In anticipation of the 2019 NBA Draft, NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock faces off against former NBA scout Matt McKay, Jr. as they alternate picks, making their own selections for teams drafting in this year’s lottery.
Matt Babcock: Alright, McKay. Here we go! To start, let’s flip for the first pick. I’ll let you make the call.
Matt McKay Jr: Okay, I’ll take heads.
(Flip — heads)
Babcock: Heads it is. You’re on the clock with the Pelicans first pick. Good luck!
1) New Orleans Pelicans
McKay: I don’t need much time to think this one over. With the first pick in the 2019 Babcock Hoops Mock Draft Showdown, I pick Zion Williamson.
McKay: In all seriousness, Zion makes the most sense here no matter which angle you’re looking at it. He has the highest ceiling, the best chance to be a perennial all-star, and gives a team a shot to immediately move the needle in the right direction as a franchise. I’m not necessarily in the camp that considers this guy the best prospect since LeBron or AD, but I do think he is the right choice at number one in this draft. Alright, you’re up. For what it’s worth - I think Memphis is in a total win-win situation here with the second pick...
2) Memphis Grizzlies
Babcock: With the second pick I will take Ja Morant. Again, not much of a shocker here. Although I think you would have selected Barrett. If developed properly I think Morant has the talent and potential to be categorized with some of the top point guards in the league. He is incredibly dynamic as a playmaker and scorer to go along with top-notch athleticism. He simply has too much talent to pass up at number two.
McKay: You’re right - I do give the slight edge to Barrett with this pick, but I can’t knock you for sending the top PG in this draft class to Memphis to pair with JJJ. That will be a talented duo for years to come.
3) New York Knicks
McKay: With the third pick, I will be selecting the second-best player in the draft, R.J. Barrett.
McKay: I love R.J. here for a lot of reasons, but for the sake of this mock draft, I’ll keep it short: at 6’6-6’7, R.J. is a positionless perimeter ‘Swiss Army Knife’ that a team can plug in anywhere between the one and the three depending on who he’s sharing the floor with. He’s wired to score and make plays, consistently keeping the opposition on their heels. Though his offensive game is ahead of his defense, I think he will offer more on both sides of the ball long term than Ja will. I also think he was unfairly scrutinized at Duke. First of all, he had a tremendous freshman season. Secondly, did everyone forget about his body of work leading up to his time in Durham? Go back and watch his Team Canada stuff for a refresher. This guy is a winner! I could go on, but I don’t want to make you go back and change your mind with that second pick.
Babcock: Again, pssh. I’m half-joking. R.J. is a good pick here.
4) Los Angeles Lakers
Babcock: The Lakers are in an interesting situation with this pick and their roster in general. They have a lot of young pieces with Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma to go along with one of the best veterans in the league in LeBron James. It is widely reported that they are going to be aggressive in free agency this summer, chasing the top free agents and, of course, the possibility of adding Anthony Davis via trade, as well. Considering all of these variables, I will go with the next best player, I select Darius Garland. Although the sweet-shooting point guard missed most of his freshman season due to injury, I have him rated just slightly lower than Morant and I think his ability to shoot with range and carve up the defense off the dribble will translate to the next level seamlessly.
McKay: I have no arguments here.
5) Cleveland Cavaliers
McKay: Here’s where it gets interesting. I’m in the minority on this one, but I’m going to stick to my guns. With the fifth pick, I am going to go with Rui Hachimura. There are plenty of sound reasons for this, but more than anything, this is a player I believe in. I think he’s a player with both a high floor and a high ceiling. With the way he’s wired, Rui isn’t someone that’s going to flop or bust - he’s going to maximize his potential. I view him as a prospect that still has multiple potential quantum leaps in his development, despite being 21 years old. Yes, he still has some maturing to do as a player (especially with reads on both ends), but he’s going to guard, play hard, and soak up coaching like a sponge. He was far from a volume outside shooter at Gonzaga, but I’ve watched him pre, post, and during practices and can confidently say that I have zero worries about his shot, long term. It may look like a stretch on draft night, but my gut tells me Rui will be considered a top player from this draft class at the end of the day.
Babcock: Although I agree you are in the minority on this one, you are ‘preaching to the choir’ with me. I think this is a great pick!
6) Phoenix Suns
Babcock: I’m going to select Coby White here. I think this is on the high side for White but I think with how Phoenix’s roster is set up they desperately need help and depth at both guard spots. Although it sounds as if they are looking to add a veteran point guard via free agency or trade, I think White could be a terrific addition as he complements their star player, Devin Booker, very well. Initially, he is capable of backing up Booker or playing alongside him. I think he could be a great running mate with Booker in their backcourt long-term.
McKay: Nice pick. I think White makes a ton of sense here.
7) Chicago Bulls
McKay: With the seventh pick, I am taking De’Andre Hunter. I could see Chicago coveting White, but if Hunter is the consolation prize, things could be worse. Hunter projects as a hybrid forward that can impact the game on both ends of the floor. He’s a long, versatile defender that should be able to knock down open shots. If he falls here, Chicago will be stacked in the frontcourt for the better part of the next decade - fitting him in alongside Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter will be a good problem to have for Jim Boylen.
Babcock: I think Hunter is more of a solid, complementary piece rather than a high upside prospect but I can’t deny that he fits this team well. I think he would be very effective for Coach Boylen and the Bulls.
8) Atlanta Hawks
Babcock: I feared I would be in a position to be forced to take a hard look at Cam Reddish, as he is a very high risk, high reward prospect. His casual approach and lack of consistent production are certainly worrisome but at nearly 6’9” and possessing a full toolbox of offensive skills, including a silky smooth jumper, there is just too much talent for me to overlook at the eighth pick. Cam Reddish is my pick.
McKay: He’s about as polarizing as they come, but this is his range. Assuming they don’t make any more trades (they grabbed the seventeenth pick, last week), having two picks in the top ten makes it somewhat easier to swing for the fences versus going the safe route.
9) Washington Wizards
McKay: With the ninth pick, I will select Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech. If Culver is actually on the board at nine, that’s a win for the Wizards, in my opinion. It’s hard to imagine having a much better season than Culver’s 2018-19 campaign in Lubbock: he led his team to a share of the Big 12 title, was named Big 12 Player of the Year and starred on the team’s run to the National Championship game. He struggled shooting the ball in the Final Four, but his game is predicated on more than that. He’s another guy that brings a ton of positional versatility on both ends - plug him into any type of lineup and he adds value.
Babcock: A good value pick. Well done.
10) Atlanta Hawks
Babcock: The Hawks are building a nice young nucleus of talent in Atlanta. After having taken a wing with the eighth pick, in Cam Reddish, I think they will look to bolster their frontcourt with this pick. I am going to select Bol Bol. At 7’2”, Bol is a very unique prospect as he is gifted offensively, being able to stretch the floor out to NBA range, and is capable of scoring in a number of ways utilizing his great touch. Although not overly strong physically, his length and coordination allow him to be effective blocking and contesting shots on the defensive end, as well. Word is that his foot injury has healed well and that his medicals have come back surprisingly clean.
McKay: If you’re Atlanta, do you worry about playing him next to John Collins at all?
Babcock: I have some concerns with both of the Hawks picks but I think the upside is too high to overlook with both of those players.
McKay: If they decide to go big here, the Hayes vs. Bol debate might be an interesting one for them…throw Goga in the conversation, too!
Babcock: Agreed. I had an interesting debate with that myself.
11) Minnesota Timberwolves
McKay: I love the upside of Jaxson Hayes here, but I question the fit. That said, I’m selecting Sekou Doumbouya with the eleventh pick. The youngest player in the draft would theoretically slide in between KAT and Wiggins, forming a talented young frontcourt for the Wolves. Doumbouya brings an intriguing blend of physical tools (size, strength, fluidity) and skill (face-up game, range shooting), coupled with advanced scoring instincts for someone his age. This would be a nice talent grab at this point in the draft.
12) Charlotte Hornets
Babcock: Well, you mentioned Hayes’ upside already and that’s exactly what I’m thinking here with this pick; I select Jaxson Hayes. Although he’s probably a couple of years away from being able to contribute significantly, his length, athleticism and innate ability to block shots have me excited about his future. I envision him being a terrific rim protector and rim runner at the very least. A nice long term piece for the Hornets with the twelfth pick.
McKay: I’m with you on this one. With a proper player development plan in place, Hayes would ideally be turning a corner by the time Charlotte is ready to compete in the East.
13) Miami Heat
McKay: This pick has KPJ written all over it. With the thirteenth pick, I’m selecting Kevin Porter. He just seems like a fit with this Heat group. If things click, he’d be ideal next to Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow. If his mentality is in the right place, this guy has superstar talent. We’ve seen the importance of having multiple shot-creators on the floor time and time again in these 2019 playoffs and Porter is the epitome of a creator. Not many guys in the league have his level of wiggle. He creates space with the best of them. His functional athleticism is off the charts, as well. Every once in a while, a team picking in the teens winds up with a star (Giannis at #15 in 2013, Booker at #13 in 2015, Mitchell at #13 in 2017) and Porter has the sheer talent to be next on the list.
Babcock: I love this pick — he has so much talent! There have been some concerns about Porter’s immaturity and Miami could be the perfect fit, as they have a solid infrastructure set in place emphasizing accountability and discipline.
14) Boston Celtics
Babcock: I am selecting Goga Bitadze with the fourteenth pick. I have been high on him for a while and he’s had a terrific season in Europe this year. At 6’11”, Bitadze is a capable low post scorer and rim protector but most importantly he is capable of stretching the floor as a big which certainly comes at a premium in this day and age. I think he fits in perfectly for Brad Stevens’ system. Goga has proven that he can produce at a high level as he was very effective in the Euroleague. I think he will be ready to step in and contribute right away. This would be a very good pick for the Celtics, in my opinion.
McKay: Great pick. With three firsts at their disposal, Boston has a lot of options here - but Goga seems like option 1A. Do you think he comes over right away?
Babcock: From what I have been told, the plan is to have him come to the NBA next year for the 2019-2020 season.
Babcock: Thanks for doing this with me! Should we plan a redraft for June 2022?
McKay: Maybe for your picks!
Babcock: Nevermind. I’ll see what Jeff Feld is doing...
McKay: All jokes aside, this was a fun exercise. Thanks, Matt!