• 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

  • Kevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Brian Windhorst, Kevin Love has been in some trade talks and the chances that he's on the Cavs next season are 50/50.

    Windhorst mentioned that it's hard to find the right deal for Love, who is set to start a 4-year $120 million contract this fall, but that's a much bigger chance of him leaving than had been recently reported. The Cavs likely have some summer deals to make, but as it sits now, the fantasy values of Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic would be on the rise with a Love departure.

    Source: Aaron Goldhammer on Twitter

  • Bobby Portis - F - Washington Wizards

    Bobby Portis, who will likely become a restricted free agent after the Wizards extend a qualifying offer, is expected to be pursued by at least 5-10 teams once free agency begins.

    Among the teams that are reportedly interested in Portis are the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and the Knicks among others. If the Wizards extend the $3.6 million qualifying offer to Portis, they will have the chance to match any contract offer Portis receives from another team.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that the Nets believe they are the favorites to land Kyrie Irving in free agency.

    Irving to the Nets has been on overdrive the past few weeks, and it's looking almost certain that Irving will be on the Nets, Lakers or Knicks come July 1st. D'Angelo Russell may be playing elsewhere next season if the Nets acquire Irving in free agency. Stay tuned.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Rob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are aggressively pursuing the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

    In addition to trying to unload additional bench players, the Lakers would like to acquire a few second-round picks to round out their roster with minimum salary players. If the Lakers can get any late picks, it will give the team even more breathing room in free agency. The Lakers’ master plan after signing LeBron James last offseason is starting to shift into high gear.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are trying to expand the Anthony Davis trade to open up a max salary slot on July 6, by offering up Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to additional teams.

    The Lakers got their guy in AD, but they also want more wiggle room for another max guy and role players to fill out their roster. It seems that the team will do whatever it takes to get that third max player spot, aside from moving Kyle Kuzma. It seems very likely that another team will join in on the deal.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, since the season ended, Kyrie Irving has been communicating forthrightly with Celtics' officials both privately and publicly signaling that he will leave the team in free agency.

    It has been widely expected that Irving would leave the Celtics for a bit now, with the Nets being the team most analysts are pegging Irving end up with. With the news that Al Horford is going elsewhere, there is little reason to believe that Irving would stick around. We should have an official update on Irving's intentions soon enough.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Sources close to Al Horford have told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that his camp is no longer discussing a new contract with the Celtics and he is expected to sign a 4-year deal elsewhere.

    A few short months ago the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to land Anthony Davis, and forming a new big three of there own. Flash forward to now, and Davis is on the Lakers, and it looks like both Horford and Kyrie Irving are set to leave. The Celtics couldn't have foreseen a worse start to the offseason.

    Source: Steve Bulpett on Twitter

  • James Jones - Team - Phoenix Suns

    First-year GM James Jones said that there are more than six good players in the draft and that the Suns are comfortable staying put at number six.

    Jones has a point, and if the team believes that they don’t need to move up to get the difference-maker that they’re targeting then staying put is the logical choice. If the Suns stand pat, they’ll be looking at drafting one of Darius Garland, Coby White, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Jarrett Culver. Garland or White would fill the most glaring team need at PG if they’re still available.

    Source: AZ Central

  • David Griffin - Team - New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans are considering trading the 4th overall selection to acquire more picks.

    One team that comes directly to mind is the Hawks, who have been rumored to be offering a trade package including the 8th and 10th selections to move up in the draft. The Hawks also have the 17th pick in the draft. Another team with multiple first rounders is the Celtics, who hold the 14th, 20th and 22nd picks. The Pelicans have also been rumored to be trying to move up to the 2nd pick in the Draft. We'll have to wait and see if there is any fire to all of this smoke.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

  • Ted Leonsis - Team - Washington Wizards

    Wizards owner Ted Leonsis denied the team's reported interest in Raptors GM Masai Ujiri saying, "Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process.”

    Ujiri is a former Executive of the year, and his Raptors just won the NBA Championship thanks in large part to the bold moves he executed in the past year. It is hard to believe that a team like the Wizards wouldn't want to make a pitch to the man who is at or near the top of his profession, but that is silly season for you. As for Ujiri, he'll have no shortage of pursuers should the Raptors grant teams permission to speak to him.

    Source: Washington Post