2019 NBA Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Predictions Entering March Madness

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMarch 20, 2019

2019 NBA Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Predictions Entering March Madness

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    The NCAA tournament gives NBA prospects the opportunity to make final impressions and move the needle on their stock.

    From here on out, the names on the board won't look dramatically different. However, their order could, and March Madness will play a role in determining projections heading into the draft process. 

    Some players are also bound to break out over the next three weeks, vaulting themselves into the draft conversation.

    This year's draft effectively starts at No. 2 once whoever wins the lottery takes Duke's Zion Williamson.

    Draft order updated as of March 20

1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    The New York Knicks shouldn't have to do much predraft research if they win the lottery. The only question worth asking is whether to offer the No. 1 pickaka the rights to Zion Williamsonto the New Orleans Pelicans in a trade for Anthony Davis. 

    If the Knicks stand pat at No. 1, they're all but certain to go with Williamson. The same goes for any other team that lands the top pick, and no off game or injury in the NCAA tournament will change that.

    Since returning from his knee injury, Williamson has averaged 27.0 points on 76.7 percent shooting. He routinely leaves defenses answerless regardless of where he catches the ball. 

    If the Knicks do add Williamson, they'd be that much more attractive to marquee free agents this summer.

2. Phoenix Suns: Ja Morant (Murray State, PG, Sophomore)

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    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Unless the Phoenix Suns rank RJ Barrett in a tier of his own at No. 2, team needs could tip the scale toward Ja Morant here.

    Scouts and executives are warming up to Morant as the next-best thing behind Williamson. The Suns could argue he's the higher-upside prospect over Barrett because of his explosive athleticism and potential to make teammates better, seeing as he leads the country in assists and carried Murray State to the NCAA tournament. 

    The Suns might entertain the idea of trading this pick for a veteran capable of pushing them up the standings. Young point guards often struggle early in their NBA careers, and Morant still has significant room to improve as a shooter and decision-maker. 

    On the other hand, Phoenix should value Morant's passing and playmaking ability to help take pressure off Devin Booker and create easier looks for his other teammates on the floor. 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: RJ Barrett (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers' search for a lead scorer should point them straight toward RJ Barrett, who'll enter the NCAA tournament averaging 22.9 points at 18 years old. 

    His shooting has regressed lately (19.6 percent from three over his last seven games), and his current 30.4 percent three-point clip and 66.2 percent free-throw mark are accurate indicators of his jump-shot development. 

    Tremendous scoring instincts still separate him from the other prospects still on the board here. And his shot-making capability eases some concern about his inefficiency, as he's hit 66 threes through 34 games. 

    Barrett can improve his chances of going No. 2 overall by guiding Duke straight through the East Region. But a game that further exposes his questionable shot creation and finishing in traffic could result in two teams passing on him in the draft.

4. Chicago Bulls: Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech, SG, Sophomore)

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    Unless the Chicago Bulls are intent on filling their need at point guard, Jarrett Culver could emerge as their best player available.

    He can continue to build his case in the NCAA tournament, but he did strengthen it in recent days, having combined for 57 points over his past two games. 

    Culver has evolved from a role player last year to a lead scorer and secondary playmaker this season. He's now able to create his own shot and set up teammates off ball screens. 

    Culver would likely come off the bench to start his career in Chicago, but so would any prospect the Bulls select at positions No. 2-5. North Carolina's Coby White and Vanderbilt's Darius Garland would fit into Chicago's starting lineup, but taking either at No. 4 could feel like reaching. 

5. Atlanta Hawks: De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, SF/PF, Sophomore)

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    De'Andre Hunter has positioned himself as a top-10 prospect given the demand for versatile wings and his perceived low-risk projection that's tied to strong physical tools, shooting and defense. 

    He'll earn looks as high as No. 4, and he isn't likely to be available for teams picking later in the lottery. 

    The Atlanta Hawks would be a sensible match at No. 5, although they could also be drawn to Duke's Cam Reddish, who's more than a year younger than Hunter. The sophomore and ACC Defensive Player of the Year appears to be more reliable than Reddish, however.

    The rebuilding Hawks could favor Hunter's stability and efficiency after seeing him shoot and defend well for two consecutive seasons.

6. Memphis Grizzlies: Coby White (North Carolina, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    With Mike Conley's time in Memphis likely nearing its end, the Grizzlies could be motivated to draft their point guard of the future. 

    They figure to consider Vanderbilt's Darius Garland, but Coby White's impact in the ACC—and potentially the NCAA tournament—may give him the edge.

    At 6'5", White has the size and shooting range to play off the ball as well (96th percentile out of spot-ups), which should create flexibility for the Grizzlies during their rebuild. 

7. Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks): Jaxson Hayes (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    A knee injury will end Jaxson Hayes' season, but he'll remain in play for lottery teams if it isn't a serious setback. 

    The Dallas Mavericks will keep this pick if it falls within the top five. If it conveys to the Hawks and they draft a guard, wing or forward with their own pick, Hayes seems like an obvious target to add next to John Collins, a superior scorer who could use some help defending the paint. 

    Hayes blocked 3.8 shots per 40 minutes this year while shooting 72.8 percent from the floor. He'll have a defined role from day one that calls for rim running, finishing, second-chance points and anchoring Atlanta's defense. 

8. Washington Wizards: Cam Reddish (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

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    It still hasn't clicked for Cam Reddish, who's struggled to make shots and pick spots as Duke's third option. He's in danger of slipping outside of the top five, although the NCAA tournament represents another opportunity for him to win back support. 

    At No. 8, the Washington Wizards would buy low and bet on Reddish's long-term potential that's fueled by positional size, confident shooting and secondary ball-handling skills. His defensive tools are promising as well, and Reddish should have a safe floor as a three-and-D role player in a worst-case scenario.

    With John Wall likely out for most of the 2019-20 season and unlikely to return to his prime, the Wizards shouldn't be worrying about quick fixes. They'll be in position to develop Reddish patiently.

9. New Orleans Pelicans: Bol Bol (Oregon, C, Freshman)

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    Drafting Bol Bol at No. 9 would require the medical reports on his foot to check out cleanly. 

    Either way, this is a spot on the board for the New Orleans Pelicans to swing for the fences before having to trade Anthony Davis. Bol is one of the few potential stars available, even if he comes with risk.

    Before going down earlier in the season, the 7'2" center averaged 21.0 points and shot 13-of-25 from three. He executed jump shots, dribble moves and post-ups with unusual fluidity for a player his size. 

    By draft night, it's unclear what New Orleans' roster will look like. But unless the Pelicans bolster their frontcourt via a Davis trade, Bol should be under consideration for his upside this deep into the lottery.

10. Los Angeles Lakers: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, PF, Junior)

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    Rui Hachimura won't be a top-10 prospect on every team's board, but one is bound to see him as an NBA starter, particularly if he leads Gonzaga on a Final Four run as his team's top option.

    The Los Angeles Lakers also won't have patience like other teams when it comes to drafting and development. They won't want to waste any more years with LeBron James turning 35 in December. 

    Averaging 20.1 points on 62.1 percent shooting, Hachimura has been dominant with his physical tools, face-up quickness, touch around the key and post moves. The Lakers will have to address concerns such as his shooting from distance, passing and defense, though.

11. Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Porter Jr. (USC, SG, Freshman)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Charlotte Hornets will look past Kevin Porter Jr.'s lack of production and focus on his long-term potential, which has shown up in flashes throughout the season. 

    He finished his freshman season with a 17-point effort against Washington that highlighted his athleticism around the rim and shot-making. 

    Porter's shot creation is what could set him apart and help him emerge as a potent scoring option who can generate his own offense in the half court. 

    There are questions about his feel for impacting games, plus a mysterious team suspension earlier in the season. But Porter should wind up helping himself during workouts, which will mask his decision-making and highlight his tools, bounce and skill level. 

12. Minnesota Timberwolves: Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, PG, Freshman)

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    With Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose both entering free agency and Jeff Teague able to join them if he declines his $19 million player option, the Minnesota Timberwolves could bolster their point guard depth chart by taking Darius Garland. 

    He played only four full games before suffering a season-ending meniscus injury, but the 5-star recruit was highly effective during that limited action at Vanderbilt. 

    A scoring ball-handler, Garland is furthest ahead with his shooting and shot-making off the dribble or catch.

    He could use next year to learn the nuances of running an offense behind Teague. The development of Garland's floor game over the next few years could determine how the T-Wolves and other NBA teams value him.

13. Orlando Magic: Romeo Langford (Indiana, SG, Freshman)

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    The Orlando Magic wouldn't be thrilled to see Morant, White and Garland off the board before their pick. They'll likely make calls to trade up for a point guard (since Markelle Fultz remains a mystery), especially if they plan to re-sign Nikola Vucevic, which could make Mohamed Bamba, Jonathan Isaac or Aaron Gordon expendable. 

    If the Magic stick at No. 13, they'll be looking at best-player-available scenarios with France's Sekou Doumbouya, Kentucky's PJ Washington, Missouri's Jontay Porter, Kentucky's Keldon Johnson, Indiana's Romeo Langford or Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke. 

    Langford ultimately might look most attractive to Orlando for both his three-level scoring upside and the team's need to strengthen its backcourt. Shooting (27.2 percent from three) will be the swing skill that determines how high Langford climbs the NBA ladder.

    Teams will closely examine his jumper during workouts leading up to the draft.

14. Boston Celtics (via Kings): Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga, PF/C, Junior)

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    The Boston Celtics could target Brandon Clarke for his defense and energy with their first of three first-rounders. 

    They should value his ability to impact games without needing any plays run for him. Bouncy and aggressive, Clarke is blocking 4.3 shots per 40 minutes while shooting 71.2 percent inside the arc just by running and jumping. 

    He's already 22 years old, but that shouldn't bother the Celtics, who'll be looking for an immediate rotation player. Clarke's activity should carry over right away if he plays the same role he occupies at Gonzaga.

Nos. 15-20

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    15. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    Teams scouting Herro won't look too deeply into his percentages. The eye test loves his shooting form, rhythm and off-ball movement into shot-making. Loaded with confidence and the potential to catch fire, Herro could be a riser coming out of this year's NCAA tournament. 


    16. Brooklyn Nets: PJ Washington (Kentucky, PF/C, Sophomore)

    Washington moved the needle for himself over the past two months during his transformation from a role player to a lead scorer. He's quieted down lately, but his post footwork looks more decisive this year, and he's become a legitimate threat to make threes or attack closeouts. Improved conditioning and skill help portray Washington as one of the draft's safer mid-first-round options.


    17. Detroit Pistons: Keldon Johnson (Kentucky, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Johnson's first few months should hold enough weight to keep teams from jumping off the wagon as his shot and impact have gone hot and cold. He's still a clear-cut NBA athlete and competitor, fierce downhill attacker and capable shot-maker when set. Whether he winds up justifying mid-first-round value will come down to his development as a shot-creator and shooter.


    18. Boston Celtics (via Clippers): Sekou Doumbouya (France, SF/PF, 2000)

    For a 6'9", 230-pound 18-year-old in France's top division, Doumbouya's flashy plays have been convincing enough even if he only has a few per game. He's an NBA-caliber athlete built to defend multiple positions with a skill set that includes three-point range and driving ability from the arc. Teams that can afford to wait a few years for results should rank Doumbouya higher on their boards.


    19. Utah Jazz: Goga Bitadze (Georgia, C, 1999)

    For a 6'11" 19-year-old, Bitadze is producing at a first-round rate in both the Euroleague and the Adriatic League. He's become skilled enough offensively for a team to overlook the fact that he's an old-school big. Bitadze won't be out defending in space or handling the ball, but his post game, hands around the basket and shooting touch have been highly effective. 


    20. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Johnson (North Carolina, SF, Senior)

    Though he's 23 years old, Johnson's 46.5 percent three-point stroke and quick release shooting off movement looks poised to translate to the NBA. At No. 20, the Thunder can't ask for much more than a role player, so Johnson's age and lack of creating ability shouldn't bother them this late. Depending on his performance during the NCAA tournament, Johnson may not be available at No. 20.

Nos. 21-30

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    21. San Antonio Spurs: Jontay Porter (Missouri, C, Sophomore)

    Porter shot, passed and defended well enough as a freshman to warrant first-round consideration. He needed to improve his conditioning last year, and that was before the ACL injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018-19 season. But long term, the Spurs should see him as a stretch 5 with a high skill and IQ level. Porter's medical reports will be in high demand before the draft.

    22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams (Tennessee, PF/C, Junior)

    One team will view Williams as a value pick who'll slide to No. 22 based on age and a perceived limited ceiling. He could be a bargain here—a long-term role player with a high floor propped up by toughness, skill and special IQ as a passer and defender. Non-lottery teams hoping for a chance to draft Williams may want to root for Tennessee getting sent home early from the NCAA tournament. 

    23. Indiana Pacers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech, SG, Sophomore)

    Alexander-Walker's breakout year started losing steam more than a month ago. However, he's still an enticing first-round prospect with 6'5" size, comfortable shooting range and improved playmaking ability that should allow Indiana to use him as a ball-screen creator as well as a floor-spacer. 

    24. Portland Trail Blazers: Chuma Okeke (Auburn, PF, Sophomore)

    On a roll entering the NCAA tournament, Okeke is a potential riser after his 18 points, 13 rebounds and five three-pointers in Auburn's SEC tournament final win over Tennessee. He isn't the most creative scorer, but his physical tools (6'8", 230lbs), shooting potential and defensive versatility suggest he's suited for the NBA. Even if Auburn goes down early, Okeke will be trending during the predraft process. 

    25. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets): Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Horton-Tucker won't be for everyone, assuming his 233-pound frame and weak explosiveness raise questions about his transition from Iowa State to NBA guard. On the other hand, he's far quicker than he looks, and his ball-handling and shot-making have popped throughout the season. Cleveland's coaching staff will want to work on improving Horton-Tuckers' body and decision-making, but he's also expected to be the youngest NCAA prospect in the draft, as he won't turn 19 until around Thanksgiving. 

    26. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle (Washington, SF, Senior)

    Thybulle has built himself up as an intriguing option in the 20s for his defensive-specialist potential. Even if Washington's zone inflates his numbers, the senior's 3.4 steals and 2.2 blocks per game reflect his spectacular playmaking instincts. He won't offer a great deal offensively, but 189 career threes should be enough to convince Philadelphia. 

    27. Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets): Nassir Little (North Carolina, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Little might want to fast-forward toward workouts, but the NCAA tournament does represent another opportunity for him to impress NBA decision-makers, particularly with North Carolina in position to go far. There is still time for his skills and feel to catch up with his tremendous physical profile and athleticism. But his minimal improvement since his arrival at UNC could result in a major draft-night slide. 

    28. Golden State Warriors: Isaiah Roby (Nebraska, PF/C, Junior)

    Roby will draw first-round looks for his NBA fit rather than his college production or consistency. He checks the modern big-man boxes with the potential to stretch the floor, attack closeouts and switch defensively, although he'll likely need a few years before he can be a consistent role player.

    29. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Tre Jones (Duke, PG, Freshman)

    Jones doesn't project as anything more than a backup. But he could run the Spurs' second unit on a rookie contract for the next four years, making him a worthwhile pick this late in the first round. Despite obvious athletic and scoring limitations, Jones' passing IQ and defensive pressure should be enough to help him stick and contribute to the right team.

    30. Milwaukee Bucks: KZ Okpala (Stanford, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    A 6'9" combo forward, Okpala has developed as a ball-handler, driving scorer and capable three-point shooter. He's had a breakout season, but he's still too much potential over polish for a perimeter-based skill player. Okpala will receive looks from teams in the 20s and could easily go in that range, especially if he shoots well in workouts. 

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference


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