Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft. Each week you’ll see an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts, and information from the pre-draft process as well as a notebook, outlining each writers thoughts, observations and reporting on the draft.
Keep in mind; we are trying to find commonalities, which is why it is called the Consensus. The writers involved do not see each other’s selections until these are posted. It is done deliberately to make sure each writer is not influencing the others.
As this process plays out, the mocks will evolve, so look for a new Consensus each Wednesday, all the way up to draft day on June 20th.
Here is this week’s Consensus Mock:
Jesse’s Notebook: The Draft Lottery is still two weeks away, so it’s somewhat difficult to put together a mock draft that feels completely well-grounded. This is especially the case with this year’s draft class, which features a consensus No. 1 pick in Zion Williamson but little else in terms of clarity. There are notable individual talents in this class, but a large range of opinions on what order these prospects should be drafted.
Considering this, I predict that team-fit will have a bigger influence on this draft class than previous classes, which have often featured more than a handful of top-tier prospects. For example, many scouts, talent evaluators and members of the media rank R.J. Barrett as the second best player in the draft and list him as likely to be drafted second overall. However, the Suns have a glaring hole at point guard, which means Phoenix might favor Ja Morant over Barrett in a scenario in which they have the second pick in the draft. The point here is that teams will likely be giving considerable weight to how players fit on their respective rosters starting as early as the second pick in the draft.
It’s always fun to dissect every bit of new information and adjust mock drafts in the weeks leading up to the draft. And for many NBA fans, it’s fun to engage in that process and pick apart the mock drafts of writers and journalists who cover the league. This summer should be an especially good year for fans to do so considering how different each writer’s mock draft boards will look compared to others. So be sure to stop by Basketball Insiders frequently to keep up with our mock drafts and give us your feedback on Twitter.
Spencer’s Notebook: The best time of the league year is here! While the remaining teams in the postseason continue to battle it out for a chance at a championship opportunity, those who aren’t in the dance are gearing up for a chance to add new talent to their respective franchises via the NBA Draft.
We might not be sure who lands where in the lottery as of yet—we’ll know on May 14 officially—but whatever ball club draws the first overall selection is a shoo-in to take Duke superstar Zion Williamson.
Williamson is not just a highlight reel, he’s the real deal. Though the freakish combination of power and athleticism captures everyone’s attention, it’s the intelligence and natural playmaking ability that will guide him at the next level. With the association trending towards higher possessions and more scoring in transition opportunities, the 6-foot-9 phenom will thrive with whatever team brings him in.
On to the remaining notables in this lottery—I went with Coby White to the Chicago Bulls at four because of their inconsistency at point guard. He’s a facilitator that can open up the floor due to his threat to score inside and make shots on the outside.
My favorite part of putting this together was adding two top-five worthy picks to the growing core of the Atlanta Hawks. After a sizable leap in his sophomore season at Texas A&M, Jarrett Culver proved to be one of the most sought-after wings in this entire draft class. His length is a matchup nightmare for any team, as is his ability to put it on the floor and get to the line.
Along with Culver, I have Travis Schlenk taking a flier on Oregon’s Bol Bol. The luxury of having two lottery picks is being able to take risks. The 7-foot-2 big man displayed flashes of greatness with his versatility on both ends. He’s able to move and handle the ball exceptionally well for a player his size, can knock down jump shots and, obviously, protect the rim. He’ll need to bulk up more and, unfortunately, he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and only played nine games. But if the success of Joel Embiid—who had the same exact injury in the other foot in 2014—has taught us anything, it’s to be patient and trust the process.
Drew’s Notebook: With the NBA Draft Lottery only two weeks away, front offices around the league are in serious exploration mode, familiarizing themselves with all of the prospects eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft.
And speaking of prospects, lots will change regarding how they are viewed thanks to the NBA Draft Combine, which is set to run from May 15-19 in Chicago. It’s worth noting that while the combine commences on May 15, teams can begin private workouts before the combine. For example, the Atlanta Hawks began workouts on April 30, kicking things off with a six-player workout headlined by Nevada forward Jordan Caroline.
The next big date to keep an eye on following the combine is May 29, which is the withdrawal deadline for all prospects who would like to maintain NCAA eligibility. By May 30, we will all have a much clearer picture of who will go where. Until then, the only (almost) certain thing about the 2019 NBA Draft is Zion Williamson will be selected first overall by whichever team wins the lottery.
Steve’s Notebook: The 2019 NBA Draft looks to be a little unpredictable; outside the top 3 or 4 players, the next 20 players could go in a wildly unexpected way, mainly because NBA teams do not few this draft class the same way, and a lot of the notable players are viewed as a little interchangeable. For example, how much of a difference is there at the next for UNC’s Coby White and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver? It will come down to the team selecting and not some perceived gap in skill, potential or ability.
The same seems to be true of Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford. Hayes looks like the best of the group and more likely to come off the board first. However, what’s coming from teams – is they view a lot of these guys in the same group and are looking for them to go head-to-head to settle some of the debate on who could be the better long-term pro and ultimately a draft pick.
There are also some guys to watch in terms of stock dropping.
There are real medical concerns on Oregon’s Bol Bol; teams will want a long look at his medical. The belief from scouts and executives is that if he were healthy, he’d be a top 10 prospect, but with the navicular injury and his tremendous size, there is a desire to fully understand where he really in his recovery is before some teams would commit to him.
UNC’s Nassir Little is a mixed bag among NBA scouts, some point to his tremendous high school career as a reason to believe, but his underwhelming season at Carolina has impacted how teams view him. He will need to answer a lot of questions for teams in the workout process. The current read is that Little could go anywhere from 15 to 35. Workouts and personal interviews could go a long way towards cementing what side of that range he really lands.
Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey is another name to watch. The word around NBA teams is that he may pull out of the 2019 NBA Draft if he does not get feedback at the NBA Combine suggesting he’d go in the first round. Word has it that his camp is looking for the ideal situation, and a soft promise might keep him in the draft. If teams are non-committal, he may pull out.
There are also some names projected lower in this draft that could surprise.
Virginia’s Kyle Guy has some fans. He could be one of the guys that could go 8 to 10 picks higher than his currently projected range. International guard Henri Drell could go late in the first round or early in the second round. It seems he has fans among teams holding multiple picks.
Washington State’s Robert Franks has had some teams in to see him recently, and the buzz on his is really positive. Franks is currently projected in the middle of the second round. However, there are some teams late in the first that seems to be very high on him; a solid workout schedule could garner a draft promise.
It is important to note that there are two different types of commitments teams give players – the first is the hard fast guarantee of selection. This usually accompanies a player shutting down workouts with other teams. In a typical draft, there are usually three or four of them made per draft.
The other is the soft commitment, which usually means a team pledged to draft the player, assuming the draft plays out as expected. This is a little riskier for the player in terms of shutting down workouts, because if the right player falls, they could be left without a chair.
Why do teams do these things – control and certainty. The draft is very unpredictable, and if a team is sold on a specific player, locking them in allows them to focus on other things in the transaction window. Because a team commits to a player, does not preclude a team higher up from drafting that player, they may not get the chance to work that player out.
Most smart agents will explain to their player that finding the ideal fit matters way more to a long NBA career than going one or two spots higher and getting that guaranteed floor, allows for the player to focus on being ready for Summer League and ultimately training camp.
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