The NBA season has come to a close which means next on tap is the 2019 NBA Draft.
The NBA Draft is a monumental moment as prospects fulfill their life-long dreams while NBA teams aim to select the player that could potentially change their franchise.
The draft is just as much about fit as it is talent - should teams draft the best player available, or should they opt for the best fit? There is no right or wrong answer and it changes depending on any number of factors:
- Does the drafting team already have a foundational piece at that position?
- How will a prospect's skills mesh with those of the roster already in place?
- How many years away is a team from realistically contending?
- Does a team drafting high have its sights set on a particular free agent?
With the draft less than a week away, here is our Mock Draft 2.0.
1. Pelicans - Zion Williamson, F, Duke
There's no surprise here.
Williamson is the sure-fire No. 1 pick and the most hyped prospect to enter the NBA Draft since Anthony Davis in 2012 - the same player the Pelicans (then-New Orleans Hornets) selected with the No. 1 overall pick in that draft.
With Davis traded to the Lakers, the Pelicans will begin to build around Williamson as their franchise player. Executive Vice President David Griffin did a great job filling out the roster with talented young players to help the growth of Zion. Along with already-established guard Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans added Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, as well as multiple future first rounders to continue to add a number of prospects around this once-in-a-generation talent.
Pelicans fans can sit back and relax on draft night knowing that they have a superstar in the making and impact player from Day 1 in Williamson.
2. Grizzlies - Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
While it could have been a tough decision between Morant and RJ Barrett, Barrett elected not to work out for the Grizzlies. Though it seemed like Memphis was leaning toward Morant anyway, they had their decision made for them.
Morant gives the Grizzlies their heir to Mike Conley, who is expected to be a popular trade piece for teams that feel they're one solid guard away from contending for a title. Morant is an extremely explosive and athletic guard with great playmaking ability and a knack for getting to the rim. He led the country in assists per game (10.0) and finished top-10 in scoring (24.5 ppg) proving he can give you a little bit of everything, along with the swagger of an NBA superstar.
Pairing him with Jaren Jackson Jr. gives the Grizzlies two young promising pieces to build around for the future.
3. Knicks - RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
Knicks fans were hoping for Zion, but they can't be mad about the player they'll end up with.
Barrett chose not to work out for any team besides the New York Knicks, sending a message to the league about exactly where he wants to go. "This is the place I want to be, I hope they draft me," Barrett stated after his one and only pre-draft workout with the Knicks.
He's a prolific scorer who had plenty of success in college, averaging an ACC-best 22.6 points per game. His game translates to the NBA more than the NCAA, as the league's spacing will give him more room to get to his spots on the floor to score.
He has the attitude of a star and gives the Knicks the exact type of player they need to get things going in the right direction. Add to it that Barrett is well-groomed for New York media from his time at Duke and you have yourself a perfect fit.
4. Pelicans (via Lakers) - DeAndre Hunter, SF, Virginia
As expected, the Lakers traded this pick in a package to get Anthony Davis and now the Pelicans will have two of the top-five picks in this year's draft.
With pieces like Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Zion Williamson, I expect New Orleans to continue to add as much talent as possible, going with Hunter at No. 4.
Hunter is the best defender in this draft class and often draws comparisons to Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard due to his length, defensive IQ and ability to score efficiently. During Virginia's National Championship run he proved he can compete at a high level on both ends of the floor and knock down clutch shots when needed. He shot over 40% from the perimeter throughout his college career and would give the Pelicans a two-way player with the potential to be elite defending positions 1-through-4.
Ball, Holiday, Williamson and Hunter has the upside to be the best defensive unit in the NBA, should their two top-five selections pan out.
5. Cavaliers - Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
Culver is a great fit for the Cavaliers, pairing him with Collin Sexton to shape up their backcourt of the future.
He's a true two-way shooting guard and a proven winner as he led his Texas Tech squad to their first Final Four and National Championship appearances in school history. He'll give Cleveland a wing defender who can mark the opposing team's best scorer while also giving them another punch offensively.
Culver led his team in scoring last season - averaging 18.5 points per game - and can get a bucket in a number of different ways. He'll be able to spot up on the perimeter, receiving drive-and-kicks from Sexton, or create shots for himself off the dribble and in the pick-and-roll.
Culver and Sexton both have plenty of developing to do, but watching them grow side-by-side should be a joy for Cavs fans.
6. Suns - Coby White, PG/SG, North Carolina
This fits a need more than it is taking the best player available, but there is no doubt about the potential that White possesses.
The Suns could groom White as their point guard of the future and his style of play matches perfectly alongside Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. White has a high-motor - almost to a fault - he flies up-and-down the court, attacks off the dribble, can knock down shots from beyond the arc and has the size at 6'5 to cause mismatches at the point guard position.
His ability to shoot from the perimeter gives him more value with the Suns, under the expectation that Booker will still handle the ball a great deal.
7. Bulls - Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
The Bulls had the fourth-best odds to land the No. 1 pick but instead, fell to No. 7 overall. Signs were pointing to Chicago selecting Culver at this pick, but with the shake-up of the Lakers-Pelicans trade, the Bulls should get a chance to fill their point guard vacancy now.
Garland is one of the biggest mysteries in this draft class, only playing in five games in college due to a knee injury. He's an offensive-minded combo guard who can score from all three levels of the floor and can get himself shots in various ways. He's explosive and shifty with elite handle, keeping defenders off-balance to create his own shot or attack the rim off the dribble.
A backcourt duo of Garland and LaVine would be among the most athletic in the league and it gives Chicago the playmaking, scoring point guard they need to give defences another point of focus to free up better looks for LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.
8. Hawks - Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
The Hawks now have three of the top-20 picks in this draft after trading Taurean Prince and a future second-round pick to the Nets for Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick and a future first-round pick.
It's rumoured they might try and trade up in the draft to select Jarrett Culver (per Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo) but should they stay put and use the No. 8 pick, Reddish is their guy.
Last season, they added two of the best shooters in the draft in Trae Young and Kevin Huerter. Reddish, though he had his struggles shooting 33.3% from the perimeter in his one season at Duke, is still seen to be one of the premier shooters in this draft class. Should Reddish find his stroke at the next level, that trio would be a nightmare to defend, especially with the emerging physical presence of John Collins inside.
Reddish is one of the biggest question marks in this draft, as he could be selected as early as No. 5 or as low as No. 12. He'll be one of the more intriguing prospects in terms of seeing how his NBA career pans out.
9. Wizards - Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France
Doumbouya is a player whose physical attributes and potential has him sliding up mock draft boards everywhere.
He's long, athletic and moves very well for a 6'9 power forward. He represents the new wave of NBA forwards who can shoot from the perimeter but also slash to the hoop off the dribble, as well as scoring out of the post. He's a good rebounder and a versatile defender and could be the risk/reward the Wizards need to take in turning things around for their franchise.
Forward is a void the Wizards need to fill and Doumbouya, though he may be a project at first, would pair well as a stretch-four with Bradley Beal who has emerged as the Wizards' cornerstone.
10. Hawks - Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
Jaxson Hayes would give the Hawks the centre they need to fill out their starting five.
Standing in at 6'11 with a 7'4 wingspan, Hayes was one of the NCAA's best rim protector even as a freshman last season. He blocked 2.2 shots per game and his vertical leap, mixed with his length, gives Hayes the potential to be an elite rim protector at the next level as well.
He's mobile and athletic, giving Trae Young a rim runner who could become a DeAndre Jordan-type lob finisher.
11. Timberwolves - Nickeil Alexander-Walker, PG/SG, Virginia Tech
The Timberwolves biggest need in the draft is a point guard and Alexander-Walker checks that box.
He's a true combo guard who can run the point but could also play the 2 alongside Jeff Teague. He's a playmaker first but can score the rock when necessary. Alexander-Walker is fantastic as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which bodes well playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Dario Saric. His ability to shoot should space the floor for Towns and Andrew Wiggins but he can also score at the rim as well, which should open up perimeter looks for Robert Covington.
His long wingspan and defensive IQ pairs well with the T'Wolves' first-round pick from last season, Josh Okogie, giving Minnesota two very solid defenders in the backcourt.
Alexander-Walker is exactly what the Timberwolves need.
12. Hornets - Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
The Hornets are another team in need of pure talent and someone who might be able to make an immediate impact.
They'll be making this pick without the knowledge of Kemba Walker's free agency decision, but Hachimura is a player who would fit in well alongside the All-Star point guard. He'd give Walker a true pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop threat and he would give the Hornets a much-needed inside presence on both ends of the floor.
Hachimura is long and athletic, he's a very solid shooter and a good defender who can guard 3-through-5. He runs the floor well, can handle the ball and has an array of post moves to add a different element to the Hornets' offence.
He seems to be a sure-thing in terms of being, at the very least, a solid NBA player and that is exactly what Charlotte needs through the draft with how handcuffed they are salary cap-wise.
13. Heat - Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
Little is a physical specimen with elite athleticism. He's someone that didn't pan out to be the player he was expected to be in his one season at North Carolina, but the NBA seems to be a better fit for his style of play.
He's explosive when he attacks the basket. He can finish through contact with a strong frame and slashes to the rim with aggression. Defensively, his competitiveness, quickness and power will allow him to match up with just about any player 1-through-4. He can improve as a ball handler and shooter, but his physical tools make him a very intriguing piece alongside other elite athletes such as Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo.
Erik Spoelstra would be drooling at the opportunity to develop a player like Little and the Heat might just be the best situation for the UNC freshman.
14. Celtics (via Kings) - Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
The Celtics are in need of a pure shooter and Herro might just be the best shooter in this draft class.
He shot 36% from beyond the arc in his one season at Kentucky, but his shooting stroke shows the capability of an elite marksman in the NBA. He's gaining more traction, similar to Kevin Huerter around this time last year, and he'd give the Celtics a much-needed 3-point threat coming off the bench.
Herro has proved that he can create his own shot as well, not limit himself to just spot-up jumpers. Brad Stevens would have a field day drawing up plays that run Herro off of a number of screens to create open looks. He would be a great substitute as another perimeter scoring threat whenever Jayson Tatum needs a breather.
15. Pistons - Keldon Johnson, SG/SF, Kentucky
The Pistons need a flat out scorer and Keldon Johnson provides that.
He averaged 13.5 points per game in one season at Kentucky and shot 38% from beyond the arc. He can score from all three levels of the floor with the ability to work as a spot-up shooter or create off the dribble for himself. He's a leaper who can run in transition and his size as a shooting guard mixed with his athleticism makes him an NBA-ready defender.
With the majority of the Pistons' offence coming from in the paint with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Detroit desperately needs someone to score from the perimeter and Johnson adds that change of pace on that end of the floor.
16. Magic - Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
Clarke is an extremely intriguing prospect whose name has shot up on various draft boards. He's another player whose name could be called anywhere between the late top-10 or early post-lottery picks.
He's undersized for his position as a 6'8 power forward, but his intangibles have NBA teams excited. He's a very solid defender, has a nice shooting touch and can handle the ball. Despite his size, he's a good shot blocker and he's great at scoring around the rim. He works well in pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops and fits the mould of a forward in today's NBA with the ceiling of a Draymond Green-like player.
The Magic are another team desperate for talent in general and with the uncertainty of where Nikola Vucevic will end up this offseason, Clarke seems like the right pick to add some frontcourt depth.
17. Hawks (via Nets) - PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
Again, the Hawks are unlikely to keep all three of their first round picks and have expressed interest in moving up in this draft.
But should they make a selection here and Washington is available, he'd add yet another offensive-minded forward for Trae Young to target. Washington is strong and has great touch, can score out of the post or spotting up from midrange or on the perimeter.
He'd be the perfect player to learn under John Collins, who has developed into one of the most promising young forwards in the NBA with a game similar to Washington.
18. Pacers - Kevin Porter Jr., SG/SF, USC
When Victor Oladipo went down last season, the Pacers' biggest weakness was glaring - they need another scorer.
Especially with the uncertainty of Bojan Bogdanovic, who took over as their leading scorer once Oladipo got hurt, as an unrestricted free agent, the Pacers need to target a player who can get them a bucket and Porter Jr. is that guy.
He's a player who has impressed in various different pre-draft workouts and seems to be a favourite among prospects to be picked just outside the lottery. He's strong and powerful, attacks the rim with force and has a nice stepback jumper. He finishes well at the rim and shot 40.2% from beyond the arc this past season at USC.
Porter Jr. would give the Pacers exactly what they need.
19. Spurs - Goga Bitadze, PF/C, Republic of Georgia
Bitadze has proven himself as a quality talent overseas. He's a big man who can shoot from beyond the arc and should space the floor nicely. He's not said to be a great defender but is crafty on the offensive end and seems like the type of project that head coach Gregg Popovich could flourish with.
20. Celtics (via Clippers) - Bol Bol, C, Oregon
Bol is the biggest risk/reward in this draft and it's not even close. He's a 7'2 centre who handles the ball and shoots from long range like a true wing.
He moves extremely well and even has some deceiving speed. Bol can block and alter shots with his 7'5 wingspan and is a terrific rebounder.
The risk comes along with his health - Bol only played in nine games in his one season at Oregon due to a stress fracture in his foot. When you're that big, injury is always a risk but should Bol be able to stay healthy, it could be a risk well worth taking and with the talent this Celtics' roster still possesses, they have more wiggle room to take a risk of this calibre.
21. Thunder - Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
There is said to be a connection between Thybulle and the Thunder and it makes plenty of sense, given he's exactly like a Thabo Sefolosha or Andre Roberson-type player.
If DeAndre Hunter isn't the best defender in this draft class, that's because Matisse Thybulle is. Thybulle was the 2018-19 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, an honour given to the NCAA's best defender. He was also the back-to-back Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year and is the conference's all-time leader in steals.
He finished atop the conference in steals the past two seasons and led the entire NCAA in total steals this past season. His 7'1 wingspan and defensive prowess make him a legitimate 1-through-4 defender in the league.
22. Celtics - Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia
This is the third of the Celtics' three first round picks - and again, it's not likely they keep all three picks - but if they make a selection here, look for Boston to fill some of their uncertainties at point guard with Jerome.
Jerome was the premier playmaker for Virginia during their National Championship run. Their entire offence ran through him whether it was pushing the pace on the break, running pick-and-rolls with their athletic bigs or creating open shots for guys like DeAndre Hunter and Kyle Guy.
He's a great decision-maker and defender and at 6'5, he's big for his position. With Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier's free agency decisions up in the air, Jerome would give the Celtics some sort of insurance as a ball handler and floor general.
23. Grizzlies (via Jazz) - Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State
Kabengele has gained some traction with his pre-draft workouts and he has worked himself into an almost-certain first round pick.
He's big - 6'10 with a 7'3 wingspan - and possesses a nice shooting touch from the perimeter, converting 37% of his 3-point attempts at Florida State last season. He was the ACC Sixth Man of the Year and led his team in scoring despite coming off the bench, and that talent is secondary to his defence.
Originally, I had Kabengele going to the Utah Jazz with this selection. But even with the Mike Conley Jr. trade and this pick becoming the Grizzlies, I still believe Kabengele can be the right fit here.
He's a great rim protector and rebounder and would work as a backup big man to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas, should Valanciunas resign with the Grizzlies (which reports declare he intends to). Drafting Kabengele here would give Memphis a young, promising group of players in the frontcourt.
24. 76ers - Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina
The 76ers could use the 3-point shooting and Johnson gives them exactly that.
This is a team that was a few bounces away from potentially going to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond, so it's safe to say they're looking to win now. Johnson was a four-year (plus-one due to transferring from Pittsburgh to UNC) player in college and is 23 years old, so he should be ready to make an impact as a shooter off the bench right away.
He's a great spot-up 3-point shooter, converting trey's at a 40.5% clip for his collegiate career while shooting a career-best 45.7% from beyond the arc this past season.
25. Trail Blazers - KZ Okpala, SG/SF, Stanford
Okpala's athleticism, strength and size have him floating around this area of the draft. His consistency was a question mark in college but he has the frame and body to compete in the NBA at 6'8, 210 lbs.
He's explosive and a threat in transition and showed significant improvement on his outside jumper in his sophomore year at Stanford.
Okpala is certainly a project but could provide the Blazers with another athletic guard/forward off their bench that will blend in nicely with the rest of their rotation.
26. Cavaliers (via Rockets) - Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
Coming out of high school, Langford was a projected top-10 pick in this draft class. Even throughout the majority of his freshman season at Indiana, he was still seen to be a lottery pick.
His inconsistency in that one season has dropped him out of the lottery but his upside potential keeps him in the first round. His jump shot needs work and his decision making is questionable at times, but Langford still has the athleticism and body to make a career for himself in the NBA.
Langford is certainly a project, but the Cavaliers are not in win-now mode by any means. Adding another player to their roster with potential as a scorer and defender can only help.
27. Nets (via Nuggets) - Bruno Fernando, PF/C, Maryland
Fernando's name bounces around anywhere from the back end of the lottery to outside the lottery to the late first round.
He's a physical presence in the paint and was one of the best interior defenders in the NCAA last season. He's strong and powerful in the paint, often drawing double teams at Maryland. He's a solid passer out of the post and though his jumper could use some work, he's shown potential to be a consistent midrange shooter. He has a nice touch on his post moves and jump hooks and also flashes great footwork.
He's a shot blocker, a great rebounder and a massive lob target with elite athleticism.
Fernando would be a quality addition to the Nets' lacking frontcourt.
28. Warriors - Dylan Windler, SG, Belmont
With Klay Thompson expected to miss the majority of next season should he resign with the Warriors, Windler would be a great addition as a shooter off the bench for Golden State.
Windler has spurted up draft boards following a fantastic senior season at Belmont. He put on a show in their one NCAA Tournament game, dropping 35 points on seven made 3s while shooting 50% from beyond the arc.
He's 6'7, so he'll be able to shoot over the top of most shooting guards in the NBA. He has a quick, lefty release with range that has NBA scouts excited about his potential as a sharpshooter at the next level.
Winder is a great fit for the Warriors, forcing the defence to mark someone other than Stephen Curry on the perimeter.
29. Spurs (via Raptors) - Darius Bazley, SF/PF, USA
Bazley was a McDonald's All-American and five-star recruit coming out of high school. It's been a rocky road for the high school phenom since then - he committed and de-committed from Ohio State, then committed and de-committed from Syracuse, then elected to spend a year in the G League before changing his mind again and using the entire year to train for this upcoming NBA Draft.
He's a 6'10 athletic slasher who has some touch from midrange and the perimeter. He's a versatile defender and good rebounder and is a threat in transition as a ball handler or runner.
Bazley is a project, but the Spurs could use some depth at forward and he can truly play the 3 or the 4 at the next level. It's a low-risk/high-reward pick for San Antonio this late in the first round.
30. Bucks - Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
Samanic is a player who went from being absent on draft boards to a late first round pick after an impressive combine.
He's polished through-and-through offensively as a shooter, post-up scorer and passer. He's quick on his feet and has a high basketball IQ. With Nikola Mirotic and Brook Lopez both entering free agency unrestricted, this could be a great pickup for the Bucks with the final pick of the first round.
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