NBA Mock Draft 2019: Who’s Up Next in the League?
(Updated at 4:33 p.m. MT following the Hawks and Timberwolves trade)
It's been a crazy first week into the NBA offseason to say the least. Anthony Davis being traded to Los Angeles, Chris Paul and James Harden's reported feud and the Celtics being gutted out of their stars in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford—all leading up to the NBA draft, which has become essentially an afterthought following these insane storylines in the early stages of the NBA offseason.
Maybe it's because this draft has been deemed a three-player draft, with Zion Williamson (Pelicans), Ja Morant (Grizzlies) and RJ Barrett (Knicks) all nearly sure-fire locks in the top-three picks of the draft.
Williamson, the 6-foot-6 star Duke forward, will be drafted No. 1 to the Pelicans as the highest-graded prospect since Anthony Davis. Regarded as the fastest rising prospect in this class, Morant is a self-proclaimed "point God" was best known for his dazzling performance in the NCAA Tournament with Murray State. Although there's been some hate toward Barrett, the 6-foot-7 combo guard could thrive in the NBA with more spacing and offensive direction.
But there are some nice prospects in this draft that show flashes of great potential. While, yes, this could be considered a top-heavy draft, there could be some big steals tonight.
Right after the top-three, comes the big question: what does New Orleans do with the fourth pick they acquired from the Lakers? They could trade it away to a team that is trying to move up and load up on assets. Or, they could take the best available player on the board like Vanderbilt's Darius Garland or Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver.
After finishing his college career as one of the most decorated point guard prospects, North Carolina's Coby White has some nice upside and if he's taken by a team that needs a point guard desperately—like the Bulls or Suns—White could jump into a large role during his rookie year in the NBA.
Then there's the third Duke star, Cam Reddish, who has been almost disrespected in his value leading up to the draft. Sure, he's regarded as a risky pick in the top-10 but 6-foot-8 forwards are in high demand and with the ability to defend at a high level, Reddish would be a steal beyond the sixth pick. If he is available at No. 8, the Hawks will potentially land the steal of the draft, similar to Denver snagging Michael Porter Jr. last year.
Lots of playmakers projected to fall to the 10-20 picks as well, starting with Indiana's Romeo Langford, who has a crafty ability at the combo guard/forward spot. The Gonzaga duo in Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are both noteworthy forward prospects. Kentucky's Tyler Herro can be a spot-up shooter for any team that wants—or needs—a good shooter on the wing. And to top the list, Texas' Jaxon Hayes is a 7-foot center that possesses raw athleticism who can go as early as No. 10.
A handful of the 20-30 picks are intriguing as well. Everyone is split in deciding whether or not Bol Bol, the 7-foot-3 monster out of Oregon, is worth the risk, but I would be surprised if he is drafted beyond No. 23. Then there's guard Kevin Porter Jr., who's been recently given a lot of love as a ball handler. Guys like Virginia's Ty Jerome, North Carolina's Cam Johnson and Tennessee's Grant Williams all shined through the NCAA Tournament last year and proved they can be stud players. Speaking of NCAA Tournament playmakers, how about difference makers like Purdue guard Carsen Edwards or Auburn's Chuma Okeke? They would be nice to gamble on too.
Here's my mock draft for this year's class:
1. Pelicans - Zion Williamson (Duke, Forward)
2. Grizzlies - Ja Morant (Murray State, Guard)
3. Knicks - RJ Barrett (Duke, Guard/Forward)
4. Hawks - De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, Forward)
5. Cavaliers - Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech, Guard/Forward)
6. Timberwolves - Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, Guard)
7. Bulls - Coby White (North Carolina, Guard)
8. Pelicans - Cam Reddish (Duke, Forward)
9. Wizards - Nassir Little (North Carolina, Forward)
10. Hawks - Jaxon Hayes (Texas, Center)
11. Suns - Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga, Forward)
12. Hornets - Rui Hachimaura (Gonzaga, Forward)
13. Heat - Sekou Doumbouya (Limoges, Forward)
14. Celtics - PJ Washington (Kentucky, Forward)
15. Pistons - Romeo Langford (Indiana, Guard)
16. Magic - Tyler Herro (Kentucky, Guard)
17. Hawks - Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Va. Tech, Guard)
18. Pacers - Keldon Johnson (Kentucky, Forward)
19. Spurs - Goga Bitadze (Buducnost, Center)
20. Celtics - Nic Claxton (Georgia, Center)
21. Thunder - Kevin Porter Jr. (USC, Guard)
22. Celtics - Bol Bol (Oregon, Center)
23. Grizzlies - Ty Jerome (Virginia, Guard)
24. 76ers - Cam Johnson (North Carolina, Forward)
25. Blazers - Grant Williams (Tennessee, Forward)
26. Cavaliers - Matisse Thybulle (Washington, Small Forward)
27. Nets - Eric Paschall (Villanova, Forward)
28. Warriors - Carsen Edwards (Purdue, Guard)
29. Spurs - Darius Bazley (New Balance, Forward)
30. Pistons - Chuma Okeke (Auburn, Forward)