Sam Smith's Mock Draft no. 2

Who follows Williamson and Morant as the consensus top picks in this year's draft?
by Sam Smith

Body

It's June, which means the NBA only is in its ninth month of play and Zion Williamson still will be the No. 1 pick in this month's NBA draft. Yes, it's finally here, the reward for those teams with the not-so-pleasant memories of the 2018-19 season. This isn't really fair as a regular feature, unlike the NFL draft in which during the eight weeks preceding there generally are eight different No. 1 picks in the various mock drafts. We have Zion. And then Ja, who reportedly will have a minor knee procedure that will sideline him perhaps a month. Likewise, the tertiary Duke guy, Cam Reddish, also reportedly is headed for some sort of procedure that seems likely to knock him out of Summer League as well. And why exactly would New Orleans—yes, assuming they surprise everyone and select Williamson No. 1—have him play in Summer League? It's not like they need to see him dunk. Yes, it could be a very disappointing Las Vegas Summer League where the face-off between the top two draft picks is usually the headline.

LeBron James did play in Summer League in 2003, but it was not the Summer League extravaganza we now know. Much of it was in a small gym on the UMass/Boston campus. I recall Lonny Baxter kicking some and taking names that summer. But LeBron hadn't gone to college, so he did have some proving to do. But since Williamson seemingly hasn't subscribed to load management, we might yet have some fun win Vegas. What, there's other stuff to do?

And for more fun if your heart isn't beating too fast, here's a look at my Mock Draft No. 2.

Not that anything much has happened since my last one right after the mid-May draft lottery. Other than, of course, most of the likely lottery selections having their heights and weights taken at the Chicago Combine. Talk about news! But we do have a few weeks to go before the June 20 NBA draft, and we do need something besides the continuing analysis, scrutiny and assessment of Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

1.

New Orleans Pelicans. Zion Williamson, Duke forward.

Yes, him again. The Pelicans aren't even going through the usual pretense of inviting offers. They're mostly in a full court press aimed at Anthony Davis to stay. Which should also put another high scoring good forward, Julius Randle, on the free agent market. Everyone hasn't been as excited about a prospect coming into the NBA since Greg Oden. Wishing Zion better health.

Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball as he gets fouled by Tacko Fall #24 of the UCF Knights during the second half in the second round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.

2.

Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant, Murray State point guard.

They're not trading him. Except perhaps for Zion. He's said to be in need of a loose body being taken care of, which in this case has to do with his knee. He's been likened to Russell Westbrook, well, except for the passing, which he does and Westbrook not as much of. Westbrook has had these bodies removed several times, and maybe that's the secret to his athletic ability. Sort of like getting the Tommy John surgery to strengthen your arm.

Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers drives past Theo John #4 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during their first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 21, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut.

3.

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

This is where the trading could start since the Knicks, having taken a look at the Toronto roster, decided, "What! That's all you have to do to get to the Finals?" Heck, KD is better than Kawhi. Plenty of VanVleets running around. So we'll see. Barrett is a good keeper scoring option if they can land their free agents, though they'll be in on the Anthony Davis recruitment as well.

RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs the rebound 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.

4.

Los Angeles Lakers. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt point guard.

This is where the draft breaks, sort of a third level with Zion and Ja the first and RJ the second. This third level includes five players of generally about equal potential, which means two probably will make it big. And it could be any two among Nos. 4 and 8. This can change again quickly because there still are medical reports to see, especially with Garland and now Cam Reddish, interviews to be done, and some silly workout that ends up changing someone's mind even though it shouldn't. The Lakers, of course, want to trade everyone, and perhaps their ownership and management, too, the way things have gone lately. Some say Garland's not a fit with Lonzo Ball, though no one is quite sure with whom Ball does fit. The Lakers probably go with trade ability over talent, and point guards remain in the highest demand.

Darius Garland #10 of Team USA dribbles the ball against Team World during the Nike Hoop Summit on April 13, 2018 at the MODA Center Arena in Portland, Oregon.

5.

Cleveland Cavaliers. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia forward

OK, now I have Sexton as a keeper. They probably always did also, but when you are starting over like they are you don't pick for position. Hunter probably makes the most sense as perhaps the least risk of these five. Not a high ceiling, but a good defender, someone who likely can make big shots and fill in at several wing positions. Long wing span, yadda, yadda, yadda.

De'Andre Hunter #12 of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half during the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

6.

Phoenix Suns. Coby White, North Carolina point guard.

Remember when Phoenix was a destination? It used to be the warm weather place that scared all the other teams because all the players would want to go there. Not so much these last two decades. They've botched more personnel moves than an X-man movie. But they have a big time scorer in Devin Booker who shoots basically all the time and a good big man from the last draft. White doesn't look like he'll pass much, either, but the Suns when people watched were known for running, shooting and having fun up until somewhere in the playoffs. It's something to shoot for.

Coby White #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels goes up for a shot 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. Jarrett Culver. Texas Tech guard.

This is the guy the Bulls surely are going to take. Though since I may do two more of these mocks before the draft that could change as well. Now I have the point guards gone. I'm not a big fan of the square peg/round hole fit just because that's what you need. Garland and White might work, but they're also young, inexperienced and, did I mention young? Culver doesn't project as a starter for the Bulls, at least not yet. Though he might provide flexibility if the Bulls some day become daring and consider a trade involving Zach LaVine. For now, however, Culver makes some sense as a nice second unit scorer/facilitator, sort of a DeMar DeRozan Lite. Doesn't have that level of athleticism, but a nice all-around mid-range game.

Jarrett Culver #23 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders celebrates late in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

8.

Atlanta Hawks. Cam Reddish, Duke forward.

He's the mystery man of the third tier five who could go as high as No. 4 or here. He's having some loose bodies dealt with as well, though they are calling it something different. So he'll be out a little while, but nothing too serious. He's probably the most talented among this group of five players, but perhaps someone you'll have to wait longest to mature and become more assured. With two picks, why not?

Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket against teammates Brandon Robinson #4 and Garrison Brooks #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 20, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina.

9.

Washington Wizards. Jaxson Hayes, Texas center.

Sources say…nothing. No one has any idea since they still don't even have a general manager. It's a more difficult prediction to make when you have to try to guess the preference of who no one knows will get the job. The latest rumor is they could trade Bradley Beal, which apparently was started by the Lakers, who start all the rumors now. They probably won't, but with John Wall out next season, it's mostly a running in place season to start again. Hayes is more project, but the sort of athletic big man you'll need for defense in the East. I'd even take a look at him if I were the Bulls.

Jaxson Hayes #10 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after a play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2018 Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on November 22, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Texas defeated North Carolina 92-89.

10.

Atlanta Hawks. Sekou Doumbouya, France forward.

They have their point guard, a power forward, a good wing shooter. Maybe they'd take Hayes to get that defensive big man, though they do have Alex Len and one of the 11 Plumlees believed to be in the NBA. He's perhaps the most undeveloped talent likely to go in the lottery, but with a second pick it might be worth a chance on a young, athletic talent to run with Young.

Doumbouya shoots the ball.

11.

Minnesota Timberwolves. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga forward.

He's the Taj Gibson replacement. He fits the profile of the beloved Bull with perhaps more athletic ability, somewhat undersized at power forward, though with weak side blocked shot ability as a solid complement to Karl-Anthony Towns.

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.

12.

Charlotte Hornets. P.J. Washington, Kentucky forward.

There's been a buzz that the Hornets are interested, and we know about the buzz in the hive. Which is always fun to say. He's another of those undersized power forwards, which isn't such a problem anymore since he's also a scorer who can shoot. Too soon to be fishing around for a Kemba replacement. If he leaves, they'll have a high enough draft pick next year for that.

PJ Washington #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats signals against the Auburn Tigers during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 31, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.

13.

Miami Heat. Kevin Porter Jr., USC guard.

Everyone loves these Pat Riley-type picks, meaning someone who has had problems and scares teams, and then you hit on Hassan Whiteside and then not so much. Porter is considered one of the top talents in the draft, but has those vague "off court" problems that teams fear will lead to court, and not the basketball kind. But if you're shooting for a star, you need some luck.

Kevin Porter Jr. #4 of the USC Trojans brings the ball up the court against the Washington Huskies during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Huskies defeated the Trojans 78-75.

14.

Boston Celtics. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga forward.

More skilled than his Gonzaga teammate Clarke, but not quite the athlete. Well, if you can't get Anthony Davis…He'd be a value pick at the bottom of the lottery as a skilled big man who actually would seem to fit well with their patterned play once Kyrie stops dribbling.

Rui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against Malik Fitts #24 of the Saint Mary's Gaels during the championship game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 12, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Gaels defeated the Bulldogs 60-47.

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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