NBA Mock Draft 2019: 1st-Round Predictions and Elite Prospects Breakdown

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2019

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23:  Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers attempts a free throw against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The top three picks in the 2019 NBA draft are basically set in stone.

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett are the consensus first, second and third selections, respectively, on nearly all mock draft boards.

But after that, it's a virtual game of musical chairs, with prospect names moving up and down the list by the minute with little to no certainty on who will land where.

Here's the latest iteration of projected landing spots for this year's draft class and a look at the elite prospects who will hear league commissioner Adam Silver call their name on June 20.


The 2019 #NBADraftLottery order is set. https://t.co/PEbqipMVFL

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: Nassir Little, SF/PF, North Carolina 

9. Washington Wizards: Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, France 

10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks): Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas 

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cam Reddish, SG/SF, Duke 

12. Charlotte Hornets: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

13. Miami Heat: PJ Washington, PF/C, Kentucky 

14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings): Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga

15. Detroit Pistons: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana 

16. Orlando Magic: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC 

17. Brooklyn Nets: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

18. Indiana Pacers: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky 

19. San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Kentucky

20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington 

22. Boston Celtics: Chuma Okeke, PF, Auburn

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

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

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

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: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Luka Samanic, F, Olimpija

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia


Top-Five Breakdown

1. New Orleans Pelicans—Zion Williamson

With the imminent departure of the New Orleans Pelicans' franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis, the right to draft another generational player in Williamson at No. 1 couldn't have come at a better time.

The consensus top pick has drawn nearly every superlative to describe his talents as a basketball prospect, but perhaps his own words paint the best picture.

"The world hasn't seen anything like me yet," Williamson said in an NBA.com draft profile video.

Analysts and experts have tried to compare the Duke superstar, who considers his game to be "powerful, but smooth at the same time," to a wide range of NBA legends, but none of them seem to stick because of his unique athletic gifts.

"I don't like being compared to other people," he added. "I want to be the first Zion and the last Zion."

The Pels have a new general manager in David Griffin who wants to reverse the team's fortunes, and he'll have a much easier road ahead luring other players with Williamson as the foundation.

The 2019 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact, so look for him to be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award.


2. Memphis Grizzlies—Ja Morant

Morant is a mainstay on mocks to be taken at the No. 2 spot in the draft, but his knee surgery may shed some doubt on that.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Murray State point guard underwent a "minor scope on his right knee to remove a loose body."

Morant is expected to fully recover in less than four weeks, but according to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Memphis selecting the floor general isn't as much of a guaranteed outcome as previously expected.

"There are few sure things in any draft," Givony wrote. "After I reported a couple of weeks ago from the combine that the Memphis Grizzlies informed interested parties that they intend to select Murray State's Ja Morant at No. 2, Memphis has been sending out some mixed messages. The Grizzlies' ownership group is still telling people around the league that the team is locked in on Morant, but the front office has requested to have Barrett in for a private workout—something he has declined but might revisit over the next three weeks, sources told ESPN."

If the Grizzlies pass on Morant, that would mean they'd take Barrett, who entered the season as the projected No. 1 pick—so he's no consolation prize.

But should Memphis take Morant, that would signal the end of the Mike Conley era with an eye on improved ball movement going forward.

In either case, Morant will be the kind of player a team can build around.


3. New York Knicks—RJ Barrett

After the Knicks lost out on the Zion sweepstakes, it was widely assumed they would focus on taking Barrett off the board with their No. 3 pick.

But New York has no choice but to react to what Memphis does.

Barrett refused to workout for the Grizz, but that doesn't mean they won't still call his name.

Still, the Knicks have to proceed as if the mocks are correct and Morant will go No. 2.

To that end, Barrett will be meeting with New York next week, according to Wojnarowski.

The native Canadian won't be enough to revitalize Knicks basketball in the Mecca, but it would be a good start.

Depending on who New York lands in free agency this summer, Barrett will either be brought along slowly or thrown into the fire.

At Duke, he averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists even with Williamson on the floor, so he's definitely a great player who should be NBA-ready, so he'll do fine no matter what.


4. Los Angeles Lakers—De'Andre Hunter

For the Lakers, the mission is surrounding LeBron James with players who complement his playing style and passing abilities.

That's where Hunter comes in.

He's not known for creating his own shot, but he showed in the championship game that he can hit the open shot from deep.

Hunter hit 4-of-5 from behind the arc and finished with a game-high 27 points to help win Virginia its first-ever title.

For his sophomore campaign with the Wahoos, he shot 43.8 percent from three, which could make him a good fit in L.A.

There's a good chance the Lakers use their No. 4 in a trade, but if they don't, Hunter could be headed West, where he'll learn how to be a pro under one of the best to ever do it.


5. Cleveland CavaliersJarrett Culver

Culver came up short against Virginia in the NCAA tourney, but he still showed flashes of great play throughout March Madness.

The Cavs are in free-fall since James bolted to L.A., so they need players who can create their own shot and make an immediate impact.

Culver has that potential, but he will need to develop a more dependable outside shot as he only averaged 30.4 percent from three last year.

The Texas Tech star can still fill it up, though. He averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per outing for the Red Raiders and showed he can play big when the lights shine brightest.

Culver is also a great defender, which is a skill that could keep him on the floor while he continues to develop as an offensive threat.

Look for him to make a strong run at the NBA All-Rookie First Team.


Follow Maurice Bobb on Twitter, @ReeseReport

Statistics used courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, NBA.com and KenPom.com