After a week featuring a Duke loss at home and a couple Western Conference squads falling further from the NBA playoff race, we dive into another 2019 NBA mock draft.
As always, projected standings are based upon FiveThirtyEight’s CARM-Elo rankings. This version of the mock uses projections as of Jan. 14, with the four worst teams in the league jockeying for position to get the best lottery odds.
College teams are playing better competition as they make their way through conference schedules, giving us a better gauge on the top prospects but unfortunately creating more volatile situation for injury as well. Four of the top 15 prospects in this year’s NBA Draft class are out with long-term injury.
That could mean some of the players further down on this list continue to rise.
G, Iowa State
If the past three drafts are any evidence, San Antonio wants to build around long, athletic guards and play aggressive defense. Haliburton checks all the boxes.
Nothing lasts forever. Golden State is not the terrifying defensive machine they had been in years past despite Andre Iguodala looking sprier this year. Anchor Draymond Green is far below the height of his powers and the team lacks depth. Filling in the bench with a four-year college player with two-way prowess (39 percent from 3, energetic D) is the way to go for the Warriors.
F, Princeton High School
The New Balance intern would fit nicely within Milwaukee’s swarming defense. Unfortunately, we know very little about Bazley apart from his developing business acumen, as he’s sitting out the college season entirely.
Denver prizes smart two-way players who can integrate into a team situation. With big man Nikola Jokic as their centerpiece and primary playmaker, it’s a necessity to bring in basketball chameleons who are not dead-set on one version of success. Williams can shoot, pass and puts up huge defensive numbers.
The Thunder churn through new athletes next to Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams every year but they develop raw talent as well as any team in the NBA. Shittu is young, gifted and smart — a perfect fit for Oklahoma City.
There are too many great playmakers in the NBA right now — finding a deserved spot any higher than this is a chore, even for someone with Jones’ talent.
G, North Carolina
White ranks slightly higher than his fellow freshman at a blue blood program in North Carolina, Jones, simply because his shooting and size are more easily translatable off the ball, and thus White’s value rises.
As veterans such as Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic see their contracts expire in Indiana, the Pacers have the chance to unleash a wildly athletic team led by Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo. Schofield is a mack truck with a wet jumper.
The sudden rise of Hayes is best told in two tweets:
G/F, Iowa State
The Jazz seem to do much of their draft homework at the NBA Combine and in the weeks after in workouts. The past two summers, Utah draft picks Donovan Mitchell and Grayson Allen saw their stock rise as they showed off unexpected explosiveness in workouts. Horton-Tucker doesn’t bring the same athleticism but is a smart young player who could fill NBA wing minutes right away.
If you thought Shawn Marion was in the NBA a decade too early, watch Brandon Clarke.
While San Antonio stocks up on dynamic young guards, they will need to think about a future without LaMarcus Aldridge or Pau Gasol (or a coach in Gregg Popovich who funnels so much through his bigs). Porter doesn’t need the ball to make an impact — he can space the floor, make smart passes and (hopefully) protect the rim dropping back against the pick-and-roll.
Bol falls based on the concern some teams might see in a 7-foot-3 big man with a game predicated upon elite mobility going through rehab on a season-ending foot surgery. Boston, with four picks in the first round, can afford to take the risk.
The Lakers’ need for big man depth long-term didn’t go away when they nabbed Tyson Chandler from Phoenix. Gafford has been a productive player since his first game in college and is a more traditional fit to play big minutes in place of Chandler and JaVale McGee.
G/F, Arizona State
As the Sun Devils’ season turns sideways in conference play for the second straight season, Dort is steady, good for 15 points and a few assists per night and cutting down his turnovers as well.
G, Virginia Tech
Since Ryan Saunders took over in Minnesota, backup point guard Tyus Jones has looked like a whole new player. The Minnesota native may have cemented himself in the team’s future plans, making Alexander-Walker a perfect combo guard to balance Jones and swingman Andrew Wiggins.