Way-Too-Early 2019 NBA Lottery Mock Draft

14. Portland Trail Blazers — DeAndre Hunter, G, Virginia

The wing position has been a conundrum for the Trail Blazers ever since Terry Stotts took over as head coach. The team handed Evan Turner a massive four-year/$70 million deal back in 2016, and are regretting the decision with each passing day. Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless are solid contributors, but both are limited on the offensive end.

Hunter was a spark plug for Virginia all season long. When he went down with an injury prior to the NCAA Tournament, college basketball pundits worried that the top-seeded Cavaliers would sorely miss the scoring punch Hunter provides. Virginia went on to become the first ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16.

Hunter would have been a first rounder if he entered the draft this year, and will only build upon a strong freshman campaign.

Image Source: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

13. Minnesota Timberwolves — Jontay Porter, F, Missouri

Minnesota desperately needs an injection of youth. Even with supreme athletes in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves found themselves playing at a slower pace for much of the season. This is due in large part to Thibodeau favoring the old guard — Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford — in favor of the young guys — Tyus Jones and Justin Patton.

If Minnesota wants to stick with the Towns, Wiggins, Jimmy Butler trio, they need a guy who can do the dirty work, stretch the floor, and won’t care about his touches. Porter fits the bill. He’s stretchy enough (36.4 percent from three), blocks shots (1.7), and will still only be 19 years old by the time he’s drafted.

Being selected 13th overall would grant Jontay some major family bragging rights. Jontay’s older brother, Michael, was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 14th pick in last year’s draft.

Image Source: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

12. Charlotte Hornets — Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue

Kemba Walker’s future with the Hornets remains murky. The star point guard is an All-Star level talent that has wasted away on an under performing Charlotte team. If the franchise can find the right deal, don’t be surprised to see Walker moved sometime around the trade deadline.

Charlotte wastes no time ushering in Walker’s replacement. Edwards will be a bit older than his peers come draft day (turns 21 in March), but his experience leading a strong Purdue program will go a long way. Edwards possesses a strong frame that ensures he won’t be pushed around at the next level. His attack mindset will pair well with the sharpshooting pair of Malik Monk and Frank Kaminsky.

Image Source: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

11. Los Angeles Clippers — Nazreon Reid, C, LSU

Sitting in a fortuitous position, the Clippers could go any number of ways with their upcoming draft picks. Jerry West and the rest of LA’s front office have done a fine job of assembling a roster that includes proven, tough veterans and youngsters with high upside.

Among the group of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, and Tobias Harris, the Clippers still lack a true big man. The departure of DeAndre Jordan has opened up the floor for a new rim-running and shot-blocking center to prowl the paint in Staples Center. Reid is a tremendous athlete, with elite body control for his size (6-foot-10, 240 pounds). Given his freakish ability to handle the ball as well, Reid boasts DeMarcus Cousins-like upside.

Image Source: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

10. Memphis Grizzlies — Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga

The Grizzlies stand at an impasse. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remain as the last two standing from the Grit n’ Grind era of Memphis basketball. Gasol could be on his way to a contender at any moment, and Conley’s beefy contract will dampen Memphis’ already-slim chances of bringing in another star through free agency. Much like their Jaren Jackson Jr. pick this past April, the Grizzlies will be forced to look to the draft to bring their franchise back to prominence.

Hachimura has steadily crept up draft boards for the last year. Talent has never been an issue for the Japanese-born player, but finding minutes on a crowded Gonzaga roster has limited Hachimura’s screen time over his two years in college. From what we’ve seen, the 6-foot-8 forward is highly versatile. He put his skills on full display during last year’s NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a 25-point performance against Ohio State. His jump-shot needs work, and he isn’t much of a playmaker, but Hachimura’s length and ceiling will make him a lottery pick.

Image Source: Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

9. New York Knicks — Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas

The Knicks are beginning to turn the corner in terms of draft success. Kristaps Porzingis was a major boon, Frank Ntilikina possesses elite defensive and playmaking abilities, and Kevin Knox is entering his rookie season with a ton of hype. With a strong trio of 20-somethings in tow, the Knicks’ future looks as bright as ever.

With Knox potentially fitting in best as a stretch-four, the Knicks have a bit of a hole on the wing. Grimes is one of those talents that has the chance to skyrocket up boards throughout the season. He’s a do-it-all guard at 6-foot-5, and is arguably the best pure scorer in the entire class.

Image Source: Vaughn Ridley/GETTY Images

8. Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas) — Bol Bol, C, Oregon

There’s a chance (albeit slim) that Atlanta enters the 2019 NBA Draft with three first round picks. Given the talent level of the team’s current roster, the Hawks will need all the help they can get. With a couple of top-10 picks in their hands, Atlanta will have the chance to grab some big names early on.

Bol is one of the more well-known prospects in the pool. While he’s a few inches shorter than his basketball playing father, Manute, the 7-foot-3 Oregon-bound Bol is far more skilled than his dad ever was. Bol can stretch the floor with legitimate three-point range, and his towering frame makes him a prime candidate for rim protection.

Image Source: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

7. Brooklyn Nets — Sekou Doumbouya, F, France

The Nets have quietly made a slew of positive moves in the past couple of years. Brooklyn’s front office has left no stone unturned in an attempt to wash away the mistakes made by the previous regime. In 2019, the Nets will finally hold their own first round pick, and can add a blue-chipper to their current roster of high-energy overachievers.

Brooklyn will be in search of a complement to their two most promising pieces — lead guard D’Angelo Russell and athletic big Jarrett Allen. Doumbouya fits in well because he can play either forward spot. The 6-foot-9 French native is considered the top international prospect in this draft, and has drawn comparisons to Giannis Antetokounmpo due to his length and versatility. He’s not quite as athletically gifted as The Greek Freak (nobody is), but Doumbouya is already a more polished shooter than Antetokounmpo was at the same age.

Image Source: Patrick Albertini/USA TODAY Sports

6. Cleveland Cavaliers — Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest

The Cavaliers’ front office now faces an impossible task — field a respectable basketball team following the departure of LeBron James. There will be severe growing pains, and a Kevin Love trade would only increase their chances of securing a top pick. Regardless of the moves they choose to make this year, it’s unlikely the Cavs return to the playoffs in 2019.

Collin Sexton has been pegged as the face of Cleveland’s franchise in the post-LeBron era, but he’s in desperate need of a backcourt mate that can share some of the shine. Hoard is the yin to Sexton’s yang — an even-keeled, offensive-minded scorer that thrives off the catch. Hoard would grant Cleveland two supreme athletes at the guard positions that love to get up-and-down the floor.

Image Source: Francesco Richieri/USA TODAY Sports

5. Chicago Bulls — Romeo Langford, G, Indiana

The Bulls have suddenly formed a strong nucleus around Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and their newest rookie, Wendell Carter Jr. With an open spot left on the wing, the Bulls have the opportunity to put together one of the more impressive young cores in the league.

Langford has no shortage of confidence and ability. The 6-foot-6 wing is both rangy and smooth. A natural shooter, Langford has exhibited range well-beyond the NBA three-point line. An effortless athlete, Langford will excel at the league’s pace. Despite his ability to fill up the score sheet, Langford is also a capable passer with an advanced understanding of running the pick-and-roll.

Image Source: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

4. Phoenix Suns — Zion Williamson, F, Duke

Williamson is the most polarizing player in college basketball. His highlights rival that of any player to step foot on the hardwood. Williamson commands the crowd when he’s preparing to take off, and delivers thunderous slams that ignite the fans and his teammates alike. There are several concerns about Williamson’s transition to the NBA level (height and jump-shooting, primarily), but his potential as both a player and as a brand is too great to overlook. Shirts and other apparel featuring Williamson, DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker would absolutely fly off the shelves.

Image Source: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

3. Orlando Magic — Cam Reddish, F, Duke

The Magic are in desperate need of a star talent. They thought they had something big with Aaron Gordon after his performance in the Dunk Contest, but he doesn’t appear to be on the clear trajectory to stardom. Entering what will be the team’s seventh lottery in as many seasons, Orlando has a chance to finally acquire a star talent that will resurrect this dormant franchise.

Reddish is the least heralded of Duke’s trio of top recruits, though he might possess the highest ceiling. The 6-foot-8 wing is highly versatile on both ends. As a scorer, Reddish excels in one-on-one situations. He has a great feel for the game, and has shown the ability to get to his spots at will. Defensively, Reddish has the tools to become an elite stopper that can guard multiple positions. He’s a lot like Harrison Barnes, but with a far more impressive offensive game.

Image Source: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports

2. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento) — Nassir Little, F, North Carolina

Little is a traditional small forward that can help in a number of ways. His leaping ability is off the charts, but Little is more than just an athlete. He’s shown the ability to make plays as the team’s primary ball handler — a necessary skill in today’s positionless league. Although his jump-shot can come and go, Little has great form and plenty of range to stretch beyond the NBA line. On the other end, Little is a defensive menace that causes havoc in the passing lanes. He has both the size and speed to guard four different positions. Little’s enormous wingspan will be invaluable to his growth as a player.

Boston General Manager Danny Ainge has shown that he doesn’t necessarily worry about positional fit. The Celtics have remained steadfast in their desire to select the top available prospect on the board. If this scenario plays out, Ainge would have no problem adding Little to his growing surplus of athletic 6-foot-8 wings.

Image Source: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

1. Atlanta Hawks — R.J. Barrett, G, Duke

Just pop in the tape of Barrett’s Canadian National team demolishing Team USA’s U19 club in the FIBA Basketball World Cup to understand what kind of player you’re getting here. Barrett’s 38-point MVP performance was enough to elevate him to the top-ranked player in the nation, and the consensus No. 1 selection for 2019’s NBA Draft.

Barrett is as well-rounded a prospect as there’s been in the past decade. The 6-foot-5 guard possesses a completely modern game. He’s excellent going to the basket, and is nearly unstoppable to stop in transition. Although his release is a bit funky, Barrett is an accomplished shooter that can get hot from beyond the arc in an instant. His length and anticipation also has NBA teams salivating at the thought of his potential as a defender.

He, along with Little and Williamson, will be the talk of the college basketball world. Having the pressure of being the nation’s best player could hamper Barrett’s development, but his cool demeanor, winning pedigree, and high skill level will push him to the top pick next June.

Image Source: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports