NBA mock draft 2019: Projected first-round picks from Nos. 1 to 30
1. Knicks: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
What don’t the Knicks need? With major holes all over their rotation, they have to find a star if the lottery balls bounce their way. They also need 12 or 13 other players to go with him.
Zion is a beast. He looks like the 2019 version of Larry Johnson, and could be an unstoppable force at the NBA level. This is the clear No. 1 overall pick and perhaps the only franchise-changer in the draft.
2. Cavs: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
The post-LeBron James era wasn’t fun the first time and it won’t be this time either. Expect to see Cleveland take the best player available, even if they already have a young point in the making in Collin Sexton.
Morant is a climber that’s come out of nowhere to post 24.5 points and 10 assists per game as a sophomore. He has elite talent and is a near lock for a top-3 pick.
3. Suns: RJ Barrett, SG/SF Duke
The top three appear set, at least with two months to go. Phoenix could really use a point guard at this position to push Devin Booker back to his natural shooting guard spot, but Barrett is too good to pass on.
Phoenix could also use another big who can stretch the floor, and give Deandre Ayton room to move in the post.
4. Bulls: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
Chicago has done a nice job building a young core group that includes Zach LaVine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. They desperately need a point guard to complete the puzzle, but there just aren’t many available in this year’s draft.
Reddish could slip below this point, but not far. Duke is going to own the top end of this draft.
5. Hawks: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
Culver needs to work on his perimeter shot, but he’s a big, athletic guard that could fit next to Trae Young in Atlanta’s run-and-gun system. The Hawks have plenty of needs, but they also have a potential second top-10 pick from the Mavs.
Young and John Collins are a nice start. Adding Culver or Cam Reddish would help accelerate the build in the ATL.
6. Wizards: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
Washington dealt both of its young small forwards during season in separate deals. The Wizards need a complete reboot, but they’ll have to settle for adding a top-10 pick and hope that John Wall eventually returns to form. Hunter is versatile, and has a nice wingspan for a combo-forward.
He should fit in nicely alongside Bradley Beal, who is stepping into the role of a franchise player.
7. Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
New Orleans’ future is as murky as any team in the league. The Pelicnans are likely going to need a big or two after the dust on this season settles, and Hayes fits the bill.
He’s no Anthony Davis. He might not even reach Julius Randle's level, but Hayes is long and athletic and might be able to grow into something, especially as a shot-blocker.
8. Grizzlies: Coby White, SG, North Carolina
Perpetually caught between the future and the past, the Grizzlies have plenty of needs. Jaren Jackson Jr. was a home run last summer, and Memphis needs another one here in the first round.
Memphis has a team option on Avery Bradley for $13 million. Finding a less expensive option with upside might be a good idea. White creates space and can really score. This pick is top-8 protected. If it falls below that, it goes to Boston.
9. Hawks (from Mavs): Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
The Mavs are building, but after Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, they have a lot of holes. More bad news: If their pick falls here or anywhere else outside the top five, it would go to the Hawks, who also could use talent like Hachimura, who is versatile and smart.
At 21 years old, Hachimura is mature enough as a player to step in and make an immediate impact.
10. Timberwolves: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
Minnesota has a couple of ways they can go here. Jeff Teague is opting in to his final year at $19 million and the team could use a plan B behind the veteran point guard. A knee injury cost Garland all but five games of the 2018-19 season, but he has bigtime upside and NBA pedigree.
11. Lakers: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
LeBron James isn’t getting any younger and Los Angeles needs to add talent who can help now. A super athlete with a big-time motor, Clarke can be a difference-maker on the defensive end.
The Lakers have plenty of other holes to fill, and they will likely shop this pick hard in their search for stars to put alongside James.
12. Hornets: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
Charlotte is in a tough spot. They Hornetts have built their squad around Kemba Walker, and he’s entering the summer as an unrestricted free agent. They need talent, like every other team, but drafting in the back end of the lottery isn’t ideal in their situation.
Langford has good size and length at the shooting-guard spot, and can really stuff the stat sheet. He’ll need to improve as a shooter, but there is plenty to work with here.
13. Heat: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
John Calipari isn’t filling up the top 10 with picks this season, but his Kentucky squad will still have two or three in the first round. Johnson has good size at the two, and can shoot it.
Miami has plenty of needs, but this is still a point in the draft where you select the best player available.
14. Boston: Sekou Doumbouya, F, Limoges CSP (France)
In the end, the Kings’ 2015 salary-dump deal with Philly didn’t hurt nearly as badly as expected. If the pick moves to No. 1 overall, the Sixers keep it. Anywhere else, it stays with Boston. The Celtics could have as many as four first-rounders.
Doumbouya is long, athletic and has defensive potential at both forward positions. He’s going to need time to develop either in the NBA or overseas for another season or two.
15. Pistons: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
With Stanley Johnson being sent out at the deadline, there is a need for depth at the wing. Detroit has plenty of other needs as well, but this is a start. At 6-foot-6, Little boasts a huge 7-foot-1 wingspan.
He’s raw on the offensive end, but he has potential as a two-way player. That description kind of sounds like Stanley Johnson.
16. Magic: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
Steve Clifford did a nice job of converting potential into production in his first season in Orlando, but his team has holes and a substantial free-agent decision looming for center Nikola Vucevic. This isn’t a starting-level point guard available at this spot, so you try to add talent.
Porter Jr. is all over in the board in most mock drafts, likely due to a lack of focus and discipline. In the right situation, he might blossom.
17. Nets: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
When all else fails, draft Kentucky. Brooklyn has done a tremendous job building a winning program without the aid of top-tier draft selections. The Nets need more depth on the frontline, and while slightly undersized, Washington is a high-IQ player who fits right in with the Nets.
Kenny Atkinson’s group has jumped way ahead of schedule, but they still need a ton of talent if they hope to move up from a sixth or seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
18. Pacers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
Half of Indiana’s rotation is a free agent this summer. They Pacers enter the offseason with all kinds of needs, including point guard and both forward positions. Alexander-Walker has good size, and length at the two.
He’s a versatile scorer, and should develop into a nice offensive weapon at the NBA level.
19. Spurs: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
San Antonio continues to fend off Father Time. The Spurs have rebuilt their starting backcourt on the fly, and could use some depth up front. Fernando has all the physical tools, but patience is needed.
He could learn a lot from Popovich and his staff, and might be able to pay dividends down the road.
20. Boston (from Clippers): Bol Bol, C, Oregon
You can’t teach tall. The 7-foot-2 son of Manute Bol put up huge numbers at Oregon before going down with a foot injury. He’s a gamble pick, and likely needs time to develop.
Boston can’t fit all of these first rounders on the roster, so expect the Celtics to be active around draft day.
21. Thunder: KZ Okpala, F, Stanford
The Thunder has star power, but they need rotational upgrades all over the place. OKC hasn’t done the best job bringing along their young players, but Okpala could prove to be a nice addition down the road.
He needs to become more physical, but he has all of the tools to succeed at the NBA level.
22. Celtics: Goga Bitadze, C, Buducnost (Montenegro)
Boston might need a draft-and-stash candidate at this point of the draft. Bitadze is a 6-foot-11, 250-pound big playing overseas. He has good range and a soft touch. He can run the floor and moves well for a player his size, but he’s not a particularly great athlete.
With Al Horford aging and Aron Baynes possessing a player option for next season, Boston might look for some help down low.
23. Jazz: Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky
Utah has a veteran squad that’s built for the postseason. The Jazz has long-term needs at the point guard and power forward positions, but this is a perfect spot to grab a project. Bassey has the ability to play the four and the five, although he’ll need time to develop, like Rudy Gobert did.
At 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and crazy athleticism, Bassey could be a steal in this area of the draft.
24. 76ers: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina
There’s no telling how far the Sixers go in the playoffs this season with their star-studded starting lineup. What is clear is that they need more depth all over the court.
Johnson is a fifth-year college player who can shoot the lights out, and has potential as a 3-and-D wing. They have a few projects hiding, but this is an NBA-ready talent who knows his role.
25. Blazers: Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State
Portland pushed through two late-season injuries to post another 50-win season. With Jusuf Nurkic likely out a good portion of next season, the Blazers could try to bolster their front line, but this is a position where you mine for talent in all shapes and sizes.
Dort is a big guard with major upside. He has potential to develop into a nice rotational two-way player.
26. Cleveland (from Houston): Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
Cleveland is in total rebuild mode. The Cavs have a top-5 pick to go with this one, and they need to find talent. Gafford has a great frame for an NBA big, and he went back for a second college season to mature.
He showed plenty of improvement as a sophomore, and has nice mobility and fluidity for a player this size.
27. Brooklyn (from Denver): Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
Brooklyn is looking for players who buy in and play hard. Herro looks like a good fit. He's an active body, and can be disruptive on both ends of the court.
While he’s expected to go in the first round, Herro has left the door open to return to Kentucky after the evaluation process.
28. Warriors: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
Golden State is entering an interesting offseason. There are no promises that the Warriors will be able to keep the core together, but someone like Williams makes sense if they do.
Williams is a mature and decorated player who likely can play minutes in year one. He’s a two-time SEC Player of the Year and a tremendous competitor.
29. Spurs (from Raptors): Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
Known for their ability to mine talent deep into the draft, the Spurs look for intangibles and then develop players. Thybulle is a seasoned 6-foot-6 brawler who has a 7-foot wingspan and an NBA body, but he’ll need to improve as a shooter if he wants to become a 3-and-D wing at the next level.
30. Bucks: Talen Horton-Tucker, SG, Iowa State
Milwaukee has one of the most complete rosters in the league this season, but keeping it together won’t be easy. When selecting at the back end of the draft, the hope is that you can find a player that grows into something more down the road.
Horton-Tucker is one of the youngest players in the draft. He needs work, but his measurements of 6-foot-4 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan are intriguing.