2019 NBA Mock Draft: Picks 1-30

The NBA draft is approaching. Here is the final version of our first-round mock draft.

Here is our final mock draft. Everyone always seems to do these different, so I want to define how I went about making these picks. I made these picks as what I would do if I was the General Manager for the team. I also went off of reports and public statements the teams have made to help form my decisions.

This isn’t a ranking of who I think the best prospects in this draft are, for that please visit my final draft guide here. Hopefully, that covers all of the bases, so let’s get at it.

1. New Orleans Pelicans: (PF) Zion Williamson

Team Needs: Franchise cornerstone, PF, C, Shooting

This pick is a no brainer and has been locked in regardless of who would have won the lottery. Williamson immediately brings a sense of wonder, potential, and excitement that this franchise is in desperate need of since trading Anthony Davis. Williamson is a versatile defender, creative scorer, and one of the most explosive athletes we’ve ever seen. His fit with the young core in New Orleans should be seamless. He will be able to be a playmaker while also being deadly with his off-ball movement and offensive rebounding. His rim protection and versatile defense will make an instant impact. Zion is the only prospect that is considered a sure thing in this draft and is the perfect franchise cornerstone for the Pelicans as they move on from the Anthony Davis era.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: (PG) Ja Morant

Team Needs: Playmaking, Youth, Scoring

Morant proved through his playmaking, scoring, and athleticism this year that he deserves to be the second pick. The grit-and-grind era in Memphis is over and the last remaining piece to move out is Mike Conley who they explored trading last season. Morant will be a very nice fit next to their promising first round pick from last year Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant does a great job of dissecting opponents whether he is creating for himself or his teammates. His speed and athleticism will lead to a high paced offense that should create numerous chances for everyone else on the floor. The Grizzlies will likely be moving on from one of the franchises best players in Conley, but Morant shouldn’t have any issues taking over the reins.

3. New York Knicks: (SF) RJ Barrett

Team Needs: Wing depth, Shooting, High IQ players

This will be a fascinating offseason for the Knicks but based on their current roster, they really need help with scoring from the wing. Barrett makes the most sense here as he is the most polished all-around wing scorer in this draft. He has an NBA ready body which makes him a consistent scorer and gives him the potential to be a versatile defender. I have concerns over his scoring inefficiency, but his talent is evident. With NBA level coaching, the hope is that his shot selection improves, and he is put in better situations to succeed. Barrett’s outside shooting shouldn’t be relied upon, but if he is put into more slash-and-kick situations, he could be a very successful player.

4. New Orleans Pelicans: (PG) Darius Garland

Team Needs: Franchise cornerstone, PF, C, Shooting

The rumor is that multiple teams are interested in trading up for this pick (likely for Garland), but as of right now this pick is the Pelicans and we’ll proceed as that is the case. By adding Garland, the Pelicans add a score first guard to pair with both of their strong defenders in the backcourt (Ball and Holiday). Even though we only got a few games of Garland last season, his offensive ability will be tough to pass on. He isn’t an explosive athlete, but his elite ball handling creates a ton of space for him. He has great touch around the rim and is a deadly shooter. He is a very creative and daring passer, but this often resulted in more turnovers than it should have. If Garland can stop trying to make the highlight pass on every possession, he could become a great passer. Regardless of the passing and defensive concerns, Garland’s scoring ability should make an instant impact

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: (SF) Jarrett Culver

Team Needs: Versatile wings, Good defenders, Shooting

At Michigan, John Beilein valued intelligent players over anything else and I doubt that philosophy will change as he is a good developer of talent. Culver has a ton of untapped potential and showed his versatility throughout last season. Culver is one of the better wing defenders in this draft and showed a versatile offensive game last season. He is a solid shooter and does a great job of finishing around the rim. On top of that, he demonstrated a great ability to create for his teammates. Culver would provide off-ball shooting, versatile defense, and operate as a secondary ball handler. Beilein couldn’t ask for a better building block in Cleveland to help instill his culture and playstyle on a young team.

6. Phoenix Suns: (PG) Coby White

Team Needs: Playmaking, PG, Complimentary guard to Devin Booker

I wouldn’t be surprised if White, Garland, or Morant became the best point guard in this draft. This pick could very easily be Garland but based on the workouts and Phoenix’s extended interest in White, this makes the most sense. The Suns have struggled to put a decent point guard on the floor for almost all of Devin Booker’s career. White will fill this hole nicely. He is a high energy point guard who is an instant scoring threat. When he gets hot, he is a deadly shooter and does a nice job of creating for his teammates with his drives. Booker likely won’t want to give up all of his ball-handling responsibilities, but this won’t be an issue with White like it could with other point guards. White is a threat and a better shooter when he is away from the ball. White would be a great offensive compliment in the backcourt with Booker.

7. Chicago Bulls: (F) Sekou Doumboya

Team Needs: PG, Shooting, Playmaking, Wing Depth

The Bulls are in desperate need of a point guard, but with the top three guys gone at this point, adding to their wing depth makes the most sense. I think that this is a bit of a reach on Doumboya, but by all accounts, the Bulls were beyond impressed with Doumboya’s workout. Doumboya has a lot of potential but is far from a sure thing. From the start, Doumboya will provide a lot of athleticism. He should be able to guard multiple positions at a high level and will do a nice job of scoring in transition. His shooting still needs work and his inconsistent ball handling limits the shot attempts he can create for himself. Over the last couple of years, Doumboya has improved a lot so if that trend continues, the Bulls could strike gold.

8. Atlanta Hawks: (SF) Cam Reddish

Team Needs: Shooting, Versatile wing, Rim protector

There were points early last season where some thought that Reddish would be the best player out of Duke. Unfortunately for him, Reddish was far too inconsistent and was unable to fully display what he was best at. Reddish is known as a shooter, but he brings a lot more to the table. He struggled to finish at the rim, but he showed a talent for creating space for jumpers or lanes to the rim. His physical profile should make him a strong defender as well. The biggest concern is Reddish’s effort level. On paper, Reddish should provide the versatile wing skillset that the Hawks lacked last season.

9. Washington Wizards: (F) De’Andre Hunter

Team Needs: Lottery ticket, Wing depth, Athleticism

The Wizards’ are in cap hell so their best bet on improving the roster around Bradley Beal is through the Draft. Hunter is a versatile wing with a high basketball IQ. As the best defender in this draft, Hunter can guard any position on the floor at a high level. The Wizards were the fourth worst defense in the league last season and Hunter would be an immediate remedy. Besides his defensive acumen, Hunter also displayed his scoring prowess last season. He is a reliable shooter and would be a nice off-ball release valve for Beal. Hunter likely won’t become a prolific scorer, but he will produce at a high level on both ends of the floor for a long time.

10. Atlanta Hawks: (C) Jaxson Hayes

Team Needs: Shooting, Versatile wing, Rim protector

The Hawks were the third worst defense in the league last season and Hayes will be able to help turn that around. Hayes is a great athlete who projects to be deadly around the rim. His athleticism makes him a great rim runner and a consistent rim protector. Hayes has almost no shooting ability outside the paint, but with the spread offense the Hawks run, the rim should be consistently open for him to attack. While he is at his best when blocking shots at the rim, he is athletic enough to switch on the perimeter. This obviously isn’t an ideal situation, but he is capable of doing so. The combination of Trae Young and Hayes in the pick-and-roll would add another facet to the Hawks ever-evolving offense.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: (PF) Brandon Clarke

Team Needs: Shooting, PG, Versatile defender

The Timberwolves were plagued by drama and injuries last year (not uncommon for them), but they did see flashes of a versatile team. It would be great if a point guard somehow fell this far, but since that is highly unlikely, Brandon Clarke would fill a massive hole for this team. Clarke was the best shot blocker in the country last season and would be a massive help to the inefficiencies of the Timberwolves’ defense. He would help protect the rim and is agile and athletic enough to switch on the perimeter. Clarke’s offensive game is limited but not inconsequential. Clarke completely changed his shooting form from the ugliest form in the history of basketball to one that made him a reliable shooter from 15 feet. Clarke might be able to eventually extend his range out to the arc, but he will do most of his damage around the rim with offensive putbacks and dunks.

12. Charlotte Hornets: (F) Nassir Little

Team Needs: High potential, Frontcourt versatility, Best player available

The Hornets could look to add some backcourt depth, but their best bet at this point of the draft is to add to their very thin frontcourt. Despite Little’s disappointing season, he has had a great pre-draft process and has risen up boards once again. Little struggled to figure out North Carolina’s offense last season, but he has the talent and athleticism to be an effective player. By taking Little, the Hornets immediately add a strong rebounder who can defend multiple positions and has the potential to be a stretch four. Little won’t be a reliable shooter from the start and isn’t a great playmaker, but his work ethic will give him the opportunity to improve. Little will add a sense of toughness and youth that the Hornets have lacked over the last few seasons.

13. Miami Heat: (PF) Rui Hachimura

Team Needs: PG, Versatile big man, Shooting

The Heat would do well to find their next point guard in this draft, but with the remaining talent, any point guard would be a massive reach. Filling out their frontcourt with youth and versatility makes the most sense. Hachimura is a versatile scorer, a great rebounder, and a strong rim protector. He only started playing basketball a few years ago so his feel for the game isn’t great, but over these last few years, he has shown immense improvement and potential. Hachimura can knock down jumpers or operate in the post which is something the Heat have lacked since the days of Chris Bosh.

14. Boston Celtics: (C) Goga Bitadze

Team Needs: PG, Frontcourt depth, Rim protection

The last thing the Celtics need right now is three more rookies on their roster, so I fully expect them to move off at least one of these picks. With that said, they need help with their big man rotation. Al Horford is getting older (and may hit free agency soon) and Aron Baynes has struggled to stay healthy. Bitadze isn’t the most well known big man in this draft, but he is the most well rounded. Bitadze can finish strong at the rim or knock down jumpers. He is an absolute nightmare to deal with when he acts as the screener due to his versatility. He does struggle to switch on the perimeter, but he is a great rim protector. The Celtics will be adding a nice back-up and eventual replacement to Horford.

15. Detroit Pistons: (SG) Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Team Needs: Playmaking, Shooting, Perimeter defender

Whether it was with Ish Smith, Reggie Jackson, or Luke Kennard, the Pistons have struggled to find consistent production out of their backcourt. Alexander-Walker is a nice two-way guard who can also act as the primary ball handler. He is an impressive shooter from outside, but also is reliable once he gets to the rim. Even though he isn’t an explosive athlete, he is a very strong defender who can guard multiple positions. Alexander-Walker’s skillset makes him a great off-ball compliment while also providing the option to take ball handling responsibilities away from Jackson when he proves unreliable.

16. Orlando Magic: (G) Romeo Langford

Team Needs: PG, Playmaking, Shooting   

The Magic have a lot of length, athleticism, and off-ball scorers, but don’t have anyone that can create their own shot. Langford struggles to stay consistently involved, but his potential is off the charts. He has great scoring instincts and a body type that should make him a versatile defender. Lanford is great at getting to the rim and creating his own shot off the dribble but needs to work on his shooting consistency. He should probably be used as the primary ball handler to ensure he stays engaged. The Magic proved that their young core can compete defensively, and they could take the next step by adding an effective scorer.

17. Atlanta Hawks: (SF) Keldon Johnson

Team Needs: Shooting, Versatile wing, Rim protector

The Hawks have been pretty upfront with their desire to not add three rookies to an already young roster so I doubt they will be making this pick. If they do though, adding to their wing depth makes the most sense. Johnson is at his best when he is operating away from the ball. He is a good cutter and spot-up shooter. His fit with that young core makes sense. His off-ball productivity and competitive defense are exactly what this team needs. Even though the Hawks will want to move some of these picks for an established player, Johnson is an athletic wing that fills a lot of their needs.

18. Indiana Pacers: (SG) Tyler Herro

Team Needs: Shooting, Guard depth, Scoring versatility

The Pacers could lose a lot of their shooting this offseason and we saw how dismal their offense became once Oladipo went down. By adding Herro, the Pacers will expand their limited shooting and add their maligned guard rotation. Herro is mostly a shooter on offense, but he became a much better defender as the season progressed. He is incredibly confident and competitive at both ends of the floor. He can pull up off the dribble, take it to the rim, or run his defenders through a series of screens. Herro would be a much-needed offensive addition for the Pacers.

19. San Antonio Spurs: (PF) PJ Washington

Team Needs: Shooting, Frontcourt depth, Versatile defenders

The Spurs have a young, promising guard rotation, but their frontcourt is much older and one dimensional. Washington is a very intelligent player that can do a lot of different things on both ends of the floor. He is strong enough to guard post players and agile enough to switch onto guards. He isn’t great at creating his own shot but can finish inside or knock down jumpers. His rebounding and work rate would be a great fit in San Antonio as they continue to rebuild.

20. Boston Celtics: (SF) Talen Horton-Tucker

Team Needs: PG, Frontcourt depth, Rim protection

The Celtics could easily lose both of the point guards they currently have on the roster. Horton-Tucker isn’t a point guard, but he doesn’t have any issues operating the offense. Horton-Tucker doesn’t scream athleticism, but that doesn’t affect his scoring ability. He is a good shooter and an effective driver. He does a great job of using his body to create space and his length to finish around opponents. Defensively he leaves a lot to be desired, but at this point, the Celtics need a lot of help with guys who will be able to score. Horton-Tucker will have no issues with that and could be a nice scoring option off the bench for them.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: (F) Cam Johnson

Team Needs: Shooting, Wing depth

The Thunder are a very good defensive team with a lot of athletic wings, but they have essentially no shooting. Johnson may be the best shooter in this draft. He has a smooth stroke with a high release that is almost impossible to block. His length makes him an effective defender and he can finish in the paint when defenders closeout too aggressively. Russell Westbrook and Paul George often found themselves kicking out of drives to below average shooters. The addition of Johnson will open up the floor and add a new threat to their offense.

22. Boston Celtics: (G) Kevin Porter Jr

Team Needs: PG, Frontcourt depth, Rim protection

We already touched on the Celtics potential need for guard help and Porter Jr could be an absolute steal. He could also be out of the league in a few years. Porter Jr is the perfect example of a high ceiling, low floor player. He is a big, athletic guard that can score in bunches. He is deadly in transition and does a good job of creating his own shot. He is athletic enough to be a good defender, but his defensive discipline leads to a lot of fouls and jumping at every pump fake. At USC there were character issues (I hate that term because I don’t know the guy but it’s all I can come up with right now) and Porter Jr’s career could rely on the type of organization he ends up at. Boston is a (relatively) stable franchise and won’t let Porter Jr get away with undisciplined play.

23. Utah Jazz: (C) Bol Bol

Team Needs: Shooting, Playmaking

The Jazz are in desperate need of another playmaker and scorer but at this point, there isn’t a great fit for them. Bol Bol is a lottery ticket that could provide an incredible return. Bol is a 7’2 center who can handle the ball and shoot from three. He does a great job of creating off the dribble for someone his size. His length makes him a stout rim protector as well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of risks with Bol. There are concerns about his work ethic and I am always very cautious of seven footers with foot injuries. He is also incredibly skinny, and his high center of gravity will allow opponents to easily push him around. Bol could learn a lot from sitting behind Rudy Gobert for a while and if he can stay healthy and show improvement, he could be one of the biggest steals in this draft.

24. Philadelphia 76ers: (F) Grant Williams

Team Needs: Shooting, Back-up center

Best case scenario for the 76ers is if a shooter like Herro or Johnson falls to this spot. If they don’t, they will need to target a big man to help with their thin frontcourt. We saw how much they struggled in the playoffs this year when Embiid wasn’t on the floor. Williams is a mature play that is a great fit for a win-now team. He is strong in the post on both ends of the floor and is a very good rebounder. His basketball IQ is very high as well. While he isn’t a prolific shooter, he can knock down threes consistently and is effective with trailing threes above the break. Williams is a strong post presence that will be a solid backup for Embiid.

25. Portland Trail Blazers: (SG) Matisse Thybulle

Team Needs: Wing depth, Scoring off the bench, Versatile defender

The Trail Blazers finally broke through last season but could be losing some productive wing scoring off the bench. Thybulle is the best perimeter defender in this draft and would fit nicely when CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are staggering minutes. His ability to guard the opponent’s best backcourt player will be a big relief for the Trail Blazers. He is pretty limited offensively but has shown stretches of being a good shooter. His athleticism makes him a good off-ball option, but if he can improve his shooting consistency, Thybulle could turn into a valuable 3-and-D piece for this team.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers: (PG) Ty Jerome

Team Needs: Versatile wings, Good defenders, Shooting

Beilein has always had his most success when he’s had a cerebral, versatile point guard on the roster. Collin Sexton isn’t a sure thing yet and might be best utilized as a two-guard. Jerome is a great passer, good shooter, and a good defender. His feel for the game uncanny and would be able to run Beilein’s system. Jerome isn’t a great athlete, but he is bigger than you’d think which makes him a solid defender. His ability to slow down the offense and dissect the opponents will be a nice compliment to Sexton’s high energy, frantic playstyle.

27. Brooklyn Nets: (C) Nicolas Claxton

Team Needs: Small-ball 4, Versatile defenders

The Nets love long, position-less wings. With the potential signing of Kyrie Irving and the declined option of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets could use some help with their frontcourt depth. Claxton has skyrocketed up draft boards the last couple weeks. He is a strong rim protector and an agile athlete. Even though he is a center, he frequently initiated the offense for Georgia last season. He is an impressive playmaker and has shown flashes of being a stretch five. He still needs to add a substantial amount of muscle and improve his decision making, but Claxton is a rangy, versatile big man that could be effective with Brooklyn’s second unit.

28. Golden State Warriors: (SF) Dylan Windler

Team Needs: Bench scoring, Shooting, Wing depth

This season ended about as poorly as possible for the Warriors. Their injuries showed how thin they were roster wise and how few scoring options they possess. Windler is an impressive option for the Warriors late in the first round to add depth, IQ, and scoring. Windler isn’t a great athlete but his instincts make him a very good rebounder and a strong team defender. His instincts and IQ would fit nicely with the Warriors’ defensive system. On top of that, he can fill up the scoring column with ease. He needs to improve his ball handling, but he does a great job of changing pace and utilizing step-backs to create space. The shooting and reliability of Windler would be a much-needed addition for the depleted Warriors roster.

29. San Antonio Spurs: (F) Luka Samanic

Team Needs: Shooting, Frontcourt depth, Versatile defenders

The Spurs have had great success with foreign-born players (not the only reason this is the pick) and they need additional help on the wing. Samanic was projected as a mid-second round pick, but after he dominated his first (and only) game at the combine he shut down his workouts. This suggests that he received a promise from at least one team. Samanic is a three-level scorer but despite his size, he won’t push opponents around. Samanic uses his agile footwork to create space in the post and on the perimeter. He is a good shooter and has the potential to be a consistent playmaker as well. He has a way to go defensively, but if he gets stronger, he should be more effective.

30. Milwaukee Bucks: (C) Mfiondu Kabengele

Team Needs: PG depth, Shooting, Frontcourt depth

The Bucks could easily be losing a few of their most valuable pieces this offseason as Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez are all free agents. The most likely departure will be Lopez as he is the oldest and may be the easiest to try to replace. This is were Kabengele comes in. Kabengele is slightly smaller than Lopez, but he is a similar type of player. He can score from all three levels of the floor and is a very good rim protector. He has no issues slamming it on opponents, but he does need to work on his shooting touch on post-moves. Like Lopez, Kabengele struggles defensively the farther he gets pulled from the rim. Despite his limitations, Kabengele works extremely hard at both ends of the floor and brings a similar skill set to the table as Lopez did.

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