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The 2019 NBA Draft is a little over two weeks away, and at this point there are generally few secrets in the process. The top three of Duke’s Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s RJ Barrett has felt “locked in” for quite some time now, and that’s unlikely to change unless there are significant developments in non-basketball areas (injuries, background checks, etc.). Speaking of which, two lottery-projected prospects (Morant and Duke’s Cam Reddish) underwent surgical procedures this week and won’t be working out for teams before the draft.
This is our third mock draft, which doesn’t have many significant changes but does account for the passing of the NCAA’s draft withdrawal deadline. The next key date on the pre-draft calendar is June 11, which is the NBA’s withdrawal deadline. At that point there’s likely to be movement among the international prospects still in the draft pool.
1. New Orleans: PF Zion Williamson, Duke
Not much to see here at this point. The Pelicans will certainly do their due diligence when it comes to background research, medical reports and the like, but it’s extremely difficult to see a scenario in which they don’t draft Williamson on June 20. The biggest question for new front office leader David Griffin is how he’ll handle the Anthony Davis situation, with it being reported that the All-Star center still wants out of New Orleans. That will have a major impact on this year’s draft, as the Pelicans are going to want a king’s ransom for Davis (and rightfully so).
2. Memphis: PG Ja Morant, Murray State
Morant underwent a minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee on Monday, and it’s been reported that he’s looking at a recovery timeframe of three to four weeks. The surgery was to remove “loose bodies” from the knee, which can cause issues such as pain, swelling and even locking of the joint. The surgery shouldn’t change anything with regards to Morant’s draft prospects, as Memphis does need to strongly consider the future of its point guard position with current starter Mike Conley wanting to avoid being part of a lengthy rebuilding process. Conley’s also entering the final season of his contract, which could make it easier for Memphis to move his contract to a contending team.
3. New York: SF RJ Barrett, Duke
Barrett is the favorite of many to be the Knicks’ pick, but the question remains whether New York will be making this selection for themselves or another team. As noted above Anthony Davis still wants to leave New Orleans, and the Knicks are one of the teams that have been mentioned as a possible destination. Wherever Barrett winds up he’ll provide instant production on the wing, and he also has the attack-minded approach that you like to see from a high-lottery prospect.
4. LA Lakers: PG Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
The Lakers have also been mentioned in connection with Davis, with this connection dating back to his in-season trade request. Los Angeles was unable to get a deal done then, and any move now would certainly have to include the rights to this pick. Should the Lakers hold onto this selection, they can either go with a player who will play primarily off the ball (Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter being top options) or take a young point guard like Garland who can give them a different look at the position. Garland shoots the ball well from the perimeter, which has been an issue for Lonzo Ball during his time as a pro, and he can play some off the ball when needed. What the Lakers do here as it relates to the franchise’s championship ambitions will be interesting to see, because LeBron James isn’t getting any younger and Father Time remains undefeated.
5. Cleveland: SF De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
Sticking with Hunter in this spot, due to his versatility as a defender and ability to score on multiple levels. While the mover-blocker motion offense he played in at Virginia is a bit different when the system that new Cavs head coach John Beilein used at Michigan, Hunter is a skilled offensive threat whose production was limited in large part by the pace at which Virginia played. While there are some veterans who appeared in Cleveland’s last trip to the NBA Finals still on the roster, there’s also a need to add solid young talent for this rebuild. Hunter, while not a highlight factory, would certainly help with this process.
6. Phoenix: SG Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Yes the Suns need to address the point guard position this offseason. But in a two-round draft your board trumps team need, and the prediction here is that Culver will be the best available player on the Suns’ board when its their turn to pick. Culver was used on the ball quite a bit this past season, and he earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors while leading the Red Raiders to the national title game. At the next level he’ll likely be best suited to spend more time off the ball, as was the case during his freshman year, which could positively impact his perimeter shooting as well. Phoenix can address the point guard position in free agency, and it’s been reported recently that Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie could be a trade target for the Suns.
7. Chicago: PG Coby White, North Carolina
Like Phoenix, Chicago does need to address the point guard position this summer. While they have Kris Dunn, he hasn’t been as productive as one would like and Ryan Arcidiacono will be a restricted free agent come June 30. The Bulls could address this need by selecting Coby White, a jet-quick guard with good size who has the potential to be a better three-point shooter than he was in his lone season at North Carolina (35.5% on 2.3 makes per game). White can also play off the ball some, which would be valuable given the presence of Zach LaVine at the other guard spot.
8. Atlanta: SF Cam Reddish, Duke
Reddish underwent a surgical procedure to address a core injury, and he’s expected d to miss six weeks as a result. This rules him out for any pre-draft workouts, and likely for summer league as well given the timeframe. It was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that this was something Reddish played through during his lone season at Duke, and the question to be asked now is how much that impacted him from a production standpoint. Of course playing alongside RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, someone was bound to take a hit from a touches standpoint. But was that why Reddish underwhelmed at times? That’s the question lottery teams will look to answer between now and the draft, but Atlanta looks to be a good fit for the young wing.
9. Washington: PF/SF Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges (France)
No change here. While Doumbouya has some things to learn on the offensive end of the floor, he has good size for a combo forward and can also defend both the three and the four without much trouble. The Wizards will have some holes to fill at the forward spots, with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Sam Dekker (restricted) all set to be free agents later this summer. And with John Wall still recovering from the Achilles tear he suffered, Washington will have some time to wait on a young player with a great amount of upside.
10. Atlanta (via Dallas): C Jaxson Hayes, Texas
Hayes is one of the youngest player in this year’s draft, and he has the potential to be an impact player on the defensive end of the floor. He’s further along in his development as a defender, and playing with a point guard who can get him into quality scoring positions would be a positive. It’s safe to say that Atlanta has such a lead guard in Trae Young, which can only help a player like Hayes in the long run.
11. Minnesota: PF Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota has the scoring options that it will build around in the future. With that being the case one can argue that Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke would be the better fit here due to his abilities as a defender. But Rui Hachimura, Clarke’s All-American teammate, shouldn’t be overlooked either. Hachimura’s a good scorer, especially from 15 feet and in, and while the perimeter shot needs some work being a supplementary option as opposed to “the guy” could result in cleaner looks for him.
12. Charlotte: SF Nassir Little, North Carolina
Little’s role at North Carolina wasn’t what many envisioned while watching him in high school, as he was one of the most talented offensive players in his class. During the pre-draft process he’s shot the ball better than some expected, and that could very well continue in the NBA. Little has good size for a wing, and the physical tools make him a good fit for the 3-and-D role at the next level. Charlotte has some young wings on its roster right now, most notably Miles Bridges, but Little could be too enticing for the Hornets to pass up here.
13. Miami: SG Kevin Porter Jr., USC
In the right situation, Porter could wind up being one of this draft’s best players when it’s all said and done. He can get his shot at all three levels, but he had consistency issues during his lone season at USC. Injury and suspension limited Porter to 21 games last season, which is something that will surely grab the interest of NBA teams as they do their pre-draft work. But if he handles those conversations properly there’s a chance that the southpaw works his way into the back end of the draft lottery. Miami doesn’t have much financial flexibility to improve its roster, but adding Porter to the mix could give them a wing scorer that the team needs in the aftermath of Dwyane Wade’s retirement.
14. Boston (via Sacramento): SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
This begins a stretch in which the Celtics will have three of the next nine picks, and how the team projects free agency to play out could impact Danny Ainge’s draft strategy. In Brandon Clarke the Celtics would be adding a forward capable of defending either the three or the four at a high level, and he’s an effective finisher around the basket as well. He’ll need to be a bit more consistent with his perimeter shot, but even with those struggles (26.7% on threes last season) Clarke still averaged nearly 17 points per game.
15. Detroit: SF PJ Washington, Kentucky
Going back to school doesn’t guarantee that a player’s draft prospects will improve, but in the case of Washington he was able to make himself a surefire first round pick with a shot of sneaking into the lottery. The 6-foot-8 forward was more comfortable playing on the perimeter last season than he was as a freshman, and that improvement should serve him well at the next level. It’s conceivable that Detroit goes a bit smaller here given the team’s lack of consistency on the perimeter, but Washington isn’t a bad option either.
16. Orlando: SG Romeo Langford, Indiana
The middle of the first round projects to be dominated by shooting guards and wings, and there doesn't appear to be much that separates them. Langford played much of this past season with a torn ligament in his right thumb, and the resulting surgery has sidelined him for pre-draft workouts. At 6-foot-6 he has good size for an off guard, and can also be used as a playmaker at times. With Terrence Ross set to be a free agent at the end of the month, Langford can help fill a potential hole in the perimeter rotation if he’s the Magic’s choice here.
17. Brooklyn: C Bol Bol, Oregon
At 7-feet-2 Bol is one of the tallest prospects in this draft class, and one of its most skilled as well. He can score on all three levels, getting shots either off the dribble or in catch-and-shoot situations, and he was also a productive shot blocker during his nine-game run at Oregon. The questions will surround his medical reports, as a foot injury ended his season in December, and his physical strength. Bol’s still maturing physically, so at the start of his NBA career it would likely serve him best to not have to be a team’s interior focal point (and thus take the physical play that can be associated with this). It would come as no surprise if he were to wind up in the lottery given the skill set, but the questions could make some teams in that part of the draft hesitant to roll the dice. Outside of the lottery, Bol Bol could wind up being a steal.
18. Indiana: SG Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Indiana’s going to have a lot of room to make additions to the roster during free agency, especially on the perimeter, as seven players will be unrestricted free agents (five being guards/small forwards). Add in the fact that Victor Oladipo is recovering from the ruptured quadriceps tendon that ended his season prematurely, and getting some perimeter help via the draft wouldn’t be a bad course of action to take. In Tyler Herro the Pacers would be getting a guard who can definitely knock down shots, but he’s shouldn’t be placed in the box of being nothing more than a shooter. He can get his own off the dribble, and the freshman was also a solid perimeter defender.
19. San Antonio: SF Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
The Spurs could use another capable perimeter shooter given their reliance on LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, two scorers who avoid the three-pointer at all costs, and Johnson would fit that mold. In addition to his ability as a three-point shooter, Johnson also has the combination of size and athleticism needed to defend both wing positions. He’d be a good 3-and-D option for San Antonio, which did a good job of getting perimeter looks for the players most capable of hitting those shots this season (30th in three-point attempts, but first in three-point percentage during the regular season).
20. Boston (via LA Clippers): C Goga Bitadze, Buducnost (Montenegro)
Bitadze has some strides to make as an interior defender, but his ability to score in the post makes him an enticing option for the Celtics. In addition to guards Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier both set to be free agents, power forward Marcus Morris Sr. will be as well and Al Horford and Aron Baynes both have player options. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Bitadze would at the very least give the Celtics another option in the post, and if paired with Horford would have some cover defensively as Horford is one of the NBA’s best front court defenders.
21. Oklahoma City: SG Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Oklahoma City is in an interesting spot here, thanks to the team’s current payroll. The Thunder are projected to have $147.6 million in salaries on their books for next season, well above the luxury tax threshold and nearly $5 million more than what they paid out this season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported this week that the Thunder could look to move the pick in exchange for salary cap relief, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they went the “draft and stash” route either as this is the team’s lone draft pick. The projection here is Thybulle, a long-armed defensive savant who fits the mold of young wings that Sam Presti has drafted in the past. But it could be a pick for someone else if the aforementioned report comes to fruition.
22. Boston: SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
As noted above the Celtics could potentially have some holes to fill on the perimeter, with both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier being free agents. That’s one reason why Alexander-Walker, who played on the ball more when Justin Robinson went down with a foot injury in January, would be a good fit for Boston. The former Virginia Tech guard has good size at 6-foot, 5 1/2 inches tall in shoes, and he also shot just over 38% from three during his two seasons in college. Under Brad Stevens the Celtics have used guards who can play either on or off the ball, and Alexander-Walker fits that mold.
23. Utah: PF Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State
Kabengele has good size and athleticism for a power forward, and after excelling in the sixth man role at Florida State there wouldn’t be much of a mental adjustment to having a similar role at the NBA level. Last season he shot 50.2% from the field and 76.1% from the foul line, and he also shot 36.9% from beyond the arc on an average of 1.8 three-point attempts per game. That wasn’t a major part of his game at the college level, but the numbers suggest that with some work Kabengele is capable of extending the range on his jump shot.
24. Philadelphia: SG Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
It’s possible that Johnson goes a little higher than this come draft night, with there likely to be a run on shooting guards/wings in the middle of the first round. He’s a competitor on both ends of the floor, as he did well in individual matchups defensively while also showing off the ability to hit perimeter shots. Johnson isn’t the best at creating for himself off the dribble, but in Philadelphia that shouldn’t be a major issue with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid being the priorities on offense. With regards to the 76ers free agency will have a major impact on the makeup of this team next season, as Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick will all hit the market on June 30.
25. Portland: PF Grant Williams, Tennessee
Moving Williams a couple spots up in this mock after having him headed to the Spurs at No. 29 in the second edition. He’s a bit undersized for a power forward at the NBA level, but that didn’t prevent Williams from winning SEC Player of the Year two seasons in a row. While he converts at a solid percentage around the basket, making 72.3% of those attempts last season, Williams did occasionally struggle against lengthy defenders. The measurements don’t jump off the page, but simply put Grant Williams is a winner. Going to a team like Portland that’s experienced success in the form of a deep playoff run would be a good situation for him, as he’s the kind of player that teams won’t have to worry about from a maturity standpoint.
26: Cleveland (via Houston): SF KZ Okpala, Stanford
Okpala is one of the more intriguing players in this draft, because while the physical measurements are what tend to make scouts salivate he wasn’t always the most consistent player from a production standpoint. His perimeter shot needs a lot of work, but there aren’t many coaches better when it comes to polishing offensive skill sets than John Beilein. The Cavaliers aren’t going to be a “quick fix” kind of rebuild, and taking a chance on a player like Okpala wouldn’t be a bad idea. With the right coaching from a skill development standpoint, Okpala’s upside as a pro can be turned into production at a level that could ultimately make him one of the steals of this draft.
27. Brooklyn (via Denver): PF Luka Samanic, Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)
No change here as Samanic hasn’t done much to hurt his prospects after playing well at last month’s NBA Draft Combine. The 6-foot-11 native of Croatia has improved his physical build over the last year or so, which he had to do in order to hold his own at Olimpija Ljubljana. There’s still work to be done when it comes to handling the physicality of the NBA game, and while he’s shown the ability to stretch the floor, the perimeter shot is still a work in progress from a consistency standpoint.
28. Golden State: SG Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State
Horton-Tucker’s physical measurements raised eyebrows at last month’s combine, as the 6-foot-4 guard boasts a wingspan of 7 feet, 1 1/4 inches in length. He was able to play multiple positions defensively during his lone season at Iowa State, and while he struggled with his perimeter shot that’s an area in which he can get better in time. Golden State will need some cost effective options to bolster the bench given how much the team stands to pay in player salaries (and the luxury tax), and a productive first-round pick in this spot would likely cost the team less than it would to bring in a veteran via free agency. Horton-Tucker is one of the players the Warriors should consider, and if it isn’t him Purdue’s Carsen Edwards would be another guard worth looking at.
29. San Antonio (via Toronto): SG Luguentz Dort, Arizona State
Dort is one of the stronger guards in this draft class, and he’s also capable of defending both guard positions at the next level. The issues at this point in his career are the decision-making, which can be a bit spotty at times, and the inconsistency as a perimeter shooter. If Dort can become a consistent shooter he can be a valuable asset to whichever team selects him. In this mock San Antonio used its first pick on Cameron Johnson, one of the best shooters in the draft, so the Spurs can afford to take a player like Dort who has some work to do on his perimeter shot with the 29th pick.
30. Milwaukee: PG Ty Jerome, Virginia
Jerome is coming off of a junior season in which he helped lead Virginia to the program’s first national title, performing well as a distributor and perimeter shooter. His physical measurements weren’t the best due to the wingspan, but at 6 feet, 5 1/2 inches tall he’ll be a bit taller than most of the point guards he’ll go up against at the next level. Given where the Bucks franchise is at this stage, coming off of a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the team could go with a more established option like Jerome instead of picking a younger talent that is perceived to have more in the way of upside.
31. Brooklyn (via New York): SF Louis King, Oregon
32. Phoenix: PG Carsen Edwards, Purdue
33. Philadelphia (via Cleveland): SF Eric Paschall, Villanova
34. Philadelphia (via Chicago): C Bruno Fernando, Maryland
35. Atlanta: SF Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
36. Charlotte (via Washington): C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
37. Dallas: SF Dylan Windler, Winthrop
38. Chicago: SF Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
39. New Orleans: SG Terence Davis, Ole Miss
40. Sacramento (via Minnesota): PF Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
41. Atlanta (via LA Lakers): PF Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
42. Philadelphia (via Sacramento): SF Deividas Sirvydis, Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)
43. Minnesota (via Miami): C Nicolas Claxton, Georgia
44. Atlanta (via Charlotte): PF Chuma Okeke, Auburn
45. Detroit: PF Dedric Lawson, Kansas
46. Orlando (via Brooklyn): PF Darius Bazley, Princeton HS (Cincinnati, OH)
47. Sacramento (via Orlando): SF Miye Oni, Yale
48. LA Clippers: SG/PG Jalen Lecque, Brewster Academy
49. San Antonio: SG Jordan Bone, Tennessee
50. Indiana: PF Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State
51. Boston: PG Tremont Waters, LSU
52. Charlotte (via Oklahoma City): C Jontay Porter, Missouri
53. Utah: SG Jaylen Nowell, Washington
54. Philadelphia: SG DaQuan Jeffries, Tulsa
55. New York (via Houston): PG Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
56. LA Clippers (via Portland): PF Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest
57. New Orleans (via Denver): SG Kris Wilkes, UCLA
58. Golden State: SG Terance Mann, Florida State
59. Toronto: PG Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra
60. Sacramento (via Milwaukee): SF Cody Martin, Nevada