Chad Ford's most recent Mock Draft 4.0 released just today has some interesting changes from his prior picks. While the entire article can only be seen by those who have access to ESPN insider, the top three picks are freely listed along with an explanation for each of them. Here is a look at his latest picks.
Ford still has Nerlens Noel going #1 overall to Cleveland. This is no surprise, although Otto Porter and Ben McLemore have both had their names tossed around recently as potential first picks as well. Ford has this to say about why he believes Noel will remain the top player in the draft:
Until we hear otherwise, Noel is the default pick here. General manager Chris Grant has been a fan of Noel's all year and even recommended his doctor. Assuming the rehab is going well (his doctor, James Andrews, insists Noel is ahead of schedule while other NBA team doctors are wringing their hands a little), Noel should come out on top.
While this isn't exactly a convincing point, it does make sense that Noel will remain the top candidate by default unless someone else proves otherwise. Porter and McLemore will no doubt have their opportunities to win over the front office and coaching staff, but I can't see Cleveland passing up on a player like Noel with so much potential as long as no red flags arise in his rehab process.
So no surprises there, but the second pick is where things start to get a little interesting. In Chad Ford's previous mock draft, he had Trey Burke as the 2nd pick to the Orlando Magic. Although the Magic certainly need help at the point guard position, Ford's most recent mock draft now suggests the Magic will select none other than Victor Oladipo with the #2 pick. Here is some of what he had to say about it:
According to sources, the Magic are still wide open. They say they have nine (gulp) players who they are considering. Michigan's Trey Burke was in this slot in Mock 3.0, but I'm hearing the Magic aren't sold on him as the second-best player in the draft.
The Magic are eyeing other young point guards such as Eric Bledsoe. If they make a trade, starting 2-guard Arron Afflalo will be the bait...If Afflalo goes, the 2-guard position opens up. Both Oladipo and McLemore would be upgrades long-term anyway. While McLemore is a better shooter, Oladipo's toughness, defense and leadership might be more appealing to a rebuilding team.
So it seems this has less to do with Oladipo's rise as it does Burke's potential fall along with Orlando looking to make a trade. The Magic are no doubt in need of a point guard, but they may not feel comfortable reaching for Burke who is clearly not one of the top three consensus players in the draft. And while Oladipo has been mocked going later in prior drafts, he stock has been rising like crazy lately, and at least in Ford's opinion, has eclipsed Ben McLemore as the best wing player overall.
The third pick in Ford's mock draft remains consistent with his previous mock. Ford has Otto Porter as the #3 pick to the Washington Wizards. This isn't a surprise by any means, as it certainly makes sense based on team needs and hometown college status at Georgetown. Here's what Ford had to say about Porter:
The Wizards are sitting pretty at No. 3. The two players they really like -- Porter and UNLV's Anthony Bennett -- are both on the board here. The need help at both the 3 and the 4, and sources say their front office is split between them. Porter's versatility and his ability to affect the game without shooting the ball are major pluses on a team that already has several starters who like to score the ball.
This seems like the most likely pick in my opinion as well. While the Wizards may like Bennett, I believe they are more inclined to go with Porter as not only a more versatile player overall, but as a potential draw to the same fanbase who cheered him on in college. If Porter does indeed make it to the 3rd pick, it just makes sense that the Wizards will take him.
While the rest of the first round picks aren't given for free on the ESPN website, I can tell you that Ford has the Suns taking Ben McLemore with the 5th pick. If the first three picks shape up the way Ford predicts then I agree that this will also be the most likely outcome, as the Charlotte Bobcats will likely select Anthony Bennett or Alex Len at #4.
If this happens, the Suns will get tremendous value by selecting McLemore with the fifth pick, and while he may not be a fan favorite like Oladipo, he has proven to be a very proficient scorer/shooter in college and still has loads of potential on top of his proven abilities.
The second and fourth picks will be the ones to watch if you're a Suns' fan. Noel and Porter may be out of reach, but if Phoenix wants Oladipo or McLemore at #5, they will need Burke, Bennett, or Len to crack the top five.