2019 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Where Top Prospects Will Land in 1st Round

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 17, 2019

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 14: NBA Draft Prospect, Zion Williamson poses for a portrait at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery on May 14, 2019 at the Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

The 2019 NBA draft order is set, and it appears the top two selections could be, too.

Zion Williamson has been the presumptive first pick for months, and it sounds like do-it-all point guard Ja Morant is already ticketed for No. 2.

"Barring the unexpected, [the] Memphis Grizzlies front office and ownership appear to have locked in on selecting Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick," ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony reported.

We'll keep the dominoes dropping here by mocking the rest of the first round before looking at the potential prospect/team connections of our top three picks.


2019 NBA Mock Draft

1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, PF/C, Duke

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, SG/SF, Duke

4. Los Angeles Lakers: De'Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Phoenix Suns: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, PG/SG, North Carolina

8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SG/SF, Duke

9. Washington Wizards: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)Bol Bol, C, Oregon

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, France

12. Charlotte Hornets: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

13. Miami Heat: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings): Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia

15. Detroit Pistons: PJ Washington, PF/C, Kentucky

16. Orlando Magic: Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Kentucky

17. Brooklyn Nets: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

18. Indiana Pacers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

19. San Antonio Spurs: Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga

20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Talen Horton-Tucker, SG/SF, Iowa State

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

22. Boston Celtics: Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn

23. Utah Jazz: Nassir Little, SF/PF, North Carolina

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

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets): Mfiondu Kabengele, PF/C, Florida State

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets): KZ Okpala, SF/PF, Stanford

28. Golden State Warriors: Ty Jerome, PG/SG, Virginia

29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Isaiah Roby, PF/C, Nebraska


Zion Williamson to New Orleans Pelicans

With Anthony Davis wanting a ticket of out town—yes, even after the Pelicans' lottery jackpot—this franchise needed a centerpiece in the worst kind of way. Opening a path to Williamson feels like a gift from the basketball gods.

He's exciting. He's marketable. And he's really, really good at basketball.

Casual fans might know him most for his highlight hammers and unique blend of size and athleticism, but his skill set ranks right near the top of his most attractive attributes. It took more than incredible physical gifts to average 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks as an 18-year-old college freshman.

It's tough to tell what he'll join in New Orleans, since the Davis situation is unsettled and several key contributors are entering free agency. But assuming Williamson winds up next to Jrue Holiday, the two should thrive as transition attackers, versatile defenders and pick-and-roll partners.


Ja Morant to Memphis Grizzlies

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 16: Ja Morant speaks with the media during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 16, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using t
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Grizzlies have taken several years to completely move free of the grit-and-grind era. Now, they finally have their succession plan to move on from longtime lead guard Mike Conley.

Morant is a much different type of floor general. His combination of explosive athleticism and unwavering aggressiveness makes him more akin to Russell Westbrook.

If the Grizzlies keep Conley around for a bit—there's already trade chatter—he might teach the 19-year-old a thing or two about decision-making and defending with a purpose.

But Morant's natural gifts give the Grizzlies something Conley never could. For a team that once celebrated its style of playing in the mud, this could become the go-go Grizz with the jet-propelled Morant running the show.

Look for Memphis to push the tempo whenever possible and then subsist on a half-court diet of Morant-Jaren Jackson Jr. pick plays. Morant can explode off screens to get to the rack or drive-and-dish to a shooter, while Jackson shines as both a floor-spacing popper and an above-the-rim roller.


R.J. Barrett to New York Knicks

Barrett might not be the Blue Devil that 'Bockers backers wanted, but he's quite the consolation prize.

"He'd represent the highest upside player on the board, which is where the Knicks need to look," The Athletic's Sam Vecenie wrote. "He's the first high-major player to average 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists—and he did it as an 18-year-old freshman who reclassified into the 2018 recruiting class."

Not even a year ago, Barrett was viewed as the top player in this class. Scouts raved about his size, competitiveness, polish and instincts. All were on constant display during his one-and-done campaign at Duke.

The Knicks are a team in transition, which makes it tricky to gauge Barrett's fit. But he looks he'd work with any iteration.

If they strike out in free agency, he can emerge as the alpha scorer and secondary playmaker of this young core. If they hit it big (like, Kevin Durant- and Kyrie Irving-big), he'd work as a complementary scorer and shooter, and he could run the show when the stars need a breather.


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