NBA Mock Draft 2019: 1st-Round Predictions and Wild-Card Prospects to Watch

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 7, 2019

USC guard Kevin Porter Jr., center, goes up for a basket between Colorado guards Tyler Bey, left, and McKinley Wright IV during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

As the 2019 NBA draft approaches, we are familiar with a majority of the lottery selections from watching them throughout the men's college basketball season. 

While plenty of prospects are known because of the abilities showcased on the collegiate level, there are some wild cards we do not know much about. 

The wild cards are players who did not rise to the occasion much when the spotlight was on them during the college season, or international prospects who we have not seen up close. 

Because of a variety of factors, the wild cards in the 2019 draft class could land in a wide range of selections in the first round on June 20. 


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: PJ 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: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

17. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn): Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga

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


Wild-card Prospects to Watch

Kevin Porter Jr., USC 

The combination of Kevin Porter Jr.'s suspension in January from USC and the dip in form across the entire Pac-12 makes him more of an unknown than other prospects expected to be taken in the first round.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 23: Kevin Porter Jr. #4 of the USC Trojans looking on against the Oregon State Beavers during a college basketball game at Galen Center on February 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

While he may not be a familiar name to NBA fans, front-office personnel and coaching staffs are more than aware of his skill set. 

According to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, Porter likely would have been a top-10 pick if he remained at USC and entered the 2020 NBA draft. 

Hughes also noted Porter is raw on both sides of the floor, and he needs to land with a team that has a good player development staff. 

Porter is a wild-card prospect because there is a wide range of where he could land in the first round, and he appears to be a boom-or-bust project that will not burst through on the NBA scene right away. 

When he was on the court at USC, Porter averaged 9.5 points per game, shot 41.2 percent from three-point range and struggled at the free-throw line at 51.2 percent. 

Porter's first-round status will also fluctuate because of concerns about his suspension. Porter addressed that at the NBA Combine, per David Wilson of the Miami Herald.

"I feel like people go through things," Porter said. "Me being my age, I was very immature and I matured from that, and I feel like it was something I needed and I don’t regret it at all. It was definitely an experiences I needed, just a reality check of where I’m at as a person."

Realistically, Porter could land at the back end of the lottery if a team like Charlotte or Miami wants to take a chance on him. 

But the ideal situation for Porter could be with a playoff contender that has a strong coaching staff with the patience needed to develop him. 

Boston would be ideal in that case since it has three picks, but Detroit, Orlando and Atlanta could be likely destinations for Porter if they are sold on him.

If not, Porter might experience a slide into the 20s because there are other shooting guard options, like Tyler Herro, Romeo Langford and Nickeil Alexander-Walker expected to be available in that range. 


Goga Bitadze, Republic of Georgia 

It would not be a surprise to see Goga Bitadze surge up the draft board in the next week or two once teams develop a full scouting report on him. 

As ESPN.com's Mike Schmitz pointed out, Bitadze's shot-blocking ability stands out for someone his age. 

According to ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony, Bitadze has an excellent skill level on offense, and his combination of size and reach make him an intriguing prospect. 

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

Givony has Bitadze landing with the San Antonio Spurs at No. 19, which makes sense from a few angles. 

The Spurs need a young big man on their roster, and they have had plenty of success during the Gregg Popovich era with international players. 

The center out of the Republic of Georgia recently won the MVP of the Serbian Super League at Buducnost, and he has racked up plenty more honors during his rise in Europe. 

Of course, the Spurs feel like the natural fit, but if a team sitting a few picks above San Antonio likes what Bitadze brings to the court, he could land in the top 15. 

Another intriguing option for Bitadze could be Boston at either No. 20 or No. 22, as the Celtics try to add an inside presence to their budding young core. 


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