Chad Ford’s Mock Draft: Picks 1-5

Here is the latest Chad Ford mock draft with the first five picks.  You need to be an ESPN insider – which I am – to see the remainder of the first round.  I agree with a four of the five picks, but I think that the Hasheem Thabeet and Ricky Rubio could switch and I am not convinced that James Harden is the fifth best player in this draft, but he is more NBA ready than most other shooting guards.

I can tell you that with No. 6 – the MN Wolves pick is predicted to take Tyreke Evans.  I am warming to Evans, I will explain more later.

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
L.A. Clippers Blake Griffin Position: PF
Height: 6-10
Weight: 248 pounds
Age: 20
School: Oklahoma

 Analysis:For the past several years, we’ve been blessed with at least a little suspense when it comes to who will be the No. 1 pick. Not this year. Griffin is going to be a Clipper. Sources around the league say that trade talks with the Clippers are virtually nonexistent when it comes to Griffin. Instead the Clippers are focusing on finding a new home for Chris Kaman or Zach Randolph. 
 

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Memphis Hasheem Thabeet Position: C
Height: 7-3
Weight: 267
Age: 22
School: Connecticut

 Analysis: The Grizzlies’ situation continues to be an enigma.

They are talking to a number of teams about a potential trade, and the Kings, Wizards, Knicks, Rockets and Celtics have shown interest in moving up to No. 2.

At the same time, the Grizzlies continue to publicly pursue Ricky Rubio, although a well-placed source in the point guard’s camp said it’s likely (though not definite) that Rubio will skip Memphis when he goes on a three-city U.S. tour next week. And there have been rumblings that Tyreke Evans is in the mix in Memphis.

But when the dust clears, it looks as though the most likely scenario has Thabeet in Memphis on draft night, if the Grizzlies keep the pick. If they move down, add Jordan Hill to the players who would be under consideration.  

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Oklahoma City Ricky Rubio Position: PG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 180
Age: 18
Country: Spain

 Analysis:The Thunder have been their typical quiet selves. GM Sam Presti has told a number of agents that he is interested in their players, but it has been difficult to ascertain the direction the team is leaning.

We continue to hear that the Thunder have expressed interest in Rubio, Thabeet, James Harden, Jordan Hill and Stephen Curry.

Rubio likely will make a visit to OKC some time before the draft, but major questions exist about how he would fit there. The team sees Russell Westbrook as its point guard of the future and isn’t sure how he would fare without the ball in his hands.

Maybe more importantly, Presti is an opportunist. If he can get a couple of good assets in return for the No. 3 pick, he won’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

But if he doesn’t, or if Rubio is off the board, the team will have to make a tough decision. Thabeet would give the Thunder the shot-blocking they desperately need. Harden would give them the savvy of a veteran. Curry would give them shooting. Hill would give them rebounding and energy. Oklahoma City could use all those things, but our guess is that it would settle on Harden or Curry. 

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Sacramento Jrue Holiday Position: PG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 199
Age: 18
School: UCLA

Analysis:At this point I think it’s safe to say the Kings have narrowed it down to Holiday, Flynn and Rubio. In Sacramento this past weekend, Flynn, Holiday (his second visit) and Brandon Jennings went head-to-head in front of the entire Kings brass.

Sources say Flynn was probably the best of the three in the workout, but that Holiday still holds a slight edge on their board. Flynn would provide immediate help and is a real floor leader. But Holiday’s size, upside and defensive ability give him a razor-thin edge.

If the Grizzlies and Thunder both pass on Rubio, the Kings could be in an interesting situation. Sources in Sacramento say the Kings have reservations about Rubio and that it’s far from a done deal that they will take him if he is on the board. Is it possible Rubio could slip past No. 4? Ultimately, I don’t think so. The Kings would be nuts to pass on him. But who would’ve thought a month ago it was even a possibility?  

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Washington James Harden Position:SG
Height: 6-5
Weight: 222
Age: 19
School: Arizona State

Analysis:As we’ve been reporting since draft lottery night, the Wizards are shopping this pick. A source in Washington told me the Wizards have had a number of interesting offers. Their goal is to get back a veteran who can play right now — and to shed a few million dollars off their payroll, if possible. A number of teams including the Knicks, Rockets and Pacers are possibilities here.

If the Wizards keep the pick, they’ll have a tough choice between Harden and Hill. From the intel I’ve received, it sounds as though Harden might be slightly ahead, though Hill and Davidson’s Stephen Curry are still very much in the mix.

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