Charlotte Hornets

First 3 picks clear; after that shallow NBA draft could take some hair-pin turns

Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak on 2019 NBA Draft depth

Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak discusses the positional depth less than a week before the 2019 NBA Draft.
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Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak discusses the positional depth less than a week before the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rick Bonnell’s NBA mock draft for Thursday’s first round:

Team, Player, prior, comment

1. Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Duke: Physically imposing, explosive power forward for rebuild post-Anthony Davis.

2. Grizzlies, Ja Morant, Murray State: Point guard who will replace Mike Conley, who is being traded to Utah Jazz.

3. Knicks, R.J. Barrett, Duke: The best wing player in this draft; left-handed creator off the dribble

4. Lakers, Darius Garland, Vanderbilt: Will be Pelicans’ pick, might be traded on. Garland is a point guard in a point guard-shallow draft. Ideal trade commodity.

5. Cavaliers, De’Andre Hunter, Virginia: An established defender at forward in an era when the ability to switch defensively is prized.

6. Suns, Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech: Phoenix doesn’t need a shooting guard, but this team needs value from a high pick.

7. Bulls, Coby White, North Carolina: Chicago wants an upgrade at point guard. White provides size and scoring, also may also play off the ball.

8. Hawks, Cam Reddish, Duke: Reddish disappeared at times with the Blue Devils. Was that him or all the talent he had to blend with there?

9. Wizards, Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga: The Wizards could use a point guard as insurance for John Wall’s injury, but probably none left worth this pick.

10. Hawks, Sekou Doumbouya, French pro: This is the high-ceiling gamble. A great athlete at power forward, but raw. Hawks exploring trade options.

11. Timberwolves, Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga: A defensive power forward/shot blocker to complement Karl-Anthony Towns’ offensive versatility.

12. Hornets, Jaxson Hayes, Texas: With interior defense a stated concern, the Hornets adding a young big man who can protect the rim makes sense.

13. Heat, Nassir Little, North Carolina: Lots of potential, but needs to develop a jump shot. Struggled to establish his role with the Tar Heels.

14. Celtics, Goga Bitadze, Georgian pro: Boston was one of his five workouts. A good 3-point shooter for a center. Do Celtics keep all their picks?

15. Pistons, P.J. Washington, Kentucky: A power forward to develop behind Blake Griffin. A safe pick of somewhat limited upside on a veteran team..

16. Magic, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech: Basketball-savvy and a good shooter. Not an elite athlete, but a shooting guard with some facilitating skills.

17. Nets, Kevin Porter, Jr., Southern Cal: A high-potential shooting guard. Hawks get this pick when a trade is completed in July.

18. Pacers, Keldon Johnson, Kentucky: A guard-forward who already has a developed NBA body for a team looking to be in win-now mode.

19. Spurs, Bol Bol, Oregon: Bol is intriguing as a super-long forward with shooting range. He’s recovering from a fractured foot and has a frame badly in need of bulk.

20. Celtics, Tyler Herro, Kentucky: The multitude of Boston picks in this draft provides the luxury to go in any direction. Also, high trade potential.

21. Thunder, Romeo Langford, Indiana: A long-armed guard who needs refinement of his decision-making. Thunder has a strong development program.

22. Celtics, Nic Claxton, Georgia: A forward who is a productive rebounder. He must improve his jump-shooting to fit the NBA prototype.

23. Jazz, Darius Bazley, Princeton (Ohio) HS: A high school All-American, Bazley skipped college basketball. This will be Memphis’ pick from the Mike Conley trade.

24. 76ers, Cameron Johnson, North Carolina: Older, more experienced player with a reliable jump shot. A complementary piece for a team in contention.

25. Trail Blazers, Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State: Another big man for a team that has one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

26. Cavaliers, Ty Jerome, Virginia: The Cavs need a little of everything. Combo guard Jerome would probably appeal to new coach John Beilein.

27. Nets, Grant Williams, Tennessee: The former star at Charlotte’s Providence Day will be a small-ball power forward at the NBA level.

28. Warriors, Terance Mann, Florida State: A solid two-way player at the wing positions, with the Warriors missing injured Klay Thompson much of next season.

29. Spurs, Matisse Thybulle, Washington: A top perimeter defender for a team that guarded poorly much of last season.

30. Bucks, Admiral Schofield, Tennessee: A husky guard-forward with some playmaking skills.

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