John Vogel’s NBA Mock Draft 1.1 – The First Round

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We are now less than a month away from the 2019 NBA Draft. With the NBA Combine out of the way, the time is ripe to start exploring the draft itself. Here we are folks, its time for my NBA Mock Draft 1.1.

This draft is wide open and exciting after the first two picks. Zion Williamson is going first overall, and Ja Morant is most likely going after him. Once the third pick gets on the board, this draft can go a million different ways.

It should be a wild ride. Here is the way that I envision it playing out.

1. New Orleans Pelicans – PF Zion Williamson, Duke

This one is a given. Everyone knows that Zion is going first overall. When the Pelicans landed the first overall pick, it became very clear that this selection was not moving out of New Orleans.

This was the best thing to happen to the Pelicans. With Anthony Davis reportedly heading out the door, Williamson’s unique playing style gives the Pelicans a fighting chance to put a team together over the next couple of seasons.

2. Memphis Grizzlies – PG Ja Morant, Murray State

Memphis has an aging point guard in Mike Conley that they have no plans of resigning. Conley has been the focal point of the Grizzlies his entire career, but never got the team to make a finals run. That key is about to be passed onto Ja Morant.

Ja Morant reminds me of Russell Westbrook. They’re playing styles are remarkably similar, as is their ability to get into a game and take control of the court. Morant should pair well with Jaren Jackson Jr. and be the start of a good team in Memphis for years to come.

Projected Trade: Knicks send SF Kevin Knox, 3rd overall pick, Top 5 protected 2020 1st Round pick and 2022 1st Round pick to Pelicans for PF Anthony Davis.

Personal opinion (in other words, this is speculation and not fact): I am believeing that the Pelicans are listening for trade offers for Anthony Davis. Don’t buy the B.S. that they aren’t. The Pelicans dont want a disgruntled player to be around their young rookie superstar, no matter how good he is. They are trying to bait the rest of the NBA into giving max value for Davis.

The Knicks have a chance to get Kyrie Irving in free agency. They need to support this chance the best that they can. Why not go after the former Pelicans superstar and try to work on a long term deal for him? The Knicks would immediately be relevant if they can land Davis. With this deal, if it doesn’t work out immediately, you have a year to reload if your first round pick lands top 5.

3. {Projected} New Orleans Pelicans (from New York Knicks) – SG RJ Barrett, Duke

This is the real reason why New Orleans wants to bait New York into this trade: they get a chance to land both Zion AND RJ Barrett. The two young superstars played together at Duke and were unseperable, and are still now to some degree.

Now with Zion, Barrett and 2nd team All-NBA Defender Jrue Holiday, this team became very scary on both sides of the court in just a little under the first twenty minutes of the draft.

4. Los Angeles Lakers – PG Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Darius Garland reportedly left the NBA Combine a day early with a promise fron the Lakers. Yes. I am buying this.

The Lakers need a young scorer at the point to help assist LeBron James and to maximize his on the floor prowess. With Lonzo Ball still struggling to gain his shot, this makes the most sense.

Garland was All-American potential before a knee injury ended his freshman season just 5 games into the year. He has the potential to return in good form, and could be a star in the NBA very shortly.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers – SF De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

An electric scorer, the Cavaliers may have just landed their first real replacement to LeBron James. Yes, Cavs fans, I know you have Cedi Osman, but lets be real – he is wildly inconsistent and cost the Cavs a lot of games.

Hunter may struggle as a defender, but he can shoot on the court from almost anywhere. He hit 52% of his field goals last season at Virginia, including a whopping 43.8% from behind the arc. Hunter would be a solid pickup for the Cavs to pair with 2nd Team All-Rookie point guard Collin Sexton.

6. Phoenix Suns – SF Cam Reddish, Duke

The Suns are going all in on Kevin Durant this off-season. Whether they will be able to land him or not is another question, but either way its not a horrible idea to have a backup plan in place.

Cam Reddish is a strong kid. He was an All-American in high school, and was suppose to be very effective in college at Duke. While he showed up in a few games, the vast majority of the other games he was almost invisible. He tried to be the star on the court instead of playing his game.

At Phoenix, they would have him play his game, most likely as a 6th man. While employed on the court, he would be the Suns best player and be able to play as the focal point. With Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, the Suns have a good chance to have a very good team in 2019-20.

7. Chicago Bulls – C Bol Bol, Oregon

The Bulls have landed a couple of studs in PG Kris Dunn and PF Lauri Markkanen. Now, they have a golden opportunity to strengthen their front court by landing one of the most dominant players in the first month of college basketball last season.

Bol is simply a monster. Before his minscus injury, Bol was a sure-fire top 5 pick. Averaging 21 points and 9.6 boards in his 9 games last season, his numbers only scratch the surface on what he brings to the table. A poor combine failed to push him down my board because Bol knows how to play on the court.

8. Atlanta Hawks – SF/SG Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

This pick is a boom or bust pick for the Hawks. They need to fill their three spot, as the one, two and four spots all have talented young players in them that are performing well. Culver played the two in college, but has the desired size and ability to play the three.

Culver has a solid balanced skill set. He shoots well from the floor and is a factor on defense. It should be overall a good pickup for the Hawks who continue to bolster their roster through the draft.

9. Washington Wizards – SF Sekou Doumbouya, France

Here is a potential budding star. Sekou Doumbouya is one hell of a basketball player. He has been playing LMB Pro A in the Eurocup leagues. Washington needs someone who can stretch the floor and take attention away from John Wall and Bradley Beal… Assuming that Beal stays.

Doumbouya makes the Eurocup look too easy, dominating with his ability go drain threes and his athleticism to be lethal around the basket. He would be a solid pickup for the Wizards.

Projected Trade – Boston Celtics send 14th and 20th overall picks to Atlanta Hawks for 10th overall pick.

Boston has too many picks that they feel they cannot properly utilize. So, they put a package together and move up four spots while dumping a pick. Best way to handle that situation.

Atlanta, on the other hand, is stockpiling talent as they build their roster. Following much to the likes of what Boston did with their multitude of draft picks over the past few years, Atlanta understands the value of having a lot of trade bait laying around available for use.

10. {Projected} Boston Celtics (from Dallas Mavericks through Atlanta Hawks) – PG Coby White, North Carolina

The Celtics are about to potentially lose Kyrie Irving to free agency, and could be willing to move Terry Rozier too. While Coby White is probably not yet prepared to start at the NBA level, he could bring immediate relief off of the bench.

Boston knows that it blew its first real chance at a title since the Paul Pierce days. Now, they need to try and reload the roster to prepare for another good run over the next couple of years. White provides that initial start, with his potential to be a top player at his position in just a couple of years.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves – C Jaxson Hayes, Texas

Minnesota dropped the ball this past year after experiencing such an exhilarating season in 2017-18 that saw Minnesota make a good playoff run. Supposedly primed to do it again last season, Minnesota fell very short and landed a lottery pick.

One of the key weaknesses was the lack of production from their bench. Enter Texas big Jaxson Hayes.

Hayes shouldn’t be considered immediate starter material. His stamina needs to improve as well as his shooting range. However, his size, length and ability to score around the basket should not be misconstrued. Hayes is certainly a valuable scorer off of the bench, and can be an immediate impact player for the Timberwolves.

12. Charlotte Hornets – PF Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

It appears that Charlotte is about to take the loss of PG Kemba Walker, and will need to be replaced. However, the Hornets don’t have a viable option available at that position in the draft to take at this point.

Brandon Clarke has the potential to be a very well rounded star in the NBA. Averaging just shy of 17 PPG in 28 minutes, Clarke can shoot the ball from inside the arc, hitting 68.7% of his field goals. He’s a defensive stud too, averaging 3.2 BPG as well. Clarke is the best prospect available on the board and could help free Miles Bridges next season.

Projected Trade – Philadelphia 76ers send 24th overall, 34th overall and SG Jonathan Simmons for 13th overall.

Philadelphia has an overabundance of second round picks. With Jimmy Butler presumably on the move, the Sixers need to add some depth to the shooting guard position. With Zhaire Smith, last drafts first round pick on the roster, adding another athletic talent to rotate at the two sounds like a great idea.

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Miami, on the other hand, is looking to trade down. They worked out with a bunch of late first round prospects, and like the value better on their salary cap. Its a smart deal from their end, as they can now potentially land two guys that they really like at 24th and 34th overall.

13. {Projected} Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami Heat) – SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech

The Sixers make a trade to land a guy that they really like at thirteen. Butler is most likely not returning to the city of brotherly love, and with an overabundance of later draft picks, Philadelphia decides to clear some cap and move up in the draft.

Alexander-Walker has more potential of starting then Smith, in my opinion. He’s more athletic, has better size, and shoots better from the floor. Smith will always be a better option as a rotational piece, so this is a good move up for the Sixers.

14. Atlanta Hawks (from Sacramento Kings through Boston Celtics) – PG Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s

I think a lot of NBA Draft analysts are sleeping on Shamorie Ponds, but NBA teams are not. The Hawks added these couple of picks from Boston to bolster the roster, and start to create meaningful depth.

Ponds is a shooter, employable from anywhere on the court. While his shot could use some developing, Ponds also brings a similar skillset to that of starting PG Trae Young. The Hawks would like to use Ponds as a 6th man, and potential future trade bait.

15. Detroit Pistons – PF PJ Washington, Kentucky

Detroit had a good season thanks to a powerful frontcourt, but imagine the season that they would have had if only they had some depth…

One of the rare players from Kentucky who didn’t go one and done, PJ Washington waited his turn to start on the Wildcats deep roster. Washington can provide that depth behind Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, giving the Pistons a scorer from both the paint and behind the arc.

16. Orlando Magic – SF Nassir Little, North Carolina

Orlando took major strides last season, barely skating into the playoffs. With so much young talent on the roster, its hard for Orlando to pick who they could really use.

Nassir Little didn’t play much at North Carolina. In fact, he averaged less than 20 MPG. That being said, he’s the perfect fit for Orlando. He’s used to playing a limited role, the best he could receive on this raw, talented roster. Orlando picks up a nice piece to come off of the bench and contribute as a scorer inside of the arc.

17. Brooklyn Nets – SG Romeo Langford, Indiana

The Nets are expected to be in the race for a lot of potential superstars, talking with Kyrie Irving and throwing the possibility of signing Kevin Durant. Reportedly, they are going all in on Tobias Harris, who would be a valuable addition.

Romeo Langford offers a shooters mentality and is deadly from inside the arc. A mid range shooter might be very helpful in a bench rotation for the Nets, and with Langfords size (6’6″ 215 lbs), he is an intriguing option to develop.

18. Indiana Pacers – SG Tyler Herro, Kentucky

The Pacers are coming off of a disappointing end to the 2018-19 season that saw star SG Victor Oladipo go down with a season ending injury in February. It’s really too bad that they didn’t have much depth at that position.

Oh, but wait. Tyler Herro is a shooter who hit a ridiculous 93.5% from the free throw line last season. He can drain threes, attack the basket and gets himself free throws that he almost never misses. Sounds an awful lot like someone on that team… Herro would be very valuable for the Pacers to play off of the bench.

19. San Antonio Spurs – SF Cam Johnson, North Carolina

Jan 5, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cameron Johnson (13) dribbles he ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. North Carolina won 85-60. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio struggled through injuries and lack of a true star player last season, but still managed to make the playoffs. It doesn’t look like San Antonio will be adding any star caliber players anytime in the near future, so why not add more depth to the rotation?

Johnson can shoot very well from all across the court. He is deadly in transistion, and could end up being the steal of the Draft. His size, speed and shooting ability make him a dangerous threat off of the bend for certain.

20. {Projected} Atlanta Hawks (from Los Angeles Clippers through Memphis Grizzlies & Boston Celtics) – C Goga Bitadze, Georgia

The Hawks continue to load their depth chart, thanks to the Boston Celtics. Atlanta has added two backcourt players already and now is simply looking for talent.

Goga Bitadze is a foreign player from Georgia (the country, not the State). What they might find is a potential long term starter at the five. While Bitadze doesn’t possess range scoring ability and is mostly effective around the basket, he has a variety of moves and is a very good finisher at the rim. Bitadze has played in both the EuroLeague and the ABA, and dominated on both platforms. With his ability to cut very well, he could be deadly when on the floor with Trae Young.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – SG Ty Jerome, Virginia

Oklahoma City had two NBA All-Stars on the roster this past season in Paul George and Russell Westbrook. However, the bench production ultimately cost the Thunder their playoff run as they relied heavily on their star players to carry the load.

OKC looks to add a shooter. Ty Jerome can play both the one and the two, and sinks shots from all across the court. Not only that, Jerome finds people across the court and makes flashy passes for big, momentum shifting plays.

22. Boston Celtics – SG Kevin Porter Jr, USC

Boston has lucked out in this mock draft, picking up solid talent that dropped a little farther than anticipated. Now, after moving up to take Coby White at 10th overall, they nab another stud who fell to them at 22.

Kevin Porter Jr didn’t play very much at USC, and was a solid rotational piece. He is exactly what the Celtics need right now. A 47.7% shooter from the floor last season, Porter can bring solid relief to Jaylen Brown when needed.

23. Utah Jazz – SF Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State

The Utah Jazz are consistently drafting out of this range, and they always find a stud player who adds either depth or becomes a good starter. This season is no exception.

Talen Horton-Tucker might not be the perfect small forward prospect, but he brings a good intensity to the court. He’s long, despite his 6’4″ 239 pound frame, and plays solid defense. While his shooting skills leave some to be desired, he has upside and can be a good, rotational piece in the near future for the Jazz.

24. {Projected} Miami Heat (from Philadelphia 76ers) – PF Grant Williams, Tennessee

Miami traded down with Philadelphia to nab a fellow that they could sign for less money and still get the impact that they want.

Grant Williams tried to show he could shoot well at the NBA Combine scrimmages, and came up short. What he did do is continue to prove that he is a great defender and can be a great piece in that regard. Williams can finish at the rim as well, and has the speed and power to score in the paint.

25. Portland Trail Blazers – PF Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Rui Hachimura scored a lot at Gonzaga, averaging 19.7 PPG in 30.2 minutes. he hit 59.1% from the floor, including 41.7% from deep. He doesn’t contribute much on defense, but the Trail Blazers are choosing to overlook that. Its alright, with his scoring ability, it really shouldn’t matter.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston Rockets) – PF Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State

Cleveland lands its second pick, this time a rotational piece to help the front end.  Kabengele played limited minutes at Florida State, but has incredible size standing at 6’10” and 250 pounds. He can rebound and play good defense in the post and paint.

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Denver Nuggets) – SG Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

Yes. Brooklyn took a SG earlier in this mock draft. However, both of these players can play either the two or the three, giving Brooklyn the freedom to move them around the lineup as needed. Johnson is a good balanced prospect, and brings a good game to both sides of the court. He also brings some rebounding help, as he averaged almost 6 RPG last season.

28. Golden State Warriors – PG Tremont Waters, LSU

It has become almost impossible for the Warriors to retain Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. They could loose any combination of the three this offseason. Golden State sees a wide open opportunity to add another deep shooter in Tremont Waters, whos skillset is remarkably uncanny to Stephen Curry’s. Waters isn’t as efficient of a three point shooter as Curry, but he can come off the bench and provide good play when Golden State needs him too.

29. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto Raptors) – SG Admiral Schofield, Tennessee

Everyone knows that Gregg Popovich loves his hard workers. Admiral Schofield reportedly shot threes over a thousand times a day to improve his range, and it seemed to have helped. He ended up shooting 41.8% from beyond the arc last season and averaged 16.5 PPG. Schofield wont be a starter, but with his size (6’6″ 241 lbs) and work ethic he should earn himself some floor time in San Antonio.

30. Milwaukee Bucks – SF KZ Okpala, Stanford

Milwaukee’s demise against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals has been the lack of depth behind Giannis Antentokoumpo at the three. Khris Middleton, who has spent time in that position, is definitely more of a two and doesn’t bring that basket crashing threat Giannis does.

Enter KZ Okpala. Standing at 6’9″ and 210 pounds, Okpala is a little bit closer to Giannis’ size. He scored 16.9 PPG last season, shooting 46.5% from the floor. While he doesnt have the defensive playmaking skills that Giannis does, Okpala offers some help to the defensive side of the ball and could see minutes early in the 2019-20 season.

Agree or disagree with this mock draft? Follow John on Twitter @johndavogel and get in the conversation!

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