2020 NBA Mock Draft Roundup » Forwards In The Late Lottery

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

While they still have their sights set on the postseason, as they should with 41 games left to play in the 2019-20 campaign, the fact is that if the season ended today, the Trail Blazers would be in the lottery rather than the playoffs. Currently sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers still have time to turn things around, but they'll need to make a move up the table sooner rather than later if they want to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

With that in mind, here are the most recent round of 2020 NBA mock drafts. As of now, Portland is a late lottery team, and thus, are selecting somewhere between 13th and 15th...

• Jonathan Givony at ESPN has the Trail Blazers selecting Obi Toppin, a 6-9 forward out of Dayton, with the 14th overall pick. Toppin, who will be 22 this March despite being just a sophomore, is averaging 19.5 points on 63 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from three, 7.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 29.9 minutes per game for the Flyers this season. 

Givony mocks the second round as well, and with the 44th overall pick, the has Portland selecting senior guard Grant Riller out of Charleston. Riller, a 6-3 guard who has started 112 of his 119 games for the Cougars, is averaging 21.9 points on 52 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from three, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 32.2 minutes per game this season. 

• Sam Vecenie at the Athletic has the Trail Blazers selecting Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro with the 14th overall pick...

The Blazers almost always draft for upside, and they almost always prioritize athleticism. Under Neil Olshey, the team’s philosophy tends to be that as they look to contend with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, they’re probably not going to be able to find a rookie that can enter their rotation. So, they might as well take the guy they think has the highest upside.

Okoro fits that billing, and also helps fill a position of need a defense-first wing athlete. And to call him defense first is real. Okoro might be the best defensive wing in the country right now, and he’s only 18 years old. He’s an absolute monster athletically, and he flies around and makes plays while also consistently staying close enough guarding position to handle his man. Offensively, things are a bit more of a work in progress. Okoro is an exceptional finisher due to that leaping ability, and his feel for the game is strong. He makes plays for his teammates, and can pass it a bit. He’s averaging 12.9 points for a well-rounded Auburn scoring attack.

A 6-6 freshman, Okoro is averaging 13.2 points on 57 percent shooting from the field and 24 percent shooting from three, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 blocks in 15 games,, all starts, for the Tigers this season. 

• Jeremy Woo at Sports Illustrated also has the Trail Blazers selecting Isaac Okoro with the 14th overall pick...

Okoro has been the most valuable player on a still-undefeated Auburn team and an obvious first-round talent, with attractive long-term potential as a defensive-minded, utilitarian presence on the wing. NBA teams have been pleasantly surprised, and his balance, smarts and natural feel in all aspects of the game are noteworthy. Okoro’s jump shot remains the one glaring hole in his game (he’s made just five of 24 three-point attempts to date), and may be what limits him from sneaking into Top 10 territory. While it’s tough to find minutes for non-shooters who aren’t special in other ways, Okoro’s defense and efficiency around the rim give him a chance at succeeding in spite of it. And if he can work himself into even an average catch-and-shoot player, he’ll be extremely valuable. Okoro could be the type of versatile perimeter stopper Portland sorely needs.

There's a belief among many personnel folks that players who shoot well from the free throw line can eventally become passable three-point shooters at the NBA level. To that end, Okoro is making is shooting 67 percent from the free throw line on an average of 4.3 attempts per game. 

• Bryan Kalbrosky at USA Today's Rookie Wire has Portland selecting Olympiacos B forward Aleksej Pokusevski with the 13th overall pick...

One of the most fascinating, underrated prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft is currently playing in the Greek HEBA A2 league. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Pokusevski has the ability to play a bit bigger than his already impressive 7-foot frame. He is averaging 16.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 three-pointers per 36 minutes. The Serbian-born prospect has also connected on 32.6 percent from three-point range. As a defender, his size has helped him secure 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes as well. Portland could play him in several different places but could provide his most value as a necessary help on the wing.

Pokusevski just turned 18, making him one of the youngest players on the 2020 draft board. Also worth noting that the Trail Blazers haven't had an international player on their roster who they drafted since taking Victor Claver with the 22nd pick of the 2009 Draft, and even then, he didn't suit up for the Blazers until the 2012-13 season.

• Ricky O'Donnell at SBNation also has the Trail Blazers selecting sophomore forward Obi Toppin out of Dayton, albeit with the 13th overall pick...

Toppin has been the biggest revelation of this college basketball season. An explosive 6’9 forward who dunks everything, Toppin has been a great finisher (68 percent true shooting), dependable rebounder, and has shown satisfactory defensive instincts. He’s also made big strides as an outside shooter, hitting 36 percent of his first 39 attempts from three-point range. A redshirt sophomore, Toppin will be one of the oldest players drafted in the lottery as someone who turns 22 in March.

It's obviously very early in the process, but not sure what to think about the 2020 Draft that a 22 year old from Dayton is projected to go in the late lottery. Then again, the Blazers have never had an issue selecting players out of small to midsized schools, though they do tend to be guards rather than forwards. 

• It's a few weeks old at this point, but Kyle Boone at CBS Sports has the Trail Blazers selecting freshman Trendon Watford out of LSU with the 16th overall pick...

Portland bet on Carmelo Anthony to fill its needs at forward, but a down season could allow it to restock with a top-end talent at the position in Watford to pair with 2019 first-rounder Nassir Little. Both have similarly stacked frames with similar statistical profiles, but Watford's game is better-suited to play the 4 in the NBA.

A 6-9 forward, Watford is averaging 13.1 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent shooting from three, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 30.1 minutes per game for the Tigers this season.

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