Chad Ford must really have a soft spot in his heart for Philadelphia 76ers' fans. In his first mock draft of the year (Insider only), ESPN's lead draft analyst has the Sixers getting all four of the first-round picks owed to them, including the No. 1 overall selection. If reality lines up with Ford's prediction, the Sixers would end draft night with the following players:
- No. 1 overall (own pick): Ben Simmons, 6-10, F, LSU
- No. 4 overall (Lakers' pick): Jamal Murray, 6-5, PG, Kentucky
- No. 20 overall (Heat pick): Grayson Allen, 6-6, SG, Duke
- No. 25 overall (Thunder pick): Justin Jackson, 6-8, SF, North Carolina
Of course, the odds of fate lining up exactly as Ford has projected are remarkably slim. However, that haul plus Dario Saric plus (a hopefully healthy) Joel Embiid plus the current nucleus of players plus a boatload of cap room? #Blessed
We've written about Simmons a couple of times over the past few weeks, and in Chad Ford's eyes, he's the crown jewel of the 2016 draft class:
Simmons is really a positionless player. He's 6-10, 240, and plays like a point guard. The comparisons to a young LeBron James or Magic Johnson show how highly regarded he is by scouts. Simmons, as a versatile playmaker, could be a great fit in Philly. In fact, he has more upside and potential than any of the four lottery picks the Sixers have selected in the past three drafts.
Murray has also been on our radar for quite some time: Here's what Ford had to say about the Sixers taking the Kentucky point guard at No. 4:
Murray might not be the most explosive athlete, but he's big, poised beyond his years and shows a terrific balance between scoring and getting others involved. He's a big-time talent, and with the addition of Murray and Simmons to a core of Noel, Okafor and possibly Embiid, Dario Saric and Nik Stauskas, the Sixers could become a very dangerous team in a couple of years.
Duke's Grayson Allen burst onto the scene during the 2015 NCAA tournament, and he'll have every opportunity this season to prove that his performance in the national title game wasn't a fluke. Justin Jackson rounds out the foursome as a skilled forward who briefly considered a jump to the NBA this spring before returning to North Carolina for his sophomore season.
All in all, it would be a tremendous outcome for Sam Hinkie and Co. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait 10 months to see if Ford's mock draft actually comes to fruition.