2019 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Intriguing Prospects Ahead of Final Four

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 1, 2019

Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver, right, shoots over Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura during the second half of the West Regional final in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Zion Williamson's Duke may be eliminated from the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament, but there are still plenty of intriguing NBA prospects headed to Minneapolis for the Final Four. 

There are at least two potential lottery picks still alive in the Big Dance, and there could be one or two other first-round selections on the rosters of Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Virginia. 

As we witnessed a year ago with Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo, players can boost their NBA draft stock with strong performances on college basketball's championship stage. 


2019 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Phoenix Suns: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: R.J. Barrett, SF, Duke

4. Chicago Bulls: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

5. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

6. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas): Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga

7. Memphis Grizzlies: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

8. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

9. Washington Wizards: De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Coby White, PG/SG, North Carolina

11. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

12. Charlotte Hornets: Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Kentucky

13. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento): Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, France

14. Orlando Magic: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

15. Miami Heat: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

16. Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

17. Detroit Pistons: P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky

18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

19. San Antonio Spurs: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

20. Indiana Pacers: KZ Okpala, SF/PF, Stanford

21. Boston Celtics: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

22. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

23. Utah Jazz: Tre Jones, PG, Duke

24. Portland Trailblazers: Daniel Gafford, PF/C, Arkansas

25. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): Naz Reid, C, LSU 

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Jerome, PG/SG, Virginia

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Jordan Nwora, SF, Louisville

28. Golden State Warriors: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Cameron Johnson, SF/PF, North Carolina

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont


Intriguing Prospects At Final Four

Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech 

Jarrett Culver won over a lot of fans with his performances over the last two weeks, and he has at least one more opportunity to establish himself as a top-five pick. 

Against Michigan and Gonzaga, the 20-year-old scored 41 points and chipped in most other stat categories with nine rebounds, six assists and six steals. 

From an NBA perspective, ESPN's Ryen Russillo noted some teams are split on Culver's ability: 

Russillo @ryenarussillo

Teams are split on Culver. Some love the size and that he can get buckets on his own. There aren’t many college scorers that look like they can get their own in the NBA. Other teams look at the forced mistakes and 32% from 3. (Was 38% last year)

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor followed up on that by noting the player should be generating more open looks: 

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

I really wish Jarrett Culver had a quicker first step and tighter handle. He is a tough shot-maker but if he generated more open shots against college defenders it'd be easier to feel good about his future. Culver can offer plenty more than scoring though. https://t.co/3T6tol9HAb https://t.co/wcJNZztbOu

Culver will have an opportunity to win over any doubters at the Final Four and during the individual workout process, and depending how that goes for him, he could be in contention for a top-three selection alongside Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett. 

Despite all the hype generated from the first two weeks of the NCAA tournament, Culver is projected to go in the bottom half of the top 10 in most mock drafts.

CBSSports.com's Reid Forgrave has him going No. 6 in his latest mock, while ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have him landing at No. 7. 

If Culver ends up leading Texas Tech to a title by creating better shots and winning one-on-one matchups, he could become a consensus top-five pick by the time June rolls around.


De'Andre Hunter, Virginia

Going into the Final Four, De'Andre Hunter is projected in the same range as Culver in mock drafts. 

Forgrave has the Virginia sophomore landing at No. 7, while ESPN.com's mock lists him a bit higher at No. 5. 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MARCH 28:  De'Andre Hunter #12 of the Virginia Cavaliers in action against the Oregon Ducks during the second half of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at the KFC YUM! Center on March 28, 2019 in Louisville, K
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hunter hit the double-digit mark in points in all four of his NCAA tournament games, but he's barely eclipsed the 10-point mark in his last three contests. 

In order to pop in front of NBA personnel in Minneapolis, the 21-year-old has to take over Virginia's game against Auburn for stretches. 

If Hunter is able to prove he's a two-way wing who can be a dynamic scorer, he would at least guarantee himself of landing in the top 10.

Since the Atlanta Hawks should have a pair of top-10 picks, they are one team to watch for Hunter, as they search for a dynamic wing to complement Trae Young.

Washington could also be in the mix for Hunter, as it looks to bolster its roster with young talent in hopes of making a playoff push during the 2019-20 season. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.