Winners and Losers of the 2020 NBA Draft


After a very odd year for basketball, and for sports in general, the 2020 NBA Draft was finally held on November 18th, 2020. Five months later from when the draft typically is done, lottery teams finally got their time to shine after not being able to “compete” since March, and playoff teams looked to strengthen their roster for the 2020-21 season. While the 2020 NBA Draft class was certainly not the strongest, there were definitely teams who were able to come out of this draft as clear winners. As always, there were teams whose decisions left all of us scratching our heads. Now, let’s take a closer look at who the winners and losers of the 2020 NBA Draft are:


Sacramento Kings:

After not having a first-round selection in 2019, the Kings were given the opportunity to pick Tyrese Haliburton, a sophomore out of Iowa State, at 12th overall. Considered a top-five talent in this draft by many, Haliburton at 12th overall is an amazing get for the Kings. Haliburton doesn’t really have a fixed position; he’s just a really good basketball player. At 6’5’’, Haliburton can space the floor off the catch and shoot, and his high basketball IQ is shown through his passing ability. He can play both on and off the ball, and should be able to contribute right away. Also, the Kings were able to pick up wings, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Robert Woodwards III, in the second round. Both players have two-way potential and could find a way to make it into the Kings’ rotation.

Detroit Pistons:

With the 7th overall pick, Detroit managed to find their point guard of the future in Killian Hayes. The young Frenchman gives Detroit their first real piece in their rebuild. Hayes thrives in PnR situations and is crafty with his passing. In addition to their first pick, the Pistons were able to make a couple of deals to land themselves the 16th and 19th overall picks where they selected Isiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey. Stewart, a big out of Washington, provides Detroit with an athletic frontcourt, and Bey, the Villanova wing, gives them a potentially valuable 3 and D player. With a rather depleted roster, the Pistons were able to make good additions to their core. 

Memphis Grizzlies:

Smart teams do smart team things. After having an amazing draft last year, the Grizzlies were able to work some magic in hopes of more success in this Draft. Originally not having a first-round pick, Memphis was able to strike a deal with Boston for the 30th overall pick. With that pick, Memphis selected Desmond Bane. Bane is a sturdy 6’5’’ wing who is a tremendous shooter from three-point range and has made significant progress with his passing and playmaking. Bane has the potential to be an effective defender as well, making him a great pick at 30. Adding on to their smart acquisitions, Memphis was able to acquire a 2nd rounder a few picks later to select Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman. Tillman was the best defensive big in the draft and is a great value pick at 35. Tillman will be an extremely effective player coming off the bench, providing defensive and playmaking for the Grizzlies.


Boston Celtics:

The Celtics continue to make questionable decisions in the draft. Instead of opting to solve their big man issues, Boston picked up Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard with their 14th and 26th overall picks. While both of them offer perimeter shooting, they are two limited players. Last season, Nesmith only played 14 games due to a right foot injury, but he still was able to show off his catch and shoot ability from 3-point land. Other than that, that’s basically all you’re gonna get from Nesmith. He’ll get by on the defensive end, but he has no shot creation or playmaking in his game and is simply just a spot-up shooter. The Celtics clearly picked Nesmith based on fit, but 14th overall was still too high for Nesmith. As for Pritchard, he showed good lead guard abilities at Oregon, but he lacks NBA athleticism and is not skilled enough to make up for it. There were better options on the boards for the Celtics at 26th.

Phoenix Suns:

There are only three guarantees in life: Death, Taxes, and the Suns reaching for a stretch big. With their 10th overall pick, the Suns selected Jalen Smith out of the University of Maryland. Smith is a decent shot blocker with the ability to space the floor, but he’s not a top 10 talent. There’s a lot left to be desired in Smith’s game besides those two abilities. I’m usually never against reaching for your guy, but Smith still leaves a lot of uncertainty in that back-up center position for the Suns. 

New York Knicks:

New regime, but same old Knicks. There was noise around the NBA prior to the draft that the Knicks would move up in the draft to select Naismith and Wooden award winning forward Obi Toppin, but he ended up falling to the Knicks anyway at the 8th overall pick. If you look at Obi Toppin from an entertainment point of view, he’s a really fun player. He’s got lob finishes, high-flying jams, flashy dunks on the break, and he’s an elite interior scorer; however, there this little thing called defense, and Toppin is just not good at it. He lacks perimeter mobility and is extremely stiff. Toppin is always going to be a liability on defense and is going to have to be paired with a center who can offer help on that end of the floor. Simply put, the Knicks drafted a twenty-two-year-old (22!) forward who can’t play defense and is a bad fit on their team. Furthermore, with their 26th pick, the Knicks reached on Immanuel Quickley, a second-round talent. Quickley can shoot the ball well, which will help with spacing, but lacks NBA athleticism.