• One of the benefits of being in this industry for a decade is being able to call on the best of the best for a good ol’ fashion industry mock.

    Here were the competitors and I’ll give my thoughts on the best picks and scatter some notes throughout the mix.

    The format is 9-cat head-to-head with a playoff format at some point in time that we neglected to really hash out.

    Best Picks: First things first — I’m sandbagging on the top overall pick here.  I went with Giannis because he’s my No. 2 guy and B150 readers already know who my No. 1 is.  Lord Welsh gets the ‘best pick’ award here with Curry at No. 7, Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 6 is highway robbery and then Toporek does well to get Nikola Jokic at No. 10 where there is still some profit margin to be had.

    Notes: Russell Westbrook at No. 4 is a clear punt strategy and that has been causing the top-5 tier to become the top-6 tier.  Plan accordingly.  John Wall only make sense here as a punt strategy.  The Kawhi Leonard selection came before the news about his quad, and for what it’s worth I’ve both passed on him in a mid-round slot and been hesitant to move him because of preseason news.

    Best Picks: Chris Paul at No. 15 is a very good value and Jimmy Butler at No. 21 is also a steal.  Draymond Green is a safer second round pick that looks great at No. 22.

    Notes: Taking Myles Turner in the early second round is fine if you have him high on your draft board but in a vacuum his profit margin is shot.  It helps his case in a two-center league like this one because of the lack of depth at the position.  Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert need to fend off degradation in the blocks category  Kemba Walker and Kyle Lowry are the boring and injury-prone, but fairly priced options late in the second round.

    Best Picks: C.J. McCollum has become a boring pick that has slipped into the late-second, early-third rounds and that’s a great spot for him.  Joel Embiid is one of the most talked about fantasy picks of the year and I’ve seen him go in the second round, which doesn’t mean the third round is devoid of risk, but getting him there is probably the best that owners are going to do.

    Notes: Blake Griffin moving away from the hoop and into a playmaking role isn’t going to help his value.  This round is littered with veterans that have low-to-mid level injury risk or third round grades.  There are also enough overdrafted guys to set the stage for some real value in the fourth round.

    Best Picks: I’m gonna be honest, none of these picks stood out.  Everybody was more or less drafted in a reasonable range and for those that jump out as early they’re part of a punt strategy for the most part.  If I had to pick one it’s Khris Middleton I guess. I can’t seem to get him on any of my squads and he’s among the most interesting players to have that designation.

    Notes: Schroder is too early by value and that’s an easy call.  Otto Porter finished in the top-15 last year and maybe he should have been in the best picks section, but I do worry about his hip and that’s about it.  My strategy being on the turns is probably the most instructive thing here.  I didn’t like my landscape at the turn of Round 2 and 3 so I decided to take a positional approach, locking down the point guard position.  Going for Gary Harris and Aaron Gordon with the next pick was as much a statement on the lack of big man talent, as it was a strategy to get the middle of my lineup rounded out before I went big man shopping.

    Best Picks: Once again, the piranhas were pointing in the same direction with mostly consensus ADP picks.  When one factors in the turnovers, there were a lot of ballhandling players that went a tiny bit early.  Jeff Teague has a chance to beat this selection, but you’re squinting hard if you’re trying to find runaway value here.

    Notes: Nerlens Noel has been all over draft boards and in a 9-cat league I could put him in the best picks section, but so much risk … D’Angelo Russell has hidden upside in case because of his breakout potential, though I’ve yet to draft him to any of my squads.  Doctor A from Rotoworld is a fan and Josh knows his stuff and that always raises an eyebrow.

    Best Picks: Jrue Holiday is intriguing here because of the potential for Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis to get hurt and with each potential injury he morphs back into being an early round guy.  Also, he’ll have less turnovers while that crew is healthy.  Clint Capela could be an efficiency monster and that includes his improving free throw shooting.  Nikola Mirotic was one of those ‘breaking news’ players where the signing of his deal and the Bulls’ commitment to him weren’t reflected in the ADP — even if Matt went a tiny bit early to secure the services.

    Notes: Andrew Wiggins needs a change in the style of his game to really win out for owners.  Robert Covington worries me because of his knee but more so because he’s not a part of the Colangelo regime.  Dennis Smith Jr. is a classic ‘who knows’ player when it comes to his stat set and production but all we know now is that he continues to wow the crowd, including Rick Carlisle, who isn’t prone to overstatement.  I went with the same positional approach and locked up my big men so I could start to focus on Best Player Available once again.

    Best Picks: I love the James Johnson pick even if I’m not sure he’s a great bet to vastly outperform this ranking.  Malcolm Brogdon hasn’t been on any of my teams but I respect his chance to meet this ADP.  Rajon Rondo is part of a punt strategy here and I might’ve waited a round longer, but he’s going to take control of New Orleans (for better or worse) and that will be good for his production.  Trevor Ariza is a 9-cat killer.  Benny is an asshole.

    Notes: I’ve said this in a few places around here, but drafting on the turn (12/13) just sucks and one way I’ve tried to combat the issues this year is to go heavy on positional strategy.  Marcin Gortat isn’t somebody I’m targeting but in a two-center league it gives me some flexibility to go BPA.  Willie Cauley-Stein needs to win over a few more people in the building and that’s going to come with defense and rebounding, which will be a boon to owners.  The offensive-minded Cauley-Stein was a per-minute flop last year.

    Best Picks: Tim Hardaway won’t be a huge profit but this is a great spot for him.  Marquese Chriss has a bunch of upside and he’s somebody I’ve been missing on only because there are others with more value than him that have been slipping.  Thaddeus Young is a good bet to beat this draft slot.

    Notes: With all the Nets’ logjams I’m having a hard time getting on the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson train.  The Isaiah Thomas pick is helped by the playoff format but the news was fairly wishy-washy at the time of the draft.  For what it’s worth, on overall value I have him as a late-round guy.  The bet there is obviously hoping for him to stick to character and beat his timetable by a lot.  I went for a safer 9-cat play in T.J. Warren, who’s going to get a lot of minutes but the stat set issues have generally held him back.  Turnovers are not one of those issues.

    Best Picks: Darren Collison and Lou Williams are not-sexy names but they’re going to get minutes and we know exactly what they’ll do when getting said minutes.  Both are great bets to beat this value and they’re perfect fits for owners who have taken chances prior to that pick.

    Notes: I went with Markieff Morris because of the playoff format and positional needs.  It’s not my proudest pick but if he can be a top-75 guy I’ll win that bet.  Brandon Ingram is a bet on the unprojectable — meaning if he takes a leap it won’t be because we could reasonably project it.  It means he morphed into the potential that got him drafted so high.  Kris Dunn has to play terrible this season to not carry standard league value.  Benny went early but I get it.

    Best Picks: Things got a little weird in this round with all sorts of reaches mixed with some old-dude value picks.  JaMychal Green has a great chance of being the last man standing in Memphis, and Lord Bogman was definitely trying to rile me up.

    Notes: De’Aaron Fox goes too early but Benny has been throwing caution to conventional wisdom — he has a history of identifying college or young talent and has an close view of Fox in Sacramento.  Seeing him play in the preseason opener begs the question of how you let that guy get redshirted for a year.  I’d love Rodney Hood if I didn’t watch him go through hell last year with his knee.  Boban is going to struggle to get minutes unless the Pistons abandon Plan Drummond and that’s a tough sell.  Pau Gasol has a Dirk-like quality from a few years back being taken so late.

    Best Picks: I haven’t been able to get too much Skal on my rosters but I’m totally on board with taking him as a late-rounder, even if it is a bit early. He looks like he grew a few inches and physically he stands out in Sacramento.  There are wrinkles to iron out but an optimized season could pay dividends.  I wish I wasn’t getting the ‘Bogdan is going to be brought along slowly’ feelers coming out of Kings media day because otherwise I’d love that pick.  Dwyane Wade is a great value here as is Willy Hernangomez.

    Notes: Greg Monroe could easily have been listed in the best picks section as the only risk to him outperforming this value is if he experiences a drastic fall-off.  Weight issues would be the thing at play.

    Best Picks: In a playoff format getting Zach LaVine here is a steal.  As long as there are no setbacks he’ll have the reins in Chicago.  Alex Len was a newsy pick now that Big Sauce is out for most of the year.  Kent Bazemore’s knee has been the defining factor in his production and he says he feels better. Tyler Johnson has the skill to be a top-100 producer with any injury to a big minute guy in Miami.

    Notes: Dario Saric might trend toward usable in the playoffs because of the injury risk in Philly.  Tyreke Evans is an interesting flier pick but I’m pretty sure his knees are done.  Will Barton is a good value in this range even if his situation in Denver is kind of murky.  I went with Jabari Parker as a playoffs play.

    Best Picks: Matt Smith knows his Phoenix Suns and I’m with him on Tyler Ulis, who could easily be the starting point guard come fantasy playoff time.  I think he can be a very good player in this league.  Thon Maker gets interesting if he takes a big step forward, which is what one is looking for at this time during the draft.

    Notes: Jaylen Brown has ‘what-if’ potential but it’s hard to see him breaking through given Boston’s depth.  Jordan Clarkson is a good bet to bring back late-round value and that’s rare at this stage of the draft.  Tristan Thompson is the prototypical late-round plodder that works in 9-cat formats.  Caris LeVert needs some help but at least there is some intrigue.  I went with Justin Holiday because he’s a bit of a stat magnet and profiles like a guy that could mop up minutes for the Bulls.

    Best Picks: Simple math says that Dwight Powell should play a lot more this year and he has shown a nice stat set at times, but Rick Carlisle isn’t a pushover and he’s going to make him earn it.  Larry Nance will play at a way better value than this while healthy.  Justise Winslow simply needs a shot and he becomes a much better fantasy play.  We’ll see if that happens.

    Notes: John Collins has been a popular flier pick and lord knows the Hawks don’t have overall depth.  I worry that the stat set issues and lack of playing time make him tough to hold throughout the year.  Ersan Ilyasova is a good solution if you need low-end production early in the year while your stashes get straightened out.  I think Dragan Bender is a year away at least.  I went with Kelly Olynyk because Hassan Whiteside is always dealing with some sort of injury and 26-plus MPG Olynyk will be a blast to own.

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard (knee soreness) suited up for the All-Star Game on Sunday and scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting in 19 minutes of action in a Team LeBron win over Team Giannis.

    He added five rebounds, five threes and two assists to the box score. Leonard has been in and out of the lineup for the Raptors quite a lot this season, but hopefully he can have a healthy second half of the season. If he can stay on the court, he should continue to hover around top-5 value in all formats. Expect Leonard to return for the Raptors' first game after the break ends.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo hit 17-of-23 shots on Sunday to score an All-Star game-high 38 points and 11 boards in the 164-178 loss to Team LeBron.

    Steph Curry logged 29 minutes with 17 points but it wasn't enough as his teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 51 points tonight. Giannis was second on his squad in minutes with 27 and everyone should be well rested coming out of the All-Star break.

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Kyrie Irving (right knee strain) put up 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds and six assists in a Team LeBron win over Team Giannis in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

    He hit a 3-pointer and made some clutch plays down the stretch to help his team seal the win. Irving missed two games from this injury and should be good to go after the break for the Celtics and is a top-10 option for the remainder of the season.

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant added some hardware to the mantle at home by taking Sunday night’s All-Star game MVP trophy.

    Durant scored 31 points with six triples in the come from behind victory for Team LeBron 178-164 over Team Giannis. Durant got into it with Joel Embiid a few times, while swatting two shots in their matchup.

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Anthony Davis made an appearance in the All-Star game on Sunday, logged only four minutes.

    Davis finished with five points in four minutes, all in the first half, while appearing disinterested in giving it his all. Now owners will have to wait and see if the Pelicans try to shut him down despite the NBA’s insistence that he’s on the court if he’s healthy.

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Anthony Davis confirmed in a live TV interview that he’s playing in Sunday’s All-Star game.

    Davis owns the All-Star record for most points and while he might not push himself too hard tonight, he might still be motivated to put on a show. Davis can cast plenty of shade at the Pelicans if he plays well, as it’s rumored to Pelicans want to shut him down after the All-Star break, and the NBA wants to keep their top players active.

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - New Orleans Pelicans

    Anthony Davis (left shoulder contusion) is "good to play" for Sunday's All-Star game, according to Marc Stein.

    The Pelicans probably don't like this as they don't want him on the court for regular games. If you're playing DFS for the All-Star game, count on Davis playing, and we respect your dedication to the game.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Tyus Jones - G - Minnesota Timberwolves

    In an article on The Athletic, Jon Krawczynski noted that Tyus Jones (left ankle sprain) should be returning in the Wolves' first game after the All-Star break.

    The Wolves return to action on Friday at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. Krawczynski also noted that Robert Covington (knee) should not be far behind Jones' return, which will give the Wolves much-needed depth as they make a playoff run.

    Source: Jon Krawczynski on The Athletic

  • Jared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets

    Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) tweeted that he will be back for the next game as long as "everything goes according to plan."

    The Nets will resume their season on Thursday as they host the Blazers. Dudley won't be on any fantasy radars, but he could be a pest by stealing minutes from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Rodions Kurucs.

    Source: Jared Dudley on Twitter

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo plans to play for Greece in the FIBA World Championships this summer.

    Giannis said the only way he won't play is if he has any injury concerns. He should be able to dominate the championships that start on August 31st in China.

    Source: ESPN.com