2019 NBA Mock Draft: Pelicans win top pick in lottery and get chance to take Zion Williamson at No. 1
Here's how the NBA Draft could go after New Orleans nabs the No. 1 pick in the lottery drawing
CHICAGO -- Well, were you not entertained? Who knew the draft lottery could be so fun?
The results of the NBA Draft Lottery are in, and New Orleans -- yes, seriously, the longshot Pelicans! -- won Tuesday night's lottery and converted the 6% chance of securing the top pick. The same Pelicans team that just went through a rather public embarrassment with their star player, Anthony Davis, requesting a trade. Talk about some good karma, right?
That means a lot of high-flying dunks (and a sold-out arena) could be headed to New Orleans -- and fast. Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson? Now that's just not fair. But so long as Williamson (or Davis) isn't dealt, this talent could soon be headed to the Big Easy to team up with Davis. And seriously: Who is trading Zion Williamson?
New Orleans isn't the only major winner (in stunning fashion) from Tuesday's main event. For a draft that's perceived as star-studded, and even somewhat star-heavy (particularly inside the top 3), the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks have to be feeling good after securing the Nos. 2 and 3 picks, respectively. (I'm sorry, Knicks fans, I know that can't be true.) But as we barrel towards the combine this week, those picks appear (for now) to be spent next month on Murray State point guard Ja Morant and Duke guard RJ Barrett, the consensus top prospects not named Zion, in some order.
So with the lottery results officially in and the draft order officially set, here's our updated mock draft of how we see the first round of June's draft shaking out.
Kyle Boone's latest NBA Mock Draft
Zion Williamson | Duke | Fr | PF | 6-7
Zion Williamson and Anthony Davis -- the top draft prospect and top trade asset -- together on the same team? Oh, you better believe it. This will satisfy a basketball fan's deepest fantasies, with perhaps two of the top prospects to come out of college in the one-and-done era playing on the same team.
Ja Morant | Murray St. | Soph | PG | 6-3
Mike Conley has defined what Grizzlies basketball has meant this decade. But he's aging, and he likely doesn't line up with the team's rebuild. What better way than to reboot along a young point guard in Morant who is the best passer and second best prospect? Memphis gets best available player while simultaneously filling its biggest need.
RJ Barrett | Duke | Fr | SF | 6-7
This is all about taking the best available talent. Sure, point guard is a position of need -- which makes Coby White or Darius Garland enticing -- but Barrett is the best prospect here. Bet on the talent. He's a competitive forward who can create shots for himself and for others, and a foundational piece New York can build around -- even if it's not the Duke star Knicks fans hoped to get.
De'Andre Hunter | Virginia | SF | 6-7
The ultimate plug-and-play prospect in this class, Hunter is a gem who can be a role player from day one. He's not going to be a star, but with LeBron entering his prime, the Lakers need a sound two-way player and Hunter can be exactly that. He shot 43.8% from 3-point range last season for the title-winning Cavaliers, and showed himself a versatile defender who can guard numerous positions.
Cam Reddish | Duke | Fr | SF | 6-8
The draft is top-heavy with star power in the top three, so for the Cavs, who missed the top three, why not swing for the fences? Reddish presents endless upside with as much talent as anyone in this class. Despite an underwhelming freshman campaign at Duke, it's feasible he develops into the star he was destined to be in a different fit away from Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
Darius Garland | Vanderbilt | Fr | PG | 6-2
No, it's not Ja Morant. But Darius Garland is seen by some to have the potential of developing into the draft's best point guard in the long term. He played only five games in college before suffering a season-ending injury, but when he played, his scoring punch and playmaking was A-plus.
Coby White | North Carolina | Fr | PG | 6-5
The Bulls need a point guard, and at No. 7, they can get a score-first option in Coby White who has plenty of room to grow and who fits the Bulls' long-term plan to win. Chicago could absolutely have lucked into Ja Morant or even Darius Garland, but White, from a schematic standpoint, actually figures to be a really good fit. His decision-making will be a work in progress but he's going to score efficiently. He broke Michael Jordan's freshman scoring record at UNC and is one of this draft's most prolific bucket-getters.
Jarrett Culver | Texas Tech | Soph | SG | 6-6
Culver is a perfect fit in Atlanta. His best role is not as a primary playmaker, but as a secondary facilitator and (overqualified) 3-and-D player. In Atlanta, alongside Trae Young, he can be exactly that. When he was less a playmaker and more a glue guy as a freshman at Texas Tech, he made 38.4% of his 3-pointers and fits perfectly as a floor-spacing defensive stopper.
Nassir Little | N. Carolina | Fr | SF | 6-6
Little was once a promising prospect who sacrificed a lot in his one and only season at North Carolina -- including his draft stock. But bulking up to play power forward is easily undone, and trimming down to play on the perimeter in the NBA should unlock the elite athletic abilities he flashed before college. For the Wizards he can be a cornerstone to build with alongside Brad Beal, and he presents as much star power as anyone available at No. 9.
Brandon Clarke | Gonzaga | Jr | PF | 6-8
Clarke is perhaps the safest lottery pick; he's perhaps not a superstar-in-waiting, but he's also perhaps immediately playable. He led the NCAA in blocked shots and field goal percentage last season at Gonzaga, and that efficiency should translate to a Hawks team where he likely won't get many touches as is. When he touches it, Hawks fans should feel confident he's going to do the right thing with the rock and not squander possessions.
Rui Hachimura | Gonzaga | Jr | PF | 6-8
Hachimura, even after several seasons of seasoning in the NBA, is still a young and blossoming forward who has star power. At No. 11, the Wolves shouldn't waste a second thinking on it and snatch him up. He's not a defensive expert, but he's got the physical tools to become one. And he's not an offensive go-to, but similarly, he could be one. At the very least, he'd be an excellent option alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt. And Hachimura's got a bonus trait: He should be switchable either as a stretch big or as a swing man.
Jaxson Hayes | Texas | Fr | PF | 6-11
The Hornets need to add depth at a number of positions, and Hayes can provide as much in addition to potential star power in the long term. Remember: he didn't start a basketball game until his senior year (!) of high school. He's still scratching the surface, and even now he projects to be an above average rim-runner and shot-stuffer in the NBA.
Grant Williams | Tennessee | Jr | PF | 6-7
Strong, physically-imposing two-way player who did a little of everything at Tennessee while winning consecutive SEC Player of the Year honors. Projecting him to the NBA is seamless, too; he played primarily pwoer forward with the Vols but showed strong flashes and skill as a perimeter player, evidenced by his 32.6% accuracy from 3-point range and off-the-dribble playmaking. He's perhaps not a star, but a safe pick for the Heat who can contribute even in a deep frontcourt rotation.
Sekou Doumbouya | France | SF | 6-9
Doumbouya, a long-time French prodigy, projects as a floor-spacing big man who can knock down 3-pointers and create plays from the post. He's still raw -- and still growing, having just turned 18 before Christmas -- but he's got lottery talent. The Celtics could develop him into a usable big man when Al Horford eventually hangs it up, and they've not been shy drafting international players.
KZ Okpala | Stanford | Soph | SF | 6-9
Okpala fits the archetype of what an NBA wing should look like to a T; he's long, lean and mobile, with an improving jumper to boot. Surrounded by better talent in the NBA, he has the athletic ability and upside to be a strong contributor in the NBA.
PJ Washington | Kentucky | Soph | SG | 6-8
Washington's decision to return to Kentucky for a second season -- a true rarity -- paid big dividends for him. He bolstered his stock as a likely first-round draft pick by shooting 42.3% from 3-point range, averaging 15.2 points, and serving as a multi-faceted forward for a talented Wildcats crew. The Magic are good on depth in the frontcourt, so that's a minor pause, but his scoring ability should ease any concerns about how he'll fit.
Romeo Langford | Indiana | Fr | SG | 6-6
Langford was a prolific scorer at Indiana, but he did so inefficiently. Is that who he'll be in the NBA? Or is an injury on his shooting hand, which he played through, something that must be factored in? No matter the answer, the Nets should pull the trigger on Langford if he's available here. Yes, his release needs some work. And yes, some of his tendencies need to be sharpened to be an NBA rotation player. But his upside at No. 17 is too good to pass up.
Kevin Porter Jr. | USC | Fr | SG | 6-6
There are concerns about how invested Porter Jr. is in becoming a star; there are no concerns about whether he's physically gifted enough or not to reach that mountain. Porter Jr. is one of the most talented athletes in this class, with a smooth stroke and playmaking to boot. If he reaches his potential, Indy will be getting a productive wing player who can complement Victor Oladipo perfectly.
Luguentz Dort | Arizona State | Fr | SG | 6-4
Dort is a bowling ball still raw and undeveloped, but the physical pieces are in place for him to grow into mountainous man -- and in the right system, a productive one, too. He's a physically imposing guard who can attack off the rim, defend multiple positions, and capable of getting hot at any time. Consistency as a scorer wasn't there at Arizona State at all times, but if anyone can bring that out of him it's the Spurs.
Pick acquired via trade with Los Angeles Clippers
Keldon Johnson | Kentucky | Fr | SG | 6-6
Johnson fits what the Celtics love to look for in a draft pick: a player with a high motor and switchability. Johnson can guard numerous positions on the perimeter and, early on, could be a 3-and-D player in Boston. As he evolves as a playmaker and earns trust with the franchise, his physical traits could help him develop into an All-Star caliber player.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Virginia Tech | Soph | SG | 6-5
Alexander-Walker is a combo guard who can really score it and, with time, could develop into a playmaker on the right developmental path. In his sophomore season at Virginia Tech, he really improved as a ball-handler and decision-maker. What makes Alexander-Walker most appealing, of course, is his shooting: He made 37.4% of his 3-pointers last season while shouldering a significant load on offense for a talented Hokies team. OKC could use some shooting, and Alexander-Walker is an excellent fit.
Bol Bol | Oregon | Fr | C | 7-2
The list of 7-foot-plus athletes who can shoot 3-pointers and protect the rim at a high level begins and ends with Bol in this draft. And for a Boston franchise that could be shooting for a huge hit late in the lottery, he's worth a flyer despite his injury history. Bol shot 52% from 3-point range and blocked 2.7 shots per game in nine contests at Oregon before a season-ending injury derailed his Ducks tenure.
Tyler Herro | Kentucky | Fr | SG | 6-5
Donovan Mitchell needs help in the backcourt, and in the form of a young-but-blossoming Kentucky star, Utah could get him some by drafting Tyler Herro. Herro's going to be billed as a sharpshooter whose main talent is to, you know, shoot. But Herro's got some playmaking ability in him, and he rebounded well at UK for a player of his size and stature.
Ty Jerome | Virginia | Jr | SG | 6-5
The Sixers need a shooting threat (like, say, Landry Shamet, who they traded last season). Jerome would fill that need and perhaps a more critical one. With his ability to navigate an offense he could also serve as the backup floor general to Ben Simmons. Jerome was one of the NCAA's best spot-up shooters last season, so with or without J.J. Redick, he'd be a useful pawn in The Process moving forward.
Talen Horton-Tucker | Iowa St. | Fr | SF | 6-4
Horton-Tucker's going to be a name that rises in Chicago this week and later this summer. Teams love his physicality and raw mental toughness, and his competive streak on the court has drawn comparisons to Marcus Smart, a similarly sized guard coming out of college. For Portland he could develop into a terror on defense -- and a two-way star if his jumper improves.
Pick acquired via trade with Houston
Cameron Johnson | North Carolina | SF | 6-9
In this scenario, the Cavs have already nabbed a young up-and-comer with their first pick, and can afford to complement their class with experience. Enter Johnson, a 6-9 forward from UNC who came into his own as a prospect in his last season with the Tar Heels when he shot 50.6% from the floor and 45.7% from 3-point range.
Pick acquired via trade with Denver
Admiral Schofield | Tennessee | PF | Jr | 6-6
Schofield brings experience and versatility to the table and when we're talking about a young-but-loaded Nets team, he projects to be an early contributor playing inside and out. Schofield's perhaps not big enough to play power forward as he did at UT, but his perimeter talents should make him a capable wing man who can hold his own in the post when needed in Brooklyn.
Mfioundu Kabengele | Florida State | Soph | PF | 6-10
Golden State's depth in the frontcourt could soon be lacking, dependent upon what Demarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant choose to do this offseason. In Kabengele, the Warriors could nab a floor-spacing big man who can hit 3-pointers, protect the rim and switch defenders on the perimeter.
Pick acquired via trade with Toronto
Matisse Thybulle | Washington | Sr | SG | 6-5
Thybulle is the draft's most tenacious defender. Gregg Popovich will absolutely love him. He was a great team defender in a zone system at Washington, but his defensive instincts will translate immediately. And in the Spurs' system, he should be able to improve as a scorer and develop into a prototypical 3-and-D talent.
Daniel Gafford | Arkansas | C | Soph | 6-11
Gafford is a long and lanky rim-runner who can be for the Bucks what Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova simply cannot: An elite athlete. Gafford plays above the rim and protects it as his own on the other end. In the NBA, he should be a sturdy big man who can finish lobs from the dunker spot and block shots -- the perfect modern day big man in the NBA.
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