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NBA Draft Grades: Edwards goes No. 1, Ball falls to Charlotte

Edwards goes first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Auburn v Georgia Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

As part of our NBA Draft coverage, in which we only really care about Tyler Bey, we will have instant draft grades that will be written and published through the night.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves — Anthony Edwards, SG/SF, Georgia

Minnesota just traded Andrew Wiggins, so they had an obvious need for a physically impressive, mentally inconsistent talent who will never live up his potential. Edwards is absurdly talented, so strong and powerful as an athlete, and could be an automatic bucket going to the rim. But his shot selection and defense won’t improve unless he wants to get better, and there are major questions about how much he loves basketball and his tendency to float through games.

Grade: C-

2. Golden State Warriors — James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Now healthy — well, maybe, depending on Klay Thompson — the Warriors will be back in contention. James Wiseman will be an instant contributor as a rim-running, shot-blocking center. The center position is the easiest to fill in the NBA, so there are questions about opportunity cost with his draft value and salary, but if he can be a DPOY contender then it’s well worth it. Wiseman should be a safe pick — think Clint Capela at the worst outcome — who also has a lot of untapped offensive potential.

Grade: B

3. Charlotte Hornets — LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)

The highest upside player in the draft, LaMelo Ball enters a Charlotte roster that has a bunch of guards, but still needs as much talent as they can get. Ball is is a 6’7 point guard with genius-level basketball intelligence and court vision. There are concerns about his shot and defensive effort, but you take the chance on him because he’s such a talented playmaker.

Grade: B+

4. Chicago Bulls — Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Florida State

If you’re surprised by the pick, you’re not alone. Williams, a raw 18-year-old prospect from FSU, has shot up draft boards in the past week or so. Previously he was linked with the San Antonio Spurs at No. 11, but since moved into the top-10 and now into the fourth pick. The intrigue here is that Williams is a blank slate for coaches to work with, an elite athlete who is unpolished but has no real bad habits. Teams see him becoming a 3-and-D forward who can really protect the rim. He has been compared to Kawhi Leonard, but that’s a flawed comparison at the very least.

Grade: C+

5. Cleveland Cavaliers — Isaac Okoro, SF/PF, Auburn

Similar to Williams, Isaac Okoro is something of a raw, physical specimen on the wing. The difference is that Okoro is already a proven defensive menace, where his strength and awareness shine as a team defender. This could be perceived as a reach, but the Cavs need someone of his ilk to shepherd in what has been a historically awful defense.

Grade: B

6. Atlanta Hawks — Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

Atlanta is the perfect situation for USC big man Onyeka Okongwu. He’s an undersized center who excels on defense because of his quickness, tenacity and shot-blocking ability. He doesn’t have much offensive game aside from alley-oops and put-backs, but there’s nothing wrong with that in a spread offense with Trae Young running the show. He will have to compete with Clint Capela for minutes, but it’s clear the Big O is the long-term answer at the position.

Grade: A-

7. Detroit Pistons — Killian Hayes, PG/SG, Ulm (Germany)

A little Harden, a little Manu, Killian Hayes is a classic left-handed guard who gets by on guile and skill. He’s never going to be as good as the players he’s compared to, but he’s a high-floor prospect who should immediately start in Detroit’s perimeter wasteland. If he develops his jumper into a reliable weapon, he could become a nightly 17-point, 8-assist point guard.

Grade: B+

8. New York Knicks — Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

The Knicks don’t need another power forward and Toppin doesn’t need to be on a dumb team. He deserves better than this, particularly with the Knicks needing someone — anyone — to steady the ship at point guard. Toppin will get his stats, maybe win Rookie of the Year, but it will be a long time before he plays winning basketball.

Grade: C

9. Washington Wizards — Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

With Bradley Beal in tow and John Wall coming back from injury, the Wizards were looking for an instant impact rookie to help their playoff push. Deni Avdija is a good talent at a position of need. He’s a playmaking combo forward who flashes a lot of potential on the defensive end. There are concerns about how his athleticism will translate to the NBA, as well as if he will develop a consistent three-point shot, but there’s a lot to like here.

Grade: A-

10. Phoenix Suns — Jalen Smith, C, Maryland

The Suns apparently don’t mind reaching for a guy they like, and that’s where we are with Jalen Smith. He should be good as a high effort, 3-and-D center in the Serge Ibaka mold, but it’s strange to see them target a center with Deandre Ayton on the team. Maybe they’re aiming to play ‘Sticks’ alongside Ayton, but it’s not great value for such a high pick.

Grade: C-

11. San Antonio Spurs — Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

The Spurs love finding playing with two-way versatility, so Devin Vassell is a fitting selection. He’s a classic 3-and-D wing whose 3 is a little unproven and whose is more team-oriented than on-ball. There’s a lot to like with his length, particularly if you believe he has latent playmaking ability.

Grade: B+

12. Sacramento Kings — Tyrese Haliburton, SG, Iowa State

Tyrese Haliburton fell quite a bit tonight, but lands in a place that could really use his skillset. He has point guard skills, but is best suited in a complimentary role next to a scoring point guard. He’s a dangerous spot-up shooter, brings good size and intelligence on defense, and provides playmaking as a second-side ball-handler. His versatile game will be perfect next to De’Aaron Fox.

Grade: A+

13. New Orleans Pelicans — Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

The Pelicans have a lot of moving pieces — Jrue Holiday is heading to Milwaukee, Brandon Ingram is a restricted free agent, Eric Bledsoe is there now? — so all we really know is that this team is going to run up and down the floor with Zion Williamson. Kira Lewis should thrive in that situation, as he’s the fastest player in the draft and excels in transition and pick-and-roll situations.

Grade: B+

14. Boston Celtics — Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

Aaron Nesmith is an electric three-point shooter who should open up the floor for Boston to attack the rim. He has good size at 6’8, defends his position well and could still develop the rest of his game if he remains healthy.

Grade: B+

15. Orlando Magic — Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

The Magic needed a point guard, but not this one. Cole Anthony had a ton of hype heading into college, played terribly at North Carolina (albeit in a bad offense for him) and projects to be a 6th man at best in the NBA. He’s a good athlete but it doesn’t translate on the court, a good scorer but relies on inefficient shots and doesn’t make his teammates better. There’s not much to like unless you love inefficient scoring guards who do nothing else.

Grade: D

16. Detroit Pistons — Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

The Pistons got themselves a gamer. Isaiah Stewart is a monster on the inside, an old school post scorer who loves barreling through defenders. That play style is a bit archaic in today’s NBA, but Stewart is known to have potential NBA range on his jumper that he hasn’t yet shown on the court. He’s still a work in progress on defense but should gets the reps on the rebuilding Pistons.

Grade: B+

17. Oklahoma City Thunder — Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos B (Greece)

The biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this draft, Pokusevski could be anything from Kristaps Porzingis to Jan Vesely. He moves like a guard as a 7-footer, shows tremendous shooting ability, but weighs 190-lbs. and can’t physically survive in the NBA until he gets stronger. The Thunder are taking a real shot with one of their million first round picks.

Grade: TBD

18. Dallas Mavericks — Josh Green, SG, Arizona

The Mavericks just need to find athletic forwards who can shoot, cut and play defense. Josh Green can’t do much else, at least not right now, but the Aussie should be a good fit in Luka Doncic’s offense.

Grade: B+

19. Detroit Pistons — Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova

The Pistons gained their third pick of the night in a three-team deal that saw Luke Kennard head to the Clippers and Landry Shamet head to the Nets. I’m not sure why the Pistons traded for two extra picks in a weak class, but Saddiq Bey is so solid as a 3-and-D wing that it’s hard not to like this pick.

Grade: B

20. Miami Heat — Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis

Precious Achiuwa is a strange player because he thinks he’s a wing but would be best suited as a rim-running forward. He’s a great athlete at 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan, has a tremendous motor, and could be a physical, switchable defender. The Heat will surely get the most out of his talent if they can iron out his bad habits.

Grade: A-

21. Philadelphia 76ers — Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

Tyrese Maxey is everything the Sixers need. He’s a born scorer who thrives at knifing through tight spaces to get off little jumpers and floaters, which he can hit even in the tightest of traffic. He’s more of a willing shooter than an accurate one, but that’s what the Sixers need from their guards. He should also help hound quicker point guards, as he’s an intense defender who plays his heart out. Dude is a baller and Philadelphia is going to adore him.

Grade: A+

22. Denver Nuggets — Zeke Nnaji, PF, Arizona

The Nuggets have found the spiritual successor to Kenneth Faried. Hustle and energy, rebounding and dunks, Zeke Nnaji is going to be so much fun off the bench. He could be more than that, too, if his jumper extends to three-point range.

Grade: C+ (but culturally an A-)

23. Minnesota Timberwolves — Leandro Bolmaro, SF, Barcelona (Spain)

After botching their first pick, the Wolves actually made a smart move by getting the Argentinian point forward. Bolmaro has a shaky jumper and may not have NBA-caliber athleticism, but he has a high feel for the game and that shows up in his creative finishing, flashy playmaking and pesky defense. He works really hard and will have a great mentor in Ricky Rubio.

Grade: B+

24. Denver Nuggets — R.J. Hampton, SG, NZ Breakers (New Zealand)

The Nuggets traded a future first round pick to draft the high-risk, high-reward R.J. Hampton. He’s an explosive athlete and will live at the rim,, insofar as defenders respect his jumper. That jumper still needs work, but it’s so much better than it was just four months ago.

Grade: A

25. New York Knicks — Emmanuel Quickley, SG, Kentucky

This is a reach, but Emmanuel Quickley could be a good fit on the perimeter next to R.J. Barrett. He was the primary guard at Kentucky, but profiles more as an off-ball guard who has elite shooting and underrated defensive disruption.

Grade: C+

26. Boston Celtics — Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon

Speaking of reaches, the Celtics apparently had a favorite guard among the half-dozen or so options still left at this point. Pritchard, a four-year starter at Oregon, is a proven shot-maker who will thrive in a pick-and-roll based offense. It’s just hard to see him becoming more than a bench guard.

Grade: C-

27. Utah Jazz — Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas

If those above were reaches, oh my goodness, Utah. Don’t get me wrong, Azubuike is an elite defender and a dunking machine and he would’ve been a top-10 draft pick in 2004. But it’s not great value to draft a backup center in the first round.

Grade: D

28. Minnesota Timberwolves — Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington

Jaden McDaniels fell a bit further than expected, but that’s probably good for these NBA teams. He’s a very talented player who has the fluidity of a guard at 6’10. But he’s always been a flashes type of player rather than a productive one. I don’t think the pieces will ever come together in a tangible way.

Grade: D+

29. Toronto Raptors — Malachi Flynn, SG, San Diego State

Whether or not Fred VanVleet re-signs in Toronto, the Raptors will have a versatile, savvy guard coming off the bench. Malachi Flynn is so polished and does a little bit of everything at a high level. He’s a ready contributor at a potential position of need.

Grade: A-

30. Memphis Grizzlies — Desmond Bane, SG, TCU

Putting a modern twist to Grit N Grind, the Grizzlies traded into the first round to select Desmond Bane, the sweet-shooting guard from TCU. Bane may well be the best shooter in the class and he happens to be buff as hell. Memphis doesn’t have much depth on the wings, nor do they have much shooting, so this is a really good team fit.

Grade: A

Best Second Round Picks

31. Dallas Mavericks — Tyrell Terry, SG, Stanford

35. Memphis Grizzlies — Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Michigan State

36. Dallas Mavericks — Tyler Bey, PF, Colorado

40. Sacramento Kings — Robert Woodard, PF, Mississippi State

41. San Antonio Spurs — Tre Jones, PG, Duke

50. Atlanta Hawks — Skylar May, PG/SG, LSU

53. Washington Wizards — Cassius Winston, PG, Michigan State

58. Philadelphia 76ers — Paul Reed, PF, DePaul