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  • Jeremy Freed

2019 NBA Mock Draft: 2.0

The Denver Post

1. NOP - Zion Williamson, Duke

There’s no debate here. Zion is a generational talent - New Orleans will eagerly bring him down to the bayou to be the foundation of their post-Anthony Davis future.

2. MEM - Ja Morant, Murray State

Who I think they will take, if not who I think they should take. Morant completes a meteoric rise from a lightly-regarded high school recruit to the second overall pick. A tantalizingly athletic point guard, Morant will need more tools in his kit to reach his ceiling.

3. NYK - R.J. Barrett, Duke

Knicks fans despondent over losing Zion to the whims of the lottery gods will find that they got a wonderful consolation prize in Barrett, who was the consensus first pick until Zion went supernova and stole his crown. Barrett has won impressively at every level, including against top competition. He’ll be a star on Broadway.

4. LAL - Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. The top three has been ‘set’ since the draft order was finalized, and #4 represents the first drop-off from the top tier. Since he injured his knee only five games into his lone college season, Garland is a veritable unknown, but those who have seen him in the pre-draft process describe an electric ball-handler and devastating shooter who would slot well onto the Lakers...or whoever else makes this pick.

5. CLE - Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

A long, multitalented off-guard, Culver would fit very well on the rebuilding Cavs’ roster. With a score-first Collin Sexton at the point, the Cavs would do very well to pair him with a player in Culver who had a lot of experience as the primary distributor in Texas Tech’s varying, non-traditional offense: a high floor player with a decently high ceiling as well.

6. PHX - Coby White, North Carolina

It’s no secret that Phoenix is in desperate need of a point guard, and White is the best available, but I’m not as high on him as others may be. In big games, White tried to do too much, and became a high-volume, low-efficiency, turnover-prone liability. Phoenix isn’t known for its stability, so I worry about this pairing, even if it seems likely.

7. CHI - De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

The Bulls are very unhappy to see the top three point guards off the board when their pick comes up, as they became quite dissatisfied with Kris Dunn’s play last season, and the point appears to be the primary hole in their starting five. With their teamwide defensive troubles, however, Hunter has the ability to really strengthen Chicago on that end of the floor.

8. ATL - Cam Reddish, Duke

The Hawks are an ascendant team, with aspirations to be picking far later in the draft in future years, so this represents perhaps a final opportunity to swing for the fences. Reddish, who many expected to be the third best prospect coming into the season, was very hit-or-miss in his single season at Duke, but still possesses the skills necessary to be a star. Atlanta hopes to get that player out of him.

9. WAS - Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

Clarke doesn’t have the measurables, but a Washington franchise that has been in a state of total disarray needs to hit on this pick, and Clarke is a smart, hardworking player who produces. Clarke doesn’t wow you with any single aspect of his game, but he is a very good player who Wizards’ fans will be happy to have on their team.

10. ATL (from DAL) - Jaxson Hayes, Texas

With the extra pick they got to move down in last year’s draft, the Hawks get a center to provide more rim protection on the defensive end, and provide a little more size and support for John Collins in the Atlanta post. With no long-term solution in the middle on their roster, the Hawks are excited to get the young, promising, rim-running Hayes.

11. MIN - Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech

The success of Shai Gilgeious-Alexander still fresh in the league’s collective mind, the Timberwolves try to find their own supersized point in Alexander-Walker, who has the skill set of point guard, but the size and length of a wing. Having soured on Jeff Teague, and with Tyus Jones looking like a back-up at best, Minnesota tries to shore up the biggest weakness in its lineup.

12. CHA - Sekou Doumbouya, Limoges CSP (France)

The Hornets cannot quit the French! With the retirement of Tony Parker, Charlotte gets back to its two-Frenchmen minimum with the selection of Doumbouya. Whether or not Kemba Walker returns, Doumbouya would fit with the Hornets’ last two selections of Miles Bridges and Malik Monk in providing a nucleus of some promise for the future.

13. MIA - Romeo Langford, Indiana

No single pick can cure what ails the Heat, especially this low in the lottery, but Langford will try. His biggest talent - scoring - is the one the Heat need the most. They had eight players average in double figures last year, but none over 17 ppg -- Miami needs a go-to scorer in the worst way. Langford, who was projected to go much higher before a trying season in Indiana, could end up being a steal at this point in the draft.

14. BOS (from SAC via PHI) - P.J. Washington, Kentucky

When the Celtics got this pick from Philly in order to move down in the 2017 draft, they certainly hoped it would be higher than the last pick in the lottery. With three selections between 14 and 22, and nowhere to put everyone, it’s unlikely all three will be wearing green in the fall, but the Celtics are excited to see Washington still on the board here. The Boston frontcourt is thinning out in free agency, so he’ll provide a needed injection of size and scoring to the roster.

15. DET - Nassir Little, North Carolina

Coming into the season, one has to imagine Detroit would have been very excited to both make the playoffs for only the second time in a decade, and find that Little was still around at this point in the draft. Though he had an underwhelming season for the Tar Heels, Little profiles as the prototypical 3-and-D player, and could grab what looks to be an open small forward spot in the Motor City.

16. ORL - Kevin Porter Jr., Southern California

The Magic have picked a number of long, interesting frontcourt players in the last few drafts, but outside of their acquisition of Markelle Fultz, have largely neglected the backcourt; that ends with Porter Jr. While he shows bouts of immaturity, there’s little doubting his talent; he provides some real upside at this juncture.

17. ATL (from BKN) - Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State

Another swing-for-the-fences pick by the Hawks leads them to Horton-Tucker, their third selection of this draft. The 6’4” Horton-Tucker possesses a wingspan over 7’1”, and has a thick frame that lets him match up with players much taller; it’s easy to see the Hawks falling in love with his versatility and ability to fit in with, and around, their current pieces.

18. IND - Tyler Herro, Kentucky

There’s little the Indiana basketball fan loves more than a sweet-shooting guard, and Herro possesses the prettiest stroke in the draft. Advanced metrics have taught us that collegiate free throw percentage is the best predictor of professional three-point accuracy, and Herro led qualifying men with a 94% accuracy that would have topped the NBA as well. Will be draining a great many threes before his career is over.

19. SAS - Grant Williams, Tennessee

Some players obviously fit on some teams, and on a seemingly yearly basis, the internet comes together with an ‘of COURSE he went to the Spurs’ selection; this year’s pick is Williams. He’s a hard worker who has improved every season, the leader of his team but with a Swiss Army Knife skill set that will fit seamlessly with the Spurs system due to a high basketball IQ. The quintessential Spurs pick.

20. BOS (from LAC via MEM) - Goga Bitadze, KK Mega Bemax (Georgia)

As mentioned earlier, the Celtics have more picks in this draft than places to put them, so Bitadze is their draft-and-stash. More of an old-style banger than a new, modern big, Bitadze has an advanced offensive game, but is just not fast enough to really compete in the perimeter-oriented NBA at present. With a little more conditioning, may be able to become a more complete player.

21. OKC - Matisse Thybulle, Washington

Thybulle’s defense is perhaps the single most NBA-ready skill in the draft class, even if his offense is timid and underdeveloped. For a Thunder squad that hung its hat on the defensive end, Thybulle would have a defined role right away -- about all that a playoff bound team drafting in the early 20s could ask for.

22. BOS - Bol Bol, Oregon

We’re at the point in the draft where upside becomes more and more important, and so the impossibly long Bol finally comes off the board. A few years ago, a player with his height and skill set wouldn’t dream of lasting till 22, let alone 12, maybe even let alone 2. But with his size and injury concerns...upside can only become reality if he can stay on the floor. If Bol can, it’ll be Gobert to the Jazz 2.0.

23. UTA - Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Speaking of the Jazz, they’ll be a little light at the point with all signs pointed towards the Ricky Rubio era in Salt Lake City coming to and end. For a team that always struggles with scoring, the lightning-in-a-bottle Edwards would be the perfect instant offense off the bench. In this supposedly unimpressive draft, teams at this stage are happy to find at least one skill that can play at an above-average level in the NBA; Edwards’ scoring ability is that skill.

24. PHI - Cameron Johnson, North Carolina

For Philly, Johnson’s shooting is that skill. He’s one of the oldest players in the draft, so he’s likely much closer to his ceiling than a number of his draft class compatriots, but what he is close to is very appealing to the 76ers. With a win-now mandate, and very reasonable concerns about congestion, Philly is excited to get the sweet-shooting Johnson, who is a capable defender and happy to be a supporting player.

25. POR - Chuma Okeke, Auburn

With Al-Farouq Aminu entering free agency this year, and Mo Harkless following next year, it’s the perfect time for Portland to replenish its supply of long 3/4 combo forwards. Okeke would have been an excellent, long 3-and-D wing, but as the entire league goes small, possesses the length necessary to play a good stretch-four. A smart and capable defender as well, Okeke is a good match for the offense-focused Blazer backcourt.

26. CLE (from HOU) - KZ Ozpala, Stanford

The Cavs decide to put new coach John Beilein’s player development skills to the test with the selection of Ozpala, who has all the physical gifts in the world, but is relatively new to basketball, so doesn’t play up to his prodigious potential. There are players who are more ready to contribute to the NBA available, but few who could become the player Ozpala can max out as.

27. BKN (from DEN) - Luguentz Dort, Arizona State

A power guard, Dort just seems like he should have been wearing the Brooklyn black his entire life. He can do a little shot-creating in addition to his take-no-prisoners drives to the hoop, and so would be a good fit in Brooklyn, which routinely played Dinwiddie and Russell in tandem, and thrives with multiple creators on the floor.

28. GSW - Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Looks for all the world like an absolute stud basketball player, and can crush inferior competition on the collegiate scale, but has questions about how it’ll translate to the Association. For a Warriors team that will not require instant, high-level contributions, has time to continue his development.

29. SAS (from TOR) - Dylan Windler, Belmont

Windler was a small-school marvel who dominated the Ohio Valley Conference just to watch his thunder get stolen by Ja Morant in the conference championship game. If his game had any doubters, they were silenced by his single-handed near upset of Maryland in the 1st Round of March Madness. Averaged a double-double while connecting on 42% of his threes; I can already read the ‘HOW DID SAN ANTONIO…’ takes in my mind’s eye.

30. MIL - Nicolas Claxton, Georgia

Since Brook Lopez may have just priced himself out of Milwaukee, they’ll look to replace him in the draft with Claxton, who doesn’t have the same range just yet, but has an overall skill set that is very attractive. With another year in college, Claxton would go much higher; for the 2019 draft, he settles in at the end of the first round.

#JeremyFreed #MockDraft #2019NBADraft

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