Sam Smith's 2019 Post-Lottery NBA Mock Draft

Sam predicts the top 14 picks in this year's NBA draft
NBA Draft Prospects Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett look on at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery on May 14, 2019 at the Chicago Hilton in Chicago, Illinois.
by Sam Smith

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So who do you think is going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft? That seemed decided Tuesday even before the lottery drawing with almost nonstop interviews of Duke forward Zion Williamson. The 6-6 athletic anomaly is expected to be the NBA's next big thing. So he becomes an easy choice for the Big Easy and the New Orleans Pelicans. Their ascendency in the draft lottery became one of the biggest stories of the NBA season. And it sends the NBA into the summer—if the league can get these playoffs concluded—with yet another big storyline of the fate of Anthony Davis given the Zion addition and what has LeBron got to say about all this. As NBA drafts go, the first tier of this draft is the Nos. 1 and 2 picks. Tier 2 is one player. Tier 3 is two to five players and then it becomes the usual eye of the beholder. Though as its been popular to point out lately how many stars remain in the playoffs—Stephen Curry (7), Klay Thompson (11), Giannis Antetokounmpo (15), Kawhi Leonard (15), Damiam Lillard (6), C.J. McCollum (10), Draymond Green (35)—who weren't top five picks. And recent departures like No. 41 pick Nikola Jokic. Though it still doesn't appear that Williamson will fall to No. 7 and the Bulls. Here's an early look at how the lottery might look on draft might next month.

1.

New Orleans Pelicans. Zion Williamson, Duke forward.

He didn't look that excited about the gumbo possibilities when the Pelicans placard was revealed Tuesday. He left the auditorium quickly, but he isn't going anywhere for five years. That's right, start getting ready to lose for the 2023-24 season and free agency. The Pelicans aren't rebuilding quite yet, though now they'll probably let go Julius Randle. The buzz from New Orleans after the drawing was they might keep Davis, who has a year left on his contract, into the season to try to persuade him playing with Zion and Jrue Holiday is better than joining an aging LeBron James. Then perhaps move him at the trade deadline.

Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball against Ahmed Hill #13 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second half in the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC.

2.

Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant, Murray State point guard.

He was a pretty good consolation prize and perfect for a low revenue team in rebuilding with a strong draft pick from last year of Jaren Jackson Jr. They made a nice acquisition this past season of Jonas Valanciunas for Marc Gasol and have Morant/Jackson as their Stockton/Malone. He's as fixed to Memphis as Zion is to New Orleans.

Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers attempts a shot against Christ Koumadje #21 of the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut.

3.

New York Knicks. R.J. Barrett, Duke forward

The Knicks were dreaming of Williamson to package to the Pelicans for Davis with a big free agency haul. And they'll probably still try. And while Barrett looks like he'll be a quality scoring wing, he doesn't extrapolate as exceptional and likely becomes a nonstarter with the mess of overrated prospects they have around. Kyrie Irving still could go there as free agent because their chances seem flat like his world.

Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils is defended by Aaron Henry #11 of the Michigan State Spartans during the second half in the East Regional game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 31, 2019 in Washington, DC.

4.

Los Angeles Lakers. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia forward

They'll be looking to trade, also, like the Knicks. In their case because LeBron really hates young players. When Andrew Wiggins was that next guy, LeBron refused to come back to Cleveland until they got rid of him. So it seems unlikely the Lakers will use the pick in trying to get the Pelicans to bite on a package for Davis. But if they have to, Hunter makes some sense since no one apparently explained to the Lakers last year if you have LeBron you need veteran shooters to space the floor (and dance with him in introductions). Not Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.

Hunter drives the ball

5.

Cleveland Cavaliers. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt point guard.

Yes, yes, I know, Collin Sexton. But he stinks. OK, not quite stinks, but not quite a point guard. I think I saw him pass the ball last season, but I am not sure. If you have the Cavs roster, you take the player left who most looks like an NBA All-Star, and Garland has a chance assuming his knee is recovered after meniscus surgery. Plus, with Portland in the conference finals, playing two small, scoring guards suddenly becomes more acceptable.

Darius Garland looks to pass

6.

Phoenix Suns. Coby White, North Carolina point guard.

They're the franchise who traded away Goran Dragic, Rajon Rondo and Eric Bledsoe while continuing to play without any point guards. White is more scoring oriented and might wrestle Devin Booker for the ball. But they have plenty of wings and bigs and other stuff and just have to take a shot on the best point available. Or settle for the next D.J. Augustin in free agency.

Coby White #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts to a play against the Washington Huskies during their game in the Second Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

7.

Bulls. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga forward.

What! Another undersized forward! There's a better chance than in previous years the Bulls will trade the pick for a veteran player. This would be considered a reach on draft night in TV, but given that a year after each draft most of the top 10 isn't top 10 anymore, a team cannot get caught up in that. He reminds me of a Paul Millsap type. Not exactly in style of play, but an undersized, physical, defensive minded interior player who makes plays. The Bulls have plenty of needs, but a physical defender who makes plays should be useful.

Brandon Clarke #15 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs dunks the ball against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the second half of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Honda Center on March 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California.

8.

Atlanta Hawks. Jarrett Culver. Texas Tech guard.

The Hawks are building an impressive young roster with Young. Culver as a scoring wing can work well with Kevin Huerter as a creator and also a shooter to play with Trae.

Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders attempts a shot against the Virginia Cavaliers in the second half during the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

9.

Washington Wizards. Jaxson Hayes, Texas center.

Dwight Howard probably is not returning. Not that he ever was there. They're on the verge of starting over while keeping Bradley Beal. John Wall probably doesn't get back this seasons. So they can take some time and a look at an athletic big guy who isn't quite ready, though neither are they.

Jaxson Hayes #10 of the Texas Longhorns slam dunks against the Iowa State Cyclones at The Frank Erwin Center on March 02, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

10.

Atlanta Hawks, Cam Reddish, Duke forward.

With their second first round as the have two from the trade last year with Dallas to drop from No. 3 to No. 5, it's worth a chance on a player like Reddish, who has been highly regarded but underachieving. That can occur playing with the young stars Duke had in Williamson and Barrett. Plus, Krzyzewski isn't the most creative strategist. So a third potential star could be obscured.

Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the North Dakota State Bison in the first half during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.

11.

Minnesota Timberwolves. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga forward.

He's a skilled big man who began playing basketball late and has been improving rapidly. With shooting ability and skills he could be a player to complement Karl-Anthony Towns.

Rui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the first half of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Honda Center on March 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California.

12.

Charlotte Hornets. Goga Bitadze, Georgia, center.

They could lose Kemba Walker in free agency, so everything is on the table now. The NBA's international scouting remains much overrated with players like Jokic continually slipping through. It seems clear most of the scouting is in expensive restaurants and five-star hotels. Is he the next Jokic? He's the international big man now, so take a chance.

Goga Bitadze reacts to a play

13.

Miami Heat. Sekou Doumbouya, France forward.

He's another top overseas prospect who is considered athletic, versatile and not that ready for the NBA. Though for now it seems the Heat may have to start stockpiling potential talent.

Doumbouya reacts to a play

14.

Boston Celtics. Tyler Herro, Kentucky, guard.

Whatever became of all those draft picks? They still have another next year from Memphis, but that bounty of draft picks that was supposed to produce Dynasty 3 hasn't exactly worked out as expected. He's one of the top shooters in the draft and that's always a good thing to have.

Tyler Herro #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives with the ball against Malik Dunbar #4 of the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 31, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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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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