Throughout this 2019 NBA Mock Draft, we have two General Managers: Devan Olsem and Leighton Spaulding. Devan will be selecting the even picks, unless one of the picks was involved in one of our two Mock Draft Trades. Leighton will be selecting the rest of the picks.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, F, Duke
Leighton: Not much to say here. The most promising player to come into the draft since LeBron James and he fits a position of need. Alvin Gentry’s reaction says it all.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, G, Murray State
Devan: “Grind City” is in the past and it is time for the Grizzlies to move towards a more modern NBA franchise. That starts with Ja Morant. Morant flew up the draft board this season with his athleticism, playmaking, and fiery emotions on the court. The Grizzlies need a star that can right the ship in Memphis, and with Morant’s confidence, he should have no problem doing that.
3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, F, Duke
Leighton: RJ Barrett came into the season as the consensus #1 prospect in the NBA. His size, shooting and finishing around the rim make him an instant threat to be a scorer in the NBA. If he tightens up his ball handling, he should be able to score any way he wishes at the next level. Finally the Knicks can make a pick that is moving in the right direction.
4. New Orleans Pelicans: De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
Devan: With the Anthony Davis days in the past, the New Orleans Pelicans have maneuvered their way into acquiring one of the best young cores in the NBA. De’Andre Hunter can come in as an older rookie and produce right away. Seen as a stretch-four, with the ability to play small-ball five, Hunter would bring even more defense to the Pelicans’ lineup. Can you imagine a defensive unit of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and De’Andre Hunter?
TRADE: Bulls trade up to #5, moving the Cavs down to #7
5. Chicago Bulls: Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
Leighton: Once you go through the Kris Dunn experience, you don’t want to ever try that again. A starting lineup with Garland, LaVine and Markkanen will make this team lethal from behind the arc. Garland’s shooting alone, not to mention his natural feel for the game, makes the Bulls an instantly better offensive team.
6. Phoenix Suns: Coby White, G, North Carolina
Devan: The Phoenix Suns need a point guard, badly. If the Suns continue sitting around in the dumpster of the Western Conference, Devin Booker is going to want out. Coby White gives the Suns a versatile scoring option that can take part of the load off of Booker. A young core of White, Booker, and Ayton gives Suns fans hope of sunnier times ahead in the desert.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech
Leighton: Culver is a perfect addition for a team devoid of wing talent. He’s long, has a promising shooting stroke, and knows how to score in a variety of ways. Not to mention he worked a ton on the ball in college, which has given him experience with playmaking. Culver should be able to help take some of the offensive load off of Sexton. Plus he’s a rock solid defender.
8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, F, Duke
Devan: While the Atlanta Hawks would love to move up in the draft, packaging their #8 and #10 pick together, we did not mock a trade for them. Instead, they stay put and take Cam Reddish. Although it is a huge risk, the Hawks can take that risk. With Trae Young and John Collins establishing a solid core in Atlanta, the Hawks need an aggressive wing to replace the void that will be left after the Taurean Prince departure. The Hawks get All-Star potential in the middle of the lottery.
9. Washington Wizards: Sekou Doumbouya, F, France
Leighton: Doumbouya is the embodiment of physical play and raw talent. He looks the part, but needs to learn some of the fundamentals of NBA defense as well as offensive spacing. His talent though is through the roof. Worse case scenario for the Wizards are that they are getting a physical and aggressive defender. Best case scenario, he can be the Wizards version of Pascal Siakam.
10. Atlanta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
Devan: After taking Cam Reddish just two picks earlier, the Hawks will address their center position at pick 10. Alex Len did a fine job with the Hawks last season, but keeping him as a backup would be the best case scenario moving forward. Getting a shot blocking center that is great at finishing above the rim makes him a great fit with Trae Young orchestrating offense.
TRADE: Celtics trade up to #11, Timberwolves move down to #14 and #20
11. Boston Celtics: Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
Devan: The Boston Celtics have been rumored to want to move up in the 2019 NBA Draft. I have them swapping their #14 and #20 picks to the Wolves to move up to #11. At pick 11, the Celtics will take Brandon Clarke. As a versatile defender in college, Clarke’s short wingspan has some teams concerned before the draft. But, with Kyrie Irving and Al Horford on their way out of Boston, Clarke has the potential to fit in as the power forward next to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart to form a dangerous defensive lineup.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Devan: The Charlotte Hornets are average. About as average as a team can get. Despite how average they are, Kemba Walker is still expected to re-sign this summer, so the Hornets will need to get creative to put talent around him. Hachimura is a raw forward that has only been playing basketball for less than 10 years. With his great physical tools, Hachimura was rather consistent last season at Gonzaga, using his size to get into and finish in the lane. He has shown potential touch from three and most of his weaknesses (slow reads, help defense, etc.) are skills that develop with NBA experience.
13. Miami Heat: Nassir Little, F, North Carolina
Leighton: Nassir Little has run the gambit of the NBA process. His value couldn’t have been lower after his 1 year at North Carolina, but the process has favored him. Little’s smooth jump shot and athleticism really shined through to GM’s and his ability to defend multiple positions makes him tantalizing. The Heat will continue to build depth throughout their roster and will be very athletic going into next year.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
Leighton: The Wolves have missed the deep shooting threat for a while now. Giving KAT players to pass out of the post will help make the offense more fluid. Herro is a fantastic shooter and a decent enough athlete to warrant lottery attention. Good shooting is hard to come by, anything else is a bonus from Herro.
15. Detroit Pistons: Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC
Leighton: Porter is loaded with talent, but people have knocked him for his lack of maturity and coachability. His first step is better than anyone else in this draft, and he is explosive to the rim. Detroit needs an explosive guard and Porter Jr. fits the bill. He can be a focal point of an NBA offense with his ball handling and finishing skills. Giving Blake Griffin some help should be the #1 priority of Detroit this off-season. Porter Jr. is a step in the right direction.
16. Orlando Magic: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
Devan: Nickeil Alexander-Walker is one of my favorite sleepers of the draft. The Orlando Magic need to buck their trend of taking big men in the draft, even though Bol Bol is staring right into their soul. Alexander-Walker’s size and length projects him with the ability to guard 1-3 in the NBA. Although he has a slingshot type of release, he was an effective spot-up shooter at Virginia Tech. After making the NBA Playoffs last season for the first time since 2011/12, the Magic need a lead guard, especially since they do not know what they have in Markelle Fultz.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
Leighton: At this point, why not? Bol Bol is the most polarizing player in this draft and with this being the 3rd pick of their draft, Bol Bol is a perfect project. He has the offensive skills of a top-5 talent, but his lack of weight and lack of defensive awareness hurt him. Put this kid in the weight room, keep him healthy, and this could be the steal of the draft.
18. Indiana Pacers: Romeo Langford, G, Indiana
Devan: Seen as a potential lottery pick, if Romeo Langford slides to 18, the Pacers would be getting great value. After the failed Tyreke Evans experiment in Indiana, the Pacers are looking for a new bench scorer. Langford could come in off the bench and provide a scoring punch. He is known as an isolation scorer, and he might not mix well with Victor Oladipo right away, but he is worth the risk if he can become a first option off the bench.
19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
Leighton: Goga is a perfect Spurs pick. He’s young, a good finisher around the rim and a defensive rim protector. Spurs turn these kinds of guys into stars. The former Adriatic league MVP has great pick & roll feel on offense and will immediately add scoring punch to the Spurs front court. The big man rotation of Aldridge, Poetl and Bitadze gives flexibility in the front court for Pop.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: PJ Washington, F, Kentucky
Leighton: Washington is very athletic and has a very 2010 offensive skill set. Solid mid-range jump shooter with a good 2nd bounce for offensive rebounds. He’s a perfect future Taj Gibson in the making. He moves well defensively but will always be undersized for his position. Washington will provide good depth for a Wolves roster looking for talent.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
Leighton: Keldon Johnson is very raw on the offensive side, but he has good instincts. The Thunder have valued these types of players in past and value switchability on defense more than most. If Johnson wants to crack the lineup, he will need to make his jump shot more consistent. For now, Johnson is someone who is good at everything, but not great at anything.
22. Boston Celtics: Nicolas Claxton, C, Georgia
Devan: After taking Brandon Clarke with their first pick in the draft, the Boston Celtics get their more traditional center to replace Al Horford with Nicolas Claxton. In fact, some people have drawn similarities between Claxton and Horford. His solid free-throw percentage and touch projects Claxton to be a solid three-point shooter in the NBA down the road. As a competitive defender with the ability to block shots, the Celtics should have no problems developing Claxton alongside their young core.
23. Memphis Grizzlies: Cameron Johnson, F, North Carolina
Leighton: The Grizzlies add elite shooting and length on the wing. Cam Johnson showed rapid improvement during college and if he can add some offense off the dribble, he should be able to be a solid 2nd option for Ja Morant and company going forward. Grizzlies are looking for shooting anywhere they can get it.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Luka Samanic, F/C, International
Devan: While the Sixers may be looking for a player to come in and contribute right away, with their future cap projected to be tight paying Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, potentially along with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, the Sixers need to find cheap talent. Samanic can be that. Off the bat, Samanic is a versatile offensive talent, who can score from multiple areas on the floor. He has nice touch and range on his shot, drawing comparisons to Nikola Mirotic. The Sixers need to find ways to add depth this summer, and while Samanic will not be able to stop a Kawhi Leonard corner dagger, he will bolster the Sixers’ bench.
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State
Leighton: Portland takes another shot at a fluid athlete who can shoot and hope this one pans out. Kabengele is Dikemebe Mutombo’s nephew and it looks like shot blocking ability is something relatively genetic. Kabengele is a very good shot blocker and rebounder with enough range on the offensive side to fit the modern NBA. He’s a long way from cracking an NBA rotation right away, but his future is very bright.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
Devan: LeBron James is not showing up at the doorstep for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately for the Cavs, when LeBron left last summer, he left them with a lot of bad contracts that would hinder the team’s ability to get talent in the immediate future. So, the Cavs need guys that can blossom. Carsen Edwards can blossom. Edwards posted 24.3 points per game last season on 35.5% shooting from three. We saw his big-play potential in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, so if you are the Cavs, why not see if he can turn into a good player next to Collin Sexton?
27. Brooklyn Nets: Eric Paschall, F, Villanova
Leighton: Paschall is a high IQ player who can guard 4 positions on the court. He’s a perfect Rondae Hollis-Jefferson replacement for a team who values switchability on defense. Paschall actually shows even more promise with his jumpshot than Hollis-Jefferson ever did. Paschall has a good shot to stick with a team and become even a P.J. Tucker type player.
28. Golden State Warriors: Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
Devan: The 2019 NBA Finals could not have been more demoralizing for the Golden State Warriors. Not only losing, but now they will be without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for most, if not all, of next season. The Warriors’ depth was exposed against the Raptors, so getting Grant Williams late in the first round is a nice pickup. Williams will be accepting of any role that is handed to him, as he can act as a P.J. Tucker type player off the Warriors’ bench. Williams will defend, compete, and provide an inside scoring punch when the Warriors need it.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
Leighton: Jerome is a smart, clutch shooting, and confident offensive player. Nothing seems to shake this guy when he is on the court. He seems like another very smart Spurs pick who can find a way to make up for his lack of athleticism and stick on an NBA court. Jerome will join an already deep back court and will be able to bring enough ball-handling to help facilitate offense. He will have a lack of gaining separation, but his tough shot making in the past gives hope that he can still score at the next level.
30. Detroit Pistons: Matisse Thybulle, G, Washington
Devan: After making a trade last night with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Detroit Pistons now own the last pick in the first round of tonight’s draft. However, the pick should remain the same. The Pistons need any kind of talent around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond that they can get, and a 3 & D wing like Thybulle can provide good floor spacing for Detroit’s paint cloggers.