NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Will Celtics find quality talent in first round?
BOSTON — The Brooklyn Nets don’t have a lottery pick, but they may wind up being the biggest winner of them all this offseason in part because of their non-lottery pick (17th overall) which they used as part of a trade with the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets made no secret about making the trade to open the door to a pair of max-salaried slots, one of which they hope to use in acquiring Kyrie Irving.
And while Brooklyn used their first-round pick to in part bolster their roster potentially through free agency, most of the rest of the NBA will be looking to use first-round picks to bolster their rosters with players expected to come into the league and make an immediate difference from Day One. You can throw the Celtics into that boat, them and their trio (No. 14, 20 and 22) of first-round picks.
And while the Celtics would love to have one of the top picks in this draft — Who wouldn’t, right? — they remain optimistic that they’ll find quality talent if they stand pat where they are.
“I do think that there are a bunch of guys that can help us win in the middle of the first round,” Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, told NBC Sports Boston.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson, F, Duke
It’s hard to imagine anything other than injury will derail Zion Williamson from having an amazing NBA career.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant, G, Murray State
The Grizzlies are eager to get from under the contract of Mike Conley, but trading him and his contract (two years, $67 million) won’t be easy.
3. New York Knicks
R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke
If the Knicks fail in their pursuit of Kyrie Irving, will they still make a play for Anthony Davis with the potential of including this pick as part of the package?
4. Los Angeles Lakers
De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia
We are going to give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt and assume they make what should be a no-brainer pick here in selecting Hunter, whose all-around game would be a pick that’s more about substance than sizzle.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech
Pairing Collin Sexton’s speed with Jarrett Culver’s ever-improving scoring potential bodes well for Cleveland’s offense, which was next-to-last in the NBA last season.
6. Phoenix Suns
Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt
It took last year’s No. 1 pick DeAndre Guyton less than a year to point out what has been known for years — the Suns need a point guard. They take one of the best in this year’s class with Garland.
7. Chicago Bulls
Coby White, G, UNC
The Bulls aren’t thrilled with their current stable of backcourt options, so adding White gives them a speedy playmaker who can compete for minutes from Day One.
8. Atlanta Hawks
Jaxson Hayes, PF/C, Texas
The Hawks have a great 1-2 punch to build around with Trae Young and John Collins. The addition of Hayes strengthens the defense while adding another rim-running big to the mix.
9. Washington Wizards
Cam Reddish, G/F, Duke
He didn’t live up to the lofty expectations at Duke, but his talent, athleticism and big-time scoring potential make him a solid pick-up at this point in the draft.
10. Atlanta Hawks
Nassir Little, G/F, UNC
He was underwhelming in his lone season at UNC, but his high energy brand of basketball playing on this youthful Hawks team, is a good fit for both him and the franchise.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, International
The Timberwolves are in a bit of a rebuild now, so adding the youngest player in the draft with the skills that Doumbouya has makes a lot of sense.
12. Charlotte Hornets
Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State
Can stretch the floor, good rebounder and excellent shot-blocker; few players have seen their stock rise since the end of the college basketball season like Kabengele.
13. Miami Heat
Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
He is a tough, gritty player who shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range last season, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan that helps him both as a defender and rebounder even if he’s battling bigger players.
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)
Romeo Langford, G, Indiana
At 6-6, can play all three perimeter positions with legit play-making skills similar to ex-Celtic Evan Turner. In addition, Langford also gives the Celtics a rim-finisher, something most of their perimeter players struggled with last season.
2019 NBA Draft Highlights: Romeo Langford, Indiana
15. Detroit Pistons
Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky
Teams that have worked him out have been impressed with his shooting in addition to his play-making and overall feel for the game that maybe wasn’t on display as much in college.
16. Orlando Magic
Bol Bol, F/C, Oregon
There will surely be teams scared off by his foot injury and lithe frame, but remember this: Magic GM John Hammond loves to draft long, versatile big men which during his time in Milwaukee, included the selection of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
17. Atlanta Hawks
Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
The bonus pick from the trade with Brooklyn provides the Hawks with one of the more efficient players in all of college basketball last season who has above-average versatility which allows him to be a factor as a small-ball “big” in today’s game.
18. Indiana Pacers
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
Good shooter who can play both guard positions, Alexander-Walker’s overall floor game fits in well with the Pacers’ needs in this draft.
19. San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson, G/F, Kentucky
He has a quick first step, consistent motor and knows how to use his size effectively either bullying smaller players or using his speed and athleticism when matched up with a bigger foe.
20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)
PJ Washington, F, Kentucky
The Celtics could use a player like Washington who is part banger — he led the Wildcats in rebounding last season — and part long-range bomber (shot better than 42 percent on 3’s last season).
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
The Thunder get a 2-for-1 with this pick, by taking the best talent available AND addressing their need for an additional scoring threat in the backcourt.
22. Boston Celtics
Matisse Thybulle, G/F, Washington
An exceptional wing defender with huge hands and decent shot mechanics. He is an aggressive defender from the school of Marcus Smart.
2019 NBA Draft Highlights: Matisse Thybulle, Washington
23. Utah Jazz
Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
His play-making, high basketball IQ and leadership skill should be a seamless transition under Quin Snyder.
24. Philadelphia 76ers
Cameron Johnson, F, UNC
Fifth-year senior was one of the nation’s best at making contested shots, finished the year shooting better than 45 percent on 3’s.
25. Portland Trail Blazers
Goga Bitadze, C, International
Not the most athletic big out there, but he does have good footwork and an improved mid-range game that has been compared to current Blazer Jusuf Nurkic.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets)
Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
His 6-11 frame and 7-2 wingspan combined with some serious bounce, allows him to be an impact player on the offensive glass as a rebounder or rim-runner.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets)
Admiral Schofield, F, Tennessee
He’s a tough, rugged 3-and-D type guy who played all five positions at Tennessee and shot better than 40 percent in the last three seasons for the Volunteers.
28. Golden State Warriors
Nicolas Claxton, F/C, Georgia
Despite his slim frame (7-foot, 217 pounds), his length and ability to block/alter shots and switch out defensively on perimeter players in pick-and-roll sets, makes him a solid addition at this point in the draft with decent amount of upside.
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors)
KZ Okpala, SG/SF, Stanford
Explosive athlete getting to the rim, KZ Okpala has tremendous upside as a scorer in this league due to his versatility, ball-handling and shoot-first mindset.
30. Milwaukee Bucks
Bruno Fernando, F/C, Maryland
Adding an enforcer-type like Bruno Fernando gives the Bucks a different, more physical dimension in the frontcourt in dealing with the Joel Embiid and DeMarcus Cousins types of the NBA world.