The 2018-19 NBA season is nearing its completion. The Toronto Raptors have gone up 3-1 over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and could put the series away Monday night. If they do, then it will officially be time to turn the page to the offseason.
The 28 teams who didn't make the finals have already moved on and are preparing for the draft—which is scheduled for June 20. Teams have been busy evaluating this year's prospects, both on film and through private workouts.
Here, we'll examine some of the latest buzz surrounding the 2019 NBA draft and take a look at how the first round might unfold.
2019 NBA 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: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Phoenix Suns: De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
7. Chicago Bulls: Cam Reddish, SG, Duke
8. Atlanta Hawks: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
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): Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
23. Utah Jazz: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Herro, 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: Dylan Windler, SG/SF, Belmont
29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina
Does Darius Garland Have a Promise From the Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers have an interesting decision to make at the No. 4 spot—assuming Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett are the first three players off the board. They could target a strong two-way player like Virginia's De'Andre Hunter and Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver or a shooter like Vanderbilt's Darius Garland.
There are a couple of reasons to believe that Garland could be the pick. The Lakers need shooters around LeBron James, and Garland and James are both represented by Klutch Sports—Garland even recently posted a video of the two working out together.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders believes the Lakers may have already promised to take Garland at No. 4 if he's available:
This could always be a bit of a smokescreen, of course, and there's no telling what the Lakers might do if a player like Barrett falls out of the top three. Los Angeles may be quick to scoop up—or possibly trade—a player with the NBA star potential that Barrett appears to have.
As things stand, Garland does seem to be a logical choice for the Lakers.
Jarrett Culver Selling His Defensive Prowess to the Knicks
If Barrett does somehow fall to the Lakers at No. 4, it will likely be because the New York Knicks decided to take Culver over him at No. 3. The Knicks are at least weighing the option, as the team brought him in for a predraft workout.
At that workout, Culver did his best to sell his defensive capabilities to the franchise.
"Nowadays, it's hard to find people who take pride in defense," Culver said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. "But I'm one of them. I take pride in defense. Being at Texas Tech taught me a lot, so I feel like on the defensive side, I'm elite."
While the Knicks may become sold on Culver's ability to impact the defensive end of the court as a rookie, it may be a harder sell to the fanbase. Offense still drives ticket sales in the NBA, and Barrett is one of the top offensive playmakers in this draft.
A lot may come down to New York's confidence in its free-agency plans. If the Knicks truly believe they can land an offensive star like Kyrie Irving or even Kevin Durant, then it will be a whole lot easier to justify drafting for defense later this month.
Cavaliers Could Surprise at No. 5
While there will be a little bit of drama surrounding the third and fourth picks in the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the potential to really rattle the draft picture at No. 5. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers won't only consider guys like Hunter, Garland and Culver with the fifth overall selection.
"Much like they did with their recent coaching search, the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to cast a wide net when it comes to the fifth overall pick and will consider wild cards Kevin Porter Jr. and Bol Bol at that spot, league sources told Cleveland.com," Fedor wrote last month.
Neither Porter nor Bol are considered top-five targets at this point in the predraft process. The USC guard was suspended indefinitely this past season due to personal conduct issues, while the Oregon center is coming off a season shortened by a foot injury.
For Bol, the goal leading up to the draft is to prove that he is healthy. For Porter, it's to prove that he has the mental makeup of a reliable NBA starter.
"They know I can play; they want me mentally locked in for every single workout," Porter recently said of NBA veterans Jamal Crawford and Dejounte Murray—who have been advising him—per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Porter and Bol are definitely wild cards for Cleveland, but they're worth keeping an eye on.