- Chad Ford, Senior Writer, NBA Insider
Our last mock draft debuted just before the season began.
Trying to project players (who had yet to play a game this season) to teams (who had also yet to play a game this season) was nuts.
But this sort of thing happens when there's a draft of this magnitude coming. Every NBA GM who has a shot at winning the lottery has been doing something similar, staring at the board and trying to project how it could play out.
Since October, little has changed at the top. The top eight players on my Big Board have remained steady (the order's changed, but it's still the same eight players). The teams competing for the No. 1 pick have largely been those that ESPN predicted (the Bucks being the party crashers here, while the Suns, who we thought would be strong contenders for the No. 1 pick, are instead playoff bound at the moment).
There is still plenty of basketball to be played both in college and in the pros. This mock will continue to shift as players and teams evolve or regress. Our Lottery Mock Draft machine allows you to play out different scenarios with odds updated nightly.
But our second full mock draft of the year gives you a fuller view of the draft. Just remember that a mock draft is not a ranking of who we think the top players are. Instead it's a reporting tool to convey our latest intel from NBA scouts and GMs on what each team might do in the draft.
Editor's note: The draft order for this mock was formulated based on games played through Jan. 22.
MORE DRAFT CONTENT:
Milwaukee Bucks | 25 percent to win lottery
Analysis: Unless a major trade-deadline deal shakes up the team (unlikely, according to sources), the Bucks look nearly certain to have the best chance to lock up a No. 1 pick on lottery night. That's a good thing. While the team has an interesting collection of young players, no one except rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo and perhaps John Henson looks like the sort of foundational player you can build a franchise around. That gives the Bucks a lot of flexibility to go in multiple directions. They could use upgrades in the backcourt and frontcourt. Any of the top five or six players on our Big Board would provide them with a major upgrade. So if the Bucks don't really draft for need, they draft the player with the most upside, and I think at this point that's clearly Embiid. The Bucks have really nothing going for them offensively in the paint and Embiid has proved to be a surprisingly gifted offensive player who is only going to get better with time. Pair him with Antetokounmpo and the team is set with a very intriguing foundation going forward.
Orlando Magic | 19.9 percent to win lottery
Analysis: The Magic are loaded with young players, but like the Bucks, none of them scream franchise star just yet. Rookie Victor Oladipo and big man Nikola Vucevic are the closest the Magic have to really high-upside young talent. The team's biggest need may be at the point -- Jameer Nelson is on the trade block and it's still unclear whether Oladipo can make the transition to the 1. That puts both Dante Exum and Marcus Smart in play here. But sources say the Magic are intrigued by Wiggins. He hasn't been dominant the way several other freshmen have been, but the athletic tools are all there and lately (with the exception of that Oklahoma State game) he's been much more aggressive on offense. An Oladipo-Wiggins backcourt might be the most athletic in the NBA.
Philadelphia 76ers | 15.6 percent to win lottery
Analysis: The Sixers have two young building blocks in place -- rookies Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. Thaddeus Young might be a third piece if he can survive the trade deadline. That frees up the Sixers to look at either a wing or a forward. They have a number of intriguing options here, but I think it would be hard to pass on Jabari Parker at this slot. Carter-Williams is a facilitator. Noel is a shot-blocker. They're going to need an efficient offensive player who can score in a variety of ways, and Parker would be a terrific fit.
Chad Ford offers his second mock draft with Kansas big man Joel Embiid going No. 1.