The 2018-19 NBA season is approaching its quarter mark, which means we already have a reasonably clear idea of the teams likely to be selecting near the top of the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Cavaliers are in disarray, Deandre Ayton hasn’t saved the Suns in Year One, the Knicks are playing for the future and the Hawks can’t win games despite Trae Young’s future promise.
NBA DRAFT BIG BOARD: Ranking top 60 prospects
At this point, it’s obviously impossible to accurately predict the exact draft order, especially given the flattened odds associated with lottery reform, but these thought exercises can still be valuable. (Yes, even this far out.) Consider them an opportunity to think about the ways in which certain prospects could fit in with specific teams and as a brief look at any one of the paths the draft could travel.
Rather than rely strictly on current records, the order for our Mock Draft has been determined using FiveThirtyEight’s projected records (current as of Monday). That allows us to avoid unlikely events, including Houston selecting in the lottery and the Kings making the playoffs.
So, without further ado, here’s our look at the 2019 NBA Draft…
1. Hawks — Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
Age: 18.4 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 285
Williamson’s teammate RJ Barrett started the season as the top prospect on our Big Board, but if things continue apace, there’s a good chance he’ll be displaced Williamson himself. The 6-7 forward has been phenomenal to start the season, averaging 27.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.0 assists per contest through two games.
At just 18 years old, Williamson possesses unmatched athleticism, an impressively high basketball IQ and the ability to generate efficient offense even without a consistent jumper. Pairing him with Trae Young in Atlanta would be a joy.
2. Knicks — RJ Barrett, Wing, Duke
Age: 18.4 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 208
Barrett hasn’t exactly done anything wrong to justify not going No. 1. He’s averaging 28.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for the Blue Devils while showing off the collection of skills scouts already knew about alongside an improved jumper. He’d be a perfectly fine top pick.
In New York, the 18-year-old would bring a valuable level of playmaking to a franchise that hasn’t finished in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency in five seasons. In particular, Barrett’s ball dominance could help Kevin Knox unlock his potential as a secondary creator on the perimeter.
SCOUTING REPORTS: Barrett | Williamson
3. Cavaliers — Nassir Little, Wing, North Carolina
Age: 18.8 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 215
Little has been fighting for playing time on North Carolina’s stacked roster, and as such doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping per game numbers of Barrett and Williamson. Still, the 6-7 wing represents one of the more promising two-way prospects in the class. Notably, Little has already posted four steals and four blocks in just 64 minutes of court time this season.
Cleveland is in need of a talent injection, and Little would help significantly.
4. Suns — Cameron Reddish, Forward, Duke
Age: 19.2 | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 205
Reddish has shined in Duke’s first two outings primarily as a shooting threat from behind the arc. He’s attempted 21 3-pointers in just 55 minutes of court time, a rate that’s almost assuredly unsustainable over the course of a full season.
On a more limited basis, Reddish has flashed his potential as a ball handler and offensive facilitator on the perimeter. Phoenix could use a bit more of that given the emphasis opposing defenses are able to place on Devin Booker in the status quo.
5. Bulls — Quentin Grimes, Wing, Kansas
Age: 18.5 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 205
This is an odd spot for Chicago, as its roster could significantly benefit from landing one of the draft’s top wings. Instead, the Bulls settle on Grimes here, a 6-6 combo guard with an improving outside shot and some perimeter playmaking skills.
The 18-year-old unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers — making six of his 10 attempts — in the Jayhawks’ opening night win over Michigan State.
6. Celtics (via Kings) — Keldon Johnson, Wing, Kentucky
Age: 19.2 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 210
Boston reaps the rewards of the Markelle Fultz-Jayson Tatum swap here by landing Sacramento’s unprotected first-round pick. Now, the tough part is figuring out what a deep roster needs to add to its cache.
Building out the team’s wing depth is one direction Danny Ainge could go. Johnson fits the mold of what the Celtics have historically looked for in terms of competitiveness and effort. The 19-year-old doesn’t possess the same initiator upside as the top prospects in this class, but he’s well-rounded just about everywhere else.
7. Hawks (via Mavericks) — Romeo Langford, Wing, Indiana
Age: 19.1 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 202
Atlanta could potentially hold two top-10 selections next June, putting the Hawks in position to quickly rebuild a depleted roster. Langford’s off to a slow start from behind the arc, but he has historically appeared to be a projectable shooter for the NBA level. He’d give the Hawks another perimeter scoring threat.
8. Magic — Sekou Doumbouya, Forward, Limoges
Age: 17.9 | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 230
Orlando’s had a bit of a penchant for stockpiling combo forwards with positional size in recent seasons. Doumbouya fits the mold. He’s still a developing prospect and has struggled to start the season over in France, but there’s plenty of upside here.
Doumbouya possesses terrific athleticism for his size, the ability to handle in the open floor and budding defensive versatility.
9. Celtics (via Grizzlies) — De’Andre Hunter, Forward, Virginia
Age: 20.9 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 230
Hunter and Boston might be one of the better prospect-meets-team-needs fits. The 6-7 forward has shown a willingness to do all of the dirty work without needing the ball in his hands on a consistent basis. Hunter is a versatile defender who could fit in right away on a Celtics roster that’s looking to compete now.
10. Nets — Darius Garland, Point, Vanderbilt
Age: 18.8 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 173
Brooklyn’s future at point guard is uncertain at the moment, and Garland is the top point guard prospect in this class. He’s got a tight handle, deep range on his 3-pointer and above average court vision.
Although the 18-year-old is on the smaller side and may be targeted defensively in a playoff series, his offensive upside justifies taking him with a lottery selection.
11. Pistons — Kevin Porter, Wing, USC
Age: 18.5 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 218
Porter, a fringe top-30 recruit coming out of high school, is emerging as one of the early risers in this class. The 6-6 freshman has the potential to jump into the lottery come June thanks to one of the better offensive skill sets among wings in this class.
Porter is excellent at creating space for his pull-up jumper, can attack the rim with a collection of change-of-direction moves and will finish with plus athleticism.
12. Spurs — Rui Hachimura, Forward, Gonzaga
Age: 20.8 | Height: 6-8 | Weight: 225
Hachimura’s approaching 21 years old, and it seems like he may finally be shifting from development project into a ready-made prospect. Through two games, he’s averaging 25.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.
Although he’s yet to expand his shooting range out to the 3-point line, a trio of unassisted twos made away from the basket lends some hope. Hachimura has the potential to be an excellent role-playing, versatile forward at the next level.
13. Clippers — Bol Bol, Big, Oregon
Age: 19.0 | Height: 7-2 | Weight: 222
The Clippers’ future at the center position is somewhat uncertain, as both Boban Marjanovic and Marcin Gortat are free agents after this season and Montrezl Harrell is only under contract for one more. Bol represents a high upside swing here at the back end of the lottery.
The 7-footer undoubtedly possesses elite offensive potential — few bigs can handle and shoot the way he can — but there are questions about the on-court feel and competitiveness.
(Honestly, I’m just trying to see Marjanovic and Bol share some court time.)
14. Timberwolves — Herb Jones, Wing, Alabama
Age: 20.1 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 200
The direction of this pick may hinge on who’s running Minnesota’s front office come draft time. Would Tom Thibodeau seek out an older college prospect in order to find more immediate help? That seems like the most pertinent question.
Jones somewhat splits the difference. He’s a sophomore with tremendous defensive potential and plus athleticism. The 20-year-old still has an uncertain future, but NBA teams will be betting on their ability to turn him into at least a spot-up shooter.
15. Heat — Jarrett Culver, Wing, Texas Tech
Age: 19.7 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 190
Culver played second fiddle to Zhaire Smith last season in the Red Raiders’ ranking of surprising freshmen. Now, he’s getting a bit more shine.
Through two games this season, he’s seen his usage rate jump to 27.6 percent and his assist rate rise to 23.8 percent. Culver’s a quality defender who may have a bit more upside on offense than anticipated if some of his creation juice is real.
16. Wizards — Nazreon Reid, Big, LSU
Age: 19.2 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 240
We can be honest here and say Dwight Howard probably isn’t the long-term answer at center for Washington. Reid represents a more modern big man. He can shoot it a bit, handle it a bit and pass it a bit. He might fall in love with the jumper from time to time, but that should work itself out over time.
17. Hornets — Eric Paschall, Big, Villanova
Age: 22.0 | Height: 6-8 | Weight: 255
Michael Jordan’s franchise selecting an experienced college player wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Paschall can play either the four or the five spot thanks to his outside shooting ability. He’s also a decent playmaker and developing rebounder.
There’s not a ton of upside here, but the 22-year-old represents an interesting potential role player.
18. Lakers — Daniel Gafford, Big, Arkansas
Age: 20.1 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 217
Gafford had the potential to be a lottery pick had he stayed in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he opted to return to school. Perhaps that works out for him in this scenario in which he could excel as a rim-running and rim-protecting big man.
Gafford is at his best in transition or diving to the rim out of ball screens, two things that could work well with the rest of the Lakers roster.
19. Pacers — Luguentz Dort, Wing, Arizona State
Age: 19.6 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 215
This section of the draft is heavily populated by big men, and the existence of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis might complicate selecting one for Indiana. Instead, we’ll have the Pacers take a slight reach on Dort, a 6-4 bowling ball of a scorer.
The 19-year-old has already proved himself capable of putting up numbers at the college level, but he needs to improve as a shooter to make it at the NBA level.
20. Pelicans — Ja Morant, Point, Murray State
Age: 19.3 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 170
The Pelicans’ need for a point guard is well documented. Morant could be a solution. The 19-year-old could put up gaudy numbers this year if his first outing — 26 points and 11 assists — was any guide. Morant’s young for his class, a quality slasher and a budding distributor.
21. Trail Blazers — Simisola Shittu, Big, Vanderbilt
Age: 19.0 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 220
The parade of bigs gets back on track with Shittu going to Portland here. Ideally, the Trail Blazers might land a two-way wing in this draft, but there aren’t many available in this range with most of them coming off the board in the teens.
Shittu’s a nice consolation prize. He’s a big man who can handle it in transition and pass it a little in the half court. He’s still recovering his athleticism after suffering a torn ACL in high school, but there’s upside.
22. Rockets — Luka Samanic, Big, Petrol Olimpija
Age: 18.9 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 210
Houston is staring down an increasingly expensive payroll, so it may behoove the front office to go the draft-and-stash route with someone like Samanic.
Samanic can handle the ball and shoot it well, but he’s struggling to find consistent playing time overseas and could use more seasoning before coming to the NBA.
23. Nets (via Nuggets) — Jontay Porter, Big, Missouri
Age: 19.0 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 236
While Brooklyn already has Jarrett Allen, Porter’s simply too good to pass up here. The Missouri big man is going to be one of the most interesting cases in the draft should he choose to declare. We had him rated as the top returning prospect in the class prior to his ACL tear.
As a dribble, pass and shoot center, Porter’s offensive game is made for the modern NBA. The questions lie in how he’ll translate defensively, and his injury only intensifies those worries.
24. 76ers — Coby White, Point, North Carolina
Age: 18.8 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 185
Philadelphia’s core appears to be set after the franchise traded for Jimmy Butler. Now, it’s a matter of filling in around it.
White could work particularly well as a tertiary creator on offense who can also knock down shots from the outside. The 18-year-old still plays too quick for his own good, but an organization would rather have to reign that in than find another gear for the player.
25. Celtics — Shamorie Ponds, Point, St. John’s
Age: 20.4 | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175
Assuming Kyrie Irving stays, Boston’s backup point guard situation is unsettled with Terry Rozier potentially seeking out a larger role elsewhere. Ponds could be a nice fit as a player who can comfortably score both on and off the ball while providing pesky point-of-attack defense in terms of ball disruption.
26. Thunder — Jaylen Hoard, Forward, Wake Forest
Age: 19.6 | Height: 6-8 | Weight: 215
It might be tough to overload the Thunder’s current roster construction with versatile two-way forwards. Hoard’s long and athletic with the potential to defend multiple positions. He’ll need to develop a more consistent 3-point shot to be an offensive threat at the next level.
27. Jazz — Jalen Smith, Big, Maryland
Age: 18.7 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 195
Smith is a versatile scoring big man who could provide some important frontcourt depth to Utah as well as roster flexibility for Derrick Favors’ 2020 free agency. Smith’s primary concern at this stage is developing more NBA-ready body.
28. Bucks — Charles Bassey, Big, Western Kentucky
Age: 18.1 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 234
Bassey is a prospect who could fall a bit before the end of the season given his uncertain perimeter skills for a big man. The young freshman plays with a high motor, can be an effective rim runner and should translate as a rim protector.
29. Spurs (via Raptors) — PJ Washington, Forward, Kentucky
Age: 20.2 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 236
Washington’s sophomore campaign is off to an uninspiring start, as he’s struggled to adapt to the new roster around him. With a plethora of other non-spacing big men on the floor, it’s not clear he’s been put in position to succeed.
The 20-year-old still holds some promise as a versatile defender with a midrange game on offense.
30. Warriors — Kris Wilkes, Wing, UCLA
Age: 20.2 | Height: 6-8 | Weight: 195
Wilkes is an athletic 3-and-D prospect who still needs to prove that he can both shoot the 3 and consistently defend at the next level.
Still, he’s the type of prospect worth taking a shot on at the end of the first round.
Source: Read Full Article