Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
No matter how many projections you make for the 2019 NBA draft, they are going to be thrown out the window at some point in the first round because of a surprising selection.
We have already witnessed a shocking top-10 pick in a professional draft this year when the Oakland Raiders went against the draft projections and took Clelin Ferrell fourth overall in the 2019 NFL draft.
The 2019 NBA draft might not have a surprising selection that high in the opening round, but there will be a few teams that take a risk at some point.
At the moment, the draft class has been divided into a few different tiers, with Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett in the upper echelon of prospects.
After the top three players, De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver have established themselves in the second tier along with a few college freshmen.
But after the first six or seven picks, the draft seems to be wide open due to the lack of high-caliber, NBA-ready talent.
Since most franchises will be picking on upside, and in some cases using a small on-court sample size, there are bound to be surprises, and they could come as early as the back end of the top 10.
2019 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, SF, Duke
4. Los Angeles Lakers: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Phoenix Suns: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SG, Duke
9. Washington Wizards: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
10. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas): Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France
11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
12. Charlotte Hornets: PJ Washington, SF, Kentucky
13. Miami Heat: Jaxson Hayes, PF/C, Texas
14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento): Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
15. Detroit Pistons: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
16. Orlando Magic: Rui Hachimura, SF/PF, Gonzaga
17. Brooklyn Nets: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
18. Indiana Pacers: Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia
19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, C, Republic of Georgia
20. Boston Celtics (from Los Angeles Clippers): Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
23. Utah Jazz: Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston): Nic Claxton, C, Georgia
27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver): Luka Samanic, PF, Croatia
28. Golden State Warriors: Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina
29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto): Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Dylan Windler, SG/SF, Belmont
Most Surprising Potential Picks
Bol Bol Landing In The Top 10
Oregon center Bol Bol comes with plenty of risks after he sat out the majority of his lone collegiate season with a foot injury.
Because he is a big man who already suffered a foot injury, certain teams will have had red flags go up and will stay away from Bol.
But Bol is a 7-footer with NBA pedigree, and it would not be a huge surprise if a team takes a risk on him in the top 10.
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
Of the teams in the top 10, Atlanta is in the best shape to take a risk on a player like Bol because it is in possession of two lottery selections.
If Atlanta lands Cam Reddish or Nassir Little at No. 8, it could justify taking Bol to add a frontcourt piece that complements its collection of guards and wing players.
Washington at No. 9 could be the biggest wild card in the top 10 since the direction of the franchise is a bit muddled at this juncture of the offseason.
The Wizards could go in many different directions with their pick—and with their roster build for the 2019-20 season.
If they lean more toward a developmental route and try to get a good return in a potential trade for Bradley Beal, the Wizards could justify the selection of Bol, who could use a year or two to refine his game.
Bol is going to be intriguing to Atlanta, Washington and teams in the second half of the lottery because he displayed great potential in the time he was on the court at Oregon.
In nine games, Bol averaged 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, and he made at least two three-pointers in each of his last four games.
The latter part of that stat line is important to NBA teams, as the current direction of the league requires big men to have some sort of outside presence.
Carsen Edwards Jumping Into Top 20
Purdue guard Carsen Edwards shot himself up draft boards with his performance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The sharpshooting guard produced four games of 25-plus points and eclipsed the 40-point mark against Villanova and Virginia.
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
Thanks to those performances, Edwards has landed in first-round projections, similar to the boost Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo experienced a year ago.
DiVincenzo benefited greatly from the NCAA tournament bump, as he landed with Milwaukee at the No. 17 pick on draft night.
Edwards could find himself in a similar position with San Antonio and Boston selecting at No. 19 and No. 20.
The Celtics could be more inclined to swoop up Edwards at No. 20, instead of No. 22, to ensure he is available if other contenders start to circle around the shooting guard and trade up to pick him.
Edwards’ selection inside the top 20 would be a surprise because most teams are drafting players based on upside and college upperclassmen tend to drift into the bottom third of the first round.
A year ago, Villanova’s Mikal Bridges was the only upperclassman taken in the top 20 picks, and only five juniors and seniors were chosen in the first round.
That trend is working against Edwards because he enters the draft two or three years older than the majority of the prospects.
Edwards’ experience could turn out to be a good thing for contenders, but even they could go after younger prospects in order for them to make a difference for years and then extend them at 22 or 23.
But if a team like San Antonio, Boston, or even Brooklyn and Indiana at No. 17 or No. 18 want an experienced shooter to round out their respective rosters, they could be more inclined to buck the recent trend and take Edwards.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Sports Reference