Five 2020 NBA Draft prospects who are ready to contribute right now 


The NBA is entering arguably its most uncertain year in many ways. 

Each team is preparing to lose incredible amounts of money as COVID-19 continues to eliminate their pathways towards profits, which will almost assuredly have unintended consequences on free agency. 

Because of that, essentially every team will be looking at cost-effective ways to compete. And what better way to accomplish that goal than to find immediate help in the 2020 NBA Draft? 

Here are five prospects who are ready to help any team who selects them in the draft.

Anthony Edwards 

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There might not be a prospect more physically prepared for the NBA than Anthony Edwards. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 225 pounds, there is no other true point guard in the NBA who matches his size, but what makes Edwards so ready for the Association is his skill level matching his physical ability. 

Not only can Edwards finish through defenders at the rim using his strength, but he has the handles to create separation and get downhill. Not only can Edwards finish above the rim with his incredible leaping ability, but he has the shooting potential that forces defenders to play up on him further unlocking his ability to punish the rim. Not only can Edwards use his physicality to breakdown a defense without a screen, but he also possesses the vision and creativity to set up his teammates for buckets of their own after collapsing opposing defenses 

That combination of skill and physical ability has prepared Edwards for immediate production at the NBA level, which has him situated as a strong contender for the Rookie of the Year award in 2020-21. Of course, Edwards has hurdles to overcome — defensive indifference, problematic shot selection and a propensity for live-ball turnovers — but there is no denying that he will benefit from increased spacing and teammates who are more skilled which the NBA will provide making him one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. 

LaMelo Ball

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There is no denying the many hurdles standing in front of LaMelo Ball and a productive career in the NBA, but he has something that few prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft have — an elite skill that will translate to the NBA immediately. 

Ball’s court vision and passing are simply astounding. He will enter the league as one of the most creative passers in the world with the vision, basketball IQ, and handles to weaponize that skill. While Ball has always shown off his ability to set up teammates at every level of competition, it was not until his time with Australia’s Illawarra Hawks that it became clear how elite he is as a creator. 

In Australia’s National Basketball League, Ball played against grown men who are true professionals; not collegiate athletes. It was against that level of competition that allowed scouts to more accurately project how his play style would translate to the NBA. Despite playing with less-than-ideal bigs and very few strong outside shooters, Ball averaged 6.8 assists against 2.5 turnovers. Considering the lack of scorers around him and the fact that he only had 12 total games with the Hawks, it is impressive that Ball was able to post 2.72 assists per turnover during his time Down Under.

In addition to his stellar passing, Ball also is a three-level scorer with fantastic size. That concoction of skills and size will make him a threat in the pick and roll from the second he steps onto an NBA court setting him up one of the most prepared players in the draft and another Rookie of the Year candidate. 

Deni Avdija 

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Deni Avdija might not have the physical gifts of Edwards or the otherworldly feel of Ball, but he has more professional experience than both of them combined and a more well-rounded skill set. 

Simply, there is nothing that Avdija is bad at on a basketball court. He will not commit as many careless turnovers like most rookies do. He will not be baited into bad shots early in the shot clock. He will not force passes where they do not fit. Avdija is already a professional basketball player and that has him uniquely prepared to help whichever team that drafts him. 

Avdija will be able to step in at either forward position and add more shooting, another creator, and a dedicated defender. His size and skill set make him one of the most versatile players in the draft regardless of what team he ends up with setting him up for immediate success. 

Obi Toppin 

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Obi Toppin is arguably the most gifted offensive player in the draft. 

He is a true three-level scorer despite being 6-foot-9 and playing mostly power forward or small-ball center. He has the handles to attack slower bigs in face-up situations and is strong enough to back down smaller defenders. He can stretch the floor as a three-point shooter and has shown shooting diversity rarely found in a player of his archetype. As a cherry on top of his scoring ability, he can also break down defenders with his handle from anywhere on the court allowing him to more easily get to his favorite spots or grab-and-go in transition. 

Oh, and that’s not even the most exciting part of his offensive skill set. Toppin’s passing makes him one of the most offensively skilled bigs in the draft. Toppin can hurt opposing defenses from anywhere as a scorer or a passer which puts an incredible amount of strain on defenses. 

Toppin is still far from a finished product on the defensive end, but his elite athletic ability makes up for some of his rough edges. Still, regardless of Toppin’s defensive struggles, he will likely enter the league as the most polished offensive big in the draft and ready to help whoever selects him from day one. 

Jalen Smith 

For any team looking for front court depth in the 2020 NBA Draft, Jalen Smith is ready to step in. No, he is not projected to be a top-10 pick and might even fall late into the first round, but that does not take away from everything he can do on a basketball court right now to help his team win. 

Smith can play both power forward and center, but what makes him so ready to help an NBA team is how his athleticism impacts his defensive production. Smith is a stellar athlete with an endless motor who not only plays above the rim, but has the foot speed to contain on the perimeter. He can protect the rim as a traditional center or from the weak side as a power forward and he has the mobility to switch out onto the perimeter and contain guards. That means he has the potential to defend three or more positions at the NBA level right away depending on matchup. 

Smith is no slouch offensively either. He can shoot from distance, is a better passer than he is given credit for, and has shown that he is a major threat rolling to the rim thanks to his powerful leaping ability. While his name might not be glamorous, Smith is ready to help any team who drafts him from day one.

T.J. McBride is a writer, reporter, and podcaster who grew up in Southern California, but now resides in Denver, Colorado where he covers the Denver Nuggets and the rest of the NBA.