2019 NBA Mock Draft: Who Sits Behind Zion Williamson and This Year's Big 3?
With roughly three weeks before the NBA draft, teams are continuing to gather information and set their boards as they work out and interview prospects.
Some could already be strengthening their draft cases to front offices by showcasing skills or personality that didn't always pop during the regular season.
The top three picks should be set, even if a blockbuster trade shakes up the order. Uncertainty begins at No. 4 with the Los Angeles Lakers, whose move will create a domino effect for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
The decision to select Zion Williamson should be locked in. Now, the New Orleans Pelicans will make their best pitch to Anthony Davis about staying and building alongside one of the game's top prospects.
Assuming Davis' trade demand holds, however, the Pelicans should still have more scouting to do, as there is a good chance an offer comes in from New York that includes the No. 3 pick.
If management is adamant about not negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers and Davis refuses to commit long term to the Boston Celtics—another suitor with assets—then the Pelicans may at least have to consider talking trade with the Knicks.
Using New York's third pick, New Orleans would then be able to draft RJ Barrett to pair with Williamson and reestablish their chemistry and success from Duke.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant (Murray State, PG, Sophomore)
ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported on May 15 that the Memphis Grizzlies are focused on selecting Ja Morant.
It makes sense—we previously pointed out the mutually beneficial fit between prospect and team. Depending on how long Memphis keeps Mike Conley, Morant will eventually take over to inject the Grizzlies offense with speed and playmaking.
It could also be wise for the Grizzlies to keep Conley for mentorship purposes, as Morant's decision-making and defense need work.
Either way, with or without Conley, Morant is loaded with upside fueled by explosiveness and elite passing skills.
3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
The New York Knicks will look into others like Jarrett Culver and possibly Darius Garland, but they'll circle back to RJ Barrett as the obvious choice.
They're also likely to throw this pick into trade packages, specifically one for Anthony Davis. An offer that features No. 3 overall plus Kevin Knox and/or Mitchell Robinson could be attractive if New Orleans isn't loving its other options.
New York could also make an offer to the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal, though there isn't evidence of any proposals or interest from either side.
The most likely scenario still has the Knicks drafting Barrett, who'll either have a forgiving place to develop behind stars or a chance to immediately be a top option—depending on how management does during free agency.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, PG, Freshman)
The intrigue around Darius Garland continues to build, particularly after he dropped out of the combine.
Whispers of a promise are making the rounds, but it's sounding possible that the Los Angeles Lakers take him before any promise can be fulfilled.
Depending on the New Orleans Pelicans' willingness to deal with L.A., the Pelicans could also be the team making this selection.
Either way, there is a decent chance it winds up being Garland, who averaged 19.8 points through four games before tearing his meniscus.
The Lakers could view him as trade bait, insurance for the often-injured Lonzo Ball or a fit for his three-point shooting.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Cam Reddish (Duke, SF, Freshman)
Position won't matter to the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose decision should focus on talent over need. Workouts will help Cam Reddish convince Cleveland to overlook his shooting percentages for long-term potential.
It's also possible Reddish would benefit from having more touches and no pressure in Cleveland after he struggled as a third or fourth option for the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed.
With Paul George-like positional tools and plenty of shot-making skill from NBA range, Reddish will have a good chance to ease concerns over the next month. At worst, the Cavaliers should see a potential three-and-D wing to play between Collin Sexton and Kevin Love.
6. Phoenix Suns: De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, SF/PF, Sophomore)
If the Phoenix Suns miss out on Garland, they'll have to decide whether Coby White, another point guard who'd fill a need, is worth this pick. However, instead of adding a rookie ball-handler to a lineup that will be looking for results next year, Phoenix would likely settle on De'Andre Hunter here.
He'd plug a different hole at power forward with three-and-D for a team that ranked last in the league in three-point percentage and No. 29 in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.
The Suns may ultimately be better off looking for veteran point guards in free agency. Meanwhile, Hunter, a low-maintenance player, can fill in immediately and add toughness, versatility and floor spacing.
7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White (North Carolina, PG, Freshman)
Unless the Chicago Bulls are firm believers in Culver as the best player available, they should upgrade at point guard.
His ability to spot up and play off the ball should also be beneficial in a lineup featuring Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr. and scoring bigs who the offense will run through as well.
8. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech, SG, Sophomore)
Jarrett Culver shouldn't mind sliding to No. 8 if it means joining the rising Atlanta Hawks.
Texas Tech's breakout sophomore would be a fit next to Trae Young for his two-point scoring and defense. Culver also has the chance to win back some trust during workouts after his three-point percentage took an unexpected dip this season.
Atlanta may ultimately benefit from the Chicago Bulls needing a point guard and Hunter outplaying Culver in the national title game. Because adding a two-way wing and shot-creator next to Kevin Huerter seems ideal for the Hawks.
9. Washington Wizards: Jaxson Hayes (Texas, C, Freshman)
With uncertainty surrounding the Washington Wizards following John Wall's injury and the Otto Porter Jr. trade, Jaxson Hayes makes sense as a low-risk, sure-thing option. He'll fit and add value, regardless of how the front office moves forward rebuilding the roster.
He'd give Washington an athletic rim runner whose size, mobility, motor, efficiency (72.8 percent FG) and production (3.8 blocks per 40) at Texas suggest the easy baskets and defense will carry over.
Depending on the team's willingness to trade Beal, Washington could also look at guards and wings. Either way, the Wizards should feel confident about leaving the draft with a new starting rim protector.
10. Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks): Sekou Doumbouya (France, SF/PF, 2000)
A 34-point eruption on May 18 should have helped Sekou Doumbouya's case to the Atlanta Hawks, who have two top-10 picks.
He shouldn't even feel like a gamble, as he's an 18-year-old, 6'9", 230-pound starter in France's top league. Doumbouya continues to flash expanding scoring versatility with three-point shooting, slashes and occasional pull-ups.
With a second lottery pick, the Hawks should be inclined to bet on the draft's youngest prospect, whose offense keeps improving and defensive tools are suited for guarding multiple positions.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, SF/PF, Junior)
Rui Hachimura must have been advised to skip the NBA combine, which has naturally led to speculation about a promise.
Could the Minnesota Timberwolves have given his camp some assurance? The Wolves need extra scoring from both forward spots, and Hachimura just averaged 19.7 points on 59.1 percent shooting from the field.
Without a point guard worth taking at No. 11, Minnesota could look to trade up for Garland or White. Otherwise, it could select Hachimura, who'll be in the late-lottery mix for certain teams even though scouts are seemingly split on him.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga, PF/C, Junior)
Kemba Walker's impending free agency won't have any impact on who the Charlotte Hornets target in the draft.
They were quick to work out Brandon Clarke, who'd quickly give them a shot of bounce and defense. He's earned a spot in the lottery discussion after he shot 68.7 percent from the field and blocked 4.5 shots per 40 minutes.
Though already 22 years old, Clarke comes off as a low-risk option and a strong bet to add value as a high-level energy player on both ends of the floor.
13. Miami Heat: Nassir Little (North Carolina, SF/PF, Freshman)
Once the top names start flying off the board, teams will start looking into Nassir Little and past his unproductive season. Scouts sound willing enough to chalk up the quiet year to a poor fit coming off North Carolina's bench.
He's still more of a project than an immediate answer, but Little has a tremendous physical profile (6'6", 224 pounds) and a skill set that includes driving and pull-up shooting.
He'll help restore his credibility during workouts, assuming his jump shot and ball-handling look more fluid.
14. Boston Celtics (via Kings): PJ Washington (Kentucky, PF, Sophomore)
The Boston Celtics could see a positionless prospect in PJ Washington, whose improved conditioning and shooting—plus that 7'2¼" wingspan—might allow head coach Brad Stevens to play him at multiple spots on the floor.
Despite Kentucky's loss to Auburn in the NCAA tournament, he finished strong with 28 points, 13 rebounds, two threes, two steals and two blocks.
Washington took a sizable step forward this season. Though a lack of explosion and shot-creating skill hint at a lower ceiling, the Celtics could detect value in the middle of the first round for his high floor and fit.
15. Detroit Pistons: Goga Bitadze (Georgia, C, 1999)
Bitadze has made it to the U.S. for workouts after torching the Serbian League in May (19.8 points per game). His scoring has really taken off with his improved three-point shooting and finishing versatility in the paint. Whoever drafts Bitadze will just have to worry about teams targeting him defensively with pick-and-rolls.
16. Orlando Magic: Romeo Langford (Indiana, SG, Freshman)
Landford can help himself during workouts by shooting well and squashing concern over his 27.2 percent three-point clip. Otherwise, his positional tools, shot-creating skill and finishing ability say he's capable of developing into a quality starting 2-guard.
17. Brooklyn Nets: Bol Bol (Oregon, C, Freshman)
At some point, the potential reward with Bol becomes worth the risk tied to the stress fracture in his foot and his 208-pound frame. With the ability to shoot threes and specialty jumpers, he'd give the Nets offense a different look than Jarrett Allen. If Bol can hold up physically, he could become a steal outside the lottery.
18. Indiana Pacers: Kevin Porter Jr. (USC, SG, Freshman)
An explosive scorer with strong defensive tools, Porter possesses both lottery talent and flashy skills in terms of shot creation and shot-making. The question marks focus on his shot selection and mentality.
19. San Antonio Spurs: Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State, C, Sophomore)
Powerful, long and athletic with improving shooting range, Kabengele has risen into the first-round mix, particularly after he averaged 17 points through three NCAA tournament games. Workouts can now act as a launching pad since he'd been forced to come off the bench for consecutive seasons at Florida State.
20. Boston Celtics (via Clippers): Tyler Herro (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Celtics could always use shooters to surround their core scorers, and Herro is bound to wow during workouts with his textbook form and effortless range.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Matisse Thybulle (Washington, SF, Senior)
Andre Roberson's injury woes could inspire the Thunder to draft another defensive specialist. Thybulle has built a reputation with his playmaking instincts and reads, finishing his senior year averaging 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks.
22. Boston Celtics: Keldon Johnson (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
With questions about Johnson's ball-handling and shooting but promise tied to his downhill scoring ability, set shots and defensive potential, he figures to earn consideration in the tier that follows the lottery. Even if his ceiling is limited, he'd give Boston a tough competitor—though it's also possible the Celtics trade their third first-rounder.
23. Utah Jazz: Cameron Johnson (North Carolina, SF, Senior)
One of the most convincing shooters in the draft, Johnson has a bankable skill that could allow Utah to overlook his age (23) and limited upside. The Jazz would view him as an appealing value pick capable of contributing on a rookie contract, especially since Kyle Korver offered little in the playoffs.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Grant Williams (Tennessee, PF, Junior)
Williams may have lost some supporters at the combine when he struggled to make shots against second-round prospects during scrimmages. However, one team is bound to be sold on his intangibles, skill level from the post as a scorer or passer and excellent defensive instincts.
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Luka Samanic (Croatia, PF, 2000)
Samanic may have earned a guaranteed NBA contract by separating himself during Thursday's scrimmage at the combine in Chicago. The 6'11" forward checks the right boxes with three-point range, the ability to face up and handle and a knack for sliding defensively.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets): Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Alexander-Walker regressed as the season progressed, but he'll still draw first-round interest for his offensive versatility. He improved his ball-screen playmaking (4.0 assists per game) while still making 1.7 threes per game.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets): Chuma Okeke (Auburn, PF, Sophomore)
This late, Okeke could be viewed as a value pick who may have gone earlier had he not torn an ACL. His injury stopped a breakout season that saw the 6'8", 230-pound forward raise his draft stock with three-point shooting, defensive versatility and a strong NCAA tournament.
28. Golden State Warriors: Bruno Fernando (Maryland, C, Sophomore)
The Warriors may look to Fernando for his physical presence around the basket. Though still limited as a scorer, he improved his passing and defensive reads. He'll want to follow in Montrezl Harrell's footprints toward elite energizer status.
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): KZ Okpala (Stanford, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Okpala raised his scoring average to 16.8 points as a sophomore and still has significant room to improve his shot creation and shooting. He'll be hit or miss with upside fueled by positional size (6'9", 210 pounds) and scoring versatility but no established skills to bank on.
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Isaiah Roby (Nebraska, PF, Junior)
Roby had a strong second scrimmage at the combine, and staying in the draft would likely mean he received some positive assurance about his stock. He's still raw and lacks physicality, but he's developed into a versatile, inside-out scorer with stretch-big potential.