Georgia guard Anthony Edwards drives vs. Auburn

Five-minute draft guide: Consensus top half of lottery

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

To the dismay of basketball fans everywhere, there was no NCAA March Madness this spring, due to a global pandemic. The annual mid-May draft combine in Chicago was canceled. Multi-player workouts inside the practice facilities of NBA teams – a staple of the pre-draft process – are nonexistent. As a result, there may be more question marks revolving around the 2020 NBA draft class than any other in recent memory. Among the many things hoops fans are probably asking: So who exactly are these guys?

As part of Pelicans.com’s coverage leading up to draft night on Nov. 18, we’ll first take a thumbnail look at some of the prospects who are projected to be selected. New Orleans is on the draft board a total of four times, holding the No. 13, 39, 42 and 60 overall picks.

Let’s start with the top seven overall projected picks, based on NBA.com’s recent consensus mock draft, in which the league’s official website scoured various mock drafts and calculated an “average” from that analysis. For example, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards was listed as the No. 1 pick in seven of the 10 mock drafts surveyed, making him the consensus top choice (the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the first pick).

1 Anthony Edwards, Georgia guard

Six-foot-five wing at top of the board due to his combination of elite athleticism and shooting ability. Highlight reel features soaring dunks and barrages from three-point range, though he only shot 29 percent on treys as a Bulldogs freshman.

Key stat: 13 games of 20-plus points, topped by 37 points. Michigan State, including a 33-point second half. NBADraft.net comparison: Donovan Mitchell

2 LaMelo Ball, Chino Hills (Calif.) guard

The younger brother of Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo shares a similar knack for playmaking and court vision. If this projection holds, LaMelo would join his sibling in being a No. 2 overall pick (Lonzo went second to the Lakers in ’17).

Key stat: averaged 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists in Australia’s pro league. CBSSports.com comparison: Trae Young

3 James Wiseman, Memphis center

A 7-foot-1 true big who does much of his offensive damage around the rim, including on lobs. Southpaw is outstanding athlete at the position, runs floor well, rebounds and blocks shots.

Key stat: averaged 20-11-3 blocks for Memphis, but played just three college games. CBSSports.com comparison: Chris Bosh

4 Deni Avdija, Israel forward/guard

Coveted for his skill and versatility. Listed at 6-9, NBADraft.net describes him as an “all-around talented wing with great size,” while NBA.com says he “plays like a guard, but has the size and length to give defenders fits… with a great feel for the game.”

Key stat: In tiny sample, shot nearly 60 percent last season on twos. NBADraft.net comparison: Hedo Turkoglu

5 Obi Toppin, Dayton forward

Often described in similar terms as Edwards, but in a 6-9, 220-pound frame. Toppin boasts a combination of athletic finishing ability and three-point prowess. Explosive dunker who led NCAA in slams last season, per NBADraft.net.

Key stat: shot 42 percent on three-pointers in 103 attempts over two college seasons. NBADraft.net comparison: Shawn Marion

6 Onyeka Okongwu, USC center

Style-wise was similar to Wiseman during his college season, thriving in the paint at both ends of the floor and rarely venturing too far from the hoop. As a result, shot 62 percent from the field for the Trojans, en route to averaging 16-9-3 blocks.

Key stat: Went just 1/4 on threes in 858 minutes at USC. NBADraft.net comparison: Montrezl Harrell

7 Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State guard

Scorer/playmaker who shot well from the field and three-point range in college despite awkward-looking form. Nearly authored a triple-double vs. Alabama with 23-11-9, while shooting 4/7 from deep and 5/5 at foul line.

Key stat: Shot over 50 percent from field and 40 percent on threes both college seasons. CBSSports.com comparison: Lonzo Ball

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