It’s draft day, so it’s time to drop off one final mock draft before the action officially kicks off. If you missed Lottery Mock Draft 1.0 last month, check it out right here.
In this mock spanning picks 1-14, trades are allowed. I concocted a few very interesting ones, so let’s dive into those along with my final predictions below.
New Orleans Pelicans - Zion Williamson, Big, Duke
This has been known since the lottery ended. Welcome to the Zion era, New Orleans. Pelicans EVP David Griffin has helped reshape the team around Williamson’s strengths, coupled with an already dynamic defensive backcourt with Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball.
2. Memphis Grizzlies - Ja Morant, Ball Handler, Murray State
Morant’s meteoric rise up the boards has been historic, but for good reason. The 6’3” point guard has the elite vision and ball handling along with hyper-athleticism vaulting up towards the rim. With the Mike Conley trade to Utah on Wednesday, Morant being selected here is confirmed.
3. New York Knicks - RJ Barrett, Wing, Duke
There has been plenty of smoke revolving around Darius Garland and Coby White here, but I can’t see the Knicks passing on Barrett when he wants to be in New York. If they do, though? That’s a typical Knicks move, sadly.
4. TRADE = Pacers (via Pelicans) - Darius Garland, Ball Handler, Vanderbilt
Indiana can’t be complacent this offseason. They need to push some of these chips in and make a bold move. Here is exactly where I’m going all-in for Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard. The Pelicans acquire Domantas Sabonis, Doug McDermott and the No. 18 pick for the rights to Garland. Not only does Sabonis and Williamson sound fun, but so does Garland and Oladipo. If Garland hits, that backcourt could be an absolute flamethrower.
5. TRADE = Atlanta Hawks (via Cavaliers) - De’Andre Hunter, Wing, Virginia
There has been plenty of legit buzz growing around Hunter and Atlanta over recent days. Hunter also confirmed this week he shut down his pre-draft workouts after only one with the Hawks. Hunter fits well alongside Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, too. Atlanta trades Nos. 8 and 10 to move up in this scenario.
6. Suns - Jarrett Culver, Wing, Texas Tech
This has all the makings of being crushing from my point of view if the Suns have both Culver and White on the board at No. 6, but I’m sticking with the best prospect. Culver, who is ranked No. 3 on my big board, can play a similar role as Caris LeVert in Phoenix. The Texas Tech product can take the pressure off Booker as a secondary ball handler while also guarding the toughest backcourt assignment. Pairing Culver and Mikal Bridges between Booker and Ayton is the smartest way to build a great team on both ends of the floor.
I'm sold on the idea of Devin Booker and Jarrett Culver being a successful backcourt.— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 5, 2019
Surrounding Booker with players who possess winning traits and functional length is how you optimize the team's ceiling. Can't think of a better duo than Culver and Bridges to accomplish it. pic.twitter.com/xznB57n0Pv
7. Bulls - Coby White, Ball Handler, North Carolina
There’s a chance Garland and White go ahead of Chicago, but they run up the card with the North Carolina point guard still available. Who knows how well White and Zach LaVine will mesh, but they’re in desperate need of a backcourt partner for him. Adding White to the Bulls’ young core is a great landing spot for both parties.
8. TRADE = Cleveland Cavaliers (via Hawks) - Cam Reddish, Wing, Duke
After moving back three spots and gaining an additional pick, Cleveland selects the player they might’ve taken at No. 5 anyways. With the hiring of former Michigan head coach John Beilein, he will want to implement a system predicated heavily on player development. Why not swing for the fences with Reddish’s upside? If they are able to mold Reddish into a solid pro, they have another building block to pair with Collin Sexton.
9. Washington Wizards - Sekou Doumboya, Wing, France / Guinea
The Wizards don’t even have a GM right now. Yikes. Doumboya has been the easy choice to mock here throughout the pre-draft process due to their needs all over. Like Reddish, why not bet on Doumboya paying massive dividends in three to five years?
10. TRADE = Cleveland Cavaliers (via Hawks) - Jaxson Hayes, Big, Texas
I can’t remember the last time the Cavaliers ever had an elite rim protector. Hayes is another boom-or-bust prospect, but I like him more than others. He already has an established role on the next level, which should ease his adjustment if utilized correctly. Whether Cleveland keeps Kevin Love or not, Hayes is an ideal piece to gather on a team barren of top young talent.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ball Handler, Virginia Tech
This feels like my true first surprise of this draft, but, the more I think about this one, the more I like it. Alexander-Walker is ranked No. 15 on my board, but Minnesota needs to find their point guard of the future. Jeff Teague isn’t it, and Tyus Jones’s time seems to be running out in his hometown. NAW is a slightly less polished version of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That archetype of prospect could be an absolutely perfect inside-out duo with someone like Karl-Anthony Towns.
12. Charlotte Hornets - PJ Washington, Big, Kentucky
Who knows what Michael Jordan is prioritizing right now in Charlotte, but I could definitely see him falling in love with Washington. He’s a gritty, hard-nosed prospect who can not only stretch the floor but also finish inside. Charlotte needs to find Kemba Walker his pick-and-roll partner, if he stays, and there is no better one available here than Washington.
13. Miami Heat - Nassir Little, Wing, North Carolina
Miami should bet on their culture here and swing for the fences at No. 13. Little was ranked in the top five on my board early in the season, but failed to adjust well at North Carolina. The lanky wing has all the tools necessary to become an above-average wing stopper who can score, but he needs to land in the right environment to develop. This is another win-win for both the team and player. If Little taps further into his sky-high upside, the Heat have another wing to go with Justise Winslow.
14. Celtics - Goga Bitadze, Big, Mega Bemax
Al Horford is about to leave Boston in free agency, and they’re now reportedly shopping Aron Baynes’s expiring contract to free up more cap space. Enter in arguably the most NBA-ready center from the 2019 draft in Bitadze. The 7-footer can not only stretch the floor, but he can also be the hub of an offense while also holding his own as a rim protector. There is some unique upside within Bitadze’s profile. Landing in Boston could do wonders for him, because he would be able to learn under Brad Stevens and play well as a secondary option next to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Well, that does it here for my final attempt at successfully predicting the unpredictable. Brandon Clarke, who is ranked No. 6 overall for me, wasn’t featured here because I could envision a slip for him on draft night if he doesn’t go in the 11-14 range. There’s a chance he ends up falling to Atlanta at No. 17 as his floor.
What are your final predictions for draft night, Suns fans? What will Phoenix do at No. 6? Will they be able to successfully deal T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson? Buckle up, everyone, it’s going to be an eventful evening.