NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz is in New York for the 2019 NBA Draft where he just made his projection for who he thinks will be taken in the first round. You can watch that right here:
Here is a breakdown of Andy's projections for who will go where tonight. Draft coverage begins at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN and streams on WatchESPN.
1. New Orleans — Zion Williamson, Duke
No surprise here. Zion is Zion, and after trading away Anthony Davis, to see New Orleans take anyone but the Duke star would be the biggest surprise in the history of the draft.
2. Memphis — Ja Morant, Murray State
The sophomore guard burst onto the scene this season, when he averaged 24.5 points and 10 assists at Murray State, and there’s little question who the best player in this class is after Williamson. Katz has said that there’s an argument to be made that Morant will be a better NBA player than Williamson.
3. New York — RJ Barrett, Duke
Yes, Zion’s dunks and athleticism and skill made him the face of Duke this season, but it was Barrett who led the Blue Devils in scoring. The freshman put up 22.6 points per game, while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 30.8 from deep.
4. New Orleans (via Lakers) — Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
Garland has shot up the draft boards recently. The Vanderbilt freshman was injured in November and missed the rest of the season, but he averaged 16.2 points in five games for the Commodores. He spent the rest of the year getting healthy and ready for this moment, and after the star trio ahead of him, Garland looks to be one of the best players available Thursday.
5. Cleveland — De'Andre Hunter, Virginia
How valuable is De’Andre Hunter? Just ask Virignia, which lost to UMBC in the 2018 NCAA tournament, when Hunter didn’t play, and won its first championship in 2019, when Hunter did play. He's a great defensive player who can stretch the floor as a more-than-capable 3-point shooter.
6. Phoenix — Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Culver improved dramatically in his second season at Texas Tech, averaging 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds, becoming the go-to option for the Red Raiders.
7. Chicago — Coby White, North Carolina
White was a catalyst for the Tar Heels last year, breaking all sorts of records in a stellar freshman year as he propelled UNC to an ACC regular-season championship with precision passing and dynamic shooting. He has a high upside, but still has plenty of work to do.
8. Atlanta — Cam Reddish, Duke
Reddish was sometimes overshadowed on a Duke team with Williamson and Barrett, but the 6-8 small forward has all the tools to be a steal for the Hawks at No. 8, with great potential from deep.
9. Washington — Nassir Little, North Carolina
Little humbly served as a role player for Roy Williams, but he showed great skill and even more potential in his one year in Chapel Hill.
10. Atlanta — Jaxson Hayes, Texas
Hayes is a force inside, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks while shooting 72.8 percent in just 23.3 minutes per game last year. That performance earned him a plethora of Big 12 awards, highlighted by the conference rookie of the year honors.
11. Minnesota — Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Hachimura has steadily and significantly improved during his time at Gonzaga, transforming into the Bulldogs’ star by his junior year, where he averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds, while even adding a 3-point shot (41.7 percent) to his arsenal.
12. Charlotte — PJ Washington, Kentucky
Washington withdrew from last year’s draft and returned to Kentucky. That turned out to be a great decision. He earned All-SEC honors after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from deep on a significant increase in 3-point shots this year. And there’s no questioning his heart, as the forward fought to return to Kentucky’s tournament run after injuring his leg late in the year.
13. Miami — Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
I bleed maroon and orange🤞🏽.... pic.twitter.com/bAsVLx9j3N— Nickeil Alexander (@TheReal_NAW1) June 18, 2019
Alexander-Walker might not be the flashiest pick Thursday, but he offers some great depth to any team that can snag him. He outshined Kerry Blackshear, Jr. in Blacksburg
14. Boston — Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Clarke had a bit of a drop off last year after transferring to Gonzaga from San Jose State, but the 6-8 guard showed great energy and athleticism at a higher level with the Bulldogs. He’s a fantastic defender, and while he isn’t a top shooter, he’s reliable enough to be a threat.
Here is the draft order for the rest of the first round, as of 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday:
- 15. Detroit
- 16. Orlando
- 17. Brooklyn
- 18. Indiana
- 19. San Antonio
- 20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)
- 21. Oklahoma City
- 22. Boston
- 23. Utah
- 24. Philadelphia
- 25. Portland
- 26. Cleveland (from Houston)
- 27. Brooklyn (from Denver)
- 28. Golden State
- 29. San Antonio (from Toronto)
- 30. Milwaukee
Milwaukee reportedly traded Tony Snell and the 30th pick in the draft to Detroit for Jon Leuer.