NBA Mock Draft 2019


Keenan Hairston

Duke University forward Zion Williamson and guard RJ Barrett high five during a home game this past season. Williamson and Barrett are both highly anticipated picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

By Andrew Eagle and Gabe Schaner

The NBA draft lottery used to be very predictable. But this year, the NBA reformed their draft lottery to discourage teams from losing games to get high picks. Many analysts speculated that the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns or Cleveland Cavaliers would get the first pick, but they have picks three, six and five, respectively. The New Orleans Pelicans only had a six percent chance of acquiring the first pick, according to the NBA—but they lucked out.

Since the draft lottery order finished unexpectedly, the draft should shape up to be interesting. Here are our first ten mock selections in the NBA draft.

No. 1: New Orleans Pelicans

The pick: Zion Williamson, Duke forward

As a player who has the potential to truly mold how the game will be played for decades to come, Williamson is the obvious selection here. His undeniable athletic ability matched with defensive dominance makes him a monster on the court. At Duke, he was a force to be reckoned with every game; with high-flying dunks and highlight-reel blocks. Scouts argue that he is difficult to coach, but then again, famous players like Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are also considered difficult to coach. As of now, it’s still unclear as to whether Williamson will enter the draft at all—he hasn’t yet signed an agent and there is some controversy over whether he would actually want to play for the Pelicans. But if Williamson enters the draft, as anticipated, expect the Pelicans to grab him right off the bat.

No. 2: Memphis Grizzlies

The pick: Ja Morant, Murray State point guard

Various analysts gave Morant a lot of recognition for his athletic finishes at the rim. Confident passing and a reliable jump shot make him extremely difficult to defend; these skills should effectively set him up for future NBA stardom. Memphis may not be a large market team—referring to a team’s media size, popularity and national coverage—but Morant could potentially improve their reputation as a team, shape his own legacy and attract stars from free agency to the Grizzlies. People have even called Morant the next Russell Westbrook because of their similar abilities on the court. Plus, he has the chance to learn from Grizzlies’ point guard Mike Conley, assuming the Grizzlies don’t trade him.

No. 3: (Projected trade with New York Knicks) Pelicans

The pick: RJ Barrett, Duke guard

The Knicks were painfully disappointed not to have received the first overall pick. That being said, acquiring a superstar player, like Anthony Davis, may numb their pain. The Knicks could trade their third overall pick and a future first round pick, along with current point guard Frank Ntilikina and guard Dennis Smith Jr. for Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis. The Pelicans would then pick Barrett at third overall. Barrett would be reunited with Zion Williamson, giving them a bright future. With Barrett, the Pelicans would be getting a player with a perfect frame for his position, long range potential and playmaking skills. Some worry that he isn’t an efficient or smart enough shooter, but he’s a safe pick nonetheless.

No. 4: Los Angeles Lakers

The pick: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech guard

Though Culver’s troubling shooting struggles and average free throw capability hurts his draft stock, the Lakers shouldn’t pass on him. Culver’s talents include dominating the open court, scoring and setting his teammates up in transition. He led Texas Tech in points, rebounds and assists. His skills would make him an excellent teammate for Lakers superstar Lebron James.

No. 5: Cleveland Cavaliers

The pick: De’Andre Hunter, Virginia forward

Considered a mini-reincarnation of NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard, soft-spoken Hunter goes to the Cavaliers at fifth overall in our mock draft. His defensive ability and knack for spreading the court on offense are his major claims to fame. Although NBA scouts have their concerns about his lack of playmaking, Hunter’s stellar national championship game performance increased  his stock. Hunter is equally as good at shooting threes as he is defending, which, alongside forward Kevin Love and point guard Collin Sexton, could be an asset to a needy Cavaliers team.

No. 6: Phoenix Suns           

The pick: Cam Reddish, Duke forward       

This member of the Duke big three, who scouts tend to overlook, ends up alongside shooting guard Devin Booker and center DeAndre Ayton in Phoenix. Impressive at times, but irrelevant at others, it’s hard to get a valid read on the Duke forward. Once considered a stellar three-point ace, Reddish has become borderline unreliable. But, his flashy shooting and versatile play guarantees him a spot in the backcourt.

No. 7: Chicago Bulls

The pick: Jaxson Hayes, Texas center

For a center, Hayes has above average ball-handling skills and a nice touch when passing the ball; he’s a natural athlete and he is a top-notch finisher. Hayes’ main weakness is his basketball IQ; many times during his season at Texas, he would foul against his coaches’ wishes and turn the ball over frequently. Being one of the youngest prospects in this draft, at age 19, he may take a few years to develop. With time, he could eventually become an all-star caliber center at the NBA level.

No. 8: Atlanta Hawks

The pick: Coby White, North Carolina guard

With mediocre Kevin Huerter as the best shooting guard and point guard Trae Young’s inconsistency on the court, the Hawks could benefit from some help at both guard positions. As a reliable, versatile point and shooting guard, White is the man for the job. His instinctive shooting and trustworthy passing will provide the Hawks a much-needed boost.

No. 9: Washington Wizards

The pick: Sekou Doumbouya, Guinea forward

Forward Doumbouya played at the professional level in France. He’s also one of the most polarizing potential lottery picks. Doumbouya has tremendous athletic potential and is outstanding in transition and playing defense, but lacks a strong basketball IQ. Because he started playing late—at age 12—he’s still adjusting to the rules of the game. It’s always risky to draft an overseas player this early, but the Wizards should decide to take a chance on Doumbouya in hopes that he can be somewhat reminiscent of a younger Giannis Antetokounmpo.

No. 10: Atlanta Hawks

The pick: Nassir Little, North Carolina forward

With a 28th overall defensive rating in the 2018-19 season, the Hawks could benefit from a classic defender like Little. Little has made large strides in his three point output, shooting 38% from long range in college. Scouts may criticize his undeveloped offensive skill set and his poor instincts, but his defense and shooting silences the critics. With Little, Atlanta would get an upgrade over sloppy forward Kent Bazemore, not to mention he would also be joining college teammate Coby White—who could go to the Hawks at eighth overall.

The best players remaining on the board after these ten picks would be Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, Oregon center Bol Bol and Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke. It will be interesting to see if they slide into the top ten. All of the suspense will be over once the draft takes place June 20.