NBA Draft 2019: Mock Draft 3.0

Zion Williamson RJ Barrett Memphis Grizzlies NBA Draft Prospects (Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Zion Williamson RJ Barrett Memphis Grizzlies NBA Draft Prospects (Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images) /
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Memphis Grizzlies NBA Draft Darius Garland
Memphis Grizzlies NBA Draft prospect Darius Garland (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

4. player. Darius Garland. Pick Analysis. Guard. Vanderbilt. 20. Scouting Report

*Note: This pick is made pending completion of the Anthony Davis trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans.*

The Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise is a bit of a disaster right now. After unexpectedly missing the playoffs, the Anthony Davis debacle, and numerous front-office gaffes, they have been on the butt end of many recent NBA jokes. But the fix could be pretty quick for this wayward team. They still employ LeBron James, have oodles of cap room, and own the NBA Draft’s No. 4 pick. For a variety of reasons, they should spend this pick — in the likely event he is available — on Darius Garland.

First is the need of a player who both fits the Lakers’ needs, and is attractive trade bait as part of some totally hypothetical potential deal. If Garland stays, he is a good shooter with playmaking potential who should complement LeBron better than Lonzo Ball or Rajon Rondo. If he is dealt, he markets as a coveted high-ceiling point guard.

Second is the need of a player who can both play alongside LeBron, and possess the upside to potentially lead the Lakers as James declines/retires/leaves. Prospects like De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver figure to be safer bets as high-end system players, but Garland could be an All-Star if he realizes his potential.

The biggest pre-draft knock on Garland seems to be his size/ability as a defender, at a skinny 6’2.” Just 19, with barely any college coaching, he still has plenty of room to improve his fundamentals. And being a suspect defender certainly has not stopped the rise of Damian Lillard; a common player comparison for Garland’s ceiling.

Many are also skeptical of his decision-making when passing. The Lakers are thus a perfect environment for Garland to both learn from LeBron’s tutelage, and see the floor without having to be the primary playmaker. Garland is bred by a somewhat-relevant pedigree; his dad Winston was an 8-year NBA veteran. He also just happens to be represented by Rich Paul, furthering the conspiracy logic of a LeBron connection.

He is relatively unproven, and definitely a bit of a risk at No. 4. But several signs point to Garland making sense for the Lakers, and as the draft becomes a bit of a crapshoot, he could be very worth the gamble.