Chad Ford 2016 Mock Draft: Notable Picks from ESPN Guru's Latest Predictions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2016

Jaylen Brown makes a surprise appearance in Chad Ford's mock draft.
Jaylen Brown makes a surprise appearance in Chad Ford's mock draft.John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

If the latest 2016 NBA mock draft from ESPN's Chad Ford is any sign, the event will be much more unpredictable after the first two picks than most could have ever predicted.

Like anyone else, Ford can't help but slot Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram as the first two picks. There's no reason to get cute and do anything but given the star potential of both, which trumps most prospects who have entered the Association over the past decade.

It's after the first two picks where Ford sets himself apart and helps onlookers to understand just how wild the upcoming even will be. There are surprising rises for guys like Jaylen Brown, big falls for someone such as Buddy Hield and even bigger drops for Tyler Ulis and others.

Ford's latest mock is available here, but let's examine it below by picking out some of the most notable moments and dissecting what they mean.

Chad Ford Mock Draft

1Philadelphia 76ersBen Simmons, F, LSU
2Los Angeles LakersBrandon Ingram, F, Duke
3Boston CelticsJaylen Brown, F, California
4Phoenix SunsMarquese Chriss, F, Washington
5Minnesota TimberwolvesKris Dunn, G, Providence
6New Orleans PelicansJamal Murray, G, Kentucky
7Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks)Dragan Bender, F/C, Croatia
8Sacramento KingsBuddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
9Toronto Raptors (via Denver Nuggets)Domantas Sabonis, F/C, Gonzaga
10Milwaukee BucksDejounte Murray, G, Washington
11Orlando MagicSkal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
12Utah JazzJakob Poeltl, C, Utah
13Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards)Henry Ellenson, F/C, Marquette
14Chicago BullsWade Baldwin IV, G, Vanderbilt
15Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets)Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
16Boston Celtics (via Dallas Mavericks)Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State
17Memphis GrizzliesMalachi Richardson, G, Syracuse
18Detroit PistonsThon Maker, F, Australia
19Denver Nuggets (via Portland Trail Blazers)Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
20Indiana PacersJuan Hernangomez, F, Spain
21Atlanta HawksIvica Zubac, C, Bosnia
22Charlotte HornetsDenzel Valentine, G, Michigan State
23Boston CelticsCheick Diallo, F, Kansas
24Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami Heat)Malik Beasley, G, Florida State
25Los Angeles ClippersDeAndre Bembry, F, Saint Joseph's
26Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City Thunder)Patrick McCaw, G, UNLV
27Toronto RaptorsGuerschon Yabusele, F, France
28Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland Cavaliers)Timothe Luwawu, G/F, France
29San Antonio SpursDemetrius Jackson, G, Notre Dame
30Golden State WarriorsDamian Jones, C, Vanderbilt

Notable Picks 

3. Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown, F, California

Well, Ford didn't take long to pull out a shocker. 

The Boston Celtics sit on a huge stockpile of picks, including three in the opening round, so the team trading out of this pick wouldn't come as a surprise, especially with Simmons or Ingram unlikely to fall.

Ford touched on the trade topic: "The Celtics continue to explore every option. While the ideal scenario has them packaging this pick along with other assets and landing a superstar, so far they are coming up empty."

Most of the draft process has presumed the Celtics would grab a big man such as Dragan Bender and call it a day if unable to find a trade partner. With Isaiah Thomas leading a stacked backcourt, the Celtics seemed like a team in need of help in the post and not much else. 

Yet here is Ford with California's Jaylen Brown. Understand it's a notion gaining plenty of momentum, too, as The Ringer's Bill Simmons—a noted Celtics fan—just hopped on board:

Bill Simmons @BillSimmons

I'm starting to talk myself into Jaylen Brown at 3.

The pick makes plenty of sense when one remembers Evan Turner heads to free agency this summer, though it does say some interesting things about the front office's belief in the pursuit of, say, Kevin Durant.

Alas, few prospects come out the box like Brown, who stands at 6'7" and 223 pounds. He only averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a freshman while shooting less than 30 percent from deep, but his upside goes almost unmatched in the class.

If Brown can improve his shot, Boston once again will look like a team with the magic touch.

4. Phoenix Suns: Marquese Chriss, F, Washington

Marquese Chriss fulfills the role of biggest riser in Ford's latest mock.
Marquese Chriss fulfills the role of biggest riser in Ford's latest mock.Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

So completes the eye-popping rise of Marquese Chriss.

Chriss wasn't in many conversations this time last month, but everyone has started to catch up to the league's thinking about the Washington product.

They say better late than never, right?


Chriss is another pro-ready prospect from a physicality standpoint (notice a theme?), standing at 6'10" and 233 pounds. As a freshman, he mustered 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53.0 percent from the floor and 35.0 percent from deep.

For Ford, this pick centers on Phoenix's situation and Chriss' upside: "Given how strong the West is and how far the Suns have to go, I think Phoenix can wait on Chriss to develop and hope his career path follows another famous Sun: Shawn Marion."

Phoenix still has quite a long way to go in the rebuilding process. Like Boston, though, the Suns have three picks in the first round, and starting the process off with a high-ceiling player who can grow in a lineup alongside Devin Booker should have the organization moving in the right direction soon.

7. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks): Dragan Bender, F/C, Croatia

Bender seemed like a no-brainer third pick off the board and call it a day, at least for most of the process. 

Want to talk about upside? How does a guy already standing at 7'1" and 216 pounds with a strong shot from most anywhere on the court sound?

That's Bender, though it sounds like Ford has the big man taking a fall because the international prospect could have a harder time than guys such as Brown and Chriss when it comes to adapting to the pro game.

Ford also admits Bender is quite the odd fit in Denver: "So the Nuggets just grab the last available guy. If it's Bender, he's a steal at No. 7. He's not an ideal fit given the Nuggets' current personnel, but you just don't pass on his talent at No. 7."

Indeed, the Nuggets already have a two-man look down low with Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, not to mention Kenneth Faried coming off the bench.

But again—surprise—Denver has three picks in the round. Like Phoenix, the Nuggets also happen to find themselves mired in the deep Western Conference, and a turnaround won't happen overnight.

In a few years, though, Bender might have fully adapted to the NBA and added plenty of functional strength, making him a surefire starter, if not in contention for one of the best young players in the league given how his skill set meshes with the ever-evolving needs of the NBA.

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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