2019 NBA Mock Draft: RJ Barrett vs Zion Williamson; and 10 Freshmen in the Lottery

By Jason McIntyre
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The 2019 NBA Draft is seven months away. With nearly a month of college basketball to evaluate, of course it’s time for a 2019 Mock Draft. We offered a very preliminary Mock Draft in June, but much has changed. The NBA team order here is based on the standings on Dec. 3rd.

1. Phoenix – RJ Barrett, G/F, Duke. His Maui finish against Gonzaga aside, he’s been as advertised (22.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg). Shooting numbers aren’t very good now (40/31/62) but he just turned 18 in June. I still lean Barrett over Williamson now, but the gap is closing because Williamson is such a freak athlete. I’d project Barrett as a guy who could lead the NBA in scoring and be a #1 on a title contender. Not yet sure Williamson can offensively carry a team like that, but it is early.

2. Chicago – Zion Williamson, F, Duke. Potentially an all-time great athlete, and no player is more fun to watch. He’ll be must-see TV and a huge box office draw. He’s only 2-of-8 on three-pointers this season, that’s his only question mark. Hitting 68 percent from the line. According to Ken Pom, he has the #1 offensive rating in the country at 136.3. Going back 15 years, nobody has ever eclipsed 130.

3. Atlanta – Cam Reddish, SF, Duke. Not taking the volume of shots as Barrett or Williamson, but hitting 43 percent on 3-pointers and averaging 15.3 ppg in just 23 minutes per game. A bit turnover prone, but some of that is trying to do too much and keep up with the other two. The Hawks have their point guard in Trae Young, who leads them in points (15.6) and assists (7.6), but is really struggling with his shot (37 percent field goals, 24 percent 3-pointers).

4. Cleveland – Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana. The Cavs should be in full tank mode, and everyone on their roster is expendable with the exception of Collin Sexton. (I’d like to see what Ante Zizic looks like, he is only 21.) Sexton needs a backcourt mate, and Langford (18 ppg) is the scorer he needs.

5. Brooklyn – Nassir Little, SF, UNC. Disappointing that Roy Williams is just playing him 19.5 minutes per game, but he’s got two seniors (Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye) in front of him. I see a little potential for a Draymond Green-type defender.

6. New York – Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky. They should have an idea by draft time whether or not Kevin Durant is in play. New York has talent on the wing in Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier and Mario Hezonja, and Johnson (15.9 ppg) gives them more perimeter flexibility.

7. Miami – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga. In three seasons, has morphed into one of the best players in the country. He’s already made more three-pointers (6) than he did all of last year (5). Could he be a hybrid between Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis in the NBA?

8. Washington – Kevin Porter, SG, USC. The Wizards won’t be able to unload John Wall and that nightmare contract, but Bradley Beal could be dealt. If so, they could get his replacement in the 2019 draft. Porter is an explosive athlete who has opened a ton of NBA eyes in the first few weeks of the season. Shot-making, Harden-imitatation moves, and explosive dunks will get people talking. It’s early, and he wasn’t in our Top 50 this summer, but he looks like a 1-and-done.

9. Utah – Ja Morant, G, Murray State. As a sinewy 6-foot-3 freshman, he had one 20-point game. He’s got three in the first month of this season. Unranked by 247 and ESPN out of high school, Morant has rising up draft boards. This is a good read on his skill set. Would be formidable next to Donovan Mitchell.

10. Houston – Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France. Had him higher in the 2018 summer mock draft, and probably am underrating him here because I’m watching college players nightly. Only 17, he turns 18 in December. He’s at least a year away from contributing, something the Rockets would value, though it’s unlikely Houston stays this bad.

11. San Antonio – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G/F, Virginia Tech. Sophomore  wing from Canada is going to be angling for All-ACC honors if he keeps up this hot start (18.5 ppg). Watch the shot-making, passing, and athletic ability in his 25-7-3 effort in a win over Purdue. The Spurs have no perimeter defense or 3-point shooting. Alexander-Walker provides both.

12. New Orleans – Quentin Grimes, SG, Kansas. Such a challenging pick here because of the Anthony Davis situation. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs, why would he sign the extension? Grimes is a shooting 40 percent from deep (9-of-22), something the Pelicans have struggled to find. He’s playing behind experienced players, so we haven’t seen nearly the best of Grimes.
13. Boston (via Sacramento) – Bol Bol, C, Oregon.
Most intriguing prospect because what do you do with a 7-foot-2 toothpick who has unicorn skills? Is he the next Kristaps Porzingis? Could he be in three years?

14. Minnesota – Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State. There’s a need at shooting, but unfortunately there isn’t much at this spot in the draft. Dort, who is from Quebec, is more of a slasher than a shooter, though he has shot it well from deep so far (13-of-39). This feels high for a guy who wasn’t on our Top 50 list, but again, it’s early.

15. Charlotte – Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

16. Orlando – Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue. The Magic are one of the NBA’s biggest surprised through 20 games, and amazingly they’ve done it without a point guard. Edwards is going to have a long NBA career, the same way Jameer Nelson has. It’ll be interesting to see if the Magic pursue Kemba Walker or Eric Bledsoe in free agency.
17. Atlanta (via Dallas) – Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
18. Portland – Eric Paschall, F, Villanova
19. Indiana – Naz Reid, C, LSU

20. Boston – DeAndre Hunter, F, Virginia

21. Boston (via Memphis) – Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
22. LA Lakers – Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State. A top-35 recruit out of high school, he’s already had a massive impact on the Cyclones, averaging 14.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Gave Illinois 26-points and 14-rebounds in an eye-opening performance in Maui.

23. Golden State – Dedric Lawson, PF, Kansas. For fun, who is easier to replace, Kevin Durant or Draymond Green? That’s an easy one. Let’s see what happens the rest of this season with Green. Lawson is a stud transfer from Memphis who averaged 19-9 two years ago, and is already at 18-11 this season.
24. Detroit – Grant Williams, F, Tennessee. Undersized power forward (6-foot-7, 235) and can’t shoot the three well enough to play small forward. But we’re in position less basketball. Williams is a player. He’s 2nd in the country in offensive player rating (to Zion). He’s not Montrezl Harrell, but what about Montrezl Harrell-lite?
25. Oklahoma City – Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt. His season is over due to a meniscus injury, but that shouldn’t prevent a team from drafting him in the first round. Given Russell Westbrook’s recent injury history, and the luxury tax bill the Thunder are looking at

26. Philadelphia – Kellan Grady, G, Davidson
27. Milwaukee – Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College
28. Boston (via LA Clippers) – Caleb Martin, G/F, Nevada
29. Brooklyn (via Denver) – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
30. San Antonio (via Toronto) – Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga

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