- Chad Ford, Senior Writer, NBA Insider
A mock draft in September?
I know. It seems a bit absurd to try to project players to teams when we haven't even played a game.
But interest in this year's draft is historically high among NBA execs, scouts and fans. And thanks to ESPN.com's Summer Forecast, which gave us projected standings for both the Eastern and Western Conferences, we have a first glimpse at how we think the draft order might look like next June.
Remember, in a mock draft we don't tell you where a player should go, but rather, what each team in the draft likely would do with its first-round pick. If you want a ranking of players, check out our first Big Board of the year.
Obviously, at this point nothing is set in stone. Expect this mock draft to fluctuate greatly over the course of the next 10 months. Nevertheless, it's my best stab at a full first-round mock draft after taking into account team needs. (This assumes every non-senior in this mock draft who has yet to state his intentions eventually declares for the draft.) Also note that there were a flurry of trades on draft night and there are notes at the bottom regarding which picks go to which teams.
So, without further ado, I present … Mock Draft 1.0 -- Summer Forecast edition.
MORE DRAFT CONTENT:
Sixers' forecast record: 20-62 | 25 percent to win lottery
Analysis: I've been very bullish on the 76ers this summer; having the best shot at Wiggins is why. Wiggins is one of the best prospects to come into the draft in a decade. He has NBA size, elite athletic ability and does just about everything well. With young anchors in the middle (Nerlens Noel) and at the point guard position (Michael Carter-Williams), the Sixers could add an uber-athletic wing to the mix. Combined with the No. 11 pick (see below), they suddenly have one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA. Even if the Sixers don't win the lottery, a player like Julius Randle, Dante Exum or Jabari Parker would add another potential star to the team.
Suns' forecast record: 22-60 | 19.9 percent to win lottery
Analysis: Like the 76ers, the Suns feel they have their big man (Alex Len) and their point guard (Eric Bledsoe) of the future. Randle would be a perfect complement to Len on the front line. He's the type of versatile 4 that most teams covet. He possesses virtually every attribute scouts look for in a prospect. The Suns have two other first-round picks (Nos. 18, 25) to fill out the team and are also optimistic about the long-term future of Archie Goodwin. While I don't like the baseline talent quite as much as I like Philly's, the Suns could end up easily rivaling Philly as the best young team in the NBA in another year.
COLLEGE: Oklahoma St.
Magic's forecast record: 24-58 | 15.6 percent to win lottery
Analysis: This will be a tough call for the Magic. They'll likely grab a point guard if they're drafting here and will have their choice of Dante Exum, Marcus Smart or Andrew Harrison. Exum has been rocketing up boards this summer, and scouts are already beginning to peg him as a rival to Wiggins for the overall No. 1 pick. Harrison was ranked as the top high school point guard in 2013, and the Magic would have selected him with the No. 2 pick if Smart had declared for the draft last season. But the odds remain in Smart's favor; Orlando loves his combination of toughness, defense and energy. Imagine having to play against a Victor Oladipo-Smart backcourt? They'll terrorize the league. Obviously, if Smart doesn't improve his jump shot and handle this season, he'll move out of the picture. But for now, it's Smart's spot to lose.
In his earliest mock draft ever, Chad Ford takes an early look at the 2014 NBA draft class, led by Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.