Chuck Burton/Associated Press
College basketball is at the forefront of many sports fans’ minds right now, as March Madness begins on Sunday evening when this year’s NCAA tournament bracket is revealed.
But after April 8, when the Final Four concludes with the national championship game, the season will be over. And many of the top college stars will all have a new goal in mind—the NBA draft.
Although the NBA draft order won’t officially be set for a while—the NBA draft lottery, which decides the order for the first 14 teams, is May 14—it’s fun to look ahead and predict where the top players from the college and international ranks could begin their NBA careers.
The NBA draft will take place on June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
2019 NBA Mock Draft
1. New York Knicks: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
2. Phoenix Suns: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: RJ Barrett, SG, Duke
4. Chicago Bulls: Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
5. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
6. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks): Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
7. Memphis Grizzlies: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
8. Washington Wizards: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
9. New Orleans Pelicans: De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
10. Charlotte Hornets: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
11. Los Angeles Lakers: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
12. Orlando Magic: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings): Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
15. Miami Heat: Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
16. Detroit Pistons: Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga
17. Brooklyn Nets: Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France
18. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
19. Utah Jazz: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
20. San Antonio Spurs: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tre Jones, PG, Duke
22. Boston Celtics: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets): Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
25. Philadelphia 76ers: Eric Paschall, SF, Villanova
26. Indiana Pacers: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets): Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
28. Golden State Warriors: Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Jaylen Hoard, SF, Wake Forest
Top-Three Picks Breakdown
Zion Williamson to the New York Knicks
Chuck Burton/Associated Press
It shouldn’t matter who owns the No. 1 pick—Zion Williamson should be the first player selected as he’s the best overall player in this year’s class.
Williamson is a 6’7″, 285-pound forward who is also incredibly athletic. After missing the final five games of the regular season with a knee sprain, he returned for Duke’s quarterfinal matchup against Syracuse in the ACC tournament on Thursday night.
And Williamson was dominant, scoring 29 points while making all 13 of his shot attempts and notching 14 rebounds and five steals. If there was any concern about the Blue Devils’ star’s health, he quickly quelled those.
The Knicks are having another tough season. They’ve already lost 50 games for the fourth straight campaign, and they could post their worst record during that stretch as they’ve only won 13 games so far.
Not to mention, New York traded its top player, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 31, so it is lacking star power. Williamson would fill that need and become an immediate presence for the Knicks in 2019-20.
Ja Morant to the Phoenix Suns
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
Another year, another season that the Suns will be among the teams with the best odds to secure the top pick in the draft lottery. They are 16-53 and could be closing in on their fourth straight season with 58 or more losses.
If Phoenix picks No. 2 and Williamson is off the board, Ja Morant is the logical choice.
The Suns need a point guard to pair with Devin Booker in their backcourt, and Morant is the best one in this year’s draft class. He is averaging 24.6 points and 10 assists per game, while helping Murray State win the Ohio Valley Conference tournament to secure an automatic bid for this year’s NCAA tournament.
Phoenix has already shown interest in Morant, as members of its front office traveled to the OVC tournament to scout him last weekend, according to The Arizona Republic.
Sure, it would be great for the Suns to have Williamson alongside center DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, in the frontcourt. But Phoenix wouldn’t mind bringing in Morant to solve its issues at point guard.
RJ Barrett to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Gerry Broome/Associated Press
After Williamson is drafted, it won’t take long for another Duke player to get selected. Small forward RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish are both likely to be picked in the top five.
Barrett has a slight edge over Reddish, and he would be the pick here for the Cavaliers at No. 3.
Barrett is averaging 23.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, after totaling 23 and six in the Blue Devils’ ACC tourney quarterfinal win over Syracuse on Thursday night. Williamson may have won Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the ACC this season, but Barrett is also an incredible talent.
After LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland is having a down season at 17-51. But with the addition of Barrett to a lineup that also includes point guard Collin Sexton, who is having a solid rookie campaign, things could start to turn around next season.
Barrett isn’t James, but he could get the Cavs headed back on the right track.