One week ago our first mock of the 2019 NBA Draft was posted, with Duke’s Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s RJ Barrett being the top three picks. That’s been the general consensus this spring, and that’s likely to remain the case on June 20 barring a wild turn of events. With the NBA Draft Combine having been held this past weekend in Chicago, teams have some more data on prospects that aren’t assured of landing in the lottery, with some players improving their chances of being selected in the first round and others seeing their draft “stock” take a hit.
Here is our latest mock draft, with the first change coming at pick number six.
1. New Orleans: PF Zion Williamson, Duke
In the aftermath of the draft lottery it was suggested that, if he was not thrilled with the prospect of going to New Orleans Williamson could simply return to Duke for his sophomore season. That wasn’t going to happen, and Williamson’s stepfather ruled this out during an interview with a Louisiana radio station. Unless a serious medical issue comes to light during a pre-draft examination or the 6-foot-7, 285-pound phenom suffers a serious injury between now and June 20, Zion Williamson should be the first player picked.
As noted last week there’s some work to be done with his shooting form/touch, which is understandable given his size, but there are so many enticing physical tools to work with. Add in the work ethic and the fact that Williamson’s a good teammate, and the Pelicans should feel good about this partnership.
2. Memphis: PG Ja Morant, Murray State
It was reported last week that Memphis has been focused on Morant since the lottery, and the pairing makes sense. The Grizzlies, still working through the process of hiring a new head coach, are in the midst of a rebuild that will take some time. Of course the team has a borderline all-star point guard in Mike Conley, but he’s made it clear in the past that he isn’t interested in being part of a lengthy rebuild. Memphis wasn’t able to trade Conley at the trade deadline, and it’s possible that they revisit this during the summer. If he isn’t traded he can serve as a mentor to Morant, who was a consensus All-American this past season.
3. New York: SF RJ Barrett, Duke
With Duke teammate Zion Williamson playing as well as he did in 2018-19, it may have been forgotten by some that RJ Barrett began the college basketball season as the top draft-eligible talent in the eyes of many. Whether or not that ultimately comes to fruition remains to be seen, with Barrett’s high school coach Kevin Boyle (who has also coached Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, among other talented players, during his career) stating his belief that Barrett could be the best player in this class. Barrett has the skill set to be a star at the next level, but as is the case with any young talent the situation he lands in will be key. At this point in the draft he’s the best available player on the board, so he should be the choice for New York.
4. LA Lakers: SG Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
As stated in last week’s mock Culver is comfortable playing off the ball, which he did quite a bit as a freshman at Texas Tech. That changed sophomore year, as Keenan Evans graduated and another supplementary piece from that Elite Eight team (Zhaire Smith) left for the NBA. Culver was the primary option for the Red Raiders, winning Big 12 Player of the Year and leading the team to the national title game. In Los Angeles he would play off the ball more, and that could lead to his shooting the ball at a percentage similar to what he produced as a freshman (38% from three). Culver has the size and athleticism needed to be a solid defender as well, which would help the Lakers moving forward.
5. Cleveland: SF De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
John Beilein’s first season as an NBA head coach will be with a team that is in the midst of a rebuild, with guard Collin Sexton set to begin his second season in the fall. While Kevin Love remains on the roster this is a group that’s young and needs more talent as the franchise rebuilds in the post-LeBron James era. De’Andre Hunter would help, as he comes from a program that has been very successful in recent years and he performs well on both ends of the floor. Hunter’s averages, especially when it comes to steals and blocks, don’t jump off the page but that’s more a product of Virginia’s deliberate offense and pack-line defense than it is individual deficiencies. The Cavs could go the “upside” route with Duke’s Cam Reddish, but Hunter doesn’t lack for potential, either.
6. Phoenix: PG Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
Garland and Coby White switch spots here, but based upon the board it’s a safe bet that Phoenix goes with a point guard in this spot. Point guard is a position of need for the Suns, as Devin Booker needs a perimeter sidekick capable of making things easier on him when it comes to finding scoring opportunities. Garland only played in four-plus games at Vanderbilt due to a torn meniscus, so his medical reports will be scrutinized by NBA teams. But he’s good off the dribble in ball-screen situations and a capable perimeter shooter as well. Garland left the combine before it even began, fueling speculation that he has a promise from a team in the lottery. At this point it feels safe to assume that he’ll be a lottery pick, with the question being where he’ll land.
7. Chicago: PG Coby White, North Carolina
White wouldn’t be a bad pickup for Chicago by any stretch of the imagination, as he’s one of the most talented players in this draft class. The former Tar Heel is very quick in the open floor, which applies pressure to defenses and opens things up for his teammates. Add in the fact that White averaged 2.3 three-pointers per game and shot 35.5% from three, and he has to at the very least be respected as a perimeter shooter. Adding a point guard to the mix would allow Chicago to use Zach LaVine off the ball more, and with Kris Dunn having a team option and Ryan Arcidiacono set to be a restricted free agent, the franchise can address a roster need in this spot as well.
8. Atlanta: SF Cam Reddish, Duke
Reddish’s physical measurements at the combine were good, as he measured out at 6-foot-8 with shoes and had a standing reach of 8 feet, 9 1/2 inches and a 7-foot-, 1/2-inch wingspan. His lone season at Duke wasn’t as successful (from an individual standpoint) as many expected it would be, but Reddish still has plenty of talent. Atlanta could be the team that unlocks said talent, as the Hawks have a young point guard in Trae Young who’s very good at getting teammates the ball in spots where they can be successful. Given the physical tools it wouldn’t be a surprise if Reddish were to play well enough during the pre-draft process to move up draft boards, but this would be a good spot for him.
9. Washington: PF/SF Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges (France)
Doumbouya is one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft class, as he won’t turn 19 until December, and at 6-foot-9, 230 pounds he already has the size of an NBA combo forward. In addition to the size he’s athletic enough to defend multiple positions, which can be a calling card of his as he continues to polish his offensive skill set. Washington will have some potential holes to address in the front court with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Sam Dekker (restricted) all set to be free agents, and picking Doumbouya would help in that regard.
10. Atlanta (via Dallas): PF/C Jaxson Hayes, Texas
Hayes played his way into lottery pick consideration throughout the course of the season, and it doesn’t hurt that he won’t turn 19 until May 23. A bit raw offensively, the 6-foot, 11 1/2-inch (in shoes) power forward/center has the athleticism and instincts needed to be a solid contributor defensively from the start. He didn’t produce much away from the basket this past season, and there’s work to be done in the rebounding department as well. But the shot-blocking instincts are too good to pass up at this point in the draft.
11. Minnesota: SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Clarke didn’t have the best measurements at the combine, as his wingspan matched his height in shoes (6’8.25”), and his standing reach (8’6”) was in the middle of the pack among small forwards measured. But the athletic testing numbers were good, as he had one of the best lane agility drill times (10.61 seconds) among small forwards tested and also scored well in the standing vertical (34 inches) and max vertical (40 1/2 inches). Clarke has some work to do on his perimeter shot, but the ability to defend multiple positions is difficult to ignore. In the case of Minnesota, the Timberwolves have the scorers (Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins being the top options) needed to cover for a young player not being a lights-out offensive talent, and Clarke can provide some cover to those guys on the other end.
12. Charlotte: SG Romeo Langford, Indiana
Langford measured out at 6-feet, 6-inches tall in shoes at the combine, and the 6-foot, 11-inch wingspan ranked second-best among shooting guards in Chicago. He’s still working his way back to full strength after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right (shooting) thumb, so it remains to be seen just how much he’ll be able to do during pre-draft workouts. That being said, Langford’s positional versatility and ability to score on multiple levels make him a solid option for any team picking late in the lottery.
13. Miami: PF Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Hachimura is coming off of an All-American junior season, as he averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting just over 59% from the field. He isn’t the best perimeter shooter, but the ability to score from the mid-range and in can’t be ignored. Hachimura shot just under 74% from the foul line this season, and with some work he can develop into a more comfortable perimeter shooter. Miami doesn’t have the cap room to make major additions to the roster via free agency, so drafting a “proven” player may be the way to go as opposed to gambling on upside.
14. Boston (via Sacramento): SF PJ Washington, Kentucky
After going through the pre-draft process last spring Washington decided to return to Kentucky, and in 2018-19 he did a good job of applying the lessons learned on the floor. His height (6-foot-8 in shoes) likely means that Washington will be more of a combo forward at the NBA level, and the strides made playing away from the basket as a sophomore should help with the transition. What Boston’s roster will look like next season is up in the air, as a decent chunk of the rotation will either be free agents or have the ability to opt out and hit the open market this summer. Washington could be a good fit for the Celtics, who have three first round picks.
15: Detroit: SF Nassir Little, North Carolina
Little didn’t participate in any of the on-court work at the combine, which was to be expected. The former Tar Heel measured out at 6-foot-6 in shoes, and his 7-foot, 1/4-inch wingspan was second-longest among the small forwards in Chicago. He may not have been as productive as expected during his lone college season, but there’s certainly intrigue. With Little’s size it isn’t difficult to see teams using him at both forward spots, and he has the skill set needed to make it work as well. How well he shoots the ball during pre-draft workouts will certainly impact his draft standing, as he shot just under 27% from three on 1.4 attempts per game (the 77% number from the foul line is a positive, however).