2020 NBA Mock Off-Season

The NBA has been put in a historic position, with free agency, trades and the draft all happening on the same day. Teams will be forced to adjust on the fly, having to make roster moves and determine whether they want to build a long-term champion or a short-term contender in a matter of weeks, not months. I'm not a GM, simply a guy who REALLY like franchise mode, but I think a few of these moves would elevate teams to contender status, or at least get them out of the basement. I used this tool as my mock draft and these two links as reference points for trades. These trades were based on Jarred Weiss' reporting (via Mark Nilon), Jake Rogers and Adam Stratton.


Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta is a team of the future, and as of right now, that's how it needs to stay. Trae Young is still very young and should be treated as such. Killian Hayes has been argued as the most complete player in the draft and the wing combination of Hayes and Reddish would be a steady presence to complement the effervescence of Young's playmaking and shooting. I know it's trite in this post-Process era, but Atlanta does need to trust the process behind Trae, Reddish and John Collins. Hunter, Bruno Fernando and Clint Capela are good pieces, and that six man group is perfect to build around.


Projected Line-Up:

PG - Trae Young

SG - Killian Hayes

SF - Cameron Reddish

PF - John Collins

C - Clint Capela

6th - De'Andre Hunter

Boston Celtics

Gordon Hayward should have been traded right after Jayson Tatum's rookie season. Boston has had pretty good luck with white guys from Indiana in its history, but Tatum looks like he could challenge for the Best Player In The NBA title in the next few years. Trading Hayward to is hometown team for Victor Oladipo is a smart move, with both players contracted to one last season before free agency, it makes sense to add one more offensive threat in a push for a championship before 2021. This team looks insane coming out of the East and has enough firepower from every level to challenge any team in the conference. The Oladipo trade makes a lot of sense too. Hayward has been wanting to leave and Oladipo has had injury problems for the past few years, which allows Oladipo to audition himself for free agency.


Projected Line-Up:

PG - Kemba Walker SG - Victor Oladipo

SF - Jaylen Brown

PF - Jayson Tatum

C - Enes Kanter

6th - Marcus Smart

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn is too big to fail. That's not an endorsement, that's an ultimatum. The last time Brooklyn went all-in on stars like this, they hamstrung almost a half-decade of development. Even so, Brooklyn, like the Clippers, found a way to attract two superstars to the little brother of a mega-market team. And we saw what that got them. Kyrie and KD do have some championship pedigree but it's interesting because each man has won with parallels to former teammates, KD with Curry and Kyrie with Lebron. In the modern NBA, winning "on your own" defines your legacy and hopefully, this team reaches expectations now that they're healthy.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Kyrie Irving SG - Caris Levert

SF - Kevin Durant

PF - Jarrett Allen

C - DeAndre Jordan

6th - Spencer Dinwiddie


Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte may look like a rebuild, but this team is still tearing down. There's not a ton to like here outside of Miles Bridges and maybe Terry Rozier or Nicolas Batum, but I think it's time to embrace the suck, as we used to say in the army. Taking Onyeku Okongwu is a risk, but he's a solid wing forward hybrid, almost like Bam Adebayo or Blake Griffin. Charlotte could be in the position of being the next "Process" and hopefully, this is the Embiid foundation they need. Until then, it's a waiting game to be patient and try to build around some of the solid young pieces they have.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Terry Rozier SG - Malik Monk

SF - Miles Bridges

PF - Nicolas Batum

C - Onyeka Okongwu

6th - Willy Hernangomez


Chicago Bulls

It has been rough to be a Bulls fan. After trading fan favorites and seeing them blossom in Miami, reinvent themselves in Detroit and struggle everywhere else, it almost feels like a homecoming is needed. Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah would be amazing pieces to add to this team and would for sure be defensive boosts to an undersized team. Deni Avdija is a pretty prototypical Euro-style wing that can shoot, move and defend at only 19 years old and I'm not afraid of a young team when it's there are as many weapons on this team. But it's time to turn the corner and I think it's more on coaches at this point than players.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Coby White SG - Zach Lavine

SF - Deni Avdija

PF - Lauri Markkanen

C - Wendell Carter Jr.

6th - Kris Dunn


Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland says they've gotten over the breakups, but they haven't. Cleveland is doing that thing where you still haven't deleted all the pictures off your Instagram and they still have your Netflix password and you're still sharing your Spotify, but instead of being lazy with accounts, it's with one of the best power forwards of the decade. Kevin Love is highly respected on and off the court and I think he'd fit best on a young team that's on the edge of contention, like the Suns or Jazz. I have him being moved to the Suns and drafting Obi Toppin to complement Andre Drummond on the inside. Toppin and Drummond would be an insane paint tandem that can really punish on the inside as well as bagging a ton of rebounds for when Cleveland's streaky young shooters go cold. Mikal Bridges and Dario Saric are pretty solid younger players with potential and I think that's what Cleveland needs to accept.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Collin Sexton SG - Cedi Osman

SF - Mikal Bridges

PF - Obi Toppin

C - Andre Drummond

6th - Darius Garland


Dallas Mavericks

Dallas is either the next Lakers or the next Sixers. The duo of Doncic/Porzingis is either a European flavor of LeBron/AD or Simmons/Embiid. Even though Doncic can handle the ball, I think Dallas needs to capitalize on Cole Anthony's slip down the Big Board to add a second ballhandler. I love when teams have multiple playmakers and Dallas could have a very dynamic three-level three-headed monster, or they could be a cautionary tale on what happens when you push too hard.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Cole Anthony SG - Luka Doncic

SF - Tim Hardaway Jr.

PF - Maxi Kleber

C - Kristaps Porzingis

6th - Seth Curry


Denver Nuggets

Denver can't let up now. They've turned themselves into contenders after years of mediocrity and are no longer the best-kept secret in the NBA. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic have cemented themselves as franchise cornerstones. There's no major trades or free agent moves to make, but I'm a little nervous Denver is destined to be a conference footnote to Los Angeles' juggernaut the same way New York and Indiana were for Chicago in the 90s. Michael Porter Jr. is recapturing the excitement surrounding him back in high school and he could become anything from the next KD to the next Ben Simmons to the next Andrew Wiggins. He needs stability and balance in order to become the star he could be. Stay the course, Denver.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Jamal Murray SG - Gary Harris

SF - Will Barton

PF - Michael Porter Jr.

C - Nikola Jokic

6th - Bol Bol


Detroit Pistons

There is no mentor in the NBA I'd rather have than Derrick Rose. His story of flying too close to the sun, being hobbled by injury and reinvention is the stuff of legend, and I think it works perfectly alongside Lamelo Ball. Lamelo has been a superstar since he was a teenager but has exposed himself a bit in recent years. He's not a good defender, he's not an excellent athlete, his shooting is more sizzle than steak. But he's a great passer and he's 6'7", which are good enough to take a risk on. Almost any bad habit can be broken, which we've seen with Derrick Rose. Rose was the proto-Westbrook in a time pre-Curry but has reinvented himself into a reliable sixth man leader who can be a bucket from anywhere on the floor. If anyone can humble Lamelo, it'd be a league MVP so iconic in his short peak they named a rule after him. Lamelo is a make-or-break prospect who could either change the league or be back overseas in a few years, but if anyone can lead him to success, it'd be Rose. Griffin's game would also complement Lamelo's well, with Griffin's inside-out game lending to both alley-oops and drive-and-dish opportunities. A backcourt of Rose and Lamelo sounds like a fast-paced offense that would revitalize the Motor City.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Lamelo Ball SG - Luke Kennard

SF - Sekou Doumbouya

PF - Blake Griffin

C - Christian Wood

6th - Derrick Rose


Golden State Warriors

Warriors-Lakers is the next great NBA rivalry. As a guy who is kind of a stickler for specialized positions, this line-up is mouthwatering. As enticing as it is to attempt a trade for Giannis, it doesn't really make sense compared to keeping the core of Curry-Klay-Draymond together and adding a big to a line-up that has everything else. Curry is 32 years old and Klay and Draymond are both 30, which means it's prudent to start looking to the future. Andrew Wiggins is 25 and James Wiseman is only 19, which means in the six to eight years left in that core's career, you could have Wiggins and Wiseman in their primes, hopefully with years of skill and mentorship on their sides. Curry and Giannis is a fun dream, but I think a lot of Warrior fans would rather have another decade of contention than a year of KD sequelitis.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Stephen Curry SG - Klay Thompson

SF - Andrew Wiggins

PF - Draymond Green

C - James Wiseman

6th - Marquese Chriss


Houston Rockets

What do you do with a guy who can get to the basket whenever he wants, but can't shoot? You surround him with shooters. Russell Westbrook is one of my all-time favorite players, but the time to win a championship is quickly slipping away. The problem in a lot of fans' eyes is that these two players can't seem to win. They couldn't win with KD. They couldn't win with Carmelo. Harden couldn't win with Chris Paul. Westbrook couldn't win with Paul George. Regardless, I think the Rockets have one more year before it's apparent the shelf life is quickly approaching. Sign Demarcus Cousins to a one-year deal and be ready to find trade partners for Westbrook and Harden in 2021. Having two ball-dominant scorers isn't bad, it simply needs to be tempered. When Russell Westbrook averaged his triple-double season, he did so with 30 PPG, 10 RPG and 10 APG. When Harden won the scoring title, he did so with 36 PPG. Cousins averages 20 PPG and 10 RPG over his career. Assuming they can gel together, this proposed Rockets team could be very scary, with three different weapons able to punish you in different ways. If not, at least they'll be a fun 2K team.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Russell Westbrook SG - James Harden

SF - Eric Gordon

PF - Robert Covington

C - DeMarcus Cousins

6th - Danuel House


Indiana Pacers

Blow it up. I'm usually a little trigger-happy when it comes to abandoning a team's goal if it's not working, but let's be real. Indiana has a lot going for it, I like the combination of Oladipo, Sabonis and Turner, but it looks like they haven't quite coalesced into that Central Division power they thought they'd be. Flipping Oladipo to bring Hayward home and moving Myles Turner to get Jrue Holiday to strengthen the backcourt makes a lot of sense. Drafting Kira Lewis in order to build add scoring and distribution at the point guard alongside the versatility of Holiday and playing with the wing line-ups between Hayward and TJ Warren makes for a pretty interesting team.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Kira Lewis SG - Jrue Holiday

SF - Gordon Hayward

PF - TJ Warren

C - Domantas Sabonis

6th - Isaiah Stewart II


Los Angeles Clippers

Just like Bullet Club, the Clippers are fine. And just like that era of the pro wrestling group, there's far too much talent on this team not to be successful. Paul George's playoff struggles are smaller than they look and there's enough here to make a deep run. Adding some youth would extend the lifespan of this team and I think they're missing a backcourt playmaker, so adding hometown hero Cassius Stanley and moving Louis Williams to an expanded Sixth Man role similar to Manu Ginobili's role during the Spurs' dynasty. Stanley is a scorer and can fit right next to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, which helps Lou Will find a better role as a spark plug combo guard off the bench. This might be the Clips' last chance to make a big move, with PG and Kawhi both having options to leave next summer. Before they explode and go their separate ways as Bullet Club did, it's imperative they make one more title push.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Patrick Beverley SG - Cassius Stanley

SF - Kawhi Leonard

PF - Paul George

C - Montrezl Harrell

6th - Louis Williams


Los Angeles Lakers

Showtime 2020 is a reboot done right. If LeBron James is the new Magic Johnson and Anthony Davis is the new Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, this won't be the last time we see Los Angeles hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy. This team is spacey and long, perfect for the modern NBA. LeBron has evolved into a nearly flawless player with a co-star nearly as good, surrounded by a supporting cast. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, two stars got together to tell a beautiful story fitting of a legend's memory, and it looks like we might see a sequel.


Projected Line-Up: PG - LeBron James SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

SF - Kyle Kuzma

PF - Anthony Davis

C - Dwight Howard

6th - Rajon Rondo


Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis has a ton of sizzle, but they still need steak. Ja Morant is a future star and Jaren Jackson Jr. is a fitting complement to him, but they still have a very long way to go before they can make any real headway into the buzzsaw of the Western Conference. They have some good foundations to build on, hopefully for the next decade, but smaller market teams need to have immediate success in order to keep their stars, and time is already ticking for their core.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Ja Morant SG - Justise Winslow

SF - Josh Jackson

PF - Jaren Jackson Jr.

C - Jonas Valanciunas

6th - Kyle Anderson


Miami Heat

Just. Be. Patient. There's nothing more to do right now than simply wait for 2021's free agent class. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul are all free agents next summer and it's not out of the realm of possibility to pick up one or two of those guys. Giannis would obviously be the best pick-up here, but PG and Kawhi would also fit very well here. Even the combination of Oladipo-Butler-Adebayo is a championship contender. Just wait it out until next year.


Projected Line-Up:

PG - Goran Dragic SG - Tyler Herro

SF - Jimmy Butler

PF - Jae Crowder

C - Bam Adebayo

6th - Kendrick Nunn


Milwaukee Bucks

This is the last year of Giannis. Milwaukee has been a near-contender for too long for Giannis to think anything will change and losing players like Malcolm Brogdon doesn't look good for the franchise. Rumors have been floating that Golden State is looking to trade for Giannis and this might be a good option depending on what the return is. If they can pull a haul of the #2 pick, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green, that might be a good core to prepare for the future. I feel you'd have to move Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe in order to make such a big change, but that can't be a rushed move. MAYBE trading him at the deadline could work, but that could be too late. There's really nothing to do except win at this point.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Eric Bledsoe SG - Donte DiVincenzo

SF - Khris Middleton

PF - Giannis Antetokounmpo

C - Brook Lopez

6th - Robin Lopez


Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota, you're on the way. Not like to the Finals or anything, but the playoffs are maybe a year or two away. Drafting Anthony Edwards is a must, with D'Angelo Russell running point and Karl-Anthony Towns in the middle, Anthony Edwards would be perfect as a scoring wing to turn Minnesota into an offensive juggernaut. Defense will be a problem with this team moving forward, but we've seen potent offenses make it into the playoffs, and right now, that's what Minnesota needs more than anything.


Projected Line-Up: PG - D'Angelo Russell SG - Jarrett Culver

SF - Anthony Edwards

PF - Juancho Hernangomez

C - Karl-Anthony Towns

6th - Malik Beasley


New Orleans Pelicans

One more piece, two more years. Trading for Myles Turner would add a defensive edge to the frontcourt, with a player who averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks a game last year. He's only 24 and as the (relative) old man on the Pelicans (all but two players are 90s babies), he'd add a bit of NBA experience to a team that needs it. As far as the rest of the team, either everyone is lying is about their heights or this is the most undersized team in the NBA. Only two people on this roster are over 6'10" and they could really use an interior presence, especially in a division with LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis and Jaren Jackson Jr. It's time to strike while the iron is hot if you're New Orleans and getting guys to buy in is imperative for future success.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Lonzo Ball SG - Josh Hart

SF - Brandon Ingram

PF - Zion Williamson

C - Myles Turner

6th - Aaron Holiday


New York Knicks

The Knicks aren't as bad as everyone thinks. Don't get me wrong, this team is not a good team. But there's a lot of potential here. Dennis Smith and Mitchell Robinson are explosive players who excel on complementary sides of the ball, with Smith attacking the rim and Robinson defending it. RJ Barrett is a born scorer who was the focal point of a Duke offense that had Zion Williamson and Julius Randle is a perpetually underrated cornerstone who's yet to get the respect he deserves. So who's the glue who can hold it all together? I think it's combo guard RJ Hampton. Hampton is one of the nation's top players, rivaling Lamelo Ball from high school to Australia. But as Lamelo has risen up draft boards, Hampton has fallen. I think this is the perfect chance to build a very skilled frontcourt with Smith. Hampton is a slasher who can still create well from the 2, which helps free up Barrett and Robinson for scoring opportunities. With so many slashers, they would need better shooters, but this is a young core you can work with.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Dennis Smith Jr. SG - RJ Hampton

SF - RJ Barrett

PF - Julius Randle

C - Mitchell Robinson

6th - Kevin Knox


Oklahoma City Thunder

Don't be afraid of a good thing going. This team is seriously weird, with three point guards, one of which is now playing small forward. You also have a few veterans like Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams, but when you look at the roster, there's a lot of versatile, flexible players who can move the ball and score. So instead of swapping a bunch of the veterans to contenders, keep as much of this roster as you can over the next few years. Chris Paul might be the main exception here since he's a free agent next year, but a midseason trade to the right contender might help them even more down the line with all the draft picks they have in the chamber.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Chris Paul SG - Dennis Schroeder

SF - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

PF - Danilo Gallinari

C - Steven Adams

6th - Andre Roberson


Orlando Magic

Now's not the time. Orlando is in a weird purgatory of being a playoff team and being another below-average team in the Eastern Conference. Aaron Gordon and Mohamed Bamba are solid building blocks if they stay, but it's looking like Dwight Howard or Tracy McGrady or Shaquille O'Neal all over again. Trading away Nikola Vucevic to a contending team like Boston or the Clippers for prospects or draft picks makes sense to fully commit to the rebuild but to what end? Markelle Fultz could be the leader of this team, but it's time to mature, or else it's back to limbo.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Markelle Fultz SG - Evan Fournier

SF - Jonathan Isaac

PF - Aaron Gordon

C - Nikola Vucevic

6th - Mohamed Bamba


Philadelphia 76ers

Hoo boy do I hate this line-up. Lots of size but not a lot else. This team needs perimeter offense and ball movement and have so many holes that need to be filled. There's a rumor James Harden could get traded to Philly but now isn't the time. Run it back with a true point guard to turn Ben Simmons into an über-physical off-ball playmaker, something we've never really seen him play. There's so much talent on this team, it's almost like they don't have a choice but to make the playoffs. If they do trade for Harden, he and Embiid could be a new era Shaq and Kobe - meaning a potent combination star scorer and a paint cornerstone. But that's next year. This year, they need to get a good hand in Tyrese Haliburton, allow Matisse Thybulle to develop and finish another year of these big contracts.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Tyrese Haliburton SG - Matisse Thybulle

SF - Ben Simmons

PF - Tobias Harris

C - Joel Embiid

6th - Al Horford


Phoenix Suns

I think I'm ready for all the billboards to come back. Phoenix has been trying to be a good team since 1993...then 2008...and now 2021. But I think this could be the year Phoenix actually becomes good. Trading for Kevin Love is the main step in my opinion, the missing piece to a motley crew made of veterans and young guns, but all with something to prove. Devin Booker is going to be a star and if Phoenix wants him to stay, they need to give him a reason to.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Ricky Rubio SG - Devin Booker

SF - Kelly Oubre Jr.

PF - Kevin Love

C - DeAndre Ayton

6th - Aron Baynes


Portland Trail Blazers

Let's see if Portland can finally be That Team. They've been basketball nerd's darlings for a few years, but with no major success to show for it. This team has a lot of good pieces, but no one that's been able to take them over the hump. The smart move here looks to be to let Hassan Whiteside walk, giving a prospect like Saddiq Bey some valuable playing time. This might be the beginning of the end for Portland, if they want to show otherwise, they need to make a deep run in the playoffs.


Projected Line-Up: PG - Damian Lillard SG - CJ McCollum

SF - Carmelo Anthony

PF - Zach Collins

C - Jusuf Nurkic

6th - Saddiq Bey


Sacramento Kings

Sacramento has missed their crown for too long. I'm not sure when it'll take its spot in the capital city again, but there are good pieces here. De'Aaron Fox looks to be the point guard of the future in Sacramento and if the rest of the team can follow his lead, we could see something special. That's a massive "if" however. Fox and Hield could be as potent as the Blazers, but there's been a block to the growth that was expected. They'll still be a fun team to watch, which might bring star veterans to the city for one more push, but they'll need more than that to really make a dent.


Projected Line-Up: PG - De'Aaron Fox SG - Buddy Hield

SF - Bogdan Bogdanovic

PF - Jabari Parker

C - Marvin Bagley III

6th - Harrison Barnes