In this week’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft, we take a closer look at a lottery in which no one wants to lose.
As always, projected standings are based upon FiveThirtyEight’s CARM-Elo rankings. This version of the mock uses projections as of March 3, with the Suns and Knicks separated from the rest of the pack and a big fight breaking out for the third spot in the lottery and the final slot to collect 14 percent odds of the No. 1 overall pick.
Is the NBA smoothing the lottery odds actually working?
Get into it:
Don’t forget about Gafford. Particularly in a drop defense against the pick-and-roll like the one Milwaukee runs to perfection, Gafford will be an excellent pro. He’s a monster athlete with elite coordination and length at the center spot, a perfect modern option at the position.
C, Mega Bemax
This pick comes by way of the Raptors, giving the Spurs yet another international big man to mold into the hub of their scheme on both ends. Bitadze can shoot, pass and move well enough to fit right in with the Spurs.
Lock this one in now — an experienced knockdown shooter who can step right into the NBA and contribute is exactly what Golden State needs.
G, Arizona State
Dort feels like Hamidou Diallo last year — a heralded prospect entering the year who doesn’t show enough outside of his athleticism to be taken in the first round. For now, after a 20-point outburst against Oregon State on Sunday night, he is on the fringes of round one.
Philadelphia is quite different than last season but their need for shooting remains, particularly after trading Landry Shamet, who represented a long-term option to space the floor from the backcourt. Herro would bring shooting and size to the 76ers’ backcourt alongside T.J. McConnell as the team gets more expensive.
G, North Carolina
White is better than Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas or any of the names to have circled through the backup guard carousel in Portland over the years. He plays loose and confidently but his size and 38 percent 3-point shooting will translate.
Fernando presents a rare combination of rim protection and shooting ability, something few players in the entire NBA can offer. As Oklahoma City watches Nerlens Noel venture into free agency, the sophomore Fernando could give them a solid reserve option at center.
By 2020, the big strength of this Jazz team — its 3-and-D depth — will either walk away or become much more expensive. Drafting Williams — a readymade contributor — right now would restock Utah’s forward depth and help shore up their defense with better talent around Donovan Mitchell.
F, Iowa State
This pick comes by way of the Rockets. The incredibly young Horton-Tucker is precisely the type of player Cleveland should be targeting early in their rebuild — someone young with a ton of upside and the versatility to fit into a multitude of team structures. The Cavs don’t know what they are or want to be, and Horton-Tucker is a perfect prospect for a wandering franchise.
Jones is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country and a smart playmaker in the halfcourt and in transition. He could play for Boston or become a nice asset in a trade.
Indiana is staring down a decision at center between Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis at the same time starting forward Thaddeus Young moves into his 30s. Porter could play next to either of Turner or Sabonis as a combo big man off the bench.
This pick comes from the Clippers by way of the long-ago Jeff Green trade, giving Boston yet another trade chip this summer. Clarke will need a fantastic combine to separate him from the glut of interesting players from No. 8-25 in this class.
Washington just won’t stop. He has the skill and feel to play the 4 in the NBA and he plays hard on both ends. The Spurs have a knack for making tweener players work better than most teams, so this is an ideal landing spot for the SEC Player of the Year candidate.
The Pistons need players who fit with Blake Griffin as they reshape their team around the playmaking forward. Okpala is a long 3-and-D type who could play either forward spot and balance Griffin perfectly.
Kevin Porter Jr.
The jury seems largely out on Porter, despite a return to form the past month or so. It makes you wonder whether college basketball and NBA Draft reporters know something we don’t about his attitude or the mysterious suspension early in USC’s conference schedule. His talent is impossible to miss, and maybe the culture Steve Clifford, Jeff Weltman and John Hammond have built in Orlando can bring the best out of him.
This is purely a talent gamble. Bol is a huge risk, but the Nets have two picks in the first round, a ton of cap space and plenty of talent already on the roster. If Bol stays healthy and fills out his body, he could be a great player. If not, Brooklyn is in fine position to suffer a miss in the draft for the sake of value.