Sam Smith's Final 2019 NBA Mock Draft

After weeks and weeks of speculation, Sam Smith finally reveals his official mock draft for the 2019 NBA Draft
Zion Williamson meets with the media the day before the NBA Draft
by Sam Smith
Kia Bulls Draft Coverage 2019

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It's finally here, the 2019 NBA draft, and much of the discussion around the NBA—except perhaps in New Orleans and Memphis, which still are NBA cities—is when does free agency begin.

This is one of those drafts, and perhaps more significantly one of those free agency periods even with the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, that has teams anxious for July. And not only the buffet at the Wynn.

League executives are saying because of the huge number of free agents this summer and still so many big names and more to come as players like Al Horford get added, there could be an unusually large number of draft day trades as teams both try to clear financial room for free agency and get in better position for trades. So players shouldn't be so quick to model those team baseball caps.

So there also should be considerable intrigue considering the wide range of options facing so many teams. It should be at the very least and entertaining evening.

Here's a look at one likely inexact projection. Though I'm still standing by my selection for No. 1.

1

New Orleans Pelicans. Zion Williamson, 6-7 forward, freshman, Duke

He's the most anticipated draft prospect since Greg Oden. Yes, really. Oden, unfortunately, had so many physical problems and a short stay in the NBA. Which would also make Williamson the most anticipated first name prospect since LeBron. Summer League tickets for his opener could exceed Finals prices. What position will he play? Can he do that against NBA competition? Really, broke his shoes?

Zion Williamson

2

Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant, 6-3 guard, sophomore, Murray State

He's the point guard everyone who doesn't have Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard has been dreaming about, a dynamic, athletic, pass first scoring point guard who has people asking mostly how the heck he ended up at Murray State, where exactly that is and was it named for Eddie or Bill?

Ja Morant

3

New York Knicks. R.J. Barrett, 6-7 forward, freshman, Duke

They've been messing around some with Darius Garland, which perhaps doesn't suggest as much they don't like Barrett as a get lost to Kryie Irving, who is said to prefer Brooklyn. Which many in New York do see as the end of the world. It's beginning to look again like the Knicks free agency will come down to A'mare Stoudemire and the hope of getting him away from his team in Israel. The 2020 draft looks stronger, which might now be the team's motto.

R.J. Barrett

4

New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers). Darius Garland, 6-2 guard, freshman, Vanderbilt

By most accounts, this is the guy the Bulls most covet. Well, after Williamson and Morant. Darn that lottery! The conventional wisdom—which is often not very wise or always in agreement—is the Pelicans will trade the pick with perhaps another from their Lakers haul for a veteran big man. Or to move up in the draft to get Zion a buddy. Just which veteran that might be remains unclear. Andre Drummond? Are the Pistons rebuilding yet? Garland is regarded as the next best talent after the top 3, though we never really know for a few years. Garland is one of the best shooters in the draft, and presumably you'd want more of that if you have Zion and Lonzo.

Darius Garland

5

Cleveland Cavaliers. DeAndre Hunter, 6-8 forward, sophomore, Virginia

This pick also is considered highly in play like the No. 4 pick, so it could be a wild draft night and a bad one for those keeping score on the mock drafts. The Hawks with three first round picks have been most mentioned, though the Bulls get in this conversation as well. Some of it is for the Garland slips group given the myriad possibilities if New Orleans trades No. 4. Since it would be tough to name four Cavs other than Collin Sexton and Kevin Love, who doesn't play much, anyway, they could use most everyone. Hunter seems like a solid pro, if not a star to be. He does a bit of everything on both sides of the ball with maturity and collegiate success. You know, build that culture thing.

DeAndre Hunter

6

Phoenix Suns. Coby White, 6-5 guard, freshman, North Carolina

He's the guy about 90 percent of the mock drafts have going to the Bulls. Mock is generally defined as manufactured or simulated, though perhaps the verb definition is more appropriate of scorn, contempt and ridicule. What a mockery! The Suns are difficult to figure these days since last year they let their GM build the team in the draft and free agency and they fired him. You'd think they were an NFL team. It just seems to make too much sense to pair the scoring oriented White with Devin Booker considering the Suns have most of the other young wings in the NBA with Josh Jackson, Kelly Oubre, T.J. Warren and Mikal Bridges. Wait, would White be a threat to Jimmer?

Coby White

7

Chicago Bulls. Jarrett Culver, 6-6 guard/forward, sophomore, Texas Tech

Culver looks like he'll be a responsible and versatile NBA player, someone who can make plays off the dribble with a strong mid range game and defensive abilities. Though because the Bulls have Denzel Valentine returning from injury next season along with developing Chandler Hutchison, there's been considerable speculation about the Bulls' desires. The Bulls have been rumored looking to trade up with apparent interest in Garland. They've also been rumored to be trading down for multiple picks to take a chance on a high value future player. Which is also why they could take a chance on a player like Sekou Doumbouya, the athletic wing playing in France, or Texas' athletic big man Jaxson Hayes. Both project to be a few years away, though particularly Doumbouya is said to have the sort of star potential like a Scottie Pippen-type developmental player. Which should at least make draft night like final Jeopardy. He's the player who can make the Bulls whole again and fill that hole: Who is…..Don't bet it all.

Jarrett Culver

8

Atlanta Hawks. Sekou Doumbouya, 6-9 forward, 18 years old, Limoges (France)

Most everyone seems to believe they will select Duke's Cameron Reddish, who was named after the Duke arena. What! Not true? The story about him which seems to concern NBA executives was he always was looking for Cameron Outdoor Stadium. Really, did they need to call it "Indoor?" Did no one know not to bring their umbrellas? At least we know it's not a place known for academics. Ah, but I digress. Reddish is a wing shooter, and those are always good to have. The Hawks tend to be aggressive with the new management. Doumbouya has that potential to break out. They have that shooter with Kevin Huerter and an athlete to run the court in transition with Trae Young would look impressive.

Sekou Doumbouya

9

Washington Wizards. Cam Reddish, 6-8 forward, freshman, Duke

They'll be the toughest to figure because John Wall is out for next season, rumors persist they could trade Bradley Beal, and Dwight Howard still is on the roster. Rebuilding? Running in place? Crawling out of the swamp? Waiting for Samuel Beckett to fall to them? Reddish has that high ceiling/basement architecture label of the guy who could make you look great or see if the Sioux Falls Skyforce has an opening. They're probably in position for best available, though with this draft at this point there's about eight guys who fit that description.

Cam Reddish

10

Atlanta Hawks. Jaxson Hayes, 6-11 center, freshman, Texas

Not that anyone believes the Alex Len era is over, but Hayes has been much speculated as a Hawks target. He has that raw project label, which the Hawks sort of have also, though they have one of the best young cores with Young, Huerter and John Collins. Assuming they don't bring back Vince Carter, their cumulative average age will drop by about 15 years. He's one of those in the new Clint Capella comparison of a runner who'll finish, though after the playoffs we may be looking for another resemblance.

Jaxson Hayes

11

Minnesota Timberwolves. Brandon Clarke, 6-8 forward junior, Gonzaga

This is where the personal preference thing really begins since many projections have him outside the lottery. He's a guy who didn't measure well, which is why teams make so many draft mistakes. Like Paul Millsap outrebounding everyone every game he played in and being a second rounder. Like Clarke, arms too short to box with Embiid. He's an eye test guy who blocks shots, makes plays and makes you shake your head how he did it. Plus he'd fit wonderfully with Karl-Anthony Towns, who too often thinks he's inside Stephen Curry's body.

Brandon Clarke

12

Charlotte Hornets. Rui Hachimura, 6-8 forward, junior, Gonzaga

Another team which will be difficult to figure because they also don't know. Especially the fate of free agent Kemba Walker, who has been their team. He says he wants to stay; pay the man! They seem to most need a power forward since they also seem to hate the likable Frank Kaminsky. They don't seem to like Nicholas Batum, either, so trading is possible, a rebuild is possible. Pretty much anything is possible. He's a skilled big man who can fit in a lot of places. He will attract a bonanza of Asian media as the inaugural first round pick from Japan. Look what Yao did for Houston. It's a worldwide game now.

Rui Hachimura

13

Miami Heat. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6-5 guard, sophomore, Virginia Tech

Goran Dragic opted into his final contract season, but the Heat isn't exactly a title contender. They're going to need a playmaking guard, which he can become as a very good passer. It's difficult to figure how they'll even play for now after basically devoting so much offense to Dwyane Wade's last season and trying to figure out what exactly they saw in Hassan Whiteside, who finally enters his final season.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

14

Boston Celtics. Goga Bitadze, 6-11 center, 19 years old, Budocnost (Montenegro)

There's a story that when Red Auerbach was urging on the legendary Celtics fast break he actually was yelling "Goga!" Bye bye Kyrie and Al Horford? What the heck happened to that Celtics dynasty? How about the Nets after giving up all those draft picks not only maybe getting Kyrie but being in better position than the Celtics. Boston has plenty of wing forwards; actually, just about nothing but. Bitadze is intriguing since he sounds a lot like Denver's Jokic. Though scouting is more difficult when you are doing it by sound rather than sight. Like the Hawks, the Celtics also have three draft picks. Basically in a draft no one really wants that many players. At least for now.

Goga Bitadze

15

Detroit Pistons. Nassir Little, 6-7 forward, freshman, North Carolina

They're another team that was looking for a point guard and had their eyes on Alexander-Walker. If he falls, they pick him up. Little is an athlete and defensive player whom many had projected toward the end of the lottery. Which begins the best talent available phase of the draft.

Nassir Little

16

Orlando Magic. Tyler Herro, 6-5 guard, freshman, Kentucky

He didn't measure well with short arms, which may mean he doesn't pick up the dinner checks. But he can shoot, a reasonably attractive skill in the NBA these days. Some regard him as the best shooter in the draft, which would be helpful around a lot of big guys who don't shoot particularly well.

Tyler Herro

17

Atlanta Hawks. Kevin Porter Jr, 6-6 forward, freshman, USC

Yes, them again. You figure the Hawks aren't using all three draft picks. Which makes it difficult to project what that team might desire without knowing the identity of the team. But maybe someone decides to move up to take a chance. Porter had those vague personal issues no one talks about but worries about. He's considered one of the top talents in the draft, and so in a draft in which many teams are ambivalent, why not take a look.

Kevin Porter Jr.

18

Indiana Pacers. Bol Bol, 7-2 center, freshman, Oregon

Speaking of taking chances. He'd be one of the biggest given his size, potential talent ceiling and possible trap door in the form of foot surgery. The Pacers are another of the many looking point guard with hardly enough to go around. Indiana doesn't even have an actual center on the roster and it's unclear who else might make their solid rotation. So another player worth a risk.

Bol Bol

19

San Antonio Spurs. PJ Washington, 6-7 forward, sophomore, Kentucky

He's one of those undersized power forwards many teams considered a late lottery selection. So perhaps he becomes a bargain lower selection. And we know with the Spurs they'll probably turn him into Draymond Green.

PJ Washington

20

Boston Celtics. Cameron Johnson, 6-8 forward, senior, North Carolina

Not exactly the best draft to have hoarded all those picks. Which is the danger of planning for the future, of storing assets and looking ahead when now is mostly what matters in sports. He's an older player, which means about the age Michael Jordan came into the NBA. He's one of those closer-to-ready to play in the NBA and a top shooter.

Cameron Johnson

21

Oklahoma City Thunder. Keldon Johnson, 6-6 wing, freshman, Kentucky

The Thunder mostly seem to be trying to get rid of most everyone not named Russell and Paul in another James Harden-like purge. So they also could trade the pick, though Johnson seems to actually fit with them as a transition player who can shoot. If he's still available, he'd be a value pick as many teams have him slotted near the bottom of the lottery.

Keldon Johnson

22

Boston Celtics. Mfiondu Kabengele, 6-10 center, sophomore, Florida State

May as well make it a tryout for the big guys assuming they also select the international big man. They've got Aron Baynes for another year, but they'll have to deal with Embiid for a bit longer.

Mfiondu Kabengele

23

Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah). Romeo Langford, 6-6 forward, freshman, Indiana

Wherefore art thou? Memphis? They're putting together an intriguing young core quickly with the trade of Mike Conley to yield this pick. With Jaren Jackson last year and likely Morant this year even as rumors swirl they could select Garland, they could also bring back Valanciunas from the Marc Gasol trade. Langford could fit as a runner and slasher unless they look for more shooting to complement Morant.

Romeo Langford

24

Philadelphia 76ers. Ty Jerome, 6-5 guard, junior, Virginia

They like these kinds of guys in the T.J. McConnell role, the hard playing guy who isn't supposed to be an NBA player but makes the plays. They could lose free agent J.J. Redick as well and need support guys to play off their Big Three. Or Big Four.

Ty Jerome

25

Portland Trailblazers. KZ Okpala, 6-9 forward, sophomore, Stanford

No one is suggesting he's ready to break into the starting lineup for a deep playoff team, but who knows with that front line. He's a riser in this draft, athletic with a good shot. With all the PJs and KCs, the league also could use a KZ.

KZ Okpala

26

Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston). Darius Bazley, 6-9 forward, freshman, High School

He's one of the kids who skipped the year of college, the G-league and international to practice for Jeopardy. No, to train. But who knows what he did. The Cavs have the sort of roster and rock bottom prospects he's worth the risk as a potential star talent no one knows much about. To paraphrase Joakim Noah, no one's coming to Cleveland. So he should be able to develop.

Darius Bazley

27

Brooklyn Nets (from Denver). Bruno Fernando, 6-10 center, sophomore, Maryland

Another of those potential Serge Ibaka types like Florida State's Kabengele. The Nets are among the many preparing to go into free agency in a big way. So another pick could drift away in this cold draft. But with their mostly wing/three shooting roster they probably could use the force.

Bruno Fernando

28

Golden State Warriors. Carsen Edwards, 6-0 guard, junior, Purdue

When they get the rematch with Fred VanVleet they'll have someone. Edwards probably is not six feet tall, but it sounds better. He can shoot. And shoot threes with the NBA game leveling out more from height to skill. With the guys they have there (after next season), you get plenty of open shots.

Carsen Edwards

29

San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto). Nic Claxton 6-11 forward, sophomore, Georgia

He'd be another apparent bargain selection as most teams have him ranked just outside the lottery. Though, again, this is one of those eye-of-the-beholder drafts in which your guy at 15 is someone else's at 35. He's a wiry, athletic big forward who draws playing comparisons to Taj Gibson. If personality comparisons also he then should be in the lottery.

Nic Claxton

30

Detroit Pistons (from Milwaukee). Dylan Windler, 6-8 guard, senior, Belmont

You always want to lead the league in something. So what if it's left handed three-point marksmen. They've got Luke Kennard and you probably can't get enough shooting around Drummond and Griffin. Some of the guys who could also be toward the end of the first round include Eric Paschall, Matisse Thybulle, Luka Samanic, Chuma Okeke, Jalen Lecque and Grant Williams.

Dylan Windler

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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