2019 NBA Mock Draft: Way-Too-Soon 1st Round Draft Predictions
The NBA scouting process has officially started for the 2019 draft. Scouts have already begun making their rounds to college practices and pro days.
Though there is a clear favorite to go No. 1, this year's board feels otherwise completely fluid from top to bottom.
In October, identifying tiers is more important than nailing down each prospect's draft slot or how he fits with the team he's projected to join.
The mock draft order takes into account win-total projections via Oddsshark.com.
1. Atlanta Hawks: RJ Barrett, Duke SG/SF, Freshman
NBA scouts all seem to have the same name atop their draft boards entering the 2018-19 season.
RJ Barrett already has overwhelming support around the league. Scouts are familiar. They've watched him show out in plenty of settings over the years, whether it's been at FIBA tournaments or showcase events.
He'll work as Duke's No. 1 option with his relentless scoring and competitiveness. And at 6'7" with a solid frame, athleticism and developing perimeter skills, it's easy to picture Barrett's tools and game translating to the NBA floor.
The Atlanta Hawks just need the best player available, and the fact Barrett is a wing should only make him more attractive.
2. Boston Celtics (via Kings): Zion Williamson, Duke PF/C, Freshman
One of the most unique physical talents an NBA draft will see, Zion Williamson only improved his stock this summer. Scouts won't put too much into his performance during Duke's Canadian tour, when he averaged 30.0 points against three inferior opponents, but Williamson did demonstrate ball-handling and touch that proved there is more to his game than explosive, overpowering finishes.
Listed at 6'7", 285 pounds, he'll create highlights above and around the rim. He'll move up draft boards, however, with flashes of skill, like using his dribble to get low and slice through tight windows, knocking down jumpers and passing.
There will be debate about his NBA position. But in today's league, the uncertainty won't bother a team like the Boston Celtics, who'll steal the Sacramento Kings' pick if it's not No. 1.
3. Phoenix Suns: Nassir Little, UNC SF, Freshman
This will be the first major draft pick for the Phoenix Suns after owner Robert Sarver fired Ryan McDonough from his general manager duties. Will Phoenix keep the pick or jumpstart the rebuild by shopping it for a star?
Nassir Little jumps out early as the best player available at No. 3. Tough and athletic with an expanding scoring repertoire, he figures to remain a fixture in the top-five discussion all season. He'll still play a secondary role behind senior Luke Maye, but there will be games when Little takes over with his confident offensive attack and competitive defensive nature.
Over the past year, he's demonstrated improved shot-creating and three-point shot-making, which has moved him ahead of other big names from his class.
4. New York Knicks: Cam Reddish, Duke SF/PF, Freshman
There will be games when Cam Reddish looks like Duke's No. 1 prospect. Consistency and efficiency will be the keys to avoid criticism, as he's developed a reputation for playing hero ball and lacking urgency.
But at 6'8" with long arms and exciting athleticism, Reddish's ball-handling, three-level scoring and defensive versatility fuel star-caliber upside.
He may raise questions throughout the year, but none the New York Knicks can take too seriously if given the chance to add him. On paper, eight months before the draft, Reddish would seem to fit nicely alongside Kevin Knox, another interchangeable forward/wing.
5. Chicago Bulls: Romeo Langford, Indiana SG, Freshman
Romeo Langford will have the chance to create a top-five case with his effortless mix of athleticism and scoring ability.
He's a bucket-getter. Indiana's newest weapon should generate excitement for his offense. A 6'6" shooting guard, Langford plays a smooth game, never working too fast while still getting the shots he wants from each level.
He can appear overly casual, and it will be interesting to see how fans and scouts react during games when he's quiet. But enough production should earn Langford a high spot on teams' boards, including the Chicago Bulls, who've put together a promising frontcourt but could use an upgrade on the wing.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bol Bol, Oregon PF/C Freshman
Bol Bol will likely divide the scouting community by intriguing with 7'2" size and perimeter skills while generating skepticism over the idea that his body and game can translate.
It will only take one team to feel the upside is worth the risk, though. Bol's potential to stretch the floor, protect the rim and attack closeouts may be too appealing.
And he made it all look more convincing last spring at the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic.
Bol presents some risk, based on his awkward mobility and thin legs. But he could be one of the game's most unique two-way weapons. Looking for a potential game-changer, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be the team to roll the dice.
7. Orlando Magic: Quentin Grimes, Kansas SG Freshman
Quentin Grimes figures to touch each statistical category at Kansas, which should play to his selling point as a well-rounded, Gary Harris-like guard who'll shoot, attack, pass and defend.
He averaged 14.7 points, 4.0 boards, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals and a three this summer for USA at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship. Grimes stands out with NBA tools and athleticism, plus the skill set to play-make with the ball, score off it and guard positions 1-3.
After drafting Mohamed Bamba to a core that features Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, the Orlando Magic must be thinking guard and wing. It's likely they've already begun monitoring Grimes.
8. Brooklyn Nets: Nazreon Reid, LSU PF/C, Freshman
Nazreon Reid will make the most noise with his power and explosiveness around the basket. But it's the flashes of ball skills and touch that could propel him into the top-10 mix.
Reportedly down 20 pounds, Reid, who's big, strong, quick and coordinated, could be an easy-basket machine for LSU. He's also looked comfortable handling the ball in space, making a move, maintaining body control and finishing off the dribble.
He'll just have to create enough optimism regarding his jump shot, motor and ability to both play and defend the perimeter.
9. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Sekou Doumbouya, France SF/PF
Sekou Doumbouya is the name scouts mention when talking about international prospects who can crash 2019's top five.
Off to a slow start this year in France, Doumbouya looks his age (17) against pros. But it's also still easy to see why NBA teams track him closely.
At 6'9", he's impressive physically and athletically, particularly for a face-up forward who's flashed outside shot-making and off-the-dribble maneuvering. However, at this early stage of his development, he's most useful for his transition finishing and defensive versatility.
Without offensive polish or a high-usage role, by draft night, Doumbouya will be all potential with minimal production when analyzed under the NBA's scouting lens.
10. Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks): Keldon Johnson, Kentucky SG/SF
Kentucky will be counting on Keldon Johnson to fill in for Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo on the wings.
He's an eye-test standout for NBA tools and athleticism that are illuminated in transition or off drives to the basket. Johnson isn't overly skilled yet, but he's flashed enough shot-making and creating potential to encourage scouts assessing his development.
He'll also help set the tone for Kentucky with a high level of effort and toughness.
Taking him top 10 would just mean betting on his handles and shooting to significantly improve.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Jontay Porter, Missouri C Sophomore
A modern-day center for his shooting, passing and shot-blocking, Porter checked the right boxes as a freshman. Scouts will now be looking to see how much he's added, particularly with his ability to attack closeouts and create his own shot. Returning in better shape with a more diverse scoring repertoire is the recipe for Porter, a Nikola Jokic-type big who compensates for limited athleticism with skill and IQ.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Daniel Gafford, Arkansas C Sophomore
The Clippers could be looking for a big after building their backcourt through the 2018 draft. Gafford would give them an explosive finisher and shot-blocker, as well as a developing low-post option. He'll want to show more lateral quickness this season to convince scouts he's capable of switching out around the perimeter.
13. Detroit Pistons: Kris Wilkes, UCLA SF Sophomore
Another step forward puts Wilkes in the first-round mix after he'd already earned himself an invite to 2018's NBA combine. He's on the radar for his tools and athleticism, slashing and quick-release shooting off spot-ups and screens. With Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh gone, and freshmen Shareef O'Neal and Tyger Campbell lost for the season, Wilkes gets to carry the scoring load for UCLA as a sophomore. He's set up for a productive season.
14. Miami Heat: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt PG Freshman
Garland entered the one-and-done conversation following his showing at the Nike Hoop Summit. He has more skill than explosion, but he's arguably the most complete point guard in his class with enough size and shiftiness, a mid-to-long-range pull-up game and threatening playmaking ability. Garland may not flash the upside to convince teams he's a surefire NBA starter, but midway through the first round, he should come off as the best player available to some team.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Smith, Maryland PF/C Freshman
Long, 6'10" and active, Smith should draw attention for his effectiveness around the basket and outside shooting touch. He already flashed three-point range during Maryland's exhibition trip to Italy. Smith lacks strength and high-level shot-creating skills, but his tools, nose for the ball and jump-shot fluidity point to NBA role-player potential.
16. Washington Wizards: Eric Paschall, Villanova PF Senior
Paschall will go from a 16.9 percent usage rate as a junior to the man at Villanova as a senior, after the team lost Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman. Strong and explosive, the 6'8", 255-pounder turned heads during last year's Final Four when he scored 24 points against Kansas. Paschall looks poised to take a major step forward as a scorer and shooter.
17. San Antonio Spurs: De'Andre Hunter, Virginia SF/PF Sophomore
Expectations are high for Hunter after generating NBA draft buzz last season. He'll build a case around two-way versatility, being a 6'7" athletic forward who excelled at slashing, showed promise as a shooter, flashed one-on-one moves and guarded multiple positions. At this stage, he does a little of everything. He'll benefit by establishing a go-to strength or simply developing into a more threatening scorer.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Coby White, North Carolina PG Freshman
White should run the show for North Carolina with exciting pace. He's more quick than explosive, but he has solid size (listed at 6'5", 185 lbs) and poses as a dual threat off the dribble for his pull-up scoring and playmaking. Despite his tools, offensive firepower and expected production, White remains one of the less-talked-about freshmen capable of generating first-round interest in 2019.
19. New Orleans Pelicans: Kevin Porter Jr., USC SG Freshman
The positives with Porter should outweigh the expected bad shots and low assist numbers. Set to play his entire freshman season at 18 years old, he may experience inconsistency, but Porter is bound to go off with scoring eruptions at different points of the season. The NBA could be drawn to his mix of size, athleticism, shot-creating and confident shot-making.
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets): Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga PF Junior
An NBA-level athlete with 6'8" size, Hachimura has scouts waiting for his skills to catch up. He took a step last year, but not one big enough to earn starter minutes or solidify first-round interest. The microscope will focus on his shooting this year, after he made four triples as a freshman and five as a sophomore. Raising his free-throw mark to 79.5 percent was a promising sign. The degree to which he improves his jump shot, as well as his overall shot-creating, will determine how far he moves up boards.
21. Indiana Pacers: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky C Freshman
At 6'11", 234 pounds, Bassey will draw looks for his tools and physical presence around the basket. He's not the new-school center trending in today's NBA, but he still comes off as a potential pro with the body and athleticism to finish, rebound and block shots. And he's flashed enough skill to suggest he'll emerge as a scoring threat out of the post.
22. Milwaukee Bucks: Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest PF Freshman
Hoard falls closer to project than NBA-ready on the developmental spectrum. Teams may be willing to reach early on his long-term potential, even won't be isn't a major freshman producer. At 6'8", Hoard is a combo forward with capable shooting range, face-up driving ability, rebounding toughness and enough size, length and quickness to guard bigs and wings.
23. Los Angeles Lakers: Ja Morant, Murray State PG Sophomore
One of two players last year to average at least 10.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, Morant has become a trendy breakout prediction. But will he generate NBA interest? His explosive leaping will help, but he'll still need to show he's improved his jump shot and overall scoring skill set in the half court. Any signs of progress should at least earn him a spot on scouting watch lists.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: PJ Washington, Kentucky PF/C Sophomore
Washington looks to have returned in better shape based on what we saw during Kentucky's Bahamas trip and pro day. He'll sell scouts with versatility by working under the basket, making jumpers, operating off the dribble and defending inside and out. The offense will run through him more often this season.
25. Utah Jazz: Shamorie Ponds, St. John's PG Junior
Ponds averaged 21.6 points and 4.7 assists and still left plenty of room for improvement. His three-ball didn't fall as often as it did the year before, but Ponds is a proven shot-maker (career 122 threes, 63 games) and microwave scorer who'll be seen by teams as an offensive spark. Refining his playmaking and decision-making would help his stock, but leading St. John's to wins (while continuing to score at will) should be the goal for Ponds.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech SG Sophomore
Culver should be looking at a larger role after the departure of Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith. The scouting lens picks up his 6'5" size, slashing, shooting stroke and defensive toughness. NBA ingredients are there, though Culver needs to show he's added to his off-the-dribble and pick-and-roll games, as opposed to just being mostly a spot-up player.
27. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State PF Sophomore
McDaniels is going to give an NBA team some pop upfront with springy athleticism. His stock will depend on the development he shows with his scoring skill set. McDaniels has looked capable of making jumpers and shaking free for shots, but as of last year, he was still too far on the raw side.
28. Houston Rockets: Tyler Herro, Kentucky SG Freshman
Herro was a standout during Kentucky's trip to the Bahamas, and given his gunner mentality and shot-making skills, he figures to play a lead offensive role during the season. He takes some questionable jumpers and he needs to develop a floater, but NBA teams could picture Herro's scoring ability off screens and shooting translating to the pro level.
29. Boston Celtics: Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State PG/SG Sophomore
After averaging 16.7 points as a freshman, Wigginton looks poised to emerge as one of the Big Ten's premier scorers. And given his explosiveness and perimeter shot-making, the volume production could start leading to NBA interest. It's still important he shows improvement with his playmaking efficiency and shot selection, given his limited margin for error being a 6'2" combo.
30. Golden State Warriors: Matisse Thybulle, Washington SF Senior
A playoff team could identify Thybulle as a three-and-D role player. Through three seasons at Washington, he's totaled 145 threes, 205 steals and 103 blocks, working as a spot-up shooter and defensive playmaker.
Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com