The 2020 draft class was labeled a weak draft class by many experts and surprisingly, 80% of players drafted in the first round saw solid playing time and were productive on NBA rosters this past season.
Each year, we see a few players break out and play above their draft stock, causing some teams to regret who they drafted. If we could redraft the 2020 class, would Anthony Edwards still go No. 1? Where would James Wiseman fall, and would the 30th pick, Desmond Bane, sneak into the lottery?
After a few players outplayed their draft stock in their rookie seasons, here’s a look at Yahoo Sports’ redraft of the 2020 draft lottery. The 2021 draft lottery is 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN.
Actual pick: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Edwards’ draft slot: No. 1, Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 stats: 19.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg
Some think Edwards was robbed of Rookie of the Year honors since he played the full season and LaMelo Ball was out 21 games with a wrist injury. Despite not winning the top rookie honor, Edwards completely backed his No. 1-pick status this season. Edwards avoided the “rookie wall” and actually played better in the second half of the season, averaging 27 points per game in the month of May (including a 42-point performance May 5). He had one of the best dunks of the year on Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and provided endless entertainment in postgame Zooms and media interviews. Edwards’ future is bright on this Timberwolves team as they try to rebuild. He told Yahoo Sports on draft night, “I just want to be the best player to ever play basketball.”
Actual pick: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Ball’s draft slot: No. 3, Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 stats: 15.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.1 apg
The news of Klay Thompson’s season-ending Achilles injury came one hour before the NBA draft on Nov. 18. That’s not a lot of time to make changes to your draft board, especially if the front office feels confident taking Wiseman at No. 2. After seeing what Ball did this season in Charlotte, Warriors fans can’t help but wonder, “what if?”
Ball led the entire rookie class in assists (313) and was named the Rookie of the Year, despite missing six weeks with a wrist injury. He delivered amazing highlights night after night and made his teammates better with his phenomenal passing. Ball is the type of player you can’t help but wonder what he would have done as a stand-in Splash Brother playing alongside Steph Curry in Thompson’s absence. No one knows how many more years the big three of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green have left in them and Ball could have been the future to build around for the Warriors.
Actual pick: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Haliburton’s draft slot: No. 12, Sacramento Kings
2020-21 stats: 13 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.3 apg
Haliburton was the steal of the draft at No. 12 to the Kings, and it’s still baffling to see how many teams passed on the 6-foot-5 facilitator out of Iowa State.
“It all worked out perfectly, I’m in the perfect spot. Coach [Luke] Walton called me and just talked to me about playing fast and that he loves my game,” Haliburton said.
He was second in assists out of all the rookies with 309 for the season and second in 3-point field goals made with 121. Haliburton has been a seamless addition in the backcourt to De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. If the Hornets couldn’t have Ball, Haliburton would have been the second-best option. We might not have seen the full-court, underhand passes like we saw from Ball, but Haliburton can be just as deadly in transition and would have been excellent alongside Miles Bridges.
Actual pick: Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
Williams’ draft slot: No. 4, Chicago Bulls
2020-21 stats: 9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg
Williams was the biggest surprise of the draft and the Bulls front office must have known what they were doing when they took the one-and-done talent out of Florida State as a top-five pick.
He had one of the most daunting tasks early on in his NBA career when he was assigned to guard LeBron James. Williams left an impression on James who said afterward, “I think he is going to be an exceptional talent. [He has] long arms. He has Kawhi-type of hands that I noticed out on the floor, so I knew I couldn’t play with the ball much. You can tell he is just laser-sharp on just trying to get better and better. I think Chicago has a good one.”
Williams was named to the the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie second team alongside Isaac Okoro, Immanuel Quickley, Isaiah Stewart and Desmond Bane.
Actual pick: Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
Okoro’s draft slot: No. 5, Cleveland Cavaliers
2020-21 stats: 9.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.9 apg
Just like the Bulls’ pick at No. 4, the Cavaliers got their pick right in the 2020 draft, too. Okoro might not have been the flashiest player in this draft class but defensively, he got the job done. His only double-double came late in the season in a loss to the Indiana Pacers where he put up 22 points (including three 3-pointers) and grabbed 10 rebounds. If Okoro can get more consistent from 3-point range, the Cavaliers will have a deadly backcourt with Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Okoro.
Actual pick: Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
Stewart’s draft slot: No. 16, Detroit Pistons
2020-21 stats: 7.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.9 apg
Stewart led the rookie class in rebounds with 453 and was 31st overall out of the entire NBA. He was one of the most physically ready rookies coming in this season listed at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and it paid off in a big way when he started to see consistent minutes on a struggling Pistons team.
“For me, I just want to continue to work and build on my game,” Stewart said after an April 16 win over the Thunder where he grabbed 21 rebounds. “That’s the most important thing for me. I watch a lot of film and am just trying to learn from all my mistakes this year and get better.”
Atlanta is in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Okongwu has been out for the majority of the season with a foot injury. Everything has worked out so far for the Hawks, but having a healthy player who could contribute right away like Stewart could have helped win some games early on when they went 4-11 in February.
Actual pick: Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
Bey’s draft slot: No. 19, Detroit Pistons
2020-21 stats: 12.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 apg
What a season for the 3-and-D guard out of Villanova. Bey was, by far, the best rookie on the Pistons this season. He set the record for most 3-pointers by a rookie in franchise history with 175 made threes, passing Brandon Knight, who made 106. Bey was named to the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie first team along with Ball, Edwards, Haliburton and Jae’Sean Tate.
Point guard Killian Hayes missed half of the season with a torn hip labrum, and it will forever be a mystery as to why the Pistons took Hayes at No. 7 and passed on Haliburton.
Actual pick: Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
Tate’s draft slot: Undrafted, Houston Rockets
2020-21 stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg
The 6-foot-4 wing has been one of the biggest surprises of the rookie class after going undrafted and playing for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL last season. Yes, he’s 25 years old and significantly older than the other players in his rookie class, but he’s settling in comfortably in the NBA and proving to have a bright future on this struggling Rockets team.
The Knicks had a bounce-back season in the backcourt with RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley. Tate would have been just as productive off the bench after proving to be the best rebounding guard in this rookie class, grabbing 374 boards and shooting better than 50% from the field. He was named to the 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie first team and will continue to be a key player as the Rockets start to rebuild in the post-James Harden era.
Actual pick: Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards
Wiseman’s draft slot: No. 2, Golden State Warriors
2020-21 stats: 11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.7 apg
There were small glimpses of what Wiseman could be in a couple seasons with the Warriors. Unfortunately, Golden State is in a win-now mode and Wiseman looked a little lost on the court at times. He only played three collegiate games at Memphis and struggled to adjust to the pace at the NBA level.
His upside is still worth investing in with his 7-foot-1 frame and excellent shot-blocking mechanics on defense. There would be room for growth over time with the Wizards. The two stars of the team, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, are both ball-heavy guards and not a lot would be expected of Wiseman offensively.
Wiseman is rehabbing a meniscus injury and will hopefully bring some presence in the lane with the return of Klay Thompson next season.
Actual pick: Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns
Pokusevski’s draft slot: No. 17, Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 stats: 8.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 apg
The Suns are in the Western Conference finals for the first time since the 2009-10 season and their actual No. 10 pick, Smith, hasn’t been a factor in any of the postseason games. Pokusevski, originally from Serbia, had a slow start to his rookie season, but quickly picked things up for the Thunder toward the end of the season.
The 7-foot forward can extend his game past the 3-point line, hitting six 3-pointers in his final game against the Los Angeles Clippers. At only 19 years old, Pokusevski could have given solid bench minutes for Deandre Ayton and has a sold pick-and-pop game that would have complemented veteran point guard Chris Paul.
Actual pick: Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs
Quickley’s draft slot: No. 25, New York Knicks
2020-21 stats: 11.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.0 apg
Quickley entered his rookie season and showed off exactly what he had been working on in the eight-month extended time leading up to the draft. His floater in the lane is definitely the best in the rookie class and one of the best shots for a small guard in the league. He exuded confidence early in the season, letting shots fly from all over the court and impacted the game no matter how many minutes he played each night.
Three years ago, he was coming off the bench at Kentucky and averaged only 5.2 points per game. Fast forward to his sophomore season in Lexington where he was the leading scorer in the SEC and then was a first-round draft pick. Quickley is a phenomenal shooter with a high release and would have been an excellent option on the wing alongside Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker.
Actual pick: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Bane’s draft slot: No. 30, Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 stats: 9.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.7 apg
Bane’s biggest criticisms coming into the 2020 draft were his size and length at the guard position. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, but has a 6-foot-4 wingspan. A lot of teams were worried about how he would defend the perimeter. Well, he did just fine in his first season in Memphis. Bane stole the ball 50 times and was a key rotational player for the Grizzlies during the postseason.
Bane complements Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks well, and he could have had the same impact in Sacramento playing alongside De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. He finished the season shooting 43.2% from 3-point range and averaged less than one turnover per game for the season.
Actual pick: Kira Lewis Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony’s draft slot: No. 15, Orlando Magic
2020-21 stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.1 apg
Anthony’s role in Orlando expanded immensely once Markelle Fultz went down with a season-ending torn ACL. Anthony rose to the occasion and hit two game-winners in his rookie season and had a season-high 37 points in his last game against the 76ers.
Anthony is an extremely competitive guard who will have a long career in the NBA. He could have provided support to Lonzo Ball in the backcourt this season, and we would have undoubtedly seen some lobs to Zion Williamson in transition, where Anthony is most dangerous. With reports surfacing that Williamson’s family is unhappy in New Orleans, it’s up to the front office to make some changes and bring in some players who will turn around the franchise and keep their star player happy.
Actual pick: Aaron Nesmith, Boston Celtics
Maxey’s draft slot: No. 21, Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 stats: 8.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.0 apg
Maxey was instrumental in the Game 6 win over the Atlanta Hawks that forced the Eastern Conference semifinals series to go the distance. He finished with 16 points and was a +12 coming off the bench.
The former Kentucky guard was a little up-and-down at times this season, but he finished shooting 46.2% from the field and has a bright future as a shooting guard in the NBA.
The Celtics took the Vanderbilt sharpshooter, Nesmith, at No. 14, but he struggled in his rookie season, averaging only 4.7 points per game. Maxey’s playmaking ability complements Jayson Tatum, and he might not have the shooting range of Payton Pritchard, but he could end up being a better long-term prospect down the road.
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