I decided to wait until there were some college games to evaluate before tossing out my first mock draft for 2019. The number one pick is still far from a lock, but one Duke Blue Devil has the edge over a couple of his teammates
We’ve also got a few guys who have come out of nowhere in the first few weeks of the season.
We have decided to project the draft order instead of going with the current standings.
1. Phoenix Suns – Zion Williamson, 6-7, 285, F, Fr., Duke
We haven’t really seen anyone with this blend of size, strength and athleticism – except for maybe LeBron James. No, I’m not comparing Zion to LeBron – because of LeBron’s court vision and ability to consistently make those around him better. But Williamson is a freak athlete – no, the freak athlete – who has developed his skill level.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – R.J. Barrett, 6-7, 205, SG-SF, Fr., Duke
Barrett is the prototypical multi-dimensional wing. He can handle the ball, get to the basket and absorb contact and finish. He’s also a more-than-capable defender, rebounds well for his position and is an improved perimeter shooter.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Cam Reddish, 6-8, 210, SG-SF, Fr., Duke
Let’s make it the trifecta for the boys from Durham, going 1-2-3 in the draft. Reddish is extremely long and versatile. He has the ability to handle the ball, distribute and also shoot it. The knock is consistency, but Reddish has all the tools, maybe even more than his Duke teammates.
4. Chicago Bulls – Bol Bol, 7-3, 235, C, Fr., Oregon
The son of the late Manute Bol is an enigma. He’s a skilled 7-footer who can shoot the 3, and also change the game on the defensive end of the floor with his ability to block and alter shots. However, he doesn’t always play hard. But there just aren’t many guys like him anywhere, so I’d be shocked if he isn’t taken somewhere in the top 10, maybe even in the top five.
5. New York Knicks – De’Andre Hunter, 6-8, 225, F, RS Soph., Virginia
Hunter is a multi-dimensional forward with a blend of skill and athleticism. He can shoot it from deep, can put it on the floor and also score around the basket. Hunter can also play multiple positions and will also be able to defend multiple spots as well.
6. Brooklyn Nets – Nassir Little, 6-6, 210, SF, Fr., North Carolina
He’s struggling thus far, but he has the size and athleticism, and also boasts the ability to make enough shots, get to the rim and defend at a high level. It may take some time for Little to truly emerge in Chapel Hill, but the NBA guys love his potential.
7. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento) – Rui Hachimura, 6-8 1/2, 230, F, Jr., Gonzaga
When he came from Japan, he barely played as a freshman. Last season he became more of a factor and this season he’s become the ‘Zags go-to guy on a team with no shortage of talent. Hachimura is strong, athletic and NBA guys love his potential.
(Sacramento’s pick will go to Philadelphia if it’s No. 1; will go to Boston otherwise.)
8. Orlando Magic – Ja Morant, 6-3, 170, PG, Soph., Murray State
This may look a tad high for some, but this is a lackluster point guard draft and Morant is exactly what NBA teams want in a point guard. He’s athletic, has another gear, can get to and finish around the basket and also has the ability to create easy opportunities for his teammates.
9. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas) – Sekou Doumbouya, 6-9, 215, F, France
The versatile and athletic forward, who moved to France from Guinea when he was young, is playing in the first French division this year. He’s got the size and is both smooth and an explosive athlete. He’s still raw – he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 12. Doumbouya will turn 19 in December.
(This pick is top-five protected. If the selection isn’t in the top five, it goes to Atlanta as part of the draft day deal last June in which Atlanta and Dallas swapped picks, the Mavs moving from five to three to take Luka Doncic.)
10. Washington Wizards – Romeo Langford, 6-6, 200, SG, Fr., Indiana
NBA execs are torn on the wing who won Mr. Basketball and also scored a boatload of points in high school at New Albany High. He’s not considered an elite shooter, but he has the size and knows how to put the ball in the basket.
11. Miami Heat – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6-5 ½, 200, SG, Soph., Virginia Tech
The Canadian has been on the NBA’s radar for a while now due to his length, athleticism, ability to make shots from long range and also his ability to make his teammates better. Alexander-Walker has a well-rounded game that should get him into the lottery.
12. Charlotte Hornets – Kevin Porter Jr., 6-5, 220, SG, Fr., USC
He’s a strong, athletic and explosive lefty wing who plays above the rim. His shot is streaky, but he’s got the frame and the upside that could make him a lottery pick come June.
13. Detroit Pistons – Darius Garland, 6-2, 175, PG, Fr., Vanderbilt
He’s not going to blow you away with his athleticism, but the son of former NBA player Winston Garland is a guy in the Chris Paul mold. He’s got a high IQ, can make shots from deep and also get his teammates easy shots. He’s quick, crafty and just knows how to play. Even though he’ll only play a handful of games this season due to a knee injury, he’s still a likely lottery pick.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves – Daniel Gafford, 6-10, 230, C, Soph., Arkansas
Will be the focal point of Arkansas’ offense this season after being more of a supporting guy a year ago as a freshman. Gafford has a nice combination of length, skill and athleticism. He’s a big man who can run the court, control the glass and alter shots.
15. New Orleans Pelicans – Keldon Johnson, 6-6, 210, SF, Fr., Kentucky
A tough, hard-nosed, athletic wing who does most of his scoring driving to the basket and from the mid-range. He’s also a quality defender who should continue to improve his perimeter shot.
16. San Antonio Spurs – Jarrett Culver, 6-5, 190, SG, Soph., Texas Tech
The NBA loves versatility these days, and that’s what Culver will bring to the table. He can shoot it from deep, is able to handle and pass, is long and athletic and can also drive to the basket and finish.
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis) – Jalen McDaniels, 6-10, 195, PF, RS Soph., San Diego State
He’ll need to put on more weight and strength, but McDaniels is a long forward who is just scratching the surface of what he can do. He will need to be more consistent this season, but has shown the ability to make shots from the perimeter, block shots and can also run the court well for a big man.
(Memphis’ pick is top-8 protected. Otherwise, it goes to Boston)
18. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers) – Coby White, 6-4, 185, G, Fr., North Carolina
A big-time scorer who is adjusting to playing the point in Chapel Hill, White is capable of knocking down a handful of 3’s in a game, and also adept at putting it on the floor and getting to the basket. His floor game should evolve with experience.
(Clippers pick is top-14 protected; otherwise, it goes to Boston)
19. Utah Jazz – Quentin Grimes, 6-5, 205, SG, Fr., Kansas
He’s got the size and versatility at the two-guard spot. Grimes is a guy who does a little bit of everything – scores, moves the ball, rebounds well for his position and has a high basketball IQ.
20. Indiana Pacers – Jaylen Hoard, 6-8 1/2, 215, F, Fr., Wake Forest
Hoard is a versatile forward who does most of his damage around the basket, but can also step out and make jumpers. Hoard’s upside and potential are high, and he can be a combo forward who can score and rebound at a high rate.
21. Houston Rockets – Luguentz Dort, 6-4, 220, SG, Fr., Arizona State
He’s in the Marcus Smart-mold. I’m not sure if he’s a point guard or a two-guard, but what we know is that he plays hard all the time, is strong and athletic and also takes pride on the defensive end. Dort will have to prove he can continue to shoot it from deep with consistency to move up the draft boards and be able to leave after one season.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets) – Jontay Porter, 6-11, 235, PF/C, Soph., Missouri
Michael Porter’s younger brother nearly left for the NBA last offseason, and the skilled forward suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to the start of this season. However, his game isn’t predicated on athleticism. He’s a big skilled forward who can stretch the floor, rebound and also passes it extremely well for a big man.
(Denver pick is Top 12-protected. Otherwise, it goes to Brooklyn)
23. Portland Trail Blazers – Naz Reid, 6-10, 250, PF, Fr., LSU
He’s big, strong and skilled. Reid is so talented for someone his size, can handle the ball, shoot it from the perimeter and also do work in the paint. The question is a consistent motor; but there’s not much doubt about his ability.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jalen Smith, 6-10, 210, PF, Fr., Maryland
“Sticks” moves extremely well for someone his size and it’ll be combination of production and potential that will intrigue the NBA folks. He’s long, active and more skilled than people realize. Obviously, he’ll need to put on strength and bulk in order to be effective at the next level.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Louis King, 6-9, 205, SF, Fr., Oregon
The former McDonald’s All-American has been out since January with a knee injury. King has the size and ability to make shots from the perimeter, and also the potential to be a potent and versatile scorer.
26. Boston Celtics – Jaxson Hayes, 6-11, 220, C, Fr., Texas
Barely played his junior year of high school at Cincinnati’s Moeller High, Hayes has so much potential. He’s every bit of 6—11, extremely mobile, runs the floor exceptionally well and can be a game-changer on the defensive end. He’s still extremely raw, but the son of Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes could be a star down the road.
27. Philadelphia 76ers – Killian Tillie, 6-10, 220, PF, Jr., Gonzaga
Has been injured this season with a stress fracture in his ankle and isn’t expected back for a few more weeks, but the Frenchman can step out and make shots from long range as well as score in the post. Good athlete, mobile and plays hard.
28. Milwaukee Bucks – Brandon Clarke, 6-8, 220, PF, RS Jr., Gonzaga
The San Jose State transfer has wasted little time gaining the attention of NBA folks. Clarke is a tremendous athlete who isn’t super-skilled, but can make enough shots. Clarke will be drafted for his athleticism, his ability to run the floor and alter and block shots.
29. Golden State Warriors – Eric Paschall, 6-8, 255, F, Sr., Villanova
He’s not Draymond Green, but he’s got a similar body and a certain level of versatility. Paschall is big, strong, athletic and can score inside and out. He played well this past offseason in front of NBA execs – which helped his draft stock.
30. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors) – PJ Washington, 6-8, 230, PF, Soph., Kentucky
He can make jumpers from mid-range and will just get things done. He may never be a star, but Washington can be one of those guys that’s difficult to take off the court because of his ability to produce in a variety of ways.
(Toronto pick is Top 20-protected. Otherwise, it goes to San Antonio.)