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NBA Draft 2020: Fantasy Winners, Losers, and Rankings

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Nov 19, 2020

You’ve heard it a million times. The 2020 NBA Draft class is weak, especially compared to classes from the past and what looks to be a loaded 2021 class.

If there’s a year to trade out of the rookie draft for fantasy, it’s this year. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value and opportunity to be found – especially in the first half of the first round.

The draft is complete, so it’s time to look at the winners and losers and rank the rookies for fantasy purposes.

View consensus odds for the 2020/21 NBA Championship at BettingPros >>

Winners

Tyrese Maxey (G – PHI)
What a landing spot for Maxey. Maxey’s selection makes it 11 straight years that the University of Kentucky has had a player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Maxey will be able to be the secondary ballhandler next to Ben Simmons, which is a role he should thrive in right away. Maxey can create his own shot, has a nice shooting stroke, and can finish in the lane. He should be a rotation piece right away for a team that is desperate for shooting.

Ben Simmons (G/F – PHI)
In turn, Maxey’s selection is fantastic news for Simmons. Last year, the Sixers went with a big meaty lineup filled with guys who plod up-and-down the court and can’t shoot. The floor should open up now, and Simmons will be a triple-double threat every night.

Tyrese Haliburton (G – SAC)
How did the rest of the NBA allow Haliburton to fall to 12th overall to the Kings? There was a real case for him to go fourth overall to the Bulls. The Iowa State product has a fantastic basketball IQ, and he rarely makes any bad passes. He is a fantastic complementary piece to De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield in Sacramento. Haliburton can’t contribute right away offensively and defensively for fantasy managers. 

De’Aaron Fox (PG – SAC)
Like Simmons, Fox is a big winner for the Kings. Haliburton relieves Fox from having to do everything in the backcourt. Fox was a trendy second-round pick last year, and his value only increases with Haliburton. This is the year the true breakout happens.

Killian Hayes (PG – DET)
The Pistons were linked to Patrick Williams throughout the draft process, but the Bulls took the fast riser fourth overall. Consider this a win for Detroit, as Hayes landed in the best possible spot for fantasy purposes. The lefty has a nice stroke from deep, and he should be a starter from Night 1. You’re looking at a D’Angelo Russell-type ceiling.

Deni Avdija (SF/PF – WAS)
This was a prime landing spot for Onyeka Okongwu, but the Wizards instead got a high-ceiling wing who gives them yet another ballhandler. Avdija needs to develop a jumper, but for a team that’s desperate to make the playoffs, Avdija should see an increase in minutes as the season rolls on.

Desmond Bane (SG – MEM)
Is it the pick of the draft? No, it’s not, but it’s one hell of a find at 30th overall as the Grizzlies traded into the first round to take a player who can contribute immediately. Bane is lights out from behind the arc, which is something the Grizzlies were desperate to have with Jaren Jackson serving as their best three-point threat. He should be in the rotation immediately, with a chance to crack the starting lineup as only Grayson Allen and Dillon Brooks serve as threats to his minutes.

Devin Vassell (SG – SAS)
What a fantastic pick by the Spurs. Vassell is an analytics darling, and he’s the perfect guy to play under Pop. Vassell is a three-and-D specialist, but he can be so much more if he improves his overall offensive game. The only concern here is the Spurs tendency to bring their young players along slowly. 

James Wiseman (PF/C – GSW)
Wiseman wasn’t the best big man in the draft, but he landed in the best spot as he should enter the rotation right away under Steve Kerr. He should be more of a rim protector and a guy who cleans up on the offensive boards in his first year before he’s fully unleashed. 

Aleksej Pokusevski  (C – OKC)
For a team who has 281 picks in the next six years, the Thunder were the perfect team to take a chance on Poku. He’s a seven-footer who has a chance to be the best player in this draft, or a player who we forget about in a few years. He’s as thin as a rail, so there are concerns there. Don’t expect much from him in 2020, but he’s a great stash for fantasy purposes as he has across-the-board elite potential. 

Tyrell Terry (G – DAL)
Terry slipped to the second round, and he gives Dallas the type of offensive weapon that they need alongside Luka Doncic. Terry can do it all offensively, but the issue with him is that he’s undersized. If he can overcome that and adjust to the rigors of the NBA, he can be a true fantasy depth piece that you can get in the second round of your draft. 

Other Winners:

Naz Reid (PF/C – MIN)

Thomas Bryant (PF/C – WAS)

Luke Kennard (SG/SF – LAC)

Nico Mannion (G – GSW)

R.J. Hampton (PG – DEN)

Kira Lewis (PG – NO)

Losers

Onyeka Okongwu (C – ATL)
Okongwu was the best big man available in the draft, and was arguably a Top 2 player on the board. He landed, for all intents and purposes, in the worst spot possible. The Hawks traded for Clint Capela last year, and he has three years left on his contract. They also have John Collins playing the four. Unless the Hawks deal Capela, we are looking at late 2021 at best until Okongwu really gets the run he deserves. He went from a top three pick for fantasy to a draft-and-stash toward the end of the first round.

Obi Toppin (PF – NYK)
Toppin was fantastic in college, and the Knicks fans seemed actually happy with this selection. 2020, right? Well, as of now, Toppin is just another power forward for New York, already is deep at the position. Another loser is Julius Randle, who doesn’t seem long for New York. Unless the Knicks move Randle, this is a loss for both guys for fantasy purposes. For Toppin, he needs to show he can play even average defense to keep him on the court. 

Terry Rozier (PG – CHA)
Lamelo Ball heading to Charlotte gives them a face of the franchise they’ve so desperately needed and wanted. But with Ball’s arrival, one of Terry Rozier or Devonte’ Graham is going to take a major hit in value. The money is on Rozier, as Graham is a better fit beside Ball. The hope is that they run a three-guard set to get all three guys on the floor. You’re kind of forced to hold Rozier and Graham at this point with the sunken value.

Other Losers:

Cedi Osman (SF – CLE)

Immanuel Quickley (PG – NYK)

Ricky Rubio (PG – MIN)

Jalen Smith (PF/C – PHO)

NBA Rookie Draft Rankings

  1. Killian Hayes
  2. Lamelo Ball
  3. James Wiseman
  4. Tyrese Haliburton
  5. Anthony Edwards
  6. Deni Avdija
  7. Devin Vassell
  8. Aleksej Pokusevski 
  9. Obi Toppin
  10. Onyeka Okongwu
  11. Tyrese Maxey
  12. Desmond Bane
  13. Kira Lewis, Jr.
  14. Tyrell Terry
  15. Patrick Williams
  16. R.J. Hampton
  17. Saddiq Bey
  18. Precious Achiuwa
  19. Cole Anthony
  20. Isaac Okoro
  21. Nico Mannion
  22. Josh Green
  23. Payton Pritchard
  24. Jaden McDaniels

View consensus odds for the 2020/21 NBA Championship at BettingPros >>

Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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