The 2019 NBA Draft is just about here — and plenty of questions remain. So does the possibility of draft day trades and plenty of other questions. Will the Pelicans move the No. 4 pick — and, if so, for what? Will the Knicks really consider Darius Garland over RJ Barrett? Will De'Andre Hunter or Jarrett Culver come off the board first? Will Bol Bol go inside the lottery or outside of the top 20? Will two Tennessee players, or zero Tennessee players, be selected in the first round?
Lots of questions.
No definitive answers are yet available.
But, rest assured, this much remains certain: Zion Williamson will go No. 1 to the Pelicans. That's been locked-in since the moment New Orleans won the lottery and flipped its franchise overnight. Suddenly, losing Anthony Davis to a trade-demand doesn't sting so much — especially when the return included Lonzo Ball and a million picks. Suddenly, a bright future is not only possible but also probable. So congrats to the small-market team soon to be in possession of one of the sport's biggest stars. That first Lonzo-to-Zion alley-oop should be fun.
Round 1- Pick 1
Duke • Soph • 6'6" / 284 lbs
The Pelicans got lucky, won the lottery, and now the loss of Anthony Davis (that followed a trade demand) doesn't hurt so much. That's because New Orleans is replacing one star with another. That's because Zion is on the way. He's a franchise-changing forward — and already one of the biggest attractions in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Ja Morant PG
Murray State • Jr • 6'2" / 174 lbs
The Grizzlies have missed the playoffs two consecutive seasons. Mike Conley is on the way out. So the Grit-and-Grind era is done. It's been replaced by a rebuild that starts with Jaren Jackson and will be aided by Morant — the unheralded high school recruit who is a great athlete, creative passer and, if everything breaks correctly, future All-Star at the point guard position.
Round 1 - Pick 3
RJ Barrett SF
Duke • Jr • 6'6" / 214 lbs
The Knicks are reportedly showing late interest in Darius Garland, and I understand why. But, ultimately, I'll be surprised if Barrett isn't the pick. This has, after all, long been considered a three-player draft. So while it's reasonable for New York to at least get a good look at the one-and-done guard from Vanderbilt, the one-and-done wing from Duke will likely be the one playing home games inside Madison Square Garden next season.
From Los Angeles Lakers
Round 1 - Pick 4
Virginia • Jr • 6'8" / 221 lbs
The Pelicans are interested in moving this pick — and, if they move it, it'll probably be to a franchise interested in drafting Garland. So keep an eye on that. But, if New Orleans uses the pick, and keeps Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday on the roster, the best non-point guard available is Hunter — the two-way wing who shot a nice percentage from 3-point range this past season while earning NABC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Vanderbilt • Jr • 6'1" / 192 lbs
It's hard to imagine Garland dropping any farther than this — and it doesn't really matter that Cleveland drafted Collin Sexton last year. The Cavs need interesting prospects regardless of position. And most scouts believe Garland is a top-five prospect in this draft even though he only played five games at Vanderbilt.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Coby White PG
North Carolina • Jr • 6'5" / 195 lbs
You could argue nobody projected to go in the top half of the lottery helped himself with scouts more this past season than White — evidence being how he went from somebody no one projected as a first-round pick in November to somebody now set to go very early in this draft. He's a point guard with size who can really push it and score.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Texas Tech • Jr • 6'6" / 195 lbs
The number of prospects ranked outside of the top 300 of their high school class who become lottery picks after two years of college is very low. But Culver is about to join the exclusive club. He plays both sides of the court, has a high basketball IQ and great work ethic. There are no red flags at all, I'm told.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Cam Reddish SF
Duke • Jr • 6'8" / 217 lbs
Let the record show I would not take Reddish in the top 10 because I'm not all that interested in shooters who rarely make shots. But all indications are that Atlanta is willing to spend one of their top-10 picks on the one-and-done/up-and-down freshman from Duke. And, I think, the pick the Hawks will spend on Reddish will probably be this pick.
Round 1 - Pick 9
With John Wall still healing from a ruptured Achilles, the Wizards are rebuilding and should focus on nothing but adding young prospects who can be building blocks. Doumbouya qualifies as one. He's farther along defensively than he is offensively. But there's no debating Doumbouya has a chance to be a nice two-way forward.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Texas • Jr • 6'11" / 220 lbs
Texas enrolled four freshmen from the Class of 2018; Hayes, at the time, wasn't considered among the best two. But the late-bloomer spent this past season establishing himself as a lottery talent with incredible upside. His block percentage of 10.6 rated 19th nationally and suggests Hayes can be a rim-protector for a Hawks team that figures to be led into the future by Trae Young.
Round 1 - Pick 11
North Carolina • Jr • 6'5" / 220 lbs
Little entered college as the reigning MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. He looked like a future top-5 pick. But the 6-6 wing just wasn't that great in his one season at North Carolina — mostly, I think, because he got stuck playing behind quality upperclassmen.That said, he's too young and athletic to give up on. Count me as someone who still believes in the natural gifts.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Kentucky • Jr • 6'7" / 230 lbs
Not all freshmen who return to school for their sophomore seasons to improve their stock actually improve their stock. But Washington definitely helped himself this season — mostly because he went from a 23.8% 3-point shooter (on limited opportunities) as a freshman to somebody who made 42.3% of the 78 3-pointers he attempted as a sophomore. He projects as a stretch-the-floor forward who can also work around the rim.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Gonzaga • Jr • 6'8" / 230 lbs
The days of on-the-block power forwards are over. Stretch-4s who can guard in space and consistently make 3-pointers are more preferable now — all of which is good news for Hachimura, who can punish smaller opponents around the rim, if necessary, and exploit bigger opponents on the perimeter. Put another way, Hachimura is a matchup problem. And as long as he continues to improve like he did each year in the WCC, he should have a productive professional career.
From Sacramento Kings
Round 1 - Pick 14
Tyler Herro SG
Kentucky • Jr • 6'5" / 195 lbs
Nobody sends more one-and-done guards to the draft than Kentucky; Herro is the next in a long list. He did a nice job this past season proving he's way more than "just a shooter" -- which is what many labeled him coming out of high school, perhaps because of little more than stereotypes. He's a sensible option for a Celtics franchise whose roster seems set to endure real change.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Virginia Tech • Jr • 6'5" / 205 lbs
Alexander-Walker made a significant jump from his freshman season to his sophomore season and averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists for a Virginia Tech team that made the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history. More importantly, for his NBA future at least, Alexander-Walker showed he's a 6-5 guard capable of playing on or off the ball and guarding at least three positions — all of which is why NBA scouts have been buzzing about him since November.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Indiana • Jr • 6'5" / 216 lbs
Playing the season with an injured hand destroyed Langford's shooting percentages and probably cost him several spots in this draft. But he's still a guard with size who consistently scored big in the Big Ten. So the former five-star recruit remains an intriguing prospect who is worth taking a flyer on outside of the lottery.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 17
Gonzaga • Jr • 6'8" / 215 lbs
If it's true that Atlanta would prefer to add something other than another young player to an extremely young roster, why not go with a 22-year-old like Clarke? Zion had the highest Player Efficiency Rating in college basketball this past season. But Clarke's PER ranked second nationally and was more than three points better than everybody else's. The San Jose State transfer who finished his college career at Gonzaga is a high-energy big who is a plus-player on both ends of the court. Any franchise obsessed with advanced stats, which is most, should consider him in the teens.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Franchises now prefer skilled floor-spacing bigs who can comfortably step away from the basket and make shots like Bitadze. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with a motor that runs well. His addition would give the Pacers coaching staff some interesting options in the frontcourt.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Florida State • Soph • 6'10" / 250 lbs
Kabengele is a late-bloomer who has helped himself tremendously in predraft phase. His workouts have reportedly been impressive. Concerns about his knees have largely been alleviated. Almost nobody had him projected as a first-round pick at the end of the season. But now it'll be a surprise if he doesn't go in the top 20.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Bol Bol C
Oregon • Jr • 7'2" / 220 lbs
One of the most unique prospects, and certainly the most polarizing prospect, in this draft is Bol — who projects as a pick-and-pop/space-the-floor center because of his ability to shoot, but also comes with real question marks connected to his ability to guard in space. Is he worth a gamble somewhere in the first round? Yes, I think so. But Bol might be the riskiest prospect invited to the Green Room.
Round 1 - Pick 21
North Carolina • Jr • 6'8" / 210 lbs
The Thunder need shooting in the worst way. Johnson is the best shooter in this draft. So if the 23-year-old UNC alum is available at this point, Oklahoma City would be wise to scoop him up. He made 45.7% of the 5.8 3-pointers he attempted per game in his final season at North Carolina. The Thunder should be able to plug-and-play him from the jump.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Kentucky • Jr • 6'6" / 220 lbs
Kentucky should have three players selected in the first round — and they really could go in any order. For what it's worth, I have Johnson as the last to come off the board. But if he's actually the first, it won't be surprising considering he's a nice athlete who shot well from 3-point range in his one season at UK.
From Utah Jazz
Round 1 - Pick 23
Ty Jerome SG
Virginia • Jr • 6'5" / 195 lbs
Show me a smart player with good size for his position who can play either backcourt spot, dribble, pass, shoot and be tough on the defensive end of the court, and I'll show you somebody who will have a long career playing professional basketball. Jerome is such a player. The Grizzlies need shooting. He can provide it. A Morant-Jerome backcourt in a few years, with JJJ in the middle, could be really, really nice.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Kevin Porter SG
Southern California • Jr • 6'4" / 203 lbs
From a talent perspective, Porter would be a steal for the Sixers this low. But he's done very little to eliminate various red flags, which is why he could be available here. He spent part of his freshman season injured, part of it suspended and was something less than the model student-athlete. None of that means Porter won't emerge as a top player from this draft. But some of that is why he's unlikely to be one of the first 20 players selected.
Round 1 - Pick 25
KZ Okpala SF
Stanford • Jr • 6'8" / 215 lbs
A late growth spurt combined with some impressive development allowed Okpala to go from a borderline top-45 prospect in the Class of 2017 to a likely first-round pick two years later. He projects as a nice combo forward for the way basketball is currently being played at the NBA level.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 26
Tennessee • Soph • 6'5" / 241 lbs
Schofield was just a 3-star prospect in high school -- a 6-5 forward from Illinois who wasn't even considered a top-250 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports. Now he's 6-6 with a sculpted body and reputation for being a tireless worker who is loved by his coaches. Combine that with the fact that he made more than 40% of 393 3-point attempts in the past three seasons, and there's a place on an NBA roster for him.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 27
Tennessee • Jr • 6'6" / 236 lbs
The two-time SEC Player of the Year was so productive the past two seasons that scouts who previously questioned whether what he does will translate to the next level are starting to wonder why it won't. It's true that he's neither a great athlete nor a serious threat from the perimeter. But Williams really knows how to play. And, more and more often, players described that way are carving out roles for themselves in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Georgia • Jr • 6'11" / 215 lbs
That Claxton reportedly got a late invitation to the Green Room suggests the NBA believes he'll be drafted in the first round. Kevon Looney is an unrestricted free agent. So it might be wise for the Warriors to add a frontcourt player who can do some of the things they need frontcourt players to do in their offense.
From Toronto Raptors
Round 1 - Pick 29
Arizona State • Jr • 6'4" / 215 lbs
Dort became just the third consensus top-50 high school prospect to enroll at Arizona State , and he was a big reason why the Sun Devils made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year under Bobby Hurley. His 222-pound frame is rock-solid. And although Dort is not a natural point guard, he did spend part of this past season proving he can play on or off the ball, which helped him with scouts.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Chuma Okeke PF
Auburn • Soph • 6'6" / 229 lbs
Detroit acquired this pick from Milwaukee on the eve of the draft thanks to the Bucks needing to clear salary cap space. In other words, the Pistons now have what basically amounts to a free and extra swing in the first round — and they can afford to use it on a talent like Okeke who might've been a lottery pick if he didn't suffer a torn ACL in the NCAA Tournament.