Early mock draft has Celtics making three picks in the first round, including two back-to-back

ESPN Insider Chad Ford put out a "Way Too Early Mock Draft" because why not?

Ford predicts where each team will finish the regular season and who they will select. For the Celtics, Ford has them picking guys at No. 7, No. 15 and No. 16.

At No. 7, he has the Celtics taking small forward Malik Pope out of San Diego State.

(via Nets) | The Nets sent this pick to the Celtics as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade. Both KG and Pierce are gone and the Nets' fortunes are fleeting at the moment, making that Celtics trade look better and better by the day. In fact, both Kevin Pelton and I believe that the panel overstated the Nets' record. If this pick falls to third or fourth, I wouldn't be shocked. The question is whether it will be high enough for the Celtics to finally land a superstar. Pope has that sort of talent and the Celtics were one of the first teams to get on him early. He's got the right size, athleticism and skill set for his position to be a star. He just needs to get stronger, stay healthy and put in a big season at San Diego State. If he breaks out, we might have him too low.

At No. 15 and No. 16, Ford has Boston taking two power forwards, Ivan Rabb out of California and Zhou Qi from China, respectively.

It's silly to pretend like we know with any kind of certainty where every team will finish or which prospects will be coveted in June as they are in August. We also have no idea what the Celtics will look like at that point or what trades they could make to either add or subtract draft picks and players. Ford knows this but it is still fun to think about.

It's interesting to note that Ford somehow sees the Dallas Mavericks making the playoffs which takes that pick, owned by Boston, out of the lottery. Don't bet on that. The West is damn good and only getting better. Dallas was the No. 7 seed last year and it's hard to see them even getting to that point this season banking on the health of Wesley Matthews, who is coming off of a torn Achilles, and the oft injured Deron Williams who has only played in over 70 games twice in the past seven seasons. The team's best player Dirk Nowitzki is now 37 years old. That pick will be in the lottery.

Ford also has Boston making the playoffs, though he has them as the No. 8 seed in the East. Again, the roster as currently constructed is pretty much guaranteed to change before the playoffs start. There's a very strong chance they are better than the No. 7 seeded team that got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round as the young guys improve and the new veterans find their place in coach Brad Stevens system. Boston could also miss the playoffs, but that seems unlikely looking at the rest of the East.

And for those hoping Boston gets another first rounder if the Minnesota Timberwolves make the playoffs as their crop of young studs improve and gel, don't hold your breath. Ford has them with the No. 2 pick overall. Then again, it is August. Who knows where things will stand in June.

Follow Eric