2019 NBA Draft: Latest Mock Draft and Top Rumors Surrounding 1st-Round Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2019

FILE - In this March 29, 2019, file photo, Duke forward RJ Barrett (5) drives to the basket past Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) and guard Ahmed Hill (13) during the second half of an NCAA men's East Regional semifinal college basketball game, in Washington. Barrett is leaving Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft. Barrett announced his decision Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in a video posted on social media. He calls playing at Duke a dream and adds that “it’s also a dream of mine to play in the NBA and have great success there.”(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Months of speculation will turn into concrete results Thursday at the 2019 NBA draft.

The rumors involving some of the top prospects have intensified over the past few days, with teams hoping to strike deals to move into the top five selections.

Since the top three picks appear to be locked up, the No. 4 overall pick is the first-round position everyone will be watching.

Because of the interest in the fourth selection, the New Orleans Pelicans enter Thursday as the most powerful team in the draft. They will likely take Zion Williamson No. 1 and either land another high lottery pick or receive a haul of assets in a trade.

                             

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. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers): Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia 

6. Phoenix Suns: Coby White, PG, North Carolina

7. Chicago Bulls: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

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

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

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

12. Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

13. Miami Heat: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento): Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

15. Detroit Pistons: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

16. Orlando Magic: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

17. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, C, Republic of Georgia

19. San Antonio Spurs: Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State

20. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

22. Boston Celtics: Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

23. Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah): Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

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

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia

28. Golden State Warriors: KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

30. Detroit Pistons (from Milwaukee): Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia

               

Top Rumors

Knicks Still Focused On Barrett at No. 3

Some alarm bells started to go off Tuesday, when ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony reported the New York Knicks were holding a last-minute workout for Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland.

Even though Garland was brought in by the Knicks, they are still focused on taking Duke's R.J. Barrett with the No. 3 pick, per ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Richard Shiro/Associated Press

While Garland is an intriguing prospect because of the upside he possesses, Barrett is the smart play for the Knicks since the one-and-done star from Duke is more of a sure thing at this moment in time than Garland, who was injured for most of his time in the SEC.

Before Williamson took over the men's college basketball spotlight, Barrett was viewed as the top prospect in the draft class. And even though he is expected to land third, he could make a similar mark on the NBA to his college teammate.

By bringing in Barrett, the Knicks guarantee themselves at least one new star on the floor for the 2019-20 season.

But Barrett may face a bit more pressure than first expected because of the changes to the free-agent and trade markets of late.

New York missed out on a trade for Anthony Davis, and even if it finds a way to bring in Kevin Durant in free agency, he will miss significant time with his Achilles injury.

That means the Knicks have pressure to get the pick right, and while Garland may have been an intriguing option, Barrett was a star for stretches of Duke's season. Now he will get the chance to become the brightest of stars while calling Madison Square Garden his home court.

                        

Pelicans with Plenty of Options at No. 4

The Pelicans are active in discussions about the No. 4 pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Davis trade.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Associated Press

According to The Athletic's Sam Vecenie, the feeling around the NBA is New Orleans is more likely to trade the pick than keep it.

Since the Pelicans secured the No. 4 pick, plenty of teams have emerged in trade reports, with the Minnesota Timberwolves being the latest to pop up in a report from Marc Stein of the New York Times on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Givony reported the Atlanta Hawks have explored the possibility of moving up and that New Orleans is considering that.

A trade makes sense for the Pelicans if a handful of teams covet Garland since they do not need another point guard, with Jrue Holiday returning and Lonzo Ball coming in from Los Angeles.

Maximizing the profit in the form of either draft picks or players in return for No. 4 has to be taken into consideration by the Pelicans front office, which did a superb job in getting a large haul in exchange for Davis.

There is still a scenario in which the Pelicans keep the pick, and if that is the case, the decision will likely come down to Garland, Jarrett Culver or Coby White, per Givony.

Of those three, Culver would make the most sense because he would be able to complement Holiday in the backcourt with his solid shooting stroke.

Taking either Garland or White seems to go against New Orleans' roster build since it does not need a third high-quality point guard when it can improve in other areas.

                       

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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