With the 2014 NBA draft drawing ever so close, the abundance of mocks across the net is staggering. However, when ESPN's NBA guru Chad Ford churns out predictions, basketball fans are treated to a mock like none other.
Combining his expertise and insider information, Ford's mocks don't simply give a glimpse of where he thinks prospects will land, but rather they relay pertinent information from trusted NBA sources.
On Tuesday, he unveiled his seventh edition on ESPN.com (Insider required), which includes some very interesting projections and insight.
Here's a look at his first-round predictions.
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Joel Embiid, C, Kansas|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Jabari Parker, SF, Duke|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas|
|4||Orlando Magic||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana|
|5||Utah Jazz||Dante Exum, PG, Australia|
|6||Boston Celtics||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Dario Saric, PF, Croatia|
|11||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State|
|12||Orlando Magic||Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan|
|14||Phoenix Suns||James Young, SF, Kentucky|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse|
|17||Boston Celtics||Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia|
|18||Phoenix Suns||T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State|
|19||Chicago Bulls||Rodney Hood, SG, Duke|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State|
|23||Utah Jazz||K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson|
|24||Charlotte Hornets||P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina|
|25||Houston Rockets||Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse|
|26||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||Kyle Anderson, PF, UCLA|
At the moment, Ford is projecting Joel Embiid as the Cleveland Cavaliers' top overall pick.
This selection doesn't come without plenty of "what ifs."
Ford notes Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are also well in the mix here, and if Embiid's medical exam isn't top notch, this could change.
We'll have to wait and see, as Embiid certainly looked fresh during his recent workout:
Embiid, Parker and Wiggins look to still be locks for the draft's first three selections; however, Ford threw us a curveball with the Magic's No. 4 pick.
A point guard seemed to be the consensus pick here; however, Ford seems to think the team could be leaning toward power forward Noah Vonleh. He explains:
The team really needs a power forward, and Vonleh looks like a great fit next to Nikola Vucevic on the front line. His shot-blocking on the defensive end, plus his ability to stretch the floor on the other end, is a perfect complement to Vucevic. With the several interesting point guards likely to be available at No. 12, the Magic might be able to get the best of both worlds.
In this case, Exum slides down to the Jazz at No. 5 overall—this scenario would absolutely make Utah's brass very happy campers.
Exum currently leads Ford's list of top international prospects, according to a tweet from NBA on ESPN:
A big movement in this mock is Louisiana Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton.
In Ford's last mock (Insider required), Payton was going at No. 20 overall to Toronto. Now, he's moved all the way up to a lottery selection to the Magic at No. 12.
This would make sense considering Orlando taking Vonleh earlier in the draft. Ford notes Payton could be the pick here over Tyler Ennis and Zach LaVine because "Payton is a great blend of the two. He's long, athletic and gets to the line. He defends and has such a dynamic game."
According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Magic are already taking a look at Payton:
The Magic continue to work out PGs. They've worked out Marcus Smart, and they'll work out Tyler Ennis and Elfrid Payton over next few days.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 6, 2014
Latvian prospect Kristaps Porzingis is also flying up draft boards. Ford has him slated to go No. 17 overall to the Boston Celtics and doesn't think the power forward will slide past the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21.
Certainly, plenty will change between the release of this mock and June 26. However, Ford gives a unique and insightful glimpse into the future, which will serve as a great template for how the first round of this year's draft will ultimately shake out.