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2019 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Most Athletic 1st-Round Prospects

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2019

Murray State's Ja Morant (12) during the second half of a second round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

NBA draft analysis is loaded with buzzwords. There's upside and ceiling, versatile and dynamic, character and wingspan (drink).

But the holy grail of them all? Athleticism.

On the surface, it's a vague word. After all, every NBA player is a tremendous athlete. They wouldn't be professionals otherwise. Still, some prospects' physical giftsmost notably their speed, acceleration and verticalstand out above the rest.

Following our latest mock, we've highlighted three players who will be continuously lauded for elite athleticism.

           

2019 NBA Mock Draft

1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, F, Duke
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
3. Phoenix Suns: RJ Barrett, G, Duke
4. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, G, North Carolina
5. Atlanta Hawks: De'Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
6. Washington Wizards: Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech
7. New Orleans Pelicans: Sekou Doumbouya, F, France
8. Memphis Grizzlies: Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
9. Atlanta Hawks (from DAL): Cam Reddish, F, Duke
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
11. Los Angeles Lakers: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
12. Charlotte Hornets: Romeo Langford, G, Indiana
13. Miami Heat: Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC
14. Boston Celtics (from SAC): Bol Bol, C, Oregon
15. Detroit Pistons: PJ Washington, F, Kentucky
16. Orlando Magic: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
17. Brooklyn Nets: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
18. Indiana Pacers: Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
20. Boston Celtics (from LAC): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Johnson, F, North Carolina
22. Boston Celtics: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
23. Utah Jazz: Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from HOU): KZ Okpala, F, Stanford
27. Brooklyn Nets (from DEN): Mfiondu Kabengele, PF/C, Florida State
28. Golden State Warriors: Talen Horton-Tucker, SG/SF, Iowa State
29. San Antonio Spurs (from TOR): Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Matisse Thybulle, F, Washington

           

Zion Williamson, F, Duke

Are you missing Zion dunks? Here's a refresher.

Special, special, special.

Zion Williamson basically did everything short of destroying a backboard during his freshman year at Duke. The 6'7", 285-pounder already has a patented finish with his reach-back dunkshis undisputed go-to move on breakaways in 2018-19.

Prior to the season, he set a Duke record for the highest vertical leap in program history. Unfortunately, we don't know the exact number. But we're confident in saying it's at least 40 inches.

Although he's received an invite to the NBA combine, Williamson likely will not participate in the event. While not a perfect player, nothing he can do will improve his draft stock.

After all, it's difficult to be higher than No. 1.

          

Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

While at a lower intensity than Williamson's slams, Ja Morant's dunks brought a whole bunch of people to their feet, too.

Maybe your favorite is the point guard's slam over Marquette's Sam Hauser in March Madness. Perhaps it's a rim-rocker opposite Belmont in the Ohio Valley tournament, one leaping a UT-Martin defender or this one against Alabama.

There is no wrong answer.

Listed at 6'3" and 175 pounds, Morant isn't a physically imposing player. Yet compared to others at his position, he's the most impressive athleteand it's not really close. Former Alabama coach Avery Johnson compared Morant's athleticism to that of Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook.

Throw in his 24.5 points and 10.0 assists per game, and it's easy to understand why Morant is the projected No. 2 pick.

            

Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

NBA teams will consider Nassir Little's on-court performance in his scouting report, but one franchise is going to bet on traits.

And in that department, he's elite.

Whether it was swatting a shot off the backboard or finishing at the rim, Little regularly found ways for his athleticism to impact the game. Many of the North Carolina product's best highlights were powerful flushes from a two-footed jump.

During the season, Roy Williams told reporters he thinks Little is the most athletic player he's ever coached.

After an unspectacular year with 9.8 points per game in a sixth-man role, that explosiveness is keeping Little in the conversation as a potential lottery selection.

         

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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