• Matt Esposito

2019 NBA Mock Draft: 3.0


(Photo: Offshoresports)

I won’t drag on and on about what to expect in this mock draft. You must simply know that I am projecting picks based on what I think the respective team will do. Intel and beat reporting will also be used for input as well as my own rankings. Enjoy!

1. New Orleans Pelicans: F Zion Williamson- Duke; Fr.

Zion is like the older guy in the neighborhood who hasn’t realized it’s not cool to be playing pickup with the younger kids. Perhaps the best prospect since Anthony Davis, Williamson will compete for every type of hardware imaginable.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: PG Ja Morant- Murray State; So.

Some rumors popped up about Memphis wanting to bring RJ Barrett in for a workout. Kill that noise. Although I have made my case about drafting Barrett in this spot, Morant is a fine pick as well. He will put butts in seats, frequent ESPN’s Top 10 highlights, and move the Grizzlies in the right direction.

3. New York Knicks: G/F RJ Barrett- Duke; Fr.

Barrett is one of the few college stars who was tailor-made for Madison Square Garden. Known for his dogged work ethic and ability to rise up when the lights are shining at their brightest, the Knicks may be wondering how Barrett ever slipped past Memphis.

4. New Orleans Pelicans: G/F Jarrett Culver- Texas Tech: So.

David Griffin is shopping this pick around and it makes sense. If the Pelicans keep it, however, expect Culver to be selected. He can be plugged into different lineups and has a bit of untapped potential if the hitch in his jumper is ever worked out.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: F De'Andre Hunter- Virginia; So.

Apparently, John Beilein loves Hunter’s game. After watching his NCAA title game performance, I understand why. Some speculate that Darius Garland will go here, but the Cavs may question the fit next to Collin Sexton. Hunter fills an immediate need and can reach a higher ceiling if he develops his shot-creation game.

6. Phoenix Suns: PG Darius Garland- Vanderbilt; Fr.

Finally, Devin Booker gets his point guard. Garland has had a shady pre-draft process, but makes perfect sense in Phoenix. Booker will continue to spend time on the ball so Garland must maximize his off-ball game. Regardless, Suns fans should be ecstatic if this happens.

7. Chicago Bulls: G Coby White- North Carolina; Fr.

Kris Dunn is not the long-term answer for the Bulls and Zach LaVine, although much improved, may not want to be initiating the offense one every play. Coby White has to tighten his handle and work on his pick-and-roll playmaking. But within a couple of years, do not be surprised if the trio of White, LaVine and Markkanen each average 20 points per game.

8. Atlanta Hawks: F Cam Reddish- Duke: Fr.

I’m bullish on Reddish, believing that he is more NBA-ready that we think. Reddish may have struggled with both an injury and limiting spacing at Duke. As the fourth best player on my big board, I fully expect Reddish to flourish at the next level, especially on the Hawks.

9. Washington Wizards: F Sekou Doumbouya- France

Doumbouya would be a good fit on this Wizards team. Hopefully, he wowed them during his workout, because game film on Doumbouya is not as abundant as American prospects. Doumbouya could be a version of Otto Porter Jr, who had a solid run with the Wizards.

10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks): C Jaxson Hayes- Texas; Fr.

I am not a huge fan of Hayes but, he makes positional sense next to John Collins. Hayes is still a project though he should be able to protect the rim and catch lobs from Trae Young. The odds say he will not be able to hold his own on switches during postseason games but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Nassir Little- North Carolina; Fr.

Recent reporting has Little not only moving up draft boards but, linked to the Timberwolves. Although he struggled at North Carolina, Little is a late bloomer and if you squint hard enough you may get some Jaylen Brown vibes.

12. Charlotte Hornets: PF Brandon Clarke- Gonzaga; Jr.

Many Hornets fans want to see Kevin Porter Jr taken here. I get it. Yet, Charlotte’s odds of retaining Kemba Walker just increased as the Lakers will likely not be able to offer him a maximum contract. Clarke can play right away and help the Hornets compete for a playoff spot. Be happy, Hornets fans, Clarke is seventh on my big board and would be a steal here.

13. Miami Heat: G Kevin Porter Jr.- USC; Fr.

Miami needs scoring and needs it badly. You can tell Porter mimics his game off of James Harden. While both his upper and lower body mechanics needs to improve, as well as his handle, Porter is as slippery as they come. If Miami hits with this pick then they might have pulled the biggest coup of the draft. Porter’s star potential is for real.

14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)- SG Tyler Herro- Kentucky; Fr.

Herro’s workout for the Celtics went well. The Cs are known for making players take 100 3-point attempts and tallying each one. Herro made 80 of them. Jaylen Brown made 75 during his workout and Ainge couldn’t stay away. I love this pick for Boston and Boston fans should too.

15. Detroit Pistons: G Nickeil Alexander-Walker; Virginia Tech; So.

I think this is a little high for NAW. Regardless, the Pistons need pliable players. Alexander-Walker has off-ball potential but can also handle the pick-and-roll if he spells Reggie Jackson. He could even play as the 3 in super small lineups.

16. Orlando Magic: G/F Keldon Johnson- Kentucky; Fr.

Orlando could be reaching with this pick however, they will need shooting if Terrence Ross leaves town (*cough* Los Angeles *cough*) for a bigger deal. Johnson must work on his conditioning and continue to become more consistent from deep but, his competitive spirit will fit in nicely with the Magic.

17. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn): C Goga Bitadze- Georgia (Intl)

Although Hayes is slotted to go to the Hawks with an earlier pick, Goga is actually higher up on my board. The Georgian center is nimbler than he looks, has solid defensive IQ and is lightyears ahead of Hayes offensively. If he falls this far then Atlanta has a no-brainer decision to make.

18. Indiana Pacers: G/F Romeo Langford- Indiana; Fr.

The Pacers have tons of cap room this summer and some free agents to re-sign. With Kevin Durant out for a year, teams will enter into an arms race. If Bojan Bogdanovic leaves town, which is a real possibility, Indiana will need wing help. Langford is a better 3-point shooter than his numbers suggest and was once considered a top five talent in this draft.

19. San Antonio Spurs: F Grant Williams- Tennessee; Jr.

It is becoming a cliché to say it but…this is such a Spursy pick. 13th on my big board, Williams will be loved by the Spurs for his hoops IQ. He is the smartest player in this draft and can play right away in San Antonio. Once the Spurs famous shooting coach gets his hands on him, Williams will have a chance to become something special.

20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): PF/C Mfiondu Kabengele- Florida State; So.

Kabengele is soaring up draft boards and there’s a chance he goes before the Celtics get a chance to draft him. They could use a bouncy, lengthy hybrid big man. Don’t expect the Cs to hang on to all of their picks but if they do, spending one on a potential switch defender would be smart.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Cameron Johnson- North Carolina; Sr.

This pick makes too much sense. You could argue that Johnson is the best 3-point shooter in this draft and that is exactly what the Thunder need. He has a capped ceiling but can step right in to help space the floor for Westbrook and company.

22. Boston Celtics: PG Carsen Edwards- Purdue; Jr.

When Danny Ainge drafted Terry Rozier, many saw it as a reach. Turns out it was a decent pick. He could do the same with Edwards. With Kyrie Irving all but gone, the Cs could use a scoring guard. Edwards has work to do as a playmaker but I have a feeling the Celtic faithful would love this kid.

23. Utah Jazz: C Bruno Fernando- Maryland; So.

The Jazz could be finding themselves needing a backup big man if they let Derrick Favors walk in free agency. Fernando is all over draft rankings. I gave him a late first round grade although he isn’t in my top 30. Regardless, Fernando can carve out a role as a monstrous rim protector who competes for boards and putbacks.

24. Philadelphia 76ers: F Matisse Thybulle- Washington; Sr.

Philadelphia does it once again. Thybulle is arguably the best defender in this class. He will be a terror for ballhandlers and could thrive in a free safety role with Embiid protecting the rim. His selfless offensive style would mesh well with the Sixers, as they will only ask him to defend and make triples.

25. Portland Trail Blazers: F Rui Hachimura- Gonzaga; Jr.

Hachimura gets to stay close to where he went to school. He may not fall this far but scouts are torn over how he will translate to the NBA. Hachimura is an uber athlete with a well-known work ethic, but can he shoot consistently to make a difference?

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets): C Bol Bol- Oregon; Fr.

With their second pick of the first round Cleveland could roll the dice on Bol Bol. The 7-footer can shoot, pass and dribble, while his length makes him a paint protector. Still, Bol has injury concerns and is rail-thin. There is a chance he becomes Kristaps-lite, however, and he is worth the pick here.

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets): G Ty Jerome- Virginia; Jr.

It seems as though Kyrie Irving will be coming to the Nets and if so they may want to draft someone who can help right away. Jerome is a smart player with exceptional footwork. Expect him to minimize turnovers and play solid defense as well.

28. Golden State Warriors: G/F Dylan Windler- Belmont: Sr.

The Warriors will need shooting if Klay Thompson is to miss much of next season. Windler can do just that. Plus, he is an underrated athlete. This would be a nice match for both player and team.

29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): F Chuma Okeke- Auburn; So.

Okeke was moving up the rankings until his NCAA Tournament injury. Offensively he can pick-and-pop and is an advanced passer. The Spurs will coach him to keep his butt down on defense. This would be a nice pickup for San Antonio.

30. Milwaukee Bucks: C Nic Claxton- Georgia; So.

Remember that arms race I mentioned earlier? Teams could offer guys like Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic enough money to lure them away from the contending Bucks. Claxton can’t shoot like either of those two, but he could get there one day. For now, he will give Milwaukee a smart passer and capable defender.

#MattEsposito #2019NBADraft #NBADraft

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