NBA Mock Draft 2019: 1st-Round Predictions for Fastest Rising Prospects

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Darius Garland #10 of the Vanderbilt Commodores handles the ball against the USC Trojans during a game at The Galen Center on November 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Cassy Athena/Getty Images

The NBA lost Kevin Durant, the presumptive next player to be crowned "best player in the world," to an apparent Achilles injury during the Golden State Warriors' 106-105 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday night, and the basketball world is numb from processing all of the raw emotion from his thrilling yet saddeningly short-lived comeback.

But the show must go on, and teams still have to prepare for the draft, which happens June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

There's a general consensus on the top three picks: Zion Williamson at No. 1, Ja Morant at No. 2 and RJ Barrett at No. 3.

From there, though, it's anybody's guess as to what players will come off the board the rest of the way.

As league front offices scramble to gather all of the last-minute data on potential prospects, whom they'll select with their respective picks remains a game-time decision.

Here's a look at the latest first-round mock and the players who are on the rise as the big day draws nearer.

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2019 NBA 1st-Round 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: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

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

6. Phoenix Suns: De'Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia

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


Rising Prospects

Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

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There's a lot of mystery surrounding what the Los Angeles Lakers will do with their No. 4 pick.

Ideally, they'd like to package it in a trade to get their most-coveted player, Anthony Davis. If that falls through, they'd likely need to get the best possible prospect who either helps them or has the best trade value moving forward.

That player could be Darius Garland.

The Vanderbilt freshman went down early this year with a left knee injury, but before that, he was touted as the best point guard in his class.

Morant leap-frogged the 6'2" Nashville, Tennessee, native with the sensational sophomore season he had at Murray State, but Garland is still the next best lead guard in this draft.

Before missing most of the season, the former McDonald's All-American was averaging 16.2 points (47.8 percent from three), 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

Additionally, coming into the year, he was ESPN's top-ranked floor general in the 2018 high school class.

Add that to Garland's quickness, ability to run an offense, create plays for others, handle the ball and make shots from the perimeter, and it's easy to see why he makes sense for the Lakers, who need that type of player to play with LeBron James.

The way Garland orchestrates the pick-and-roll successfully and makes defenses pay for going under ball screens with his shot-making from long range is also a huge benefit.

He's known for having the ball on a string, has a lethal pull-up game and is deadly when he shoots off-the-dribble.

Those are valuable traits for L.A. and most teams around the league, should the Lakers want to move him in a deal.

Garland projects to be a perennial All-Star, so there's really no downside to taking a chance on him with the fourth pick.


Nassir Little, SF/PF, North Carolina

On the surface, it may seem like a head-scratching move to use a first-round pick on a first-year reserve player, but Donte DiVincenzo opened the door to that notion in the 2018 draft, and Nassir Little is the next player slated to walk through it.

The North Carolina freshman showed flashes of brilliance for the Tarheels, especially during March Madness, and that would have been enough to garner significant interest from NBA teams.

At 6'6", 220 pounds, Little is versatile and athletic; he can really run the floor and finish in transition.

What makes him an interesting prospect for NBA teams is his ability to attack closeouts as a combo forward in small-ball lineups.

Clubs are increasingly coveting players with those abilities as they usher in the roster constructions of the modern NBA.

Little is also explosive, has a ridiculous motor, attacks the offensive glass and makes hustle plays.

The Tarheels forward also has the kind of grown-man body that translates at the next level and will allow him to take contact and finish at the rim.

On the defensive end, Little takes pride in taking on the opponent's best player and plays with the intensity needed to switch on the pick-and-roll, hedge, contest and alter shots, especially on the perimeter.

The Orange Park, Florida, native needs to improve his shot efficiency, but he's had a track record of improving his shot selection and adding dimensions to his offense. He's streaky, but he's added a pull-up jumper to his arsenal and the ability to shoot three-pointers off the catch.

If he goes to the Atlanta Hawks, his energy and competitive fire will fit in nicely with the young core they've built over the last two years.


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

Follow Maurice Bobb on Twitter, @ReeseReport.