The 2020 NBA Draft was thought to be fairly weak when it first occurred. With a few years to evaluate these players more closely, that initial pessimism is looking largely unwarranted.
There are some very good players at the top of this draft, led by Anthony Edwards, the two Tyreses (Haliburton and Maxey) and LaMelo Ball. Those four will likely be perennial All-Stars and rack up All-NBA consideration.
There is a noticeable drop-off after that group, but this is still a good draft with solid starters and role players scattered throughout the top 14.
This draft also reflects how easy it is for NBA executives to screw up. Six of the players originally drafted in the lottery don’t show up at all in our redraft, including three of the top five picks (James Wiseman at No. 2, Patrick Williams at No. 4 and Isaac Okoro at No. 5). And three of our top five were taken at picks No. 12 or later.
In order to see how much this draft would have changed had it been conducted today, two of our writers — Steph Noh and Scott Rafferty — put on their GM hats and redrafted the lottery. Noh won the very official coin toss for first-pick honors. Noh and Rafferty then alternated picks and made their selections based on who they thought most deserved to go in the spot rather than what the team needed most.
Edwards’ original draft position: 1st (Timberwolves)
You could make a reasonable case for either of the Tyreses to be at the top of this draft, but Edwards is still the No. 1 guy in this class. His sheer athleticism, ability to get to the rim whenever he wants and development as a capable 3-point shooter (36.4 percent over the last three years) make him a special type of scorer.
Edwards also has that “it” factor. He seemingly ups his game for the biggest moments in international play and the playoffs, which is made even more impressive by the fact that he’s now at the top of every scouting report.
Edwards’ one glaring weakness has been his defensive intensity. He’s improved vastly on that end of the floor over the past two seasons. He’s a legitimately terrifying on-ball defender, although he still does have some lapses away from the ball.
2. Tyrese Haliburton, Warriors
Original pick: James Wiseman
Haliburton’s original draft position: 12th (Kings)
Haliburton made the leap into stardom last season. Now, he’s looking like a dark horse MVP candidate.
Haliburton has opened the 2023-24 season with averages of 23.5 points and a league-best 11.6 assists per game. The ball never stops moving when he’s on the court, he’s an elite passer and funky as his shot is, it’s highly effective — he’s up to 40.9 percent on 5.8 3-point attempts per game for his career.
Haliburton’s play has the Pacers posting the most efficient offense in the league to start the season and competing in a rather open Eastern Conference. He’s quickly become one of the best leaders in all of basketball.
3. Tyrese Maxey, Hornets
Original pick: LaMelo Ball
Maxey’s original draft position: 21st (76ers)
Maxey has taken a massive leap with the departure of James Harden, playing at an All-NBA level to start his fourth season. While he’s not making advanced passes, he’s formed great pick-and-roll chemistry with Joel Embiid and shown he can make the basic ones very well.
It’s Maxey’s speed that makes him a truly special player. He’s a one-man wrecking crew in transition. He has a lethal first step that he can use to get downhill and go to one of the best floaters in the game. Teams can’t play back against him because he has turned into a deadly 3-point shooter.
He’s a top scorer that is only getting better as he adjusts to a bigger role.
Nobody from the 2020 NBA Draft got out to as fast of a start as Ball. Not only was he named Rookie of the Year, but he was the first member of the class to earn an All-Star selection. Only Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Magic Johnson became All-Stars at a younger age than Ball.
Unfortunately, Ball’s third season was derailed by injuries. He’s putting up big numbers to start his fourth season, but it continues to be a struggle for the Hornets. That’s not all Ball’s fault, of course, but his shot selection can be questionable at times, and his effort defensively comes and goes.
Here’s to hoping Charlotte can turn it around sooner rather than later because Ball has shown that he can be one of the league’s more electrifying players.
5. Desmond Bane, Cavaliers
Original pick: Isaac Okoro
Bane’s original draft position: 30th (Celtics)
Bane is one of the all-time cases for drafting guys who are good at basketball rather than obsessing about measurements. He fell all the way down to the No. 30 pick because of his short wingspan in his original draft. That was despite his terrific production at TCU, which pretty much immediately translated to the NBA.
Bane has made up for that meh wingspan by being an ultra-competitive defender who is in the right spot more often than not. And his college shooting has carried over to the league, where he’s shot 42.1 percent from deep in his career.
Bane is one of the league’s premier movement shooters. He possesses one of the best pump fakes in the league, earning him the nickname “Fly By King” on Grizzlies broadcasts. He has a little bit of playmaking in his bag as well. The Grizzlies deserve credit for giving him those opportunities.
6. Jaden McDaniels, Hawks
Original pick: Onyeka Okongwu
McDaniels’ original draft position: 28th (Lakers)
McDaniels had a strong All-Defensive case last season. He’s a massive presence on that end of the court, standing at 6-9 with an almost 7-foot wingspan. That size and length help him defend forwards, but he also has the speed to keep up with explosive guards off the dribble. He’s an incredibly versatile and disruptive defender.
His defense alone would earn him a look here, but McDaniels continues to grow as a driver and shooter. His two-way play makes him a fit everywhere.
7. Devin Vassell, Pistons
Original pick: Killian Hayes
Vassell’s original draft position: 11th (Spurs)
Vassell was thought of as a safe pick in this draft. He was a great college defender with a nice 7-foot wingspan who shot it well from 3. Those types of wings are extremely valuable in today’s NBA.
Vassell has brought that defense and shooting to the NBA. He’s also added some shot creation that may have come as a bit of a surprise. He was second on the Spurs in scoring at 18.5 points per game in his third year in the league, getting to a midrange shot that has been automatic.
8. Immanuel Quickley, Knicks
Original pick: Obi Toppin
Quickley’s original draft position: 25th (Thunder)
Quickley finished second to Malcolm Brogdon in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season. He struggled in the playoffs, but he’s proven himself to be a pesky defender who owns one of the best floaters in the NBA and can punish teams from the perimeter. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he eventually gets an opportunity to start somewhere. Good things happen when he’s on the court.
9. Onyeka Okongwu, Wizards
Original pick: Deni Avdija
Okongwu’s original draft position: 6th (Hawks)
Okongwu is one of the better athletes in the league. He’s a tremendous rim protector, able to swoop in from the weak side of the floor to completely erase layups. He’s also a good finisher at the rim, dunking everything in sight.
There was hope that Okongwu could develop his jump shot, and it hasn’t quite happened yet. He will take jumpers occasionally, but in Year Four it’s still not a huge part of his game.
10. Isaiah Stewart, Suns
Original pick: Jalen Smith
Stewart’s original draft position: 16th (Trail Blazers)
Stewart is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it by being tough as nails and having a motor that never stops. The improvements he’s made as a shooter are encouraging for his long-term development. He more than quadrupled his 3-point attempts last season and he’s connecting on them at a 41.1 percent clip to start this season.
11. Josh Green, Spurs
Original pick: Devin Vassell
Green’s original draft position: 18th (Mavericks)
Green is one of the best defenders on the Mavericks. He has a very good feel for where to be and has good effort as well.
The swing skill for him was going to be his shooting — he hit 36.1 percent of his shots in his one year at Arizona. He’s hit 38.1 percent of his NBA 3s over his past three years and has been an athletic finisher at the rim, giving the Mavericks a nice two-way wing.
12. Cole Anthony, Kings
Original pick: Tyrese Haliburton
Anthony’s original draft position: 15th (Magic)
Anthony provides instant offense off the bench. His minutes have gone down each season he’s been with the Magic, but he’s become a more efficient and reliable scorer, and he deserves credit for the changes he’s made to better complement Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, both of whom have All-Star potential.
13. Aaron Nesmith, Pelicans
Original pick: Kira Lewis Jr.
Nesmith’s original draft position: 14th (Celtics)
Nesmith was drafted with the idea that he would be a knockdown shooter after hitting 52.2 percent of his 3s as a sophomore at Vanderbilt. That didn’t happen in his first two years in Boston, which made him somewhat disappointing.
Nesmith was traded to the Pacers at the start of his third year, and things seemed to click for him in Indiana. His shot became more stable — he’s hit 37.9 percent of his 3s for the Pacers. And he’s been one of their better perimeter defenders. He’s turned into a good role player off the bench for them.
14. Obi Toppin, Celtics
Original pick: Aaron Nesmith
Toppin’s original draft position: 8th (Knicks)
Toppin’s career got off to a slow start, but he’s finding his groove with the Pacers. Indiana’s breakneck pace plays to his strength and he has developed some nice chemistry with Haliburton. It’s hard not to like the speed and athleticism he provides at power forward, and he’s shown some potential as a 3-point shooter.
Best players still available: Patrick Williams, Saddiq Bey, Isaac Okoro, Precious Achiuwa, Tre Jones, Xavier Tillman, James Wiseman