiq Bey, SF Villanova

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 23 years, San Antonio looks to have a good variety of choices if they stay put at the back end of the lottery. Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV have the guard spots held down, so the team has wisely shown interest in the forwards that may be available at No. 11. Aaron Nesmith fits what Gregg Popovich looks for in young players, providing elite floor spacing, shooting and a defensive arsenal that can improve over time. This pick likely represents Patrick Williams’ floor as well as the start of Saddiq Bey’s range. Expect San Antonio to bring in a forward with this pick.

Sacramento Kings

  1. Devin Vassell, SG Florida State
  2. Kira Lewis Jr., PG Alabama
  3. Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF Vanderbilt

De’Aaron Fox is the unquestioned future of the franchise, but the options around him could be upgraded. While the team has shown a lot of interest in Kira Lewis Jr., his game seems too similar to Fox’s to make sense as the pick here. Devin Vassell’s team has reportedly said he’s expected to go in the 8-12 range, possibly hinting that Sacramento has made a promise to the 20-year-old Florida State product.

Sacramento has a lot of work to do to become a playoff team again, and with a new general manager in Monte McNair taking over, there aren’t too many hints as to where they could be leaning. A combo guard like Vassell and Nesmith make the most sense from a fit perspective.

New Orleans Pelicans

  1. Devin Vassell, SF Florida State
  2. Tyrese Maxey, SG Kentucky
  3. Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF Vanderbilt

David Griffin and company did a great job last summer acquiring young talent in the Anthony Davis trade, now the pressure is on to contend for a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference. What the current group is missing is a young prospect that can shoot the three and provide defense off the bench.

Prospects that make the most sense for New Orleans are Devin Vassell and Aaron Nesmith if they’re still available this late in the lottery. If they miss out on some of the top guys, Tyrese Maxey makes a lot of sense as a target here. New Orleans has shown a lot of interest in Maxey throughout the draft process so far, someone that can create their own shot and take the focus away from franchise building blocks Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.

Boston Celtics

  1. Precious Achiuwa, PF Memphis
  2. Trade Up
  3. Saddiq Bey, SF Villanova

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up big last season and in the bubble, but Boston once again fell short in the playoffs. Danny Ainge has made this pick, along with the 26th and 30th overall selections available in an attempt to move into the lottery, but there don’t seem to be any takers with the draft quickly approaching. Boston reportedly loves Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, a strong fit at power forward who has potential to be a matchup nightmare next to Robert Williams III. If Boston is unable to move this pick, Saddiq Bey is also a strong fit as a pro-ready, versatile option that can provide a spark off the bench.

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