NBA Mock Draft 2019: Opening-Round Predictions and Rising Prospects to Watch

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 3, 2019

North Carolina's Nassir Little (5) dribbles while Florida State's M.J. Walker (23) chases during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Over the next few weeks, NBA draft prospects whose first-round projections are not set in stone will do their best improve their stock in front of NBA personnel. 

Whether it be through pro days, individual workouts or one-on-one meetings, the top players in the draft class have opportunities to improve their stock ahead of June 20. 

Plenty of players have already made a good impression on potential suitors, which has led to rises up the draft boards of many NBA franchises. 

A few did so through their work at the NBA Draft Combine, while others have turned heads on the court in smaller workout groups. 

                          

2019 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

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

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

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

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

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

6. Phoenix Suns: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

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

8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SG, Duke

9. Washington Wizards: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

10. Atlanta Hawks: Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

12. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Washington, SF, Kentucky

13. Miami Heat: Jaxson Hayes, PF/C, Texas

14. Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

15. Detroit Pistons: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC 

16. Orlando Magic: Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga

17. Brooklyn Nets: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

18. Indiana Pacers: Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia

19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, C, Republic of Georgia

20. Boston Celtics: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

23. Utah Jazz: Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

24. Philadelphia 76ers: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nic Claxton, C, Georgia

27. Brooklyn Nets: Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

28. Golden State Warriors: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina

29. San Antonio Spurs: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Dylan Windler, SG/SF, Belmont

                    

Rising Prospects to Watch

Nassir Little, North Carolina

Nassir Little entered North Carolina as one of the top high school recruits, but he was not able to become a significant producer in the scoring column until midway through the season. 

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Little came up with 39 total points in the first two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but he only scored four points when the Tar Heels were eliminated by Auburn in the Sweet 16. 

During the predraft process, Little has been able to impress teams with the versatility in his game, which has led to a rise on draft boards, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News

Like many of the players in the draft class who spent one year in college, Little has plenty to work on in order to become a complete player. 

However, he has the upside and physical build that intrigues teams enough for him to surge into the back part of the lottery. 

The teams in the second half of the lottery have different needs to fill, but they could draft on upside in order to let the player develop. 

Washington could be a landing spot for Little since it is a team that needs to get younger in order to bolster its core around John Wall

In order to justify his high selection, Little must work on his outside shooting, as he shot just 26.9 percent from three-point range in his freshman season. 

If he is able to improve on the shortcomings in his game, Little could turn into one of the steals of the draft. 

                               

P.J. Washington, Kentucky

P.J. Washington benefited from a second year at Kentucky, as he established himself as the top scorer on a roster chock full of talent. 

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Washington is drawing eyes from teams in the lottery, including the Miami Heat, who select at No. 13. 

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat are bringing in Washington for an individual workout. 

Part of the reason Washington is meeting with the Heat is Pat Riley's infatuation with Kentucky players. 

The Heat selected Bam Adebayo with their first-round pick in 2017 and are also set to bring in Tyler Herro for a predraft workout. 

In recent years, Miami has drafted players from some of men's college basketball's top programs, including Justise Winslow from Duke and Josh Richardson from Tennessee in 2015.

Not only does Washington fit into Miami's recent draft trend, but he could be a difference-maker for the Heat down low. 

Washington improved on his skill in the paint with 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, and he came alive in February and March with 14 double-digit point performances and three double-doubles. 

It is likely Washington will be available to the Heat at No. 13, but if he continues to impress in the predraft process, Minnesota or Charlotte could swoop him up as they look to build toward a postseason berth by adding a polished paint player.

                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Sports Reference.

Related

    Nunn Breakout Not an Accident

    He studied Steph and KD. His work ethic impresses Jimmy Butler. It’s no surprise Kendrick Nunn is thriving ➡️

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Nunn Breakout Not an Accident

    Jake Fischer
    via Bleacher Report

    Case Against DeMarcus Cousins Dismissed

    Third-degree harassment charges against Lakers center have been dropped (Woj)

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Case Against DeMarcus Cousins Dismissed

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Picking Every Team's Biggest Underachiever So Far

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Picking Every Team's Biggest Underachiever So Far

    Dan Favale
    via Bleacher Report

    LeBron Gave Lakers His 'Blessing' to Sign Melo

    Anthony had the blessing of James, league sources told Yahoo Sports, but the front office chose to go in a different direction

    NBA logo
    NBA

    LeBron Gave Lakers His 'Blessing' to Sign Melo

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report