Gerry Broome/Associated Press
While a handful of NBA elites will spend the next month jostling for playoff positioning, a similar number of bottom-feeders will use that time to increase their draft-lottery odds.
Or, really, their odds of securing the No. 1 pick and opening a path to consensus top prospect Zion Williamson.
But Duke’s high-flying big man is far from the only prize up for grabs this June. So, let’s lay out our latest first-round mock draft—order courtesy of Tankathon.com—before taking a closer look at the top three players on our board.
2019 NBA Mock Draft
1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
2. Phoenix Suns: Ja Morant, PG, Murray St.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
4. Chicago Bulls: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
5. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
6. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks): Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
7. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
8. Washington Wizards: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
9. New Orleans Pelicans: KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
10. Los Angeles Lakers: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
11. Charlotte Hornets: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
12. Orlando Magic: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings): Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
15. Miami Heat: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
16. Detroit Pistons: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
17. Brooklyn Nets: Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France
18. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
19. San Antonio Spurs: Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
20. Utah Jazz: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
23. Boston Celtics: Tre Jones, PG, Duke
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets): Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
25. Indiana Pacers: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets): Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
28. Golden State Warriors: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
Remember when Williamson was only a YouTube-highlight star? That myth was debunked the second he stepped inside the lines with the Blue Devils.
He’s impossibly athletic for being 6’7″ tall and 285 pounds. He has speed, explosiveness, mobility, power—basically everything you want in a walking mismatch.
And even though fans might remember his viral clips the most, he’s a better basketball player than highlight supplier. Don’t take it from us, though. Take it from his NCAA-best 38.8 player efficiency rating, per RealGM, or the fact the gap between him and No. 2 is wider than the one separating second place from eighth.
There are still unanswered questions about his shooting ability, as he’s underwhelmed from distance (29.2 percent) and at the foul line (66.9). But even his non-shooting ceiling sits high enough to cement him in No. 1 well before the NCAA Tournament even tips off.
Ja Morant, PG, Murray St.
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
Every scout has a player evaluation they’d like to have back. That might be true of everyone who scouted Morant, who, in two years’ time, has gone from being an unranked recruit to a potential top-three NBA pick.
“I know it’s big words,” Murray State coach Matt McMahon told Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde, “but he’s a once-in-a generation, once-in-a-lifetime player.”
Morant has some weaknesses to iron out, like decision-making and off-the-dribble shooting. But he’s an elite athlete with elite court vision; that combination doesn’t come around often.
RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
While Barrett started this season with the inside track on No. 1, his “slide” to the third pick isn’t as much about his decline as it is the ascensions of those ahead of him.
Barrett looks the part of a modern NBA wing. He’s 6’7″ tall with good length, smooth athleticism and the versatility to play anywhere between the 2 and 4 spots.
He’s also a natural, relentless scorer. For all the NBA talent on Duke’s roster, Barrett holds down the spot in points (23.4) and shots (18.9) while sitting second in assists (4.2) and rebounds (7.5).
His jumper needs work (31.5 percent from three), and he might be dinged as some for being a volume scorer. But he has the fearlessness to take over a game and the ability to play on or off the ball, which should raise his floor high enough to keep him among the top three.