NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Early First-Round Predictions In Front-Loaded Class

by abournenesn

Apr 19, 2019

The NBA’s postseason is in full swing, which means the pre-draft process is underway as well. So, where will Zion Williamson land?

That’s the ultimate question approaching the 2019 NBA Draft, and we’ll likely have an answer on May 14 at the conclusion of the NBA draft lottery. Williamson officially declared for the draft on Monday, which all but cements him as the No. 1 overall selection.

The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns each have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, followed by the Chicago Bulls (12.5 percent), Atlanta Hawks (10.5 percent) and Washington Wizards (nine percent).

For the first version of this mock draft, we’ll stick with the projected order in terms of odds.

1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, F, Duke
Shocker, right? Williamson is a no-brainer for whoever lands the No. 1 overall pick. He’s a never-before-seen specimen who’s as athletic as they come. Williamson will change whatever franchise he goes to from the second he steps on stage at Barclays Center. It doesn’t matter who has this slot — Williamson will be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. It’s an easy decision from both a basketball and business standpoint.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
Morant is a fascinating prospect, whose most popular comparison seems to be Russell Westbrook, even though he’s more of a John Wall. At 6-foot-3, the 19-year-old has crazy athleticism, which pushes his ceiling to an extreme level. His north/south speed is similar to that of the Wizards point guard’s, allowing him to be unbelievably effective in transition. Like Wall at this age, Morant will need to minimize turnovers and find some shooting consistency, but whoever lands the Murray State product will be very happy with their selection.

3. Phoenix Suns: RJ Barrett, SF, Duke
Barrett can go get a bucket when needed and has plenty of raw talent, but his lack of shooting and court vision is rather concerning. For those reasons, he should go closer to 10 (but that won’t happen). At 6-foot-7, his ball-handling, all-around versatility and scoring ability is rare for someone his age, which is why he’ll go top-five.

4. Chicago Bulls: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
Hunter’s defensive versatility combined with his 3-and-D potential makes him an easy top-10 pick. He can arguably guard any spot on the floor thanks to his quickness and size, while possessing a consistent spot-up shot at the other end. Hunter is a sure thing.

5. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
(Sigh. The Hawks would be a perfect landing spot for Zion.) Culver would fit in nicely alongside Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter. He didn’t have a great showing in the national championship against Hunter, but he can be an effective pro wing with some improvement to his ball-handling skills.

6. Washington Wizards: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
Garland missed the majority of the year due to a season-ending knee injury, but the score-first point guard has a perfect pick-and-roll game. He can shoot off the dribble and has a quick release, which he’ll take advantage of working on or off the ball. Garland isn’t the biggest guard, nor is he strong, so defensive concerns at the professional level are definitely relevant. His durability is a question mark as well, but someone will take an early flyer due thanks to his serious upside.

7. New Orleans Pelicans:  Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
Reddish will most likely be the last of the Duke trio selected, but his offensive potential will keep him in the top 10. The 6-foot-8 wing can certainly score, but he doesn’t have a great motor, which leads to a lack of flow in his game. If he can fix that motor and improve his discipline, his combination of size and talent will help him fit into any NBA offense seamlessly.

8. Memphis Grizzlies: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
(This pick conveys to the Celtics if it falls out of the top eight, which Boston does not want. Ideally, the Celtics get Memphis’ 2021 first rounder, which is unprotected. That will occur if Memphis’ 2020 pick falls in the Nos. 1-6 range.)
With Mike Conley’s future in Memphis always up in the air, a point guard wouldn’t be out of the question for the Grizzlies at 10. White is extremely quick and has shown the ability to play well on and off the ball. The 6-foot-5 guard is very dangerous in transition and should be a threat for any fast-paced offense.

9. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas): Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
Hayes was a late-bloomer, but his athletic ability and frame allow him to stretch the floor effectively. Picture JaVale McGee but with a better motor and defensive game. He’s still very raw and will need to work on his interior game, but an athletic big who moves well laterally is always intriguing.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
The 6-foot-6 wing is unbelievably athletic with a tremendous amount of defensive upside. His one year at UNC was relatively disappointing compared to expectations, but if he can improve his perimeter shooting, his pro game would likely round out.

11. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
Clarke is a defensive-minded forward who could really help a team like the Lakers. He can jump out of the gym and uses his strong basketball IQ to his advantage on defense. The 22-year-old needs to fine tune his offensive game, but Clarke is a known hard worker, which will pay off for him in the long run.

12. Charlotte Hornets: Romeo Langford, SF, Indiana
Langford didn’t have a great 3-point shooting season, but much of that was likely thanks to an injury to his shooting hand. He’s a prototypical NBA wing, but needs to work on his court vision and limit turnovers. To his advantage, he’s a great scorer, extremely athletic and has a good frame. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be a pro bucket-getter.

13. Miami Heat: Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France
The 18-year-old out of France has tremendous length and is relatively mobile for a stretch big his size at 6-foot-9. Doumbouya is still very raw and doesn’t have great hands, but he’s only 18. If he can become a reliable shooter, look out.

14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings): Bol Bol, C, Oregon
PJ Washington would be a better pick here, but don’t be surprised if Danny Ainge takes a chance on Bol. He can shoot from deep and is a great shot blocker, but his motor is very concerning alongside his questionable durability. The Oregon product is arguably the most interesting prospect in the class.

15. Detroit Pistons: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
Washington benefited from returning to Lexington for his sophomore year. He plays like a guard but is 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. Not bad for someone with solid court vision and an awesome ability to find the open man.

16. Orlando Magic: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
Finally, a pure shooter! Herro can knockdown shots from anywhere on the floor and is a good defender at the other end. He doesn’t have the ability to create his own shot yet, but ideally that will come with time, depending on the system he lands in.

17. Brooklyn Nets: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
The Japanese-born forward has an interesting skill set, which creates plenty of mismatches for opposing teams. Plenty of room to improve, especially in the speed and interior departments, but he’s trending in the right direction.

18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
Bitadze is great at scoring inside, but has a long way to go on defense. He’s a solid passer for someone his size, which goes along nicely with some good court vision. His high basketball IQ should carry him a long way.

19. San Antonio Spurs: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
Ah, Kevin Porter Jr. A polarizing prospect to say the least. He’s a lottery talent with plenty of concerns. Injuries and a lack of work ethic will keep him from the top 10, but man this kid can score. If he pans out, he’ll be an absolute steal for whoever takes him post-lottery. (Looking at you, Ainge.)

20. Boston Celtics (via L.A. Clippers): Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
Johnson is a really hard worker who’s a plus defender with a smart offensive game. He needs to improve his flow off the ball, but Johnson’s effort and skill alone lead people to think he’ll be effective pretty quickly.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
He’s not a great athlete and he’s not a deep threat, but Williams is a team-first guy who plays his butt off. He’s good inside, but will need his outside game to develop if he wants to really contribute at the next level. Bottom line here: Any coach would love to have Williams on his team.

22. Boston Celtics: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
The 6-foot-5 guard can play on or off the ball, which is a huge improvement from where he was during his freshman season with the Hokies. He doesn’t have many weaknesses other than his shooting profile, but that is fixable. Alexander-Walker is very similar to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and not just because of the hyphen.

23. Utah Jazz: Talen Horton-Tucker, SG, Iowa State
Versatility is the key factor with Horton-Tucker. He’s a wide 6-foot-4, which allows him to guard multiple positions and fill different roles on the offensive end.

24. Philadelphia 76ers: Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
Most people will remember Edwards’ 42-point performance against Virginia in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He’s a great shooter, but lacks NBA size. He’ll be an ideal backup point guard at best, which is exactly what a team like the Sixers needs.

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
Jerome is another pure shooter who can play multiple spots on the offensive end. At 6-foot-5, he provides length on defense, which is what guards need in today’s NBA. Combine this with his playmaking ability, and you have a game fit for the pros.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets): KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
If he continues to improve his perimeter game, Okpala can become a hybrid 3-and-D player thanks to his impressive athleticism. Good court vision, solid basketball IQ, and a good passing ability sounds like a nice combination to me.

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets): Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona St.
Dort can defend bigger guards along the perimeter, while being able to stick with quicker ones when faced with that challenge. He’s very strong for a two-guard, but will need to show some versatility in his pre-draft workouts to help his stock.

28. Golden State Warriors: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
Fernando has an NBA frame that works perfectly with his rim-running style. If he can improve his defensive game, he’ll easily be one of the steals of this draft class. Tremendous talent with a great feel for the game.

29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Cameron Johnson, PF, North Carolina
Floor spacing is important in the NBA, and long shooters make that much easier to achieve. Johnson is exactly that, in addition to his strong transition game. Durability is concern due to his history with hip problems.

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
Paschall is a bit undersized for his style, but he’s a smart, hard-working big, who can stretch the floor with ease. His basketball IQ is that of most Jay Wright products, which bodes well for his career. If you’re looking for an experienced PF who can space the floor, he’s your guy. He turns 23 years old in November, so he’s one of the older options in the class, which could hurt his stock.

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images
Brown Lacrosse
Previous Article

Brown Women’s Lacrosse To Host Harvard In Pivotal Ivy League Matchup

Retired New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski
Next Article

Here’s Rob Gronkowski’s Perfect Apology For Denting Patriots’ Lombardi Trophy

Picked For You