2019 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Landing Spots of Top Prospects

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2019

Jarrett Culver has the talent to impact a game with his offensive skills and defensive prowess.
Jarrett Culver has the talent to impact a game with his offensive skills and defensive prowess.Associated Press

The NBA Western Conference Final gets underway Tuesday night, as the Portland Trail Blazers try to follow up their seven-game triumph over the Denver Nuggets by challenging the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. 

While that story will play out over the following two weeks, the bigger story that night will take place in Chicago at the NBA draft lottery.

This year's lottery will allow the winning team the opportunity to draft Duke forward Zion Williamson, a powerful player who dominated throughout his freshman season as a result of his size, strength, explosive leaping ability, athleticism and skill.

The 18-year-old appears to be a near-certain top pick, but Blue Devils teammate RJ Barrett and Murray State point guard Ja Morant may be in the same category.

The lottery will determine where each player goes, and the NBA's system gives the teams with the three worst regular-season records an equal chance of claiming the top pick.

The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns each have a 14.0 percent chance of coming away with the No. 1 pick and a 52.1 percent chance of having a pick in the top four.

Every team that did not make the playoffs has a chance to win the lottery. Here's a look at this year's odds, per Tankathon.


Team, Regular-Season Record, Top-4 Pick Pct., No. 1 Pick Pct.

New York Knicks, 17-65, 52.1%, 14.0%

Cleveland Cavaliers, 19-63, 52.1%, 14.0%

Phoenix Suns, 19-63, 52.1%, 14.0%

Chicago Bulls, 22-60, 48.0%, 12.5%

Atlanta Hawks, 29-53, 42.1%, 10.5%

Washington Wizards, 32-50, 37.2%, 9.0%

New Orleans Pelicans, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Dallas Mavericks, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Memphis Grizzlies, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Minnesota Timberwolves, 36-46, 13.9%, 3.0%

Los Angeles Lakers, 37-45, 9.4%, 2.0%

Charlotte Hornets, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%

Miami Heat, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%

Sacramento Kings, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%

In this piece, we predict the landing spot for this year's top prospects and take specific looks at Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver and Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura.


2019 NBA Mock Draft

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

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. Phoenix Suns: RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

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

5. Atlanta Hawks: De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

6. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga

7. New Orleans Pelicans: Sekou Doumbouya, PF/SF, Limoges CSP (France)

8. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

9. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas): Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

11. Los Angeles Lakers: Coby White, PG/SG, North Carolina

12. Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

13. Miami Heat: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento): Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

15. Detroit Pistons: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

16. Orlando Magic: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

17. Brooklyn Nets: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

18. Indiana Pacers: Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Kentucky

19. San Antonio Spurs: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

20. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

22. Boston Celtics: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

23. Utah Jazz: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

24. Philadelphia 76ers: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina

25. Portland Trailblazers: Bruno Fernando, C, MarylandC

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

28. Golden State Warriors: Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Goga Bitadze, C, Buducnost (Montenegro)


Jarrett Culver, Chicago Bulls

The 6'6", 195-pound shooting guard excelled for the Texas Tech Red Raiders this season, and he has the all-around skills to help the Bulls gain some identity that has been missing from the franchise.

Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, and he was the key to the Texas Tech offense. In addition to his offensive skill and ability to trigger the attack, he was a game-changing defensive player with long arms and the ability to get in the passing lanes.

The 20-year-old had some ups and downs during the NCAA tournament, but he won the Big 12 player of the year honors for his all-around play. 

Culver did his homework off the court in an effort to upgrade his game. 

"I added my mid-range, post-up game, jabs and stuff this year," he said, per Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. "That's from watching a lot of Jayson Tatum, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. There's a lot to improve on."

Culver looks like a complete player, and that's something the Bulls could use. They have some talented names in Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine and Wendell Carter Jr., and a player with Culver's all-around game could help them improve significantly.


Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards

Hachimura is a 6'8", 225-pound power forward who was Gonzaga's best player last year, and he has the size and strength to make a major contribution at the next level.

The Washington Wizards slipped badly this year and failed to make the playoffs, and they simply don't have enough dependable players. The 21-year-old may fit that description when he slips on their uniform for the first time.

Hachimura has outstanding physical skills and can also play the small forward role. He averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field for the Bulldogs. He is a strong fundamental player who can avoid mistakes.

One college coach told Sam Vecenie of The Athletic that Hachimura's game has grown quite a bit during his time at Gonzaga:

"I've just heard the Kawhi [Leonard] comparison here recently. I think at this point, they are very similar. Rui may shoot it a little better at this stage of his career. He's extremely physical. He can play inside-out.

"Every year he's been there, his game has expanded. Last year, we played him as a guy who couldn't shoot. This year, we respected him on the perimeter as well as a guy who can score at the basket. Every year, he's gotten better. I think he's going to keep getting better. He's not the best ball-handler, but he's good enough to get to his spots." 

If that assessment is correct, the Wizards will have an excellent chance to improve in 2019-20.