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2019 NBA Mock Draft: What happens after Zion Williamson?

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Exactly what every NBA team needs to do in tomorrow’s draft.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

1. New Orleans PelicansZion Williamson

What is the point of this team?

The point of the Pellies is to become a fully operational battleship. And, just like a Death Star, it ain’t much unless you have a Darth Vader, too. Zion Williamson is Darth Vader. He has laser-swords instead of hands and he’s going to Force his way through the National Basketball Association. I usually urge restraint when discussing young players, but I don’t care this time, the kid’s name is literally ZION. He’s either a basketball angel come to deliver us to the promised land, or he’s not. If New Orleans doesn’t take him #1 overall, I’m going to jump off the planet. (I mean, anything’s possible, right?)

DRAFT: Zion MFing Williamson. I lied before, it’s impossible not to draft him. Kinda interesting, though, that the Pellies have drafted the two most heralded rookies since LeBron.

2. Memphis GrizzliesRJ Barrett

What is the point of this team?

Y’know, I don’t really know. Actually, hang on a second, I’m looking at their depth cha-JESUS CHRIST ALMIGHTY! IS CHANDLER PARSONS STILL ON THIS GODDAMN TEAM?? ARE YOU KIDDING? For TWENTY-FOUR MILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS!!!!

(Okay, I feel like an emotional Dresden. Chandler Parsons should be lauded, because this contract (actually, all of his contracts) is an achievement. I don’t want to hate, but this guy has been one of the least valuable basketball players I’ve ever seen. He’s played in 435 games over 8 seasons, and only 95 total over the past 3 seasons. He’s made $78 million over his career, thus far, and is due $24 million more this year. Remember when he signed his Mavericks contract in a club? It’s really sad when injuries hamper a player’s career; he looked really good in Houston, oh so long ago. If he’s healthy and has a good season, then Memphis can, hopefully, trade him.)

Regardless, the point of this team is to get to next season so Chandler Parsons is no longer a Grizzly. In the meantime, get someone who can play with Jaren Jackson, Jr. He’s the future of the team.

DRAFT: RJ Barrett, the future 3 to 3J’s 4. (Or, you could go big on the perimeter with Mike Conley at the point, RJ Barrett at the 2, Slow-Mo Kyle Anderson at the 3, 3J at the 4, and...well, Memphis needs to figure out their Center position. I don’t think paying Jonas Valanciunas big money is a good idea for this team. Let him walk, and stock up on cheap bigs in the draft and the dregs of free agency.)

3. New York KnicksJa Morant

What is the point of this team?

There is no point to this team. They’re a fire in a blizzard, they’re a bird at the bottom of the ocean. This team is Luke Skywalker kissing his own sister.

Having said that, I like some of their players! They have Dennis Smith, Jr., Kevin Knox-’em-down-(eventually), and Mitchell “I will foul you! I will foul you in your face!” Robinson, along with the French Dejection, Frank Ntilikina. Plus, Noah Vonleh. But, that’s about it. I think you let Mudiay walk and DeAndre Jordan walk (he’ll be a Laker, right?), and you draft the best available guy.

DRAFT: Ja Morant, the best available guy. He and DSJ can learn how to be better guards together, or crash and burn in Knicksy fashion. Ja Morant, DSJ, Knox, Vonleh, and Robinson is a fun team to watch. A bad team, but a fun one. Didn’t they used to have Kristaps Porzingis? And, aren’t they going to have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant? Gee whiz, the Knicks couldn’t possibly strike out in free agency, could they? That seems impossible.

4. New Orleans Pelicans (again) — Jaxson Hayes

What is the point of this team?

Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, E’Lite E’Twaun Moore, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson, and they can keep Stanley Johnson and Elfrid Payton, two players who could/maybe/hopefully improve. This team is already good, they’re just missing some Bigs. Imagine someone like Al Horford joining this team...

DRAFT: Jaxson Hayes. Hayes played for Texas, he used to be a wide receiver, he’s nearly 7 feet tall, and he has a 7’3” wingspan. Oh yeah, he also had a 75 True Shooting percentage in college, and he was one of the best blockers in all of college (which should translate to the pros). The kid’s tall and fast, which would work great in Alvin Gentry’s uptempo style.

5. Cleveland CavaliersJarrett Culver

What is the point of this team?

Kevin Love? I guess?

DRAFT: Jarrett Culver. He’s a dude who can play and defend multiple positions. He’ll be a solid player, and can help fill holes on this sad team. Brandon Knight and J.R. Smith are on this team, did you know that?

6. Phoenix SunsDarius Garland

What is the point of this team?

Just like last year, Devin Booker, Devin Booker, Devin Booker.

Deandre Ayton had one of the best rookie years we’ve seen, but this team is still about their shooting guard. This team DESPERATELY needs a Point Guard to help Booker be his best self, and to help Ayton’s development. The Suns should absolutely, positively try to get a competent PG in free agency, too (Rondo, if he doesn’t resign with the Lakers? Trade for Reggie Jackson? Sign D’Angelo Russell?). But, in the meantime, draft a young PG to help the cause.

DRAFT: Darius Garland. He can shoot, he can pass, and he’s fast. That’s the kind of point guard we need with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. This team is still ridiculous, and Sarver will mess it up somehow, but they’re getting there. If Garland’s good, then you have a strong trio to build upon.

7. Chicago BullsCoby White

What is the point of this team?

TO YELL AND SCREAM AND BE TOUGH AND TO YELL AND TO YELL AND TO YELLLLLL!

DRAFT: Coby White. The Bulls seems done with Kris Dunn (sorry?), so they could use a replacement point guard. Coby White is possibly my favorite player in this draft, and he’d be a perfect fit for the Baby Bulls. Damn, I really hope this doesn’t happen. There’s a universe wherein this season’s Bulls are formidable: Coby White running the point, the Dentist, Zach Lavine, drilling buckets, Otto Porter, Jr., being boring but good on the wing, Lauri Markkanen being INCREDIBLE, and Wendell Carter, Jr., being good and nasty in the paint. Uh oh.

Go Pistons.

8. Atlanta HawksCam Reddish

What is the point of this team?

To continue to be competent, and eventually peter out. The Atlanta Hawks Way.

DRAFT: Cam Reddish. He could be really, really good, but playing at Duke meant he got overshadowed by a few other fellas. The downside of playing on All-Star College teams is that you can fade into the background if you’re not as good as your teammates. Would Reddish be ranked higher if he’d played for a Big Ten team, where he could shine on his own?

9. Washington Wizzle-Wazzles — De’Andre Hunter

What is the point of this team?

To hibernate until the return of Dr. John Wall.

DRAFT: A better accountant. Did you know that Ian Mahinmi and Dwight Howard are making $20 million this year combined to play for this team? Jabari Parker is on this team, I bet you didn’t know that. This team sucks, Bradley Beal is going to have to waste a year of his career, and I’m just really sad that this pathetic excuse for a team isn’t run better. But, Washington, D.C., amirite? Anyway, draft De’Andre Hunter in order to replace Otto Porter, Jr., and Kelly Oubre, Jr., on the wing. Why did they trade Porter and Oubre again?

10. Atlanta Hawks (again) — Nic Claxton

What is the point of this team?

If they draft Reddish with the 8th pick, then this team is Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish Kent Bazemore (who I still like), John Collins, and, uh, Miles Plumlee and Alex Len at Center. No bueno at center. Let’s draft them a big who can actually help.

DRAFT: Nic Claxton. He can handle, he can pass, he can rebound, and he could turn into a great defender with strong blocking instincts. I like this guy a lot, and I’m drafting him higher than most mocks.

11. Minnesota TimberKATs — Brandon Clarke

What is the point of this team?

Still, Karl-Anthony Towns. Eventually, he’ll get the team he deserves.

DRAFT: This team is actually better than you think. Just kidding. I love Towns and Robert Covington, but everyone else is completely disposable, as far as I’m concerned. Brandon Clarke could be the heir to Taj Gibson. Boring? Absolutely. Useful? Hella. Long career? Probably.

12. Charlotte HornetsNassir Little

What is the point of this team?

To remind us that even the greatest of all time can still make mistakes. Michael Jordan, the Hornets and your Hitler moustache are your only mistakes. I love you.

DRAFT: Nassir Little. This dude’s 6’6” with a 7’1” wingspan. Him and Miles Bridges will make a nice duo on the wing, regardless of whether Kemba Walker resigns or not. If Malik Monk improves in his third year (his second real year, since his rookie season was a disaster in mismanagement), then maybe you have something on the perimeter.

13. Miami HeatRomeo Langford

What is the point of this team?

Uh…?

So, Point-Forward Justise Winslow was interesting this past season, but Goran Dragic is back, I guess, so that’s over with. Right now, the Heat are Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson (who I adore), and Hassan Whiteside, I guess? They could use an upgrade to their guards, which is nice, since one of my favorite players in this draft is still available.

DRAFT: Romeo Langford. He’s a shooting guard who has all the talent in the world, and could develop into an elite perimeter defender. Remind you of anyone? Romeo is ‘Dipo 2.0, in my opinion. He’ll be fantastic in Miami.

14. Boston CelticsBol Bol

What is the point of this team?

To recover from this season in any way possible.

DRAFT: Bol Bol. Boston has three picks in the first round. Since this draft is extremely top heavy, and every other player seems like they could be solid, but unspectacular, I say reach for the stars and try to draft a Giannis. Bol Bol has pedigree, but injuries. He’s a big risk, but this draft is mediocre, and this is a mid-round pick, anyway. Besides, Boston might need help in the paint if Al Horford doesn’t resign. And, if Bolx2 is actually all that and a bag of chips? Then, Boston just added another young foundational piece to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart (who should be a Celtic for life).

15. Detroit Pistons — Sekou Doumbouya

What is the point of this team?

Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Basically, the front court is fine, it’s every single other position that sucks.

DRAFT: Sekou Doumbouya. Doumbouya looks like a legit wing prospect, something Detroit SORELY needs. Rather than another SG who can’t defend, or shoot, really, let’s at least get a tall athlete who looks the part of an NBA perimeter player.

16. Orlando MagicTyler Herro

What is the point of this team?

This is Markelle Fultz’s team now. Hahaha!

DRAFT: Tyler Herro. Herro is an elite shooter, and Orlando (and, everyone else in the NBA) needs shooting. Basically, he could be a JJ Redick, which would be very Orlando. Aaron Gordon is still just 24 years old, by the way. Fultz (heheheheheh), Herro, Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Mo Bamba: is that an Orlando Magic team or is that an Orlando Magic team?

17. Atlanta Hawks (...again?) — Nickeil Alexander-Walker

What is the point of this team?

Obviously, they should trade one of their three picks. As we saw with Boston this season, there’s such a thing as too many players.

DRAFT: Nickeil Alexander-Walker. NAW should be a very useful player in the NBA, a wing who can play 3-and-D, and he’s a damn good passer, too. When the Hawks go small, they could have Trae Young, Huerter, NAW, Reddish and John Collins. I don’t know if that will be good, but it would be fun to watch.

18. Indiana PacersRui Hachimura

What is the point of this team?

Victor Oladipo.

DRAFT: Rui Hachimura. The Pacers need a wing big time, and Rui is a perfect fit. He works hard, he can shoot, and he’ll be able to take easier defensive assignments with ‘Dipo on the court. The Pacers should draft whichever wing falls to them, really. Losing Bojan Bogdanovic means their scoring just took a serious hit; hopefully, Rui can step in and hit some bombs on passes from ‘Dipo and Sabonis.

19. San Antonio SpursKeldon Johnson

What is the point of this team?

The Spurs have five above-average guards, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the man, the myth, the legend, Davis Bertans. What do they need? Once again, just like with everyone else, a wing.

DRAFT: Keldon Johnson. First, this dude’s got a vintage Spurs name. Second, he’s a wing. Third, he can score, and he works hard on defense, and rebounds well. Spursy, no? Fourth, he’s not really great at any of the things I just mentioned: merely solid. But, with the Spurs talent development, he’ll probably turn into an All Defense perimeter player who wins the Finals for another team. Too soon?

20. Boston Celtics (again) — PJ Washington

What is the point of this team?

To not have Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, or maybe even Al Horford (Lakers? Golden State? Dallas? Portland?).

DRAFT: PJ Washington. The Celtics might actually need help inside, even if Bol Bol is a beast beast. Washington can guard multiple positions, he can pass and defend, he can shoot a little bit, and he’s not Anthony Davis. All of those things are very Celtics-y!

21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Kevin Porter

What is the point of this team?

I know I’m not supposed to think this, but I like the Thunder! The Sarge, Russell Westbrook, running the show like Batman who doesn’t need a goddamn Robin; Paul George, who is still one of the best players in the NBA, and could probably be an MVP candidate if he were on a team without Westbrook; Steven Adams, one of the best bigs in the game; and, Jerami Grant, who I’m in love with, and who shot 50% from the floor last season, and 45% from three, and who is HUGE, and averaged 2 blocks per game. If he improves his free throw shooting, watch out, this kid could break out.

One more scoring threat, with the soul of a Thunder defender, could tie the room together and propel the Thunder to the NBA Finals in a season where Golden State is wounded, Houston looks like they’re going to break up their backcourt, the Lakers may be hella thin and prey to injury, and no one’s afraid of the Jazz. Who’s OKC’s main threat? Portland? New Orleans? (Just kidding?) The Kawhi Clippers would obviously be a massive danger. But, if Kawhi stays in Toronto for at least one more season, then the West could be open wider than at any time in recent memory. Why not the Thunder? If they nail this draft pick, and if the Sarge decides to dial it back in favor of PG13 and Jerami and the new kid, then the Thunder, a titanic defensive team, could be one of the best teams in the NBA next season.

DRAFT: Kevin Porter. He’s another perimeter player who can grab boards and block shots. Seems like a perfect fit. Plus, how many Kevin Porters live in Oklahoma City? All of them?

22. Boston Celtics (...againnnn…) — Cam Johnson Chuma Okeke

What is the point of this team?

Assets! And, failure! But, promise. And, then more failure! But, trades! And, picks! And, we had to! But, still. Sigh.

DRAFT: Cam Johnson. Actually, no, eff that. Draft one of my favorite dudes, instead, Chuma Okeke. He’s had some injuries, BUT THE CELTICS DON’T NEED ANOTHER PLAYER, SO THEY CAN STASH HIM. Or, bring him along slowly, whatever. Regardless, the dude’s a good shooter, a good defender, a good passer, and he’s 6’8” with a 7 foot wingspan. If he’s healthy, he’s GOING to be good. Sans injury, I think he’s a top 10 player in this draft, for sure, maybe even higher. Whoever gets him is getting a steal.

23. Utah Jazz — Matisse Thybulle

What is the point of this team?

There’s no way they bring Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors back, right? I mean, they shouldn’t, not for what those guys will cost. So, this team has Le Magnifique, Rudy Gobert, holding down the paint; Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt; and, Old Man Joe Ingles (who helps me win fantasy basketball championships, by the way, he’s severely underrated, and talks a lotta trash, which I appreciate; I want him and Draymond Green on the same team some day) on the wing. If we let Don Mitch take point, I think it would behoove the Jazz to select a backcourt mate who isn’t Kyle Korver nor Dante Exum.

DRAFT: Matisse Thybulle. He is a ferocious defender. He’s a 6’5” guard with a 7 foot wingspan. He’s a solid passer and shooter, but it’s his defense that will fit in perfectly on Utah. Thybulle and Gobert would be a terrifying defensive duo.

24. Philadelphia 76ers — Cam Johnson

What is the point of this team?

It’s still Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. I don’t care about Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris, I only care about the Chosen One and Darth Biid. Did you know that if Philly let everyone walk, they’d only have Embiid, Simmons, Zhaire Smith (their draft pick last year, a player I’m very excited about), and Jonah Bolden under contract? That’s around $40 million. The salary cap will be around $100 million this year. You need shooting with Simmons and Embiid. That’s where Cam Johnson comes in.

DRAFT: Cam Johnson. He was the best shooter in college basketball this year, and he was injured, which makes him the perfect Philly pick. If you draft him, you probably don’t need to sign both Butler and Tobias Harris, meaning you can spend those dollars filling out your team and your bench. Depth and shooting matter. These Finals just proved that, again.

It’s not impossible that they trade for an expensive player, rather than signing one (or, two). While Simmons is on his rookie deal, the Sixers have a window to spend money on another star (which is why Butler and Harris are so significant). Would Chris Paul help or hurt the Sixers chances? Kevin Love? Jrue Holiday or Mike Conley? All three guards are PGs, but they also have experience playing off the ball, so would they really hinder Simmons?

I think Philly feels backed into a corner, like they have to sign Butler or Harris. I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

25. Portland Trail BlazersKZ Okpala

What is the point of this team?

Maestro Dame Lillard forever, and CJ McCollum unJennifered the whole world. Having said that, everyone else on this team is kinda disposable, no? Nurkic is good, but I think that this team is thinner than it looks. Evan Turner should not be on this team. They really need to consolidate some of these contracts into better pieces. Kevin Love has been connected to Portland in trade scenarios for eons and eons. Regardless, they need help on the wing, just like everyone. They don’t need guards or centers, that’s for sure.

DRAFT: KZ Okpala. He’s going to be gooooood... if his free throws improve. Free throws are important in scouting because they, along with blocks and rebounds, tend to translate to the pros. So, it’s not great to see bad shooting at the line, but, y’know, all these kids are really young, and haven’t actually played that much basketball. Okpala’s all of 20 years old. I believe he can get better across the board. If just a few more of his free throws had gone in, then he’d be hitting 70+% and we wouldn’t even be worried about it. Regardless, he’s a wing who could turn into a vital 3-and-D 6’9” forward with a 7’1” wingspan.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (again) — Talen Horton-Tucker

What is the point of this team?

Dude, get a load of this guy!

DRAFT: Talen Horton-Tucker! Dude’s 6’4” with a 7’1” wingspan! He can guard four positions, he can pass, he can bring the ball up the court AND rebound, and he’s only 18 years old. I don’t know what to think of this guy, but just imagine if he gets 5% better each season. Even a conservative estimate like that makes this kid intriguing as hell. Or, he could be another Frank Ntilikina and break our hearts for 3 years in a row.

27. Brooklyn NetsMfiondu Kabengele

What is the point of this team?

To get Kyrie Irving, I guess. Great. A Flat-Earther will fit in just awesome with our anti-vaxxers here in Brooklyn.

Kyrie is, without a doubt, one of the best players in the NBA. It’s astonishing that Kawhi, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie are all free agents in the same year. If those three hooked up, anywhere, even Orlando, they’d win the title, no problem. That’s how good they are. We forget how good Kyrie is because this past season was, well, a stupid waste of time. But, he’s a game changer. With him as their point guard, Brooklyn would have to be considered a contender, even if no one else joins him. Let’s say Brooklyn signs Kyrie, and lets D’Angelo Russell walk. Brooklyn would have Kyrie, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, and Jarrett Allen before signing, or resigning, anyone else. That’s already a deep team. You need two more bigs, at least, but that’s a real team, and a real dangerous team, too. Brooklyn will be a playoff team this year. And, they’ll have a high seed.

DRAFT: Mfiondu Kabengele. This is Dikembe Mutombo’s nephew. He’s 6’10” with a 7’3” wingspan, he shot 37% from three, and he’s already a good defender, and, of course, a good shot blocker. This is exactly the kind of player Brooklyn needs. NBA royalty in Kings County? Challenge accepted.

28. San Francisco WarriorsDylan Windler/Ty Jerome

What is the point of this team?

To somehow recover from this Finals, and to help Steph Curry and Draymond Green weather the storm until Klay, and maybe KD, come back.

DRAFT: I would take Dylan Windler or Ty Jerome here. Both can shoot, and the Dubs are going to have to do a lot of that this year. Steph’s going to be the most guarded man in the NBA: Klay’s out, KD’s out, and Dray’s outside shot is still so bad that other teams don’t guard him DURING THE PLAYOFFS.

29. San Antonio Spurs (again) — Admiral Schofield

What is the point of this team?

Not more guards, that’s for sure.

DRAFT: ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD, YESSSSSS! Let Admiral join the Admiral’s team, I love it. Admiral Schofield is ridiculous looking. He should be in a Conan the Barbarian movie. He should fight the Rock in the Matrix. Anyway, he also played up to the competition, which I love to see. And, of course, he likes to take mid-range shots, so I’m all in on making Admiral a Spur.

30. Milwaukee BucksJordan Poole

What is the point of this team?

Giannis Antetokounmpo. All else is mere wind.

DRAFT: Whichever shooter is still there. The Bucks need more shooting on the perimeter, just like everyone, just like everywhere. The difference is that they’re about to get locked into expensive contracts, and they’re going to pick near the end of the draft for the foreseeable future. You can always sign a fungible big for cheap in free agency, you can always get a backup point guard. It’s tough to find cheap shooting, though, so you have to start drafting it. Drafting a big with no range is a serious no-no. I think Jordan Poole would be a good fit (Go Blue!), or maybe Shamorie Ponds.

But, the Bucks can’t draft a big with this pick, unless it’s Bol Bol, in my opinion. If he’s still there, then try to shoot the moon, obviously. Otherwise, I think you can get cheap options in free agency, or consolidate several of your cheaper players into a trade. Hell, Marc Gasol could opt out and decide to play on a cheap one year deal to team up with Giannis, y’know? Stranger things have happened.

Milwaukee needs to be careful. If they make a wrong move, and constrain Giannis’ velocity, then they’ll have wasted a golden opportunity. If Kawhi leaves Toronto, then the East has Giannis and the Bucks, the 76ers, the Celtics, the Pacers maybe, the Nets, maybe the Bulls...no one’s really a behemoth, though, at least not right now. The East might be wide open, too.

Welcome to the New NBA, where anything can happen.