Thursday, June 20, 2019

Josue's 2019 NBA Mock Draft

1. Pelicans - Zion Williamson, Duke (PF)

There isn't another player in this year's draft who's better for the start of a rebuild than Zion Williamson, and fortunately for the Pelicans they didn't even have to trade to be in this position. New Orleans' lucky draw in this year's NBA Draft Lottery landed the high-flying, explosive and dominant scoring forward who can absorb contact and finish stronger than any other prospect.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound specimen is a bit undersized compared to his contemporaries in the frontcourt, however, his strength and nimble approach is what makes him such an effective scorer. Zion also has a knack for reading defensives and knows how to split double-team coverages and blow by defenders.

Think of Blake Griffin as an NBA comparison. With loads of potential and plenty of upside, the Pelicans have a cornerstone superstar to build around along with a couple of other rising stars (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram) on a quest to make some noise in the uber-talented Western Conference.

2. Grizzlies - Ja Morant, Murray State (PG)

When Ja Morant notched the NCAA tournament's first triple-double in seven years, he not only put the nation on notice but also became the second-top prospect in the country. With Mike Conley dealt away to the Jazz, the Grizzlies are in a full-blown rebuild and with Morant as the clear-cut best point guard in the draft, taking him at No. 2 is a no-brainer.

It'll be exciting to see his career unfold in the pros.

3. Knicks - RJ Barrett, Duke (SG)

Memphis is going to make life easier for New York. Whether it's RJ Barrett or Morant -- two of the most talented prospects available after Williamson -- the Knicks will take either. My bet is on Barrett.

Duke's left-handed versatile scorer can create off-the-dribble, navigate through defenders and has great footwork -- which makes him a tough guard to cover. He also comes with a high basketball-IQ. At 6-foot-7, the shooting guard with a DeMar DeRozan-like game, Barrett will flourish in New York's backcourt, no bust with this pick.

4. Pelicans - Darius Garland, Vanderbilt (PG)

New Orleans will most likely find a way to trade this pick away as the reports of teams interested in making a deal with the Pelicans continues to heat up. The Celtics, Timberwolves and Bulls are all linked to the intriguing guard -- impressive for a player who only played five games in his freshman year.

Comparisons to Warriors All-Star Steph Curry will certainly do that, considering he has better handles than anyone else in his draft class and a quick-releasing 3-point touch that NBA executives have been drooling over of late. With Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt, the Pelicans may not need another ball-dominant guard like Garland, however, if they don't trade away the pick, De'Andre Hunter will be a great addition to the revamped Pelicans.

5. Cavs - De'Andre Hunter, Virginia (PF)

With a 7-foot-2 wingspan and versatility to play multiple positions, De'Andre Hunter spent a second season at Virginia to polish his game and earned a national title. Hunter made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor, while averaging 15.2 points and shooting 52 percent from the floor on the offensive side.

The ACC Defensive Player of the year will also bring leadership to the Cavs' locker room.

6. Suns - Coby White, North Carolina (PG) 

There isn't another team in the NBA more desperate for a starting point guard than the Suns. The NBA Lottery wasn't kind to Phoenix, unfortunately, it left a team that finished with the worst record of the 2018-19 regular season outside of the top-5 -- putting them out of position to grab Morant or Garland.

Still, Coby White will complement Devin Booker nicely in the backcourt. Phoenix may look to move this pick but if they're unsuccessful, White is a two-way player with upside.

He has a 3-point touch in his arsenal and is a good catch-and-shoot scorer to have for when Booker is double-teamed.

7. Bulls - Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech (SG)

For a team in full-blown rebuild mode, this will add a nice piece to their lineup in Jarrett Culver. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard shot his way up to a potential top-5 pick after an impressive performance in the NCAA tournament and proved himself as a playmaker.

A defensive-minded guard who can put the ball on the floor and keep defenders off-balance, Culver will blossom into a solid pro. He'll also most likely improve his 3-point shot -- which is good enough to put a hand in his face but will only get better in due time.

8. Hawks - Cam Reddish, Duke (SF)

A nifty scorer who can create off-the-dribble, Cam Reddish has the skillset to flourish into an All-Star one day. He was ranked third in the country last year but after he was overshadowed by Zion and Barrett at Duke last year as the third option, Reddish's stock took a bit of a hit heading into this year's draft.

Still, his fluid offense and 3-point touch a la Rudy Gay will make him an offensive weapon due to his quick release and speed.

9. Wizards - Sekou Doumbouya, France (PF)

Washington should take a risk on the youngest player in his draft class, Sekou Doumbouya peaked the Wizards' interest weeks before the draft due to his promising offensive arsenal that is drawing comparisons to Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. However, at 18, Siakam's range wasn't this impressive.

The 6-foot-9 teenager has upside on the defensive end due to his athleticism and of course his young age, which will give Doumbouya plenty of room to grow in his first three NBA seasons.

10. Hawks - Jaxson Hayes, Texas (C) 

A rim protector with a 7-foot-4 wingspan for the Hawks to develop in the frontcourt alongside Jason Collins, Jaxson Hayes is a great fit for Atlanta. Jaxson finished with 2.2 blocks per game last year in his lone season with Texas.

He also proved to be a good pick-and-roll defender that will translate in the NBA on a rebuilding team such as the Hawks.

11. Timberwolves - Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga (PF) 

Brandon Clarke will give Minnesota a versatile defender in the frontcourt that should complement Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins nicely. Not to assume he'll be in the Timberwolves' starting lineup throughout his rookie campaign but the Gonzaga big will be ready to contribute right away.

He averaged over three blocks per game throughout his junior year. The soon-to-be 23-year-old is the kind of player Minnesota needs right now -- a defensive-efficient big who's a bit undersized at 6-foot-8 but can run the floor and finish well around the rim, similar style as his idol, Draymond Green.

12. Hornets - Nassir Little, North Carolina (SF)

A two-way wing with a quick first step, Nassir Little's athleticism translates on both ends of the floor. Whether it's slashing through defenders or locking down opposing wings, Little will bring grit and toughness to the Hornets.

13. Heat - P.J. Washington, Kentucky (PF)

It's too bad he'll be taken before the Celtics' turn to pick at No. 14 because P.J. Washington would be a good fit in Boston. He has a high-IQ, great athleticism with an outside shot -- where he drained treys at a 42.3 percent rate.

14. Celtics - Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (PF)

Tyler Herro is the safest bet for the Celtics. But with the news of Aron Baynes dropping the morning of draft night, Boston could go big and take a risk on drafting 6-foot-11 big Goga Bitadze from Republic of Georgia or Oregon's Bol Bol, however, if Rui Hachimura is available, the Celtics should take a chance on him.

He would fit nicely in Brad Stevens' system, he shot 41 percent from deep last year and has the fundamental skill set that will translate well in the NBA. At 6-foot-8, he can defend both forward positions at a high level and is NBA-ready to produce right away.

Herro, a shooter who wowed the franchise during his 3-point shooting drill -- where he drained 95 treys in five minutes, is the alternative. A knockdown shooter has been a hole in Stevens' offense throughout his entire tenure but Herro isn't the second coming of RJ Hunter, his stepback jump shot has elevated his offensive prowess. Herro has shown promise that he can create his own shot.

However, the Celtics are in quite a predicament heading into the draft. They would love to trade up in but assuming all fails and they end up keeping their picks, Hachimura or Herro are the best options for them at No. 14. The other intriguing forwards that would fit well in Stevens' system will most likely be waiting for them at picks No. 20 and 22.

15. Pistons - Romeo Langford, Indiana (SG)

Detroit needs a wing and if PJ Washington is off the board, Romeo Langford is a solid replacement. He can get to the rack with his quickness, has nearly a 7-foot wingspan and is great in transition.

Langford fits in Dwane Casey's system and should be able to produce right away.

16. Magic - Tyler Herro, Kentucky (SG)

His shooting percentages in college don't mean anything anymore. After impressive workouts with various teams, they are confident that Tyler Herro will translate in the NBA.

Orlando will be happy to see Herro still on the board at No. 16.

17. Hawks - Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State (PF/C)

As the Seminoles leading scorer, Mfiondu Kabengele is an old-school big man. He likes to get his buckets in the paint and will give you plenty on the defensive end.

18. Pacers - Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech (SG)

Nickeil Alexander-Walker's touch from long range will come in handy for Indiana. He can also take the ball to the rim and plays well off of the pick-and-roll. At 6-foot-5, Alexander-Walker moves well without the ball, think of Spencer Dinwiddie.

19. Spurs - Nicolas Claxton, Georgia (PF)

With the ability to guard multiple positions, protect the rim and posses a 9'2 standing reach, Nicolas Claxton should develop into a solid pro under Gregg Popovich's wing.

20. Celtics - Keldon Johnson, Kentucky (SF)

Boston may consider taking Keldon Johnson at No. 14 because he may not be available at No. 20, but if he is then it's a no-brainer for the Celtics. He's the kind of wing Brad Stevens loves -- a guy who's great in transition, has an outside touch and defend.

If Johnson isn't an option, Boston could take a chance on Bol Bol.

21. Thunder - Cameron Johnson, North Carolina (SF)

Not a lot of people have Cameron Johnson in the first round of their mock drafts but Oklahoma City should take a chance on him at No. 21. The snipe-shooter shot at a 46 percent clip for UNC last season and to put that into perspective, he averaged nearly six (5.8) attempts per game while shooting 57 percent from inside the arc.

Russell Westbrook would love to see this somehow translate in the NBA, the Thunder should take a risk.

22. Celtics - Ty Jerome, Virginia (PG)

It's tough to picture Boston keeping all three picks in the draft and not using one of them to select a point guard. With Kyrie Irving out of the picture and Terry Rozier showing no signs of commitment, Ty Jerome is the ideal choice here.

Less than two weeks ago, Jerome said his workout with the Celtics was his favorite at the time and the franchise certainly enjoyed watching the NCAA champion point guard drain 84-of-100 threes. He shot 40 percent from behind the arc last season.

At 6-foot-5, he's considered a combo guard but passes better than most and is considered a lockdown defender in the backcourt, he'll get along with Marcus Smart just fine.

23. Grizzlies - Goga Bitadze, Rep. of Georgia (C) 

Goga Bitadze's offense projected him as a top-20 guy in this year's draft but with a slew of wing players too desirable to pass on, he'll be taken just outside. He's been drawing interests from a number of teams, including the Celtics -- a team that could take him with either the No. 20 or 22 pick.

Bitadze 7-footer with a 15-20 foot jump shot and has the footwork to produce in the paint, it would be a great addition for Detroit's frontcourt. He can also rack up blocks on the other end with his 7-foot-2 wingspan.

24. Sixers - Kevin Porter, USC (SF)

Another athletic wing in a first round that full of them. Kevin Porter can become a solid iso-scorer in due time, he's only 19-years-old.

25. Trail Blazers - KZ Okpala, Stanford (SF)

KZ Okpala has a high ceiling above him but his knack for attacking the rim and draining 3-pointers should keep him in the league. He can play right away but will have to work hard to earn a spot in Portland's rotation.

26. Cavs - Admiral Schofield, Tennessee (SG)

Classic 3-and-D guy with an NBA ready body. Admiral Schofield could turn into an every day pro, the Cavs should take a chance on him.

27. Nets - Bol Bol, Oregon (C)

He could be another 7-foot-2 bust or he could be the next Kristaps Porzingis, it's difficult to say at this point when you think about the hype behind Bol Bol. As one of the biggest first-round wild cards, Bol should slide to the late first-round but his shot and his size will keep him out of the second round.

28. Warriors - Matisse Thybulle, Washington (SF)

Golden State will certainly miss Klay Thompson's defense next year. Matisse Thybulle won't perform at the same level but could turn into a Andre Roberson kind of defender.

29. Spurs - Bruno Fernando, Maryland (C)

An athletic big man who can finish strong at the rim and bang down low. Bruno Fernando is hoping to become the next Steven Adams, he's that kind of player with plenty of room to grow.

30. Bucks - Eric Paschall, Villanova (PF)

Eric Paschall will do the dirty work for you on the defensive end and hit mid-range shots on the offensive side of things. Think of PJ Tucker with a little more polishing left.

Josue Pavón

Photos used are courtesy of Getty Images and the Associated Press

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