No one would have predicted this a week ago, but in Chad Ford's latest mock draft, he has the Boston Celtics taking Kansas center Joel Embiid and Croatian forward Dario Saric with their two first-round picks.
A snippet on landing Embiid at No. 6: "[Danny] Ainge always has been a gambler and has always emphasized having great assets, and Embiid has the potential to be a franchise center, and there's no one else on the board that the Celtics are in love with." Later, Ford writes: "If the Celtics pass on Embiid, I believe [Aaron] Gordon is their top target. If he's gone, Marcus Smart seems to be the next guy up. The Celtics love his toughness and think he can play with Rondo as well as free them up to explore Rondo deals."
A snippet on getting Saric at No. 17: "With Saric staying in Europe for two more years, there seems to be more reluctance toward taking him that high. Again, I don't think the Celtics let him pass. Yes, I know that it means that Celtics fans would not see EITHER of their first-round picks play in Boston next season. But as far as talent goes, Ainge could walk away with the best player in the draft and a top-10 pick for Nos. 6 and 17. I'm not sure he could help himself."
Here's more from Ford on Saric's decision to sign a new deal overseas that will likely prevent him from coming stateside for two more years:
Croatia forward and 2014 NBA draft prospect Dario Saric has agreed in principle to a three-year deal with Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes, a source close to Saric told ESPN.com on Monday.
The deal will have a player option for the third year. Saric is expected to receive and sign a contract in the next 24 hours The move will essentially prohibit Saric from playing in the NBA for a minimum of two years, the source added. Saric was widely considered a top-10 prospect by the majority of teams in the NBA. He averaged 19.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for Cibona in the Adriatic League this year.
NBA sources say that Saric's decision to stay in Europe will affect his draft stock. He was getting looks as high as the 76ers at No. 10, the Nuggets at 11 and the Magic at 12. However, because he's unlikely to come to the NBA for at least two years, those teams are now hesitating to draft him that high.