2019 NBA Mock Draft: Vanderbilt's Darius Garland checks all the boxes to be picked up by the Pelicans at No. 4
The Grizzlies acquiring the No. 23 pick from the Jazz in the Mike Conley trade won't be the last deal made
If the last few days are any indication, get ready for what has potential to be the most trade-heavy draft in NBA history. It's going to be wild.
New Orleans, Memphis and New York are seemingly locked in 1-3, but after that, it's feeling like anything is possible. Over the weekend, the Pelicansin a blockbuster trade that will send Anthony Davis to Los Angeles. The Pelicans now have an asset they can deal before or on draft night -- or they can stay put and cash in on two of the top four picks.
It's going to set the tone for the rest of the lottery, which will have ripple effects on picks 15-60. It's a near-certainty that Atlanta and Boston, both with three picks in the first round, will trade at least one of their slots. Sure, Zion, Ja and RJ are going to be the biggest stories, but the shipping of picks like the swapping of Halloween candy could be the theme that defines the night.
Here are the teams with multiple 2019 first-round picks:
- Atlanta (3).
- New Orleans (2).
- Boston (3).
- Cleveland (2).
- San Antonio (2).
- Brooklyn (2).
- Memphis (2)
Things will get more chaotic in the second round, with the likes of the Hawks, 76ers, Celtics, Kings and Pelicans owning multiple picks. Many draft slots will be shipped. It's plausible we see players picked to one franchise, only to be traded to another 30, 60, 90 minutes later. So with all this in mind, the mock draft posted below is much more aligned with my prospect rankings as opposed to (foolishly) attempting to forecast how each team will make their draft decisions.
If 20 of the 60 picks wind up getting traded, it wouldn't be a surprise.
And if it feels like this draft sort of snuck up on you, well, it did. The NBA hasn't held its draft this early in June since of 1986.
Jump to a specific round
Round 1 - Pick 1
The lock of all locks. With Williamson going to New Orleans all but a formality, let's consider what will Zion look like and where will he rate in the league three years from now? And Five? Ten? Is the Lakers-Pels trade going to set him up for success? I haven't found one person predicting the worst, which is refreshing. It's almost impossible to argue against him being taken first, which is why I find his future to be so fascinating.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Whereas Williamson's body brings about questions in regard to long-term health and viability, Morant's style and natural position of point guard appear to make him less of a risk. It's his intrinsic improvisational skills that set him apart from all other point guards in this year's draft. Morant uses the pick-and-roll beautifully. He is an anticipatory point guard.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Don't buy into some of the chatter about how Barrett was overshadowed at Duke or is undervalued now. No. Not at all. He was Duke's leading scorer, was responsible for its success when Williamson didn't play for multiple games, and is easily acknowledged as being in the same class as Williamson and Morant now. Probable future All-Star.
From Los Angeles Lakers
Round 1 - Pick 4
I don't have Garland at No. 4 on my big board, but there's too much momentum behind him to have him lower than this at this point. Maybe it's smoke and mirrors. Maybe New Orleans moves the pick. Regardless, he's a smart floor leader who checks a lot of boxes NBA executives look for. Heady, good rep, great shot-creator.
Round 1 - Pick 5
For me, Hunter is an easy choice at No. 5. He outplayed Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver on the biggest of college stages -- the national title game -- and rates more impressively than Culver in a number of measurables. He's more experienced, better defensively and sturdier. Cavs have needs. He fills them.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Culver is the best option for the Suns at No. 6. His work ethic is unquestioned, his athleticism is underrated, if anything, and he can be a starting-level by the end of next season.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Few players were more entertaining last season than White, who Roy Williams told me was the second fastest point guard he ever had (only behind Ty Lawson). White's a top-10 lock because he's a solid 6-5, can pass, shoots well enough, can drive into the lane in myriad ways and is regarded as a good teammate. Without him, UNC would have not been a No. 1 seed last season, not even close.
Round 1 - Pick 8
I'll gamble high here and place Hayes and his skyscraper-type ceiling in the top eight. He's tantalizing because of his natural athleticism and length. Sometimes NBA teams put immense value on the god-given gifts players have, then hope to coach them up into something staunch. That could be Hayes. Jaren Jackson Jr.'s rookie season might be flashing in the minds of some general managers, who couldn't be faulted for seeing a hybrid of JJJ in Hayes.
Round 1 - Pick 9
It's no fault of his own, but Reddish has been overhyped for two-plus years at this point. I didn't see star power from him as a high school prospect, and while at Duke, he was a fourth wheel; Tre Jones was more valuable to Duke's success than Reddish. But he has good size and will be drafted on his shooting potential and smoothness playing off the ball. The reality: Reddish was worse from 3-point range last season than Zion Williamson. Defensively, there's a lot of work to do.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Among players invited to the green room, I don't think anyone has a wider net of teams that are interested than Clarke. One source told me been seriously looked at as high as No. 6 and as low as No. 19. Clarke is the second-best defender in this draft, only behind Washington's Matisse Thybulle. He's also a top-five athlete in the crop. Great shot-blocker, terrific rebounder, considerable help defender. Reliable touch in the mid-range.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Your most coveted international prospect of 2019. With a green-room invite and the buzz about him growing louder, Doumboyua seems a lottery shoo-in at this point. The forward from France is young (18) and although he's spent all his time overseas, he's no secret to every front office at this point. His ceiling is No. 8 and floor No. 15. Given his age, it's quite possible that even if he goes 11th, the pick is traded by Minnesota.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Every year the draft has a player or two who winds up 10-15 spots higher on mocks than his production in college warrants. Little, who was a top-10 player in his 2018 high school class, is that guy. He didn't earn big minutes at North Carolina, though he showed high-level potential in flashes. In reality, Little arrived at UNC behind the 8-ball in terms of his basketball acumen. Does Jordan wind up picking a Carolina guy?
Round 1 - Pick 13
From all I've been told, Hachimura is firmly in the 10-14 range. One of the teams in that window is taking him there. The most talented Japanese player in history is built to have a successful NBA career because of his size, three-level scoring ability, balanced attack from the left and right sides, in addition to his fairly good athleticism. Defensively he used to be awful, whereas he became serviceable in the past 12 months. Miami should want him.
From Sacramento Kings
Round 1 - Pick 14
Workout warrior who impressed a lot in recent weeks and wound up as Kentucky's most important player by the time the NCAA Tournament got going. Herro's Boston workout in particular got a lot of run for how good it was. His tools and his potential role with Boston as a rookie feel perfect for Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. Offensively oriented UK players have found moderate-or-better amounts of success as of late in the league.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Within two years time, I think he'll prove capable of playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward at the next level. He has athleticism that's respectable and plays the gaps well. He never fully unlocked his toolkit playing for Buzz Williams at Virginia Tech. I could see him, in the right spot like Detroit, busting out immediately and having a top-five season of any rookie in 2019-2020.
Round 1 - Pick 16
I think Washington winds up falling this far, and in doing so, in three years time will prove to have been picked six or seven spots too late. He was Kentucky's emotional leader last season and rounded out his game so nicely. Remember, he would have been picked last season had he left, albeit in the mid-to-late second round. Instead, he came back and unequivocally bumped his stock and bettered himself.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 17
He played hurt much of the season at Indiana (bad thumb), where he had more pressure put on him than maybe any Hoosier -- ever. Scouts are split on Langford's potential. He's great at getting to the rim, but if you check the raw data and the advanced analytics, his shot is not as good as it might seem on the surface. That said, he's a scorer-by-trade who doesn't need a lot of help facilitating his offense, but he'll obviously get that at the next level.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Though I don't think he'll go higher than this, I wouldn't fault any team between 13 and 20 with taking Johnson. He's a long wing who's got terrific form and is going to be a plug-and-play guy on offense. His bread and butter is making 3-pointers. I'd be shocked if he doesn't stick in the league for a decade. Terrific shooter and scorer (there is a difference) and mentally will be a quick study.
Round 1 - Pick 19
This man is a baller. He is smart, can handle beyond the perimeter, plays in this confident style that was different -- materially -- from most other players in college. Weirdly, he came off the bench the entire season at FSU. Kabengele plays both ends of the floor at what I'd grade as a B-plus level. He'll be drafted in the first round because of his size, smarts and soft hands.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 20
I had talent evaluators tell me last fall he was lottery material. Some still believe that. Then came a bumpy season at USC. He never displayed the kind of consistency that would validate being a top-15 pick, and off-court issues have hurt his stock. There are still a lot of unknowns with Porter Jr., and his game, but his physical tools will ensure he gets a guaranteed first-round contract.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Keldon Johnson SG
Kentucky • 6'6" / 211 lbs
Could wind up as a suitable No. 4 scoring option in a best-case scenario four or five years down the road. Johnson was Kentucky's best player the first half of last season, then drifted in and out as his role mutated. He has good size and fills the wing role well. In short: a well-rounded first-rounder. Wide net for how good or underwhelming he could be, though.
Round 1 - Pick 22
No one can know for sure, but if you told me that Bol was as high as No. 7 or 8 on some teams' boards and as low as 45 or 46 on others, I'd believe it. He's coming off an injury and has had questions about his work ethic hang over him for years. But his natural talent can't be denied. He's a better player right now than his father was at his age, and look what his dad became. Can Bol Bol be unlocked? Fascinating case.
From Utah Jazz
Round 1 - Pick 23
One of my five favorite players in this draft. Thybulle's poise on defense is rare for a player coming out of college. He's a mature wing who I can't see lasting any fewer than 12 years in the NBA, injuries aside. Thybulle would be a top-20 defender, immediately, in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 24
The center is not dead in the NBA. In Bitadze, you have a player who is considered top-three in this draft at his position. He reportedly excelled in limited time in Euroleague and has been a riser on mocks over the past four months. Peek through this mock and you'll see that there's fewer international prospects than what we saw even three years ago.
Round 1 - Pick 25
No player in this year's draft has had the word "killer" associated with him more than Jerome, who had a medley of marvelous moments this past season in helping Virginia win a national title. Jerome has good handle with both hands, plays tough -- always -- makes the right pass often and shoots well even while being toughly guarded. He can play outside-in or vice-versa. To me, a no-brainer first-round pick.
From Houston Rockets
Round 1 - Pick 26
He's shut down his workouts, which could be an indication that a promise has been made by a franchise. (This is sometimes not the case, of course.) Claxton could go as high as 20th or fall as low as 35th. His length and mobility make for a fun wrinkle to Cleveland's roster. Defensively projects very well. Tom Crean told me he's a 2020 lottery talent that a team will steal late in the first round.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 27
Back-to-back SEC Player of the Year. That hadn't been done in that league in 25 years. Williams wasn't a highly rated prospect. He's not a physical wonder. But he knows how to wield his barrel-shaped body in all the right ways, uses the rim to his advantage and wins so many one-on-one battles by anticipating angles. Smart player. Brooklyn would be lucky to have him.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Young talent who emerged from a forgettable situation at Stanford. Okpala's a good interview, quick study and has a 7-2 wingspan. Had he been a better shooter last season, he'd be a top-20 lock. Unless he can massage his offensive skillset to a B-plus level in the NBA, he'll probably never be a starter, but talent evaluators view him as an ideal career backup in the frontcourt.
From Toronto Raptors
Round 1 - Pick 29
A spindly power forward who would fit ideally in San Antonio's scheme. But remember, as with many of these picks, we're targeting player slots as opposed to franchise destination. By the time we get to the 29th pick, it's possible if not likely that we'll already have seven or eight trades that have gone through.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
There's a few big men who are tough targets to pin. At one point in his life, Fernando was a borderline lock for top-20 status as a draft pick. And in recent weeks, there's been speculation he could fall as far as the 40s. Truth is, he'll land somewhere in between. Fernando has impressive size, reliable rebounding instincts and doesn't act as a vacuum with the ball.
From New York Knicks
Round 2 - Pick 1 (No. 31 overall)
Schofield did more for his stock in a year's time than almost any player listed above him, Zion included. A year ago, Schofield was not viewed as draftable. After helping Tennessee to its best season in school history, he proved himself as a shooter and reinforced his reputation as a viable defender and terrific vocal leader.
Round 2 - Pick 2 (No. 32 overall)
Learned a great system under Rick Byrd at Belmont, and has the intuitiveness to make a 10-year career in the NBA possible. Windler played in the four-out-one-in offensive style, which has led to him being generously graded on many NBA teams' big boards. He understands spacing, shoots well, can rebound, passes in and out of the post.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 2 - Pick 3 (No. 33 overall)
Hyper-fun athlete who can belligerently tilt the court, attack with ferocious ease and has a great second pop around the rim. Not efficient, though. Dort is a workout-winner who requires a lot of touches to do his damage. If modern NBA analytic philosophy wins the day here, Dort will likely fall to the second round.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 2 - Pick 4 (No. 34 overall)
Bazley originally committed to Syracuse in 2018, then reneged, then planned to play in the G League, but ultimately decided to take the year off from organized basketball. It hasn't plummeted his stock. He's going to get picked, but he's considered one of the hardest prospects to target in this year's draft.
Round 2 - Pick 5 (No. 35 overall)
Athletic prowess, smart player, good rebounder, good ballhandler, great teammate. Paschall will max out as a role player in the pros, but he'll be the quintessential kind of energy guy off the bench. Plus, he's got muscle and can shoot from the perimeter.
From Washington Wizards
Round 2 - Pick 6 (No. 36 overall)
Crazy length (7-1 wingspan on a 6-4 frame) and nice hoops acumen. Horton-Tucker is an outside-the-box prospect. He's got years to go on the defensive end, but if you saw him at Iowa State you saw someone who I think he would have been a top-15 player in college basketball had he returned.
Round 2 - Pick 7 (No. 37 overall)
It won't be just his absurd run in the NCAA Tournament that will get Edwards drafted in the 30s. I can assure you the combo guard won over every pre-draft interview he had with teams. Edwards plays three inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than he is.
From Memphis Grizzlies
Round 2 - Pick 8 (No. 38 overall)
A first-round sleeper, we'll likely see Gafford cash in on just a little of the stock he had from a year ago. Had Gafford not returned to Arkansas, he was a likely going in the top 25 in 2018. That in mind, he wasn't a bust as a sophomore. He has a good shot, good form, a little wiry, but plenty to work with.
Round 2 - Pick 9 (No. 39 overall)
Drops 10-12 spots on my mock due to his injury (he tore his ACL during the NCAA Tournament) and the ensuing reality that he'll miss much of his rookie season. But his size, defensive aptitude and strong handles will lead to a team taking him.
Round 2 - Pick 10 (No. 40 overall)
Naz Reid PF
LSU • Fr • 6'10" / 256 lbs
I think Reid's spectrum for getting picked is as wide as any player projected in the second round. He's a power forward with gentle long-range touch and innate athleticism and feel that makes him an intriguing long-term prospect.
From Atlanta Hawks
Round 2 - Pick 11 (No. 41 overall)
A late injection into the mock here, as Golden State has coveted Smailagić for the better part of a year. With them moving in to get this pick, it's widely believed heading into the draft they've done so in order to stave off potential suitors further down in the second round.
Round 2 - Pick 12 (No. 42 overall)
Young prospect (19) who will likely be a draft-and-stash guy. If anything, this year's draft will have fewer of these players than normal. With the potential for this draft to have as many trades as any in history, Sirvydas getting picked is inevitable.
From Miami Heat
Round 2 - Pick 13 (No. 43 overall)
The phrase "he's a bucket" has become a thing in the past year in basketball. Ponds fits the description as well as any player outside the first round. His hoops IQ needs work, but he's a gamer, plays stronger than he looks and has big-play capability.
From Atlanta Hawks
Round 2 - Pick 14 (No. 44 overall)
Jaylen Hoard PF
Wake Forest • Fr • 6'9" / 213 lbs
This is more ambitious than you'll see in most other spots, but Hoard was highly touted as a prospect, has length, played in a bad system and should have the physical tools to be a decade-long backup in the NBA. And it's about this point in the draft where things get murky in a hurry.
Round 2 - Pick 15 (No. 45 overall)
After a good showing at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Roby is a top-30 athlete in this year's crop. Roby is a sure thing to be picked because of his length, solid handle for a player of his size and commitment to playing defense.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 2 - Pick 15 (No. 45 overall)
I'm not sure any player since the start of April has done more good for his draft stock than Davis, who would be a stunner if he went undrafted. From the Portsmouth circuit to elite camp for G League to shining at the NBA Draft Combine and continually impressing in workouts, Davis has been an inspiring story the past 10 weeks.
From Orlando Magic
Round 2 - Pick 17 (No. 47 overall)
Two years in relative obscurity at San Diego State makes McDaniels one of the best second-round sleepers in this draft. If Sacramento were to wind up with him, the amount of length and athleticism on that young Kings team would potentially turn it into one of the real must-watch clubs for NBA diehards next season.
Round 2 - Pick 18 (No. 48 overall)
Missouri • Soph • 6'11" / 210 lbs
The ACL injury that ended his season is heartbreaking. Between him and his brother, Michael, it's been a lot of what-could-have-been for the family so far. Ultimately, Porter's on the mend and has a high hoops IQ and strong innate feel for the game.
Round 2 - Pick 19 (No. 49 overall)
Power wing out of Tempe who I suspect has won over a team or two in the weeks leading up to draft night. He's older, but he's got a raised floor.
Round 2 - Pick 20 (No. 50 overall)
The sleeper name of this draft. Jeffries played at Tulsa, where he didn't even rank as one of the five most efficient/proficient players in the AAC last season. But he stands 6-5 with a 7-foot wingspan and has the specs of an enticing second-round type.
Round 2 - Pick 21 (No. 51 overall)
Gonzaga • Soph • 6'5" / 206 lbs
Norvell's a hard one to target. If he doesn't get drafted it won't be a surprise at all, but ultimately there's enough athleticism, shooting and raw talent to warrant taking him in the mid-to-late second round. This pick seems vulnerable to trade.
Round 2 - Pick 22 (No. 52 overall)
Goes by the name "Didi." A 19-year-old that some franchise is going to pluck in the final hour of Thursday's draft. Brazilian-born shooting guard who's a bit slender but has been a steady riser the past three years. Many talent evaluators regard him as a top-60 guy this year.
Round 2 - Pick 23 (No. 53 overall)
Unending confidence, a reliable 3-point shot, a highly-rated player coming out of high school, a player who just helped Virginia win its first national championship. Plenty of mock drafts don't have Guy getting picked, but I think his predraft process, his interviews and his coaching is going to wind up getting him picked.
Round 2 - Pick 24 (No. 54 overall)
Undersized point guard who is unafraid of the big moment. Waters did not shoot well enough from 3-point range last season to vault him into the 30s or 40s in this draft. But a team that needs a third option at point guard will take him.
Round 2 - Pick 25 (No. 55 overall)
Louis King SF
Oregon • Fr • 6'8" / 195 lbs
I am lower on King than maybe anyone. His one and only season at Oregon left plenty to be desired. King will be drafted on potential and is at best a two-year project in adapting to the next level. A little undersized and plenty to grow with, defensively.
Round 2 - Pick 26 (No. 55 overall)
Had the option of attending college next season, but instead spurned NC State. I'm of the belief that Lecque had enough intel that he opted to bypass college with the understanding it was likely he would be drafted. The Clippersshould take the low-risk pick.
Round 2 - Pick 27 (No. 57 overall)
The man is 7-6 and markedly improved every year he was in college. Has the NBA really moved on from the prospect of drafting a human who is 7-6? That's hard to accept, but could prove true. Then again, he played well vs. Duke! There is a place for someone this big in the modern NBA, even with Fall's faults.
Round 2 - Pick 28 (No. 58 overall)
A 6-6 point guard who's only 19 years old and could be viewed as one of the premier back-end value picks of the second round. If Golden State gets wild with its draft-day movement, he makes sense as a long-term what-if.
Round 2 - Pick 29 (No. 59 overall)
Kansas • Jr • 6'8" / 233 lbs
Not an efficient big, not a long-range big, but too good of a player last season not to warrant being taken in this year's draft. It's not a strong, and among lengthy power forwards, it's not exceedingly deep. Lawson was one of the 10 best players in college basketball last season, although the question with him will be usage.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 2 - Pick 30 (No. 60 overall)
An under-the-radar value pick out of Yale, Oni is a draftnik's dream of a late-second-round prospect. Well-built, efficient, projects well enough and has the tools to adapt. I've got him sliding in on the back end of the draft, but it would not stun me to see him go as high as 48th.
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