It might be hard to believe, but Nov. 18 marks the one-year anniversary of the 2020 NBA Draft.
While it would be unfair to throw around the B-word (“bust”) and harshly criticize certain players at this stage of their careers, it isn’t too early to look at what was and think about what could’ve been.
With that in mind, seven members of The Sporting News’ staff gathered on the anniversary of the 2020 NBA Draft to hold a redraft of the lottery.
For this exercise, we focused less on fit and more on which players deserved to be selected based on what we’ve seen from them so far. That’s why you’ll see someone like LaMelo Ball go higher in the redraft than the original draft.
Disagree with our order? Let us know!
2020 NBA Redraft
No. 1: LaMelo Ball, Timberwolves
Original pick: Anthony Edwards
The 2021 Rookie of the Year, Ball’s potential to be a superstar in this league was pretty clear from Day 1. It’s not often that you see a 20-year-old average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but that’s exactly what Ball is doing this season. If he’s this good this early on in his second season, imagine how good he’ll be once he enters his prime. That alone is No. 1 pick-worthy.
— Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
No. 2: Anthony Edwards, Warriors
Original pick: James Wiseman
Do I really have to explain this pick? No surprise Ball went No. 1, but Edwards has quickly proven himself to be someone who could one day lead the league in scoring. He closed his rookie season on a strong note and has already had some explosive performances this season, most notably dropping 48 points on the Warriors. I’m an Edwards believer.
— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)
No. 3: Tyrese Haliburton, Hornets
Original pick: LaMelo Ball
Ball, Edwards and Haliburton finished one-two-three in the Rookie of the Year voting results, so let’s keep that same order here. The Kings guard has quickly proven himself to be a terrific playmaker (5.3 assists per game as a rookie) and outside shooter (over 40 percent on more than 300 career 3-point attempts). He is a great fit in any backcourt rotation because he can operate as a point guard, but he doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. Who wouldn’t want a guy like Haliburton on their team?
— Jordan Greer (@jordangreer42)
No. 4: Cole Anthony, Bulls
Original pick: Patrick Williams
Once the highest-ranked recruit in his class, Anthony is starting to show signs of that talent after slipping outside the lottery. He’s off to a scorching start this season, posting 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.
— Alex Novick (@ANov_SN)
No. 5: Saddiq Bey, Cavaliers
Original pick: Isaac Okoro
He might be off to a tough start in Year 2, but Bey proved his 3-and-D potential during his debut season that saw him earn All-Rookie First Team honors. The Villanova product looks like a pro through-and-through and has a long career in the NBA ahead of him.
— Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)
No. 6: Desmond Bane, Hawks
Original pick: Onyeka Okongwu
You can never have too many 3-and-D guys, and Bane is just the perfect fit regardless of the team. He can defend at a high level and doesn’t need the ball in his hands offensively to contribute. Just the perfect pick at this point in the draft.
— Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)
No. 7: Patrick Williams, Pistons
Original pick: Killian Hayes
OK, so I know he’s hurt. But Williams looked every bit the part in Summer League as the “second-year player who is way too good to be playing in Summer League.” Williams has the highest defensive upside of anyone in this draft, and if his offense catches up, he could be a home-run pick. I’m legitimately stunned that he’s going lower in a redraft, and I’m calling out the rest of my esteemed colleagues for letting him slide.
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)
No. 8: James Wiseman, Knicks
Original pick: Obi Toppin
Wiseman has run into some bad injury luck to start his career, but let’s not forget that he was in consideration for the No. 1 pick along with Ball and Edwards. With size, skill and instincts as a 7-footer, Wiseman has so much room to grow into an impactful player in the league. Remember the key role Deandre Ayton had during Phoenix’s Finals run? Wiseman can have a similar impact down the line.
No. 9: Tyrese Maxey, Wizards
Original pick: Deni Avdija
Playing time was hard to come by for Maxey in his rookie season, but he’s making the most of Ben Simmons being away from the team this season. He’s started in all 15 games in which he has appeared to this point, averaging 17.5 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds on .518/.420/.875 shooting splits. Maxey’s a walking bucket.
No. 10: Isaiah Stewart, Suns
Original pick: Jalen Smith
This may surprise you, but among all of the rookies in the 2020 draft class, Stewart is the current leader in win shares. (Yes, he’s even above Ball and Haliburton.) “Beef Stew” led this group in rebounding despite only playing 21.4 minutes per game as a rookie, gobbling up boards with his high motor and physicality. He may be undersized at 6-8, but he is a real disruptor in the paint.
No. 11: Devin Vassell, Spurs
Original pick: Devin Vassell
Vassell struggled a bit during his rookie year, but he’s showing signs this season of being a consistently high-end 3-and-D guy. He appears to be a heady player who will only get better in the Spurs’ system.
No. 12: Immanuel Quickley, Kings
Original pick: Tyrese Haliburton
They say it’s all about opportunity, and whenever Quickley has gotten that opportunity, he’s proved he has what it takes to be a talented scorer and playmaker in the league. The Knicks’ crowded backcourt and rotation hasn’t allowed him to see consistent minutes this season, but if he was in a different situation, his name may have come off the board even earlier in this redraft.
No. 13: Precious Achiuwa, Pelicans
Original pick: Kira Lewis Jr.
Of the players still available on the board, Achiuwa may have the highest ceiling. It may take a while for him to truly blossom into what he’s projected to be, but if you’re drafting in the lottery, you probably have the time to wait on a prospect or two.
No. 14: Obi Toppin, Celtics
Original pick: Aaron Nesmith
Toppin’s athletic gifts remain elite, and his rare combination of size and explosiveness doesn’t come around often. At this point in the draft — largely a crapshoot with no guarantees — give me the player with the highest ceiling.