Almost half-way through the NBA and college basketball year, it’s time for the midseason NBA mock draft. A number of players have driven their stock up with their play so far, while others are going to need a big second half to convince front offices. Draft order is based on the current NBA records.
- Chicago – R.J. Barrett (Freshman, SF Duke)
Barrett has garnered some criticism for his high-volume scoring. He is still putting up 23.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 46.8% shooting. He has a killer instinct, a seasoned offensive scoring package, and plus vision. The Bulls have had a tumultuous season so far, to say the least, and have a glaring hole on the wing. Insert Barrett, a potential superstar, and 25-plus point scorer, and Chicago could be looking at one of the biggest year-to-year turnarounds in recent memory.
- Phoenix – Zion Williamson (Freshman, PF Duke)
Zion has grown man strength and young, quick-twitch explosiveness all in a 285-pound frame. We knew he’d be a force in transition, and that will continue to be an asset in the NBA. But his playmaking will make him that much more dangerous, especially playing at the four. This is a kid with generational athleticism that plays with passion and humility. Whether or not his shooting becomes consistent, pick-and-rolls with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton with Zion slashing and finishing would be a treat to watch.
- Cleveland – Cam Reddish (Freshman, SF Duke)
Reddish is the one Duke freshman that had to do the most adjusting from his natural playstyle. One of the smoothest scorers in the country, he has struggled to find consistent offense. Even so, he has the length, shooting, and ball skills that teams dream to feature. I am certain he will be factors better as a pro than he will be at Duke. He will give the Cavs a legitimate building block on the wing.
- Cleveland – Nassir Little (Freshman, SF North Carolina)
I don’t remember that last time a top-five pick came off the bench. Little’s offensive skills have shown in flashes and his defense has been spotty, but he hasn’t had the extended burn as his peers. Expect that to change in ACC play. Once it clicks, we will get to see a monster on both ends. It is just taking a little longer than expected. At this point in the Atlanta rebuild, they can afford to go after Little even though he is still raw.
- New York – Ja Morant (Sophomore, PG Murray State)
There has been no bigger climber from this time last year than Morant (22.8 ppg, 9.6 apg, 6.9 apg). There is not a more electric point guard in the country than the 6-foot-3 stat-sheet stuffer. He’s a blur in transition and makes plays like he has eyes in the back of his head. In a weak point guard class, Morant’s turnover issues won’t steer teams away. The Knicks have sought a modern, show-time lead guard for a while. You’re welcome.
- Washington – Bol Bol (Freshman, C Oregon)
Bol has all of the versatility you look for in a big today. For a 7-foot-2 guy, he really handles the ball well and shoots it with range and consistency. My only worry is his frame doesn’t look built to last and he struggles mightily with physicality. But the skills and size are too good for a big-deprived team like Washington.
- Minnesota – Romeo Langford (Freshman, SG Indiana)
Indiana has been able to showcase Langford exactly how many imagined. He is a slick scorer that should have no problem growing into an offensive weapon early in his career. The more comfortable he gets as a pick-and-roll playmaker, the more valuable he will be with his knack for probing defenses and finishing from different angles. You cannot underestimate the need that Minnesota has for another shot-maker.
- Brooklyn – Rui Hachimura (Junior, PF Gonzaga)
What a first half for the top prospect to come out of Japan. Hachimura has excelled in isolation and pick-and-roll situations thanks to his athletic prowess and shooting touch. Expect his three-point shot to only improve heading into the pre-draft process. The Nets could immediately insert Hachimura into the rotation and watch his game blossom at an accelerated pace.
- Orlando – Darius Garland (Freshman, PG Vanderbilt)
After suffering a season-ending meniscus injury, Garland is going to be judged off of a small college sample size. The good news is that he came into the year as the top point guard prospect and didn’t do anything on the court to lose that classification. He’s a lot like a young Mike Conley, with poise and big-shot making ability. Orlando needs a point guard more than any team in the league, so this makes sense.
- New Orleans – Keldon Johnson (Freshman, SG Kentucky)
Since Anthony Davis has been in New Orleans, they have been missing a wing that teams are afraid to guard. While Johnson isn’t that guy today, he brings the intangibles and upside to be a steal. Over the last few weeks, he hasn’t been hesitating on his jumper and the results are showing. A tenacious competitor and plus athlete, Johnson should carve out a nice career in the league.
- Utah – Sekou Doumbouya (SF France)
Doumbouya is a lot further along than most 19-year-olds physically. He is a strong, mobile wing that is a freight train in transition. NBA teams will probably be most intrigued with his defensive profile and potential as a multi-positional stopgap. All of the instincts are there for the top international prospect to be an asset in the playoffs for the Jazz.
- Atlanta (via DAL) – Dan Gafford (Sophomore, C Arkansas)
In half a season, Gafford looks like a player that took that big sophomore jump. The experience as the go-to guy will help him be more efficient with his touches in the NBA where he won’t have to face constant double teams. He is the improved version of that rim-rocking, shot-swatting center that teams were clamoring for last year. It would not be too far-fetched to see Gafford earn starter minutes at center in Atlanta.
- Boston (via MEM) – DeAndre Hunter (Sophomore, SF Virginia)
Boston is going to have a ridiculous number of first-round picks. Hunter is a guy that is ready to help a contender. He can do a little bit of everything, from spacing the floor to defending in space. His size will allow him to play both forward spots. It wouldn’t hurt to add another versatile forward to the Celtics’ second unit.
- San Antonio – Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Sophomore, SG Virginia Tech)
Showing a more ball-dominant skill set this season, Alexander-Walker is proving to be a serious first-round talent. Teams knew he could shoot and use his length on the other end. But he is looking to create a lot more off the bounce and doing so effectively. On a team that is looking for pieces to surround DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, Alexander-Walker has the pedigree to integrate well into a new-look Spurs team.
- Miami – Jarrett Culver (Sophomore, SG Texas Tech)
Similar to Alexander-Walker, Culver is acting in a playmaking role as a sophomore. I don’t know if a player has helped their stock more by carrying a young team hit with departures in the offseason. Last year, I was impressed with his leaping ability and IQ. This year, there is a clear development in his strength and creativity. For a guard, he has good length that aides his defensive activity. Culver can bring depth and needed playmaking to the Miami wing.
- Detroit – Kevin Porter (Freshman, SG USC)
Porter has put up modest numbers so far. The attention he is receiving is from those who see his upside as an isolation player. He has a playground handle, is physically strong and explosive, and can hit shots off the dribble after creating space. The Pistons continue to search for a wing that gives them consistent offense. While I wouldn’t call Porter consistent right now, he is worth the investment for the shot-creation skills they lack.
- Charlotte – Jaylen Hoard (Freshman, SF Wake Forest)
With so much money locked up in various players, the Hornets are in a strange position. A North Carolina native, Hoard has plenty of gifts that have been on display as the centerpiece of Wake Forest this year. It’s possible he may be better creating mismatches at the four where he can push, create and get all the way to the rim where he finishes with force. If you watch Hoard, he’ll show you a couple eye-popping plays a game. If a team like the Hornets are patient, he can become a starter for a while.
- Boston (via SAC) – Bruno Fernando (Sophomore, PF Maryland)
Fernando is a physical freak. He drew some NBA attention last season for his aggressive play in the paint. Though he’s still not very advanced on the low block, he can overwhelm smaller opponents and finish lobs at a high rate. His mobility makes him a useful help defender as well. For Boston, he does a lot of the same things Robert Williams does, but he’s actually more mature despite one less year of experience.
- Houston – Kezie Okpala (Sophomore, SF Stanford)
Houston is missing Trevor Ariza more than many expected. Their small forward position is by far their weakest spot. Okpala is having a breakout year after playing only about half of his freshman year. He has a nice combination of craft and fluidity that is uncommon for a 6-foot-9 forward. When he wants to, Okpala is a nice defender that covers a lot of space. If he keeps showing off a repeatable outside stroke, it would be hard to see him struggling to fit into Houston.
- Portland – Luka Samanic (PF Croatia)
I viewed Samanic as a lottery pick coming into the season. He hasn’t found his comfort level yet, but that doesn’t mean he lost the guard skills that were so impressive. Ever since LaMarcus Aldridge left, the Blazers have been the using small-ball four. If they are able to snag Samanic this late, they could finally have another 7-footer that can play alongside a true center like Jusuf Nurkic.
- Boston (via LAC) – Luguentz Dort (Freshman, SG Arizona State)
At this point, Boston will probably have traded one of their picks. Dort has a relentless, attacking play style that would fit well as a sparkplug off the bench. He is a threat to score from all three tiers and a menace in the open court with his powerful frame. It’s fair to question if Dort is the best Arizona State product since James Harden.
- LA Lakers – Charles Bassey (Freshman, C Western Kentucky)
Bassey reclassified and should be collecting a paycheck a year ahead of schedule as a result. He is a bit old-school with his tough back-to-basket scoring, trying to tear off the rim at any opportunity. But unlike some prospects in recent years, he has a budding face-up game and sounds passing instincts. Still fairly new to the game, he is a true high-upside pick who could easily hear his name in the lottery. The Lakers could use an intimidating center like Bassey to play alongside LeBron and company.
- Boston – Goga Bitadze (C Georgia)
I thought Bitadze was going to keep his name in last year, so expect him to remain in the draft in 2019 when he is the top international center available. His jumper continues to look more polished and he rarely fails to impact a game. Boston would be smart to look for a potential stash player at some point.
- Indiana – Admiral Schofield (Senior, SF Tennessee)
A year ago, I wouldn’t even expect Schofield to be selected. Now, he is a legitimate threat to go in the first round. His toughness is off the charts and he makes winning plays to make up for his lack of height for a forward. His shooting has taken a nice leap, making it easier to see him fitting into an NBA role. Any contending team would be wise to take a long look at Schofield.
- Philadelphia – Brandon Clarke (Junior, PF Gonzaga)
If Clarke were to return next season with a consistent 17-20 foot jumper, he could push for the mid-first round. But at the same time, he has been spectacular playing his game and maximizing what he’s best at: protecting the rim and finishing any chance within 8 feet. He is an upper-echelon athlete that has a visible role as an energy big. Philadelphia could use a big that can provide some punch off the bench.
- Golden State – Jontay Porter (Sophomore, PF/C Missouri)
The torn ACL made Porter’s draft stock incredibly foggy. His game isn’t one reliant on athleticism, so that should help him in evaluations. A team like Golden State can wait for a big who has the passing and shooting to thrive with the system they have in place.
- Brooklyn (via DEN) – Sagaba Konate (Junior, C West Virginia)
Konate came back this season with a three-point stroke. That display of shooting will only help one of the most dominant shot-blockers in the country. His defense is still what makes him a viable NBA player, but he is doing all he can to prove he’s not just a rim protector.
- Oklahoma City – Jaxson Hayes (Freshman, PF/C Texas)
Hayes wasn’t even on my preseason draft board and now has the chance to be a first-round pick if he chooses to leave after this season. He has controlled games with his verticality at the rim and offensive rebounding. The footwork in the post isn’t there and he doesn’t shoot from outside of 10 feet. Still, it’s not easy to find a big with his athletic prowess who actually sprints up the court throughout a game. Learning from Steven Adams would be a great situation for Hayes to develop.
- Milwaukee – Mike Daum (Senior, PF South Dakota State)
It is always easy to evaluate players who dominate at small schools like South Dakota State. Daum has been doing it for years and also shown it against solid opponents during the NCAA Tournament. He is a terrific outside shooter in the mold of a stretch four. Athletically, he isn’t the quickest mover laterally. With long arms and a nose for collecting rebounds, he could give the Bucks some size that can score.
- San Antonio (via Toronto) – Coby White (Freshman, PG North Carolina)
With DeJounte Murray out all year recovering from an ACL, it wouldn’t hurt to add some security and a backup PG at the very least. White’s size (6’5) and lightning-fast open court speed make him an interesting point guard prospect. He is more of a score-first guard, using his quickness and handles to create looks. In minimal time at Carolina, he has shown growth as a playmaker as well. If he decides to leave, White should be one of the top point guards off the board.
- Philadelphia (via CHI) – Carsen Edwards (Senior, PG Purdue)
- Phoenix – Tre Jones (Freshman, PG Duke)
- Orlando (via CLE) – Quentin Grimes (Freshman, SG Kansas)
- Atlanta – Ky Bowman (Junior, PG Boston College)
- Brooklyn (via NY) – Darius Bazley (PF G-League)
- Charlotte (via WAS) – Tyler Herro (Freshman, SG Kentucky)
- Sacramento (via MIN) – Jarrey Foster (Senior, SG SMU)
- Orlando (via BKN) – Eric Paschall (Senior, PF Villanova)
- Sacramento (via ORL) – Killian Tillie (Junior, PF Gonzaga)
- New Orleans – Tyus Battle (Junior, SG/SF Syracuse)
- Utah – Simi Shittu (Freshman, PF Vanderbilt)
- Minnesota (via MIA) – Austin Wiley (Junior, C Auburn)
- Dallas – Ty Jerome (Junior, PG/SG Virginia)
- Detroit – Zach Norvell (Sophomore, SG Gonzaga)
- Memphis – Louis King (Freshman, SF Oregon)
- Atlanta (via CHA) – P.J. Washington (Sophomore, PF Kentucky)
- San Antonio – Kellan Grady (Sophomore, SG/PG Davidson)
- New York (via HOU) – Ethan Happ (Senior, PF Wisconsin)
- Philadelphia (via SAC) – Matisse Thybulle (Senior, SF Washington)
- LA Clippers (via POR) – Jaylen Hands (Sophomore, PG UCLA)
- Boston – Lindell Wigginton (Sophomore, PG/SG Iowa State)
- LA Clippers – Brandon Randolph (Sophomore, SG Arizona)
- Atlanta (via LAL) – Karim Jallow (SG/SF, Germany)
- Indiana – Shamorie Ponds (Junior, PG St. John’s)
- Philadelphia – Vasilis Charalampopoulos (SF/PF, Greece)
- Dallas (via GS) – Markis McDuffie (Senior, SF Wichita State)
- Charlotte (via OKC) – Dylan Windler (Senior, SG Belmont)
- Milwaukee (DEN) – Caleb Martin (Senior, SF Nevada)
- Sacramento (MIL) – Laurynas Birutis (C, Lithuania)
- Toronto – Jalen Adams (Senior, PG UCONN)