NBA Draft 2019: Mock Draft and Teams That Could Make Surprising Selections

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 3, 2019

Oregon center Bol Bol runs down court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa in the 2K Empire Classic, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Every year in the build to the NBA draft, we think we have a good idea of what teams are going to do.

Without fail in every draft, a few franchises always seem to surprise with baffling picks that either feature players who were projected to be selected much lower or international prospects unknown to most casual fans. 

The New York Knicks feel synonymous with surprising picks because of how unhappy their fans typically are with the selections, but they have done much better in the draft in recent years. 

A year ago, there were not many shocking picks at the top of the first round, but there was a surprising trade in which Dallas and Atlanta exchanged Luka Doncic and Trae Young. 


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 (from Dallas): 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 (from Sacramento): 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 (from Los Angeles Clippers): 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 (from Houston): Nic Claxton, C, Georgia

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

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

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

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


Teams That Could Make Surprising Selections

Washington Wizards 

Washington sits in an interesting position with its roster. 

John Wall is working his way back from an Achilles injury, and Bradley Beal has been in and out of trade rumors with free agency coming on the horizon in 2021. 

The Wizards made a surprising move at the trade deadline this season by sending Otto Porter, one of the promising young players on the roster, to Chicago in exchange for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. 

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Washington is far away from being a contender in the Eastern Conference, and it could face a tough fight just to get into the playoffs next season if everything goes right.

With that being the case, the Wizards could go after a player who needs a year or two to develop in order to put the focus on the future. 

Texas big man Jaxson Hayes and Oregon center Bol Bol fit that description as well as Indiana guard Romeo Langford, who struggled for stretches in his freshman season. 

A year ago, the Wizards took Troy Brown out of Oregon with the 15th overall pick, and he did not produce much with 4.8 points per game in 52 contests. 

The best-case scenario for the Wizards could feature taking a long-term project at No. 9 to partner with Brown and possible assets in a Beal trade if they are fully committed to revamping the roster. 

There is no guarantee the Wizards follow through with this plan, but attempting a rebuild with young players seems better than getting stuck in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference with the same roster for years to come. 


Boston Celtics 

Boston has the most freedom to take risks because it possesses three first-round draft picks. 

The flexibility in the draft allows the Celtics to make an unexpected selection at either No. 14, No. 20 or No. 22. 

Once the draft gets past the first six or seven picks, the range for prospects to be selected is wide open, and the picks could be determined on positional needs or upside. 

The Celtics should use one of their picks on a prospect with plenty of upside who can turn into a contributor in a few years with help from the coaching staff. 

Given the amount of high-profile freshmen in the draft, the Celtics could go after someone like Langford, Bol or USC's Kevin Porter Jr. and develop them after they went through frustrating seasons in college. 

Boston could go to the international route and take Goga Bitadze at No. 14, which would be a surprise since most experts have him landing in the 20s. 

TBILISI, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 03: Goga Bitadze of Georgia shoots the ball during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifier match between Georgia and Israel at Tbilisi Sports Palace on December 3, 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Levan Verdzeu
Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images

The same strategy could be employed at No. 20 and No. 22 with a player like Luka Samanic in mind.

Boston could use its three picks on players who can either be contributors right away or pieces in a potential trade for Anthony Davis. 

Since the Celtics can't trade for Davis until July 1, when Kyrie Irving's deal officially comes off the books if he opts out, they could be in contact with New Orleans about players the Pelicans would be interested in at the back end of the first round. 

If that is the case, the Celtics could make some surprising moves by either drafting a set of players at similar positions or a projected early second-round pick who the Pelicans have an eye on. 

No matter what the case is on draft night, the Celtics sit in an intriguing position and have the most to gain of the teams picking outside the top five. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.