March Madness has come and gone, as Virginia cut down the nets and beat Texas Tech in an overtime thriller. Many players saw their draft stock rise throughout March, while others slipped and didn't live up to expectations. However, now that March Madness is over as well as the NBA's regular season, we can start to see this year's draft class fall into position more clearly. Here's my second edition of the 2019 NBA Lottery Mock Draft.
1. New York Knicks select Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
This shouldn't be a surprise at all, as Zion dominated the tournament even though Duke lost in the Elite 8. He still the best player in the draft without a doubt, and will be a franchise cornerstone wherever he winds up.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers select R.J. Barrett, SF, Duke
Barrett was criticized by many during the tournament for his poor shot selection, but still played an enormous role on their team and played very well in the tournament. He did everything this for Duke, most notably racking up assists and being Zion's sidekick. Collin Sexton improved significantly down the stretch for Cleveland, so there's no desperate need at point guard to select Ja Morant, so R.J. Barrett would make more sense at this slot.
3. Phoenix Suns select Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
Morant further elevated his draft stock through March Madness, showing off his impressive offensive arsenal on a bigger stage. This included a monster dunk against Marquette and a 3-point barrage against Florida State, but was ultimately knocked out in the Round of 32. His position only falls because Cleveland has the second pick, and Phoenix is a much better fit for Morant, as the Suns desperately need a solid point guard.
4. Chicago Bulls select Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
Garland did not play in the tournament, as Vanderbilt did not come close to making it, but Garland is still an intriguing prospect nonetheless. He has the most potential among point guard prospects and is arguably the best point guard prospect right now, so if the Bulls don't feel comfortable with Kris Dunn as their starter after has shaky year, Garland can be an option here.
5. Atlanta Hawks select DeAndre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia
If anyone improved his stock over the tournament the most, it has to be Hunter, who dominated the Final Four and Championship Game. Against Texas Tech, he dropped 27 points as well as 9 rebounds and played incredible on-ball defense against Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech's star player and fellow top prospect. Atlanta has a need for defensive wing players, and if Hunter is available at #5, the Hawks should immediately add him to their young core.
6. Washington Wizards select Cameron Reddish, SF, Duke
Reddish has had a pretty disappointing year that proceeded into March Madness, where he wasn't insanely effective like Barrett and Williamson were. A lot of this is due to him being the third option on a stacked Duke team, but he has struggled in comparison to his high school numbers. Still, teams shouldn't pass on Reddish on draft night, and Washington could really use a player like Reddish to boost their roster. I'm sticking with the Reddish/Wizards pairing here.
7. New Orleans Pelicans select Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
Culver put Texas Tech's team on the map during March and led them to the Championship Game against Virginia. While he didn't have the greatest game against the Cavaliers, he was incredible throughout the tournament and showed scouts why he's a top-10 prospect in this draft class. New Orleans is likely to receive a heap of young talent soon through an Anthony Davis trade, and Culver can continue his development in the Big Easy to turn the Pelicans' fate around.
8. Memphis Grizzlies select Coby White, PG, North Carolina
White broke out this year as the Tar Heels' star, leading them to a #1 seed in the tourney before falling in the Sweet 16 to Auburn. White is an electrifying scorer who can get to the bucket in a number of ways, which is impressive for a point guard. Landing in Memphis would give him an opportunity to be (possibly) mentored by a veteran in Mike Conley before White is ready to be the starter, and he could also see time at shooting guard as well. A Coby White / Jaren Jackson Jr. combo could be lethal down the road in Memphis.
9. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas) select Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
I still have the Hawks selecting Hayes in this second edition, as there is a need to place a dominant post presence alongside John Collins. Hayes can be that player, as he has immense potential and a freakish athletic ability to match it. He didn't finish out the season with Texas due to injury but should hopefully be ready to participate in pre-draft activities in the Spring.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves select Sekou Doumbouya, SF/PF, France
Doumbouya is a little-known prospect from France, but he is strong, athletic, fast, and committed to playing defense, which is something the Timberwolves are trying to incorporate into their team. He might not be ready for the NBA immediately, but he should project to be very valuable to teams in the long road, and the T-Wolves should take a flyer on Sekou.
11. Los Angeles Lakers select Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga
As I said in my recent podcast, if the Lakers are going to keep this pick, they need to draft someone who can step in and produce right away. Brandon Clarke is a player who can definitely do that and be a big man the Lakers can quickly rely on. He's a rebounding and blocks machine who can make plays on the fast break, and comes from a winning environment in Gonzaga. Though the state of the Lakers may be abysmal, drafting Clarke would be a smart decision made by the front office.
12. Charlotte Hornets select Bol Bol, C, Oregon
I'm sticking with Bol being drafted around the late lottery, as his foot problems are very concerning but his potential is purely too much to pass up on. As I've said before, the Hornets need someone who will impress pending free agent Kemba Walker and set them up nicely for the future, and Bol Bol checks off both of those boxes. He's a high-risk/ high-reward prospect, but the Hornets don't really have anything to lose at this point.
13. Miami Heat select Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG/PG, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker broke out this year for Virginia Tech, shooting efficiently from basically everywhere and showcasing some tenacious on-ball defense for the Hokies as well. His size allows him to play either guard position, and he would be bigger than most point guards which would be a great advantage for NAW. The Heat don't have much room to improve outside of the draft, so drafting a safe prospect like Alexander-Walker seems like a good choice for Miami, who could use a younger guard to add to their rotation now that Dwyane Wade has retired.
14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento) select P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky
P.J. Washington is one of the rare players who decide to return to Kentucky for another season, and that decision looked like it paid off well for him. He was the main scorer, rebounder, and leader on this year's Wildcat team, and elevated his draft stock by staying another year. He may be undersized as a power forward for his size (6'8", 230 lbs.) but that doesn't stop him from racking up the rebounds and blocks on the defensive end. Boston could use another big man and rebounder on their team, and Washington could come in right away and help the C's out.