In this week’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft, the dust clears from the combine as prospects spread out across the country for workouts, and we start to re-evaluate the top of the class.
Players like Nassir Little and Darius Bazley helped themselves over the past few weeks getting the chance to meet with teams and the media, while others, such as Bol Bol and Kevin Porter Jr., have been unable to assuage NBA organizations that their fitful freshman seasons are in the rearview.
Up, up and away:
There are very few players who can imitate Brook Lopez’s role with the Bucks, but Fernando’s size, length, strength and shooting ability make him the team’s best option here at No. 30. Milwaukee can groom him to eventually replace Lopez as the veteran ages.
The Spurs start the project of rebuilding their wing rotation with Thybulle, who should get on the phone with San Antonio shot doctor Chip Engelland the moment this pick is announced.
Somehow, ESPN has Williams as their 31st-ranked prospect right now, which feels like an overreaction to poor shooting in scrimmages at the draft combine. If you like chaos, then root for Golden State to end up with Williams, the next great small-ball big man.
Brooklyn lands one of the most versatile big men in this draft thanks to the Kenneth Faried trade back in July. Claxton is still on the fence about whether to return to school and join Tom Crean’s incredible 2019 recruiting class, but it feels unlikely at this point that the sophomore isn’t a first-round pick.
Kevin Porter Jr.
As a byproduct of helping get Houston under the tax for a team the Rockets expected to compete for the Finals, the Cavaliers get a crack at a gifted offensive talent in Porter. However, Porter hasn’t quite answered for his suspension as a freshman at USC and there’s starting to be an awful lot of draft analysis that paints Porter as a massive project, and we don’t disagree…
F, Florida State
Portland is risk-averse and keeps showing up better than we expect, but one way to throw the whole thing off-kilter would be to add Kabengele to the mix. The near-7-foot scorer has a high ceiling if he can improve his handle and find a role in the NBA. He was dynamic and flashed insane athleticism in a workout at The PHHacility in Tempe, Arizona last week.
My favorite fit of the draft. Jerome is a good passer, a good shooter, can defend either guard spot, and is experienced enough to contribute right away as the Sixers chase a title in 2020.
The Jazz always seem to prefer steadier options, so while we might opt for someone like Kabengele, Williams or Porter Jr. in this spot, Utah might see Okpala as a more ready-made plug-and-play option on the wing.
F, North Carolina
Just another shooter to space the floor for Brad Stevens’ drive-and-kick offense.
Athletic? Check. Kinda can’t shoot? Check. Less than ideal size for the position? Check. Johnson is the quintessential Thunder draft pick.
C, Mega Bemax
This pick comes by way of the Clippers, giving Boston an option to eventually replace both Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
F, Iowa State
Adding Horton-Tucker to a mix that will include Thybulle and 2018 first-rounder Lonnie Walker IV gives the Spurs options on the wing they haven’t had since Kawhi Leonard was at full tilt.
Remember how desperate it felt when Indiana saw Wes Matthews as a solution to some of their offensive woes? With Herro playing off a healthy Victor Oladipo, the Pacers find a legitimate scoring backcourt.
Forget Jarrett Allen. With two picks in the first round and abundant young talent to build through, the Nets happily scoop up a skilled big man with one of the highest ceilings in the entire draft.
G, Virginia Tech
Another long, versatile option for the Magic, this time at a position of greater need at guard. Lineups of Alexander-Walker, Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic could be great on both ends.
A step in the right direction for the Detroit backcourt … and by the right direction, we mean away from Reggie Jackson.