NBA Mock Draft 2019: 1st-Round Predictions and Safest Prospects in Class

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Zion Williamson is the safest player in the NBA draft, but who else fits the description?
Zion Williamson is the safest player in the NBA draft, but who else fits the description?Sean Rayford/Associated Press

No matter which name is written on the card, there's always an element of risk during the NBA draft.

While a red flag may accompany a player with an unfortunate history of injuries, "foreseeable" and "predictable" are two different things. Other factors that affect NBA playerssuch as maturity and other mental aspectscan't always be measured.

Still, after months of evaluation, numerous conversations and maybe an interview or two, NBA decision-makers may decide a certain prospect is a safe pick.

Though that conclusion may seem antithetical to the randomness of the draft, scouting reports can explain the "safe" feeling.


2019 NBA Mock Draft

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


RJ Barrett, Duke

Production is the easiest way to attract attention, and RJ Barrett has consistently filled box scores during his pre-NBA years.

At Duke, he averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Barrett was most effective as a slasher, showing off an ability to change speed and attack the rim at different angles. Throw in his vision, and Barrett looks like a constant threat on offense.

"He's a guy you can put out there and be a playmaker," an anonymous coach told Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. "He'll absorb some contact and be a finisher. His finishing is not going to be a question."

Combine that praise of his offense with an ideal framehe's 6'6" in shoes with a 6'9" wingspanand it's easy to understand why Barrett is considered a top-three lock.

Being a high-volume scorer doesn't guarantee NBA success, and his 30.8 three-point clip is a concern. But even if Barrett doesn't develop into a superstar, his overall skill set suggests he'll provide a regular impact as a ball-handler.


Jaxson Hayes, Texas

"Length" and "athleticism" are two favorite buzzwords of draft analysts. Jaxson Hayes is elite in both categories.

During the NBA Draft Combine, he stood 6'11½" in shoes with a 7'3½" wingspan and 9'2½" standing reach. ESPN's Jonathan Givony provided the full measurements.

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Texas's Jaxson Hayes official measurements at the NBA Combine: 6'11 1/2 with shoes, 219 pounds, 7'3 1/2 wingspan, 9'2 1/2 standing reach (😮), 5% body fat.

Throughout his lone season at Texas, Hayes dazzled as a rim protector with 2.2 blocks per game. Plus, he shot 72.8 percent overall and 74 percent at the free-throw line. Hayes is still growing into his frame but shows excellent movement and reliable hands. 

"He just kept getting better and better," said college coach Shaka Smart, per Chris Dortch of NBA.com. "There's no reason to think he won't continue to do that."

Although Hayes is best described as an upside pick, his baseline skills are an efficient finisher and elite shot-blocker. That'll work.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.