Final 2020 NBA Mock Draft

By Jeff Longville

Disclaimer: These picks will not include any trade scenarios.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves- LaMelo Ball, Point Guard, Illawarra Hawks, NBL

In a draft that is said to have a lot of role players, and not a lot of stars, I believe LaMelo Ball has the potential to be the best player in the draft. He would give a Timberwolves team who is looking to become relevant again a second ball handling and play making guard beside D’Angelo Russell. Together they should be able to pair nicely with Karl -Anthony Towns. The T-Wolves could also take Anthony Edwards here in they value scoring over play making.

2. Golden State Warriors- James Wiseman, Center, Memphis Tigers

The Warriors lack size and should look to add the best big man in the draft. Wiseman plays like a traditional center with a bit of a mid-range game. And if the Warriors decide to trade him once they draft him, which I believe they will, they could themselves an established star who fits there system of spreading the floor and being versatile on defense. A number of teams who be willing to make a move to acquire Wiseman.

3. Charlotte Hornets- Anthony Edwards, Shooting Guard, Georgia Bulldogs

The Hornets are a team with a lot of talented players. Guys like Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington all have a lot of potential and are only going to get better. Given the situation the Hornets are in, it makes sense for them to take the best player available, which in this case is Anthony Edwards. Edwards has great scoring instinct, as he averaged 19.1 points per game in his only year at Georgia. He should be another really nice piece for this young Hornets team.

4. Chicago Bulls- Deni Avidja, Small Forward/Power Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv

The Bulls lack depth at the small forward position, and Avidja could definitely fill that void. He is a the most polished small forward prospect in this draft and possess good basketball IQ. He has good size and the ability to shoot over defenders at 6’7″.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers- Issac Okoro, Small Forward/Power Forward, Auburn Tigers

The Cavaliers have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA the past couple of years. In fact last year they finished last in field goals allowed and in opponent field goal percentage. Okoro has been considered to be the best defender in the draft and can guard multiple positions. He can also give the Cavs some depth at small forward, which is the position that they are in the most need of.

6. Atlanta Hawks- Tyrese Haliburton Point Guard, Iowa State Cyclones

While a wrist injury ended Haliburton’s sophomore season after 22 games, he still put put up impressive number as he averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game, while shooting 50.4% and 41.9% from three. Haliburton would this young Hawks team on the rise, another solid playmaker beside Trae Young, and get this team closer to a playoff contender.

7. Detroit Pistons- Obi Toppin Power Forward/Center, Dayton Flyers

The Pistons have easily the worst roster in the NBA. I do not expect them to hold onto an injury prone Blake Griffin as I expect them to start from scratch. It would sense for the Pistons to draft the best available player, who is Toppin at #7. Toppin was the best player in college basketball last year, and has all the right offensive skills. He is an efficient scorer and passer, and can step out and hit threes, as he hit 41.7% of them in his college career. He does have to work on his defense though, but can still be a big help for this Piston’s team.

8. New York Knicks- Onyeka Okongwu, Center, USC

The Knicks have a solid defensive center in Mitchell Robinson, however he isn’t the most effective in offense. Okongwu can fill that void as he averaged 16.2 points per game last year on 61.6% He has also shown some defensive versatility, which would give New York two solid defending bigs.

9. Washington Wizards- Devin Vassell, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Florida State Seminoles

The Wizards are primed for good season next year. They John Wall back and Bradley Beal has been playing tremendously. However, the Wizards lack defense and a three-and-D wing could help them out. That’s exactly what Vassell is, as he shot 41.5% from three last year, and was an excellent defender last year. He has also shown the potential to become a better shot creator.

10. Phoeix Suns- Killian Hayes, Point Guard, Ratiopharm ULM

As the Suns acquired Chris Paul in a trade, it would make sense to draft a young point guard who can learn from the 35 year old. The move also makes sense as Ricky Rubio is no longer with the Suns as he was sent away in the Paul trade. Hayes is the best point guard available at 10, and can be a big part of the Suns future.

11. San Antonio Spurs- Kira Lewis, Point Guard, Alabama Crimson Tide

While the Spurs have some nice young backcourt pieces in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Bryn Forbes, they lack backcourt scoring, as neither of them have averaged 10 points for their career. Lewis can bring some solid scoring as he averaged 18.5 point per game on 45.9% shooting last year.

12. Sacramento Kings- Patrick Williams, Small Forward/Power Forward, Florida State Seminoles

The Kings have a lot of talented offensive pieces, but lack defense and could use better forward play. Williams can provide that he plays with physicality and versatility. His offensive game isn’t polished yet, but with all the offensive pieces the Kings have, Williams can focus on defense for now, and let his offensive skill come later.

13. New Orleans Pelicans- Saddiq Bey, Small Forward/Power Forward, Villanova Wildcats

The Future looks incredibly bright in New Orleans with young player like Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. One area the Pelican need to address is getting another frontcourt player who can shoot. While Ingram improved his shooting last year, adding another shooter wouldn’t hurt, and can create more spacing with Williamson and Derrick Favors or Jaxson Hayes on the floor. Bey is an efficient scorer and can solve the Pelicans spacing situation. They could also look to take a guard if they move on from Jrue Holiday, who was traded to Milwaukee earlier today.

14. Boston Celtics VIA Memphis Grizzlies- Precious Achiuwa, Power Forward/Center, Memphis Tigers

The Celtics lack a physical center, which is a big reason they lost to the Heat in the conference semi-finals last season. Achiuwa is a versatile defender and averaged just under 2 blocks a game last year. He could be just what the Celtics need to finally make it out of East under Brad Stevens.

15. Orlando Magic-R.J. Hampton, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, New Zealand Breakers

While Markelle Fultz showed flashes of what we thought he could be when was drafted first overall in 2017, can Orlando trust him with his injuries and his inconsistent play? In three years, he’s only played in 105 games and averages on 10.7 points for his career. Some backcourt scoring would be beneficial to the Magic and Hampton can provide that as well as some solid playmaking.

16. Portland Trailblazers- Josh Green, Small Forward, Arizona Wildcats

The Blazers are in need of defense in general, but more specifically at small forward. Carmelo Anthony is 35 years old, and has never been a good defender, Trevor Ariza is 35, and Rodney Hood is coming off of an injury. Green is a terrific perimeter defender and also possess some solid cutting and shooting on offense.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves VIA Brooklyn Nets- Aaron Nesmith, Small Forward, Vanderbilt Commodores

With there second pick, Minnesota could look to add some shooting to their solid young core. Nesmith is an incredibly efficient scorer as he averaged 23 points per game on 51.2% shooting, including 52.2% from distance.

18. Dallas Mavericks- Tyrese Maxey, Shooting Guard, Kentucky Wildcats

The Mavericks had a historically great offense last year, but need improvement on defense. Maxey is driven defensively and is explosive on offense. His three point shooting will need some work in order to properly fit into the Mavericks offense, but he has the potential to be another great contributor to this team.

19. Brooklyn Nets VIA Philadelphia 76ers- Jalen Smith, Power Forward/Center, Maryland Terrapins

The nets have superb rim protection with guys like Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan, but lack a versatile big who can guard the perimeter. Smith can provide that as well as protect the rim. He can also step out and knock down threes on the offensive end as he shot 36.8% from down town last season.

20. Miami Heat- Daniel Oturu, Center, Minnesota Golden Gophers

Size hurt the Heat last year as they made it all the way to the finals, but fell short to the much bigger Los Angeles Lakers. Oturu stands at 6’10 and averaged 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game last year. His size and rim protection can help the Heat against bigger teams next year.

21. Philadelphia 76ers VIA Oklahoma City Thunder- Cole Anthony, Point Guard, North Carolina Tarheels

The 76ers need more shooting and ball handling, which is what Anthony can provide. While he didn’t have as good of season as we thought he would at UNC due to injury, he still averaged 18.5 point per game and shot 34.8% from three. He could be an excellent backup behind Ben Simmons.

22. Denver Nuggets VIA Houston Rockets -Jaden McDaniels, Small Forward/Power Forward, Washington Huskies

With four frontcourt free agents this offseason (Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig), an additional frontcourt piece would be nice. McDaniels stretch the floor as he shot nearly 40% from three last year and is tall enough at 6’9″ to play the Power Forward if necessary.

23. Utah Jazz- Tyrell Terry, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Standford Cardinal

The Jazz are need of backup point guard, as Donovan Mitchell had to take on that role last season. Terry has good basketball IQ and would serve well backing up Mike Conley. He also has good range as he shot 40.8% from three last year.

24. Milwaukee Bucks VIA Indiana Pacers- Jahmius Ramsey, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech

Despite finishing with the best record in the league the past two years, the Bucks have not been able to make it out of the East. Teams have been able to figure out how to stop the Bucks offensive scheme. While the Bucks shot the fourth most threes last year, they finished 17th in percentage. Adding another shooter would benefit the Bucks, and Ramsey can be that as well as provide some more defense to the team who had the best defense last year.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder VIA Denver Nuggets- Cassius Winston, Point Guard, Michigan State Spartans

With The thunder losing Chris Paul to the Suns, and Dennis Schroder supposedly being sent to the Lakers, the Thunder are in need of a point guard. Winston has a pass first approach but can also take matters into his own hands. His solid playmaking ability would help this rebuilding Thunder team.

26. Boston Celtics- Tyler Bey, Power Forward, Colorado Buffaloes

The Celtics have two spectacular young wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but Gordon Hayward has had some injury issues, and Semi Ojeleye has been disappointing. Bey shot 53% last year and almost 42% from three. Bey could give the Celtics a boost from the wing.

27. New York Knicks VIA Los Angeles Clippers- Desmond Bane, Shooting Guard TCU

The Knicks need a lot of things to get better, and shooting guard depth is one of them. Bane can score efficiently, pass well and has a high defensive IQ that could help the Knicks become a better team.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder VIA Los Angels Lakers- Malachi Flynn, Point Guard, San Diego State Aztecs

While this trade has not actually went through, it is very well believed that the Thunder will have the 28th pick come Wednesday. With that being said, the Thunder will also need a another point guard if Dennis Schroder becomes a Laker. Flynn has a high IQ and plays hard defense, and would be helpful for a rebuilding team.

29. Toronto Raptors- Zeke Nnaji, Power Forward/Center, Arizona Wildcats

With Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Chris Boucher all becoming free agents, taking a big man would be in the Raptors favor. Nnaji averaged just over 16 points per game on 57% shooting, as well as 8.6 rebounds, and would provide good security for Raptors if they lose their bigs.

30. Boston Celtics VIA Milwaukee Bucks- Tre Jones, Point Guard, Duke Blue Devils

While Brad Wanamaker is a good backup facilitator and Marcus Smart has become better offensively, some more bench backcourt scoring would be beneficial to the Celtics. Jones can do that as he averaged 16.2 points per game last year. He can also facilitate as he averaged 6.4 assists as well. With a talented team like Boston, taking the best player available with the 30th pick also makes sense.

Broncos Tame The Zips Quickly in the Return of MAC Football

By Jamya Kyle

On the warm Wednesday night of October 4th, the Akron Zips opened their football season up against the Western Michigan Broncos. Due to Covid-19, the MAC Conference will only have a six-game schedule this year limiting the amount of contact with coaches and players. Each team is scheduled to play five games within its division, and one team outside of their division. This would be the first matchup for both teams starting this season. Even though there is only to be half of a season this year, there is no doubt that coaches and players are happy to be playing some games instead of none this season.

After a rough season last year, Akron was ready to come out and compete. Which in the first quarter, the Zips held the Broncos to a 7-3 lead for quite some time after Zach Gibson made a 14-yard throw to his teammate Michael Mathison for a touchdown. Leading into the second quarter the Zips added two more field goals onto the scoreboard, which put them at 13 points. Heading into halftime the scoreboard was 30-13, in favor of the Broncos.

Entering the third quarter the Zips offense and defense broke down quickly. The Zips struggled to stop the Broncos on defense, while the Zips kept getting stopped by Western Michigan’s. Akron could not stop the Broncos quarterback from making plays. The Broncos added 21 points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Zips continued to struggle to find ways to score. The ability to find open players was not there for the team. Akron got outrun by the Broncos on various plays. However, one bright spot for the squad was Bubba Arslanian, who showed up and showed out in the fourth quarter on the defensive side. Arslanian ended the game with 6/3 tackles for the Zips, being one of the few highlights for the team.

 The final score was 58-13. This is only the beginning of the season still, and we will see next Tuesday how the Zips recover after this game as they will take on The Ohio University Bobcats at 7:00 pm in Athens.

The Big 10 Shakes up Rankings

By Thomas Burton

This past weekend, The Big Ten returned to college football with dominant performances from the “blue bloods” in the conference and shocking upset in the conference’s return. Ohio State came out and showed why they are at the top of the conference and are in the hunt to compete for a national title, with a dominating performance defeating Nebraska 52-17 with a near-perfect performance from their leader and potential Heisman candidate, Quarterback Justin Fields. He was 20-21 with 276 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with 15 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Another top team was not so dominant, and that was the number eight ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, who were upset by the unranked Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers won on a final drive led by their Quarterback Michel Penix Jr. who scored the controversial two-point conversion to win the game. Penix Jr. finished the game 19-36 for 170 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Penn State now falls to the number eighteen ranked team in the country as Indiana is now the number seventeen ranked team after their victory.  The Big Ten’s return complicates the college football playoff landscape because the Big Ten has no room for error with eight straight regular season games. Conference play started later than the other power five conferences which may complicate the committee’s selection process because other teams like number 1 Clemson Tigers, and number 4 Notre Dame have already played multiple games. How will the committee handle selecting the top four teams with categories that they have considered in the past like strength of schedule and signature wins? This bodes well for the Big Ten because the conference has shown the ability to be competitive from top to bottom. This may create a platform for the teams like Ohio State because they may have signature wins in close, competitive games. Also, it will show that the schedule was more difficult in the conference than other top teams around the country in other conferences like the SEC or ACC, where there is not any competition for teams like the Clemson Tigers or Alabama Crimson Tide. If Ohio State would lose a game in conference, I believe that Ohio State would still be one of the best teams in the country due to the competition in conference. This college football season may have the most drama when selecting the college football playoff teams, and will this create changes in the future of the criteria used to select the teams for the college football playoffs? We will have to wait and see.

Buss-ing Through the Glass Ceiling

By Jamya Kyle

This past Sunday Jeanie Buss was the first female controlling owner of any NBA Organization to win a championship. While Buss took over as the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, at the age of 19, Buss started a family business as the general manager of the Los Angeles Strings, which was a professional tennis team, while she studied at USC. 

“ Basically, my dad bought me the team,”

 Buss mentioned. Later on she became the owner of the Los Angeles Blades which is a professional Hockey Team. Before taking the position as Vice President of the Lakers, Buss was also the President of the Great Western Forum. In 2013, after Buss’ father passed away, his position in controlling ownership of the Lakers was passed down to six of his children. Buss took over as the controlling ownership team president while representing the Lakers on the NBA Board of Governors

There are currently three women in the NBA Organization who entirely own their own franchise. In 2018 after Gayle Benson’s husband passed away, Benson Inherited the New Orleans Pelicans in addition to the New Orleans Saints. In 1986, Gail Miller and her husband bought the Utah Jazz Organization when suddenly her husband passed away in 2009. Which they have not yet experienced an NBA title. 

In 2018, Jody Allen took over the Portland Trail Blazers after her brother passed, which she now owns the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. In the early 2000’s, Stan Kroenke owned the Denver Nuggets which is now passed down and in the name of his wife Anne Kreonke. This was put in place so Kreoenke could keep his ownership of the Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, in addition to owning the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. While their son Josh Kreoenke is with the Colorado Franchise. 

In 2005, Sporting News announced Buss as Top 20 one of the most influential Women in Sports. In 2011 ESPN mentioned Buss was “one of the most powerful women in the NBA” also Forbes named Buss as “one of few powerful women in sports management”. These are only a few of Buss’ big accomplishments since she has been in the sports business, and these will not be the last we hear about. 

This week Buss has shared a meme which has gone viral on social media platforms sharing to everyone “How she started” vs “How it’s going”. Buss is showing the path she has been down while having the title of a controlling owner as a woman of the organization. It has been more than 70 years without a woman accomplishing a title overall as a principal owner. This meme has been used as motivational use for various women in the sports industry, encouraging all women in sports that anything is possible as long as the work is put in.

The Philadelphia 76ers made the wrong moves during the offseason

By: Nikko Weathers

“Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,USA – April 2, 2012: Wells Fargo Center is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and is home to Philadelphia Flyers (National Hockey League), the Philadelphia 76ers (National Basketball Association), the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League), the Philadelphia Soul (Arena Football League) and the Villanova Wildcats (NCAA). The center also serves as a venue for many other city event.”

With the knee injury to Ben Simmons, Brett Brown is forced to be without his all star forward for the foreseeable future. With the absence of Simmons, all of the pressure is left to the 76ers superstar Joel Embid who is struggling to find a win against the young Boston Celtics.

Boston’s Jayson Tatum has been firing on all cylinders leading the Celtics in scoring while taking a 2-0 series lead against the injury riddled Sixers. From those two games it is obvious that the Sixers miss Simmons, without him there is absolutely no identity on the offensive end and no leader on the floor. It is no question that Embid is their best player on the floor however there are many questions that arise when he and Simmons are both on the floor, or Simmons is absent. Embid seems to lack leadership qualities, and toughness while also looking out of shape due to the 4 month hiatus.

It has never been more clear how valuable Simmons is to the team, but when he is on the floor with Embid they still can’t seem to get it done and make it out of the East. Critics knock Simmons’ inability to shoot a jumper from the perimeter, his turnovers, and his lack of offensive repertoire. What many should focus on besides his weaknesses should be what he is good at which is pushing the offense in transition, his defensive skills, and his vision on the floor.

During the offseason the 76ers gave forward Tobias Harris a max $180 million, $97 million for Al Horford, and acquired Josh Richardson via a trade with MIami for Jimmy Butler. The 76ers valued size this offseason but didn’t focus on adding depth to compliment the main pieces on the team which are their two all stars, Simmons and Embid. Their lack of perimeter shooting, bench depth, and offensive miscues will have them plagued against the other top teams in the East.

Yes, if Ben Simmons were healthy in this series against the Celtics it would have been a far better matchup, he led the league in steals at 2.1 steals, he held Jayson Tatum to 31.3 percent shooting while he guarded him, and averaged 8.0 assists which ranked sixth in the NBA. 

If the 76ers refocused their offseason on adding pieces to compliment their two stars we could see a different year for them however, that is not the case. They overpaid for a non all star forward in Tobias Harris, they added a regressing big in Al Horford, and downgraded by trading for Josh Richardson while shipping out Jimmy Butler. They also lost their knock down perimeter shooter in JJ Reddick. If they didn’t give away Reddick, didn’t overpay for an average forward, didn’t sign a regressing big, and kept all star Jimmy Butler happy this would have been a far more successful year.