With the 2019 NBA Draft approaching quickly (seriously, somehow it’s already June), it’s time to take a shot at a second mock draft. The first one came immediately after the lottery, without the benefit of a couple of weeks of draft workouts and the subsequent rumors. This one has the benefit of … more rumors, which somehow create more uncertainty.
So as we guess our way through the first round, we added another element to the lottery: What if the Boston Celtics traded up for each pick? The Celtics have three first-round selections, with which they could go in almost limitless directions. If they packaged them together, they might be able to chase better talent, or even shore up a selection they really want. But as you will see, there might not be much reason to move up only a few slots if their top targets look like they will slide anyway, and moving up higher than that in a top-heavy draft could be tricky. The first six or seven draft selections are essentially just thought exercises — the Grizzlies, for example, are obviously not dealing the No. 2 pick to the Celtics.
In any case, we gave it our best shot. Here’s our 2019 Mock Draft 2.0.
1. New Orleans: Zion Williamson, Duke. This is the least mysterious part of the night.
If the Celtics had this pick: Zion Williamson. Don’t sprain your brain overthinking this one.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Murray State. Morant spent the season beating up on inferior competition, which should be slightly worrisome for Memphis, but not nearly worrisome enough to draft someone else.
If the Celtics had this pick: Ja Morant. Don’t overthink this one either.
3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, Duke. Feels like the Knicks have been telegraphing this one a bit, but given how safe the first two picks are, that’s probably fine.
If the Celtics had this pick: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt. Garland has star potential at point guard thanks to his long-range shooting off the dribble, and the Celtics might very well need a primary initiator after this offseason.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Garland. Garland makes more sense than Jarrett Culver for three reasons: His star power is higher, his trade value is higher as well, and he’s represented by Klutch Sports.
If the Celtics had this pick: Darius Garland. Presumably in this case, the Celtics could still get Garland once the Knicks took Barrett.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech. Cleveland gets a nice piece on the wing — a starting-quality two guard who can also initiate the offense alongside Collin Sexton.
If the Celtics had this pick: Coby White, UNC. With Garland off the board, the Celtics go with the next best point guard, and he’s a good one — White has excellent size and athleticism, and he can score from every level.
6. Phoenix Suns: Coby White. The point-guard-desperate Suns finally get their primary initiator (and take themselves off the table as one of the teams likely to pursue Rozier).
If the Celtics had this pick: Again, Coby White, for the same reasons listed above.
7. Chicago Bulls: De’Andre Hunter, Virginia. The Bulls have a nice young core in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Hunter gives them spacing and some defensive versatility on the wing.
If the Celtics had this pick: Cam Reddish, Duke. If I were the Celtics, I would gamble on Reddish’s size, athleticism and shooting ability, as well as the chance that playing at Duke limited his effectiveness.
8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish. Atlanta already has its point guard of the future in Trae Young, and both John Collins and Kevin Huerter look like keepers. Adding Reddish gives their intriguing roster a little more diversity.
If the Celtics had this pick: Cam Reddish. Guys who can score are always useful.
9. Washington Wizards: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga. What the Wizards will do this offseason remains an open question, but Clarke — an impressive athlete at the four with plenty of length and versatility — would fit in nicely.
If the Celtics had this pick: Brandon Clarke. The Celtics aren’t going to have Al Horford forever, and Clarke would be a nice pick-up to replace some of his defensive versatility.
10. Atlanta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes, Texas. Filling out the roster of young players with a rim-running big who could add more to his game down the road suits Atlanta very well. This would be a nice result for the Hawks.
If the Celtics had this pick: Jaxson Hayes. He wouldn’t be a perfect fit necessarily, but Hayes is too good to pass up.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Sekou Doumbouya, France. Minnesota is trying desperately to build a contender around Karl-Anthony Towns, who submitted a wonderful season last year. Doumbouya has plenty of potential as a stretch four, and while he’s raw, he could be one of the draft’s better talents (in the non-Zion division) when he’s fully developed.
If the Celtics had this pick: Romeo Langford, Indiana. Thus starts a run of Langford-to-the-Celtics speculation on my draft board. He feels like a great fit, if he’s still available at 14.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga. Hachimura’s athleticism lends him special potential as a slasher and defender. The Hornets need a little bit of everything, but Hachimura could be a start.
If the Celtics had this pick: Romeo Langford. Hachimura is tempting for the Celtics, but we will stick with Langford, who shores up Boston’s guard depth and adds a talent that could start alongside Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, if everything works out.
13. Miami Heat: P.J. Washington, Kentucky. Miami gets a rock-solid big man who can space the floor, post up and move his feet.
If the Celtics had this pick: Romeo Langford. You get the idea.
14. Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford, Indiana. I can’t get a sense of where Langford will end up — he feels like he might last until the Celtics make their selection, but teams might talk themselves into a player who was supposed to be a high lottery pick before dealing with a hand injury all season.
15. Detroit Pistons: Tyler Herro, Kentucky. The Pistons add a valuable shooter to provide some floor spacing around Blake Griffin. Detroit probably remains a few pieces short of a deep playoff contender, but Herro helps.
16. Orlando Magic: Nassir Little, UNC. Orlando is already tough defensively with its length and versatility. Little brings more on the wing. If he can find some semblance of a shot, he could be deadly.
17. Brooklyn Nets: Bol Bol, Oregon. At this point, the Nets are stockpiling assets. Bol’s skills as a shooter/ball-handler at his height make him a high-risk, high-reward prospect, but the risk is significantly lower this late in the first round (especially for a Nets team with another pick).
18. Indiana Pacers: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech. The Pacers could lose several free-agent guards, but Alexander-Walker could help replace them with his ability to score off the dribble and run the offense.
19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, Georgia. Bitadze very well might not slip this far — he seems to be rising up draft boards with his 3-point shooting and passing as a 7-footer — but he would be a perfect fit within San Antonio’s system.
20. Boston Celtics: Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State. We keep hammering this, but if the Celtics are going to deal Marcus Smart for Anthony Davis — and essentially any deal for Davis would have to involve Smart — getting a 6-foot-4 ball-handler who can guard positions one through four wouldn’t be a bad move.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Porter Jr., USC. Porter could be useful quickly if he can spot up and knock down 3-pointers in the NBA. His offense could shore up OKC’s bench depth.
22. Boston Celtics: Darius Bazley. Is this insane? Maybe a bit (okay, yes, it is), but the Celtics can afford to gamble on an intriguing young talent with their third pick in the first round. Bazley can handle the ball at 6-foot-9, and he can both pass and get to the rim with his length and athleticism. Other aspects of his game are a work in progress, but he would be an intriguing swing with Boston’s third pick of the first round.
The better bet? The Celtics don’t get to this point, having consolidated picks somewhere along the line.
23. Utah Jazz: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky. Utah bolsters its wing depth with a high-motor shooter who should be able to maximize himself with his work ethic.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle, Washington. The 76ers haven’t always had reliable wing defense coming off the bench. Thybulle is an excellent athlete with great length at 6-foot-5 who looks like a lock-down defender at the next level.
25. Portland Trail Blazers: Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State. Kabengele has potential as a floor-spacing, rim-protecting five. Jusuf Nurkic should be back next season, but drafting a reliable back-up center might not be a bad move.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston): Cameron Johnson, UNC. Cleveland’s second pick of the first round is one of the best shooters in college basketball. At 6-foot-9, Johnson could stick in the league for a while.
27. Brooklyn Nets: Grant Williams, Tennessee. Williams shouldn’t slide this far, but if he does, Brooklyn could be ecstatic to pick him up. He’s a little undersized, but very versatile for his position with good pick-and-pop abilities that stretch to the 3-point line.
28. Golden State Warriors: Chuma Okeke, Auburn. Okeke tore his ACL last season, but he showed a lot of flashes of NBA talent. A 6-foot-8 power forward with good athleticism and wingspan who can shoot 3-pointers, Okeke is a nice fit at the next level despite his lack of elite size.
29. San Antonio Spurs: KZ Okpala, Stanford. Somehow, the Spurs pick up Bitadze and Okpala in the same mock draft here. Okpala struggled as the season went on at Stanford, but he showed flashes of lottery potential with his size, athleticism and ability to score in a variety of ways. San Antonio feels like the perfect place to maximize him.
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Carsen Edwards, Purdue. The Bucks nab a solid back-up point