September 14, 2017, 1:08 am
Hey, everyone! In this edition of my Daily Dish, I will be sharing some of my thoughts about the currently ongoing Hoop-Ball Reader Slow Mock Draft that’s taking place in our forums. I’ve been joined by 11 amazing fellas who have committed their time and fantasy knowledge to do a mock draft.
Basically, we are simulating a 12-team league. It’s 9-CAT (PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%, FT%, 3PTM, TO). Each team will be filling a 13-man roster of the Yahoo! standard PG, G, SG, SF, F, PF, 2 Centers, 2 Util, and 3 Bench).
I will not be analyzing the draft pick-by-pick, but instead take you with me on my journey as the guy sitting with the 11th pick and share with you my thought process as each round went by.
First, allow me to establish something and put it on the table. When it comes to drafting for teams in Head to Head (H2H) leagues, and this is where I philosophically differ from most experts, I DO NOT strictly adhere to picking “Best Player Available” (BPA). BPA drafting is a school of thought that I strongly believe in and adhere to when it comes to Rotisserie and Points Leagues. In formats where you are trying to build the best all-around team possible, yes, BPA is the way to go, because you will end up with a roster of guys who do what you need. It’s also good in H2H, don’t get me wrong, BPA and balanced teams often find themselves sailing smoothly into the league playoffs. Ah, playoffs, a realm where the team that dominates five out of the nine categories contested will surely win, regardless of whether they have the better overall players or not.
However, when it comes to H2H, my philosophy is to draft a competitive team that is adaptive to the state of the draft. I believe in addressing positional needs. I believe in improving on my team’s current strengths and compensating for weaknesses. The drafting goal is to build a team that can, based on the value of its players, make the playoffs, but has the ability (via working the wire) to dominate five or six categories.
I am not even talking about pre-planning a punt-strategy team here. I believe that the decision of what cat to punt should be delayed as much as possible. Flexibility is important in a draft. There are times, based on experience, that trying to get that “best” player, ends up screwing your whole team. If you mindlessly, just pick off a certain set of perfect rankings, you can end up with FIVE guards in the first six rounds. Now, do you think a team like that would win? No. It won’t. Especially if their first of two centers is going to end being Enes Kanter or Zach Randolph.
So yeah, I’m not going to be judging my co-drafters’ choices on pure value alone. When it comes to H2H, theme, purpose, and strategy are almost as important as pure value. Head to Head is a unique arena where value is blended with planning and context.
Anyway, I can get into a lengthy discussion about draft philosophies and strategies in later articles. For now, let’s dig in and appreciate the handy work of some of Hoop-Ball’s readers and pod listeners.
1. Arch Rivals, Pick 1, Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF
2. Sloane Ranger, Pick 2, Karl-Anthony Towns, C
3. We talking about practice?, Pick 3, Stephen Curry, PG/SG
4. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 4, Kevin Durant, SF/PF
5. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 5, Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF
6. Team Ex-YU, Pick 6, Nikola Jokic, PF/C
7. Roto Baggins, Pick 7, Anthony Davis, PF/C
8. Missing Remote, Pick 8, Russell Westbrook, PG
9. Aklan Archers, Pick 9, James Harden, PG/SG
10. KINGSfan55, Pick 10, LeBron James, SF/PF
11. Team Hoop-Ball, Pick 11, John Wall, PG
12. Rasta Death March, Pick 12, DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C
Dan Besbris has discussed in length when he discussed the first three rounds of the draft in his podcast. I also, do think, Giannis will not finish the season as the BEST player in fantasy this season, however, he should close the gap between himself and the guys ahead of him as he improves his game.
When I am drafting in the tail-ends of drafts, a zone where I have a bit of “control” over who I get, but have a long wait for next picks after the bounce; I tend to approach them as combo-picks. I don’t look at it as the best guy at 11th, alone; but what 1-2 player combinations can I build a good team around. I was considering DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Rudy Gobert, which would likely be my go-to move. In the end, since this is a mock draft, I decided to pass on bigs despite being in the zone best suited to lock in a quality big man. Remember we are in a 2-center league, so they are a prized and rare commodity. On that note, going double-PG was kind of adding an extra degree of difficulty for me. Is John Wall the best player available? No. In fact, ironically, the best based on projected averages is Chris Paul and in totals would be Rudy Gobert. Then why Wall? Why not go CP3? Well, I specifically wanted to entice the drafter picking after me to be the one to pair Cousins and Gobert. This situation will, ideally, pave a path of “less” resistance when the time comes for me to finally grab some Tier 2 or Tier 3 centers because by then, he will be looking at guards.
1. Rasta Death March, Pick 13, Rudy Gobert, C
2. Team Hoop-Ball, Pick 14, Chris Paul, PG
3. KINGSfan55, Pick 15, Damian Lillard, PG
4. Aklan Archers, Pick 16, Myles Turner, PF/C
5. Missing Remote, Pick 17, Jimmy Butler, SG/SF
6. Roto Baggins, Pick 18, Kyrie Irving, PG
7. Team Ex-YU, Pick 19, Kemba Walker, PG
8. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 20, Kyle Lowry, PG
9. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 21, Paul George SF/PF
10. We talking about practice, Pick 22, C.J. McCollum, PG/SG
11. Sloane Ranger, Pick 23, Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C
12. Arch Rivals, Pick 24, Hassan Whiteside, C
Here’s where some strategy comes into play. I combine Paul and Wall together to give my team a
strongdominant base in assists and steals. I subscribe to the principle that “the fewer players you need to field to dominate X categories, the more flexibility you have with your remaining roster spots”. Between these two guards, I know I automatically will win two out of the nine contested categories EVERY week, with some minor support in future picks of course. This allows me to divert my focus from the PG position for a while and get to filter through the next rounds and, hopefully, get some value there.
My picks were not BPA, by any stretch, even if you could make an argument for Paul at 11th. They were, however, purposeful and strategic. Now whether or not the two elite-PG strat will work, we will have to wait and see how my team pans out in the end.
I tweeted that picking Chris Paul in Round 2 of many of my fantasy drafts will be a guilty pleasure of mine this season. People are focusing on the negative impact of him sharing the ball with James Harden. I look at it this way, Paul will be playing under a coach (Mike D’Antoni) who has an excellent history with rehabilitating the careers of injury-prone players and resurrecting their fantasy relevance. Just look at Grant Hill and Channing Frye when he coached Phoenix. The only true negative in Paul’s numbers is his games played. IF D’Antoni can manage him in a way that CP3 actually stays healthy, he WILL, without a doubt return first-round value.
In this round, Myles Turner was a bit early, but I guess the manager really wants him and knew for certain that MT was not getting to him in Round 3. While you can argue that there are better players like Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, and Paul George taken after; but the strategist in me appreciates how this guy wants a high-quality big man (with good FT%) to fill one of his TWO center positions. Would he be in a better spot picking a better-valued player then picking a lower-tiered big as his first center? The BPA school of thought would say “yes”, but Archers is not necessarily wrong. As a gamer, I appreciate the cognizance of limited resources. In this case, the rarity of quality big men. So a supposedly “forced” Turner pick is not something I would consider as off-base.
1. Arch Rivals, Pick 25, Khris Middleton, SG/SF
2. Sloane Ranger, Pick 26, Joel Embiid, PF/C
3. We talking about practice?, Pick 27, Marc Gasol, C
4. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 28, Draymond Green, SF/PF
5. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 29, Kevin Love, PF/C
6. Team Ex-YU, Pick 30, Goran Dragic, PG/SG
7. Roto Baggins, Pick 31, Bradley Beal, SG
8. Missing Remote, Pick 32, Mike Conley, PG
9. Aklan Archers, Pick 33, Klay Thompson SG/SF
10. KINGSfan55, Pick 34, Andre Drummond, C
11. Team Hoop-Ball, Pick 35, Al Horford, PF/C
12. Rasta Death March, pick 36 Paul Millsap, PF/C
I agree with Dan, that Draymond Green in the third is getting good value. So much so, that if LeBron fell to me at 11th, my “plan” was to go LeBron-Draymond as a core 1-2. Yes, I would have taken Green at #14. Again not a BPA, kind of move, but intentional as far as pairing two forwards who pile on the counting stats (especially assists) is concerned. It would have been like thinking I was drafting point guards who gave me seven rebounds a game.
Round 3 was when I confirmed that these co-drafters of mine mean business and are no pushovers. I wanted Marc Gasol, but clearly, his value was appreciated by the guys picking ahead of me. Mildly disappointed, I moved on to deciding whether to go BPA, which was Otto Porter (based on my rankings) or secure a free-throw friendly big man. I decided to “force the issue” and grab a center-eligible player who would not hurt my team’s vibe. It was a toss-up between Horford and Millsap. I went with Al because of his better free-throw shooting. As much as Millsap would be better from the perspective of his steals contributions, I knew that Wall and Paul could hold the fort for my team. Horford is a bounce-back candidate of sorts as far as I’m concerned. Now that the Celtics literally threw away their best defenders (Bradley, Crowder), Al will be in a spot to get a bump in his steals and blocks. In the end, his 47% FG and 80% FT won me over. Part of me was hoping, I could get Millsap in Round 4, but as you can see from the results, Rasta rained on that parade.
1. Rasta Death March, pick 37, Gordon Hayward, SG/SF
2. Team Hoop-Ball, pick 38, Brook Lopez, C
3. KINGSfan55, Pick 39, Blake Griffin, PF/C
4. Aklan Archers, Pick 40, DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF
5. Missing Remote, Pick 41, Otto Porter, SF
6. Roto Baggins, Pick 42, Serge Ibaka, PF/C
7. Team Ex-YU, Pick 43, Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF
8. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 44, Ricky Rubio, PG
9. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 45, Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG
10. We talking about practice?, Pick 46, Trevor Ariza, SF/PF
11. Sloane Ranger, Pick 47, Victor Oladipo, PG/SG
12. Arch Rivals, Pick 48, DeAndre Jordan, C
At the turn of the fourth and fifth rounds, I asked myself, BPA (Porter) or address (secure) positional needs. I went with Brook Lopez. His 47% FG and 81 FT% were the core of why I wanted him. His 1.x treys and 1.x blocks would be a bonus as far as I was concerned. At this point, John Wall and his 45% FG is my team’s poorest shooter from the field. I feel I am on track to compete in FG%, midrange in points, and dominate assists and steals. Based on these four guys, I may consider punting either REB and/or BLK. I am hoping to address the team’s turnover issue (Wall) with some low-TO guys in the later rounds.
I find Round 4 to be a tad early for a Blake Griffin pick, especially since he’s entering training camp, not at 100% health, but that’s a wait-and-see kind of situation.
The Ibaka, Ariza, and Oladipo picks made me wince a bit as they dowsed my hopes of getting them in the fifth round.
For the purposes of transparency, the DeMar DeRozan pick was an auto-pick, due to Archers being a bit late. He made it online and picked for his team in the succeeding rounds.
Despite winning me a championship in each of the two times I forced myself to draft him, I have been biased against Carmelo Anthony throughout my fantasy career. So yeah, fourth is early as far as my biased point of view is concerned.
1. Arch Rivals, Pick 49, Dennis Schroder, PG
2. Sloane Ranger, Pick 50, Gary Harris, SG/SF
3. We talking practice, Pick 51, Isaiah Thomas, PG
4. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 52, Nikola Vucevic, PF/C
5. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 53, Aaron Gordon, SF/PF
6. Team Ex-YU, Pick 54, Clint Capela, PF/C
7. Roto Baggins, Pick 55, Lonzo Ball, PG
8. Missing Remote, Pick 56, Nerlens Noel, PF/C
9. Aklan Archers, Pick 57, Jusuf Nurkic, C
10. KINGSfan55, Pick 58, Elfrid Payton, PG
11. Team Hoop-Ball, Pick 59, Avery Bradley, PG/SG
12. Rasta Death March, Pick 60, Taurean Waller-Prince, SF
Round 5 is clearly where things get “interesting”. I’m not high on Schroder, despite his fantastic showing in EuroBasket. Round 5 is too early for my personal taste. Just don’t bring it up with Dan, unless you want to have an hour-long (40 minutes, really) conversation about “stat set issues”.
I LOVE Gary Harris this year. He’s one of the players in “Erik’s Elite 80”. Since, this draft is loaded with informed and sneaky drafters, I can understand the “reach” for Gary. In “normal” leagues, he should be available in Round 6 as he is often underrated by the unindoctrinated herd.
Isaiah Thomas was at the top of our auto-pick list and Team Practice was willing to take him as a Risk-Reward guy at this spot. As far as I am concerned, his hip situation should be something monitored closely and we should expect more volatility in his preseason rankings as news comes out.
Part of me was hoping to pick Nerlens Noel in the 6th Round, knowing full well that Rasta would not be in the market. Alas, like most of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit fantasies, that bubble burst and I was rudely awakened.
Aaron Gordon, to me, would probably have been available to Prestige in Round 6.
At this point, I was considering Robert Covington, Avery Bradley, and Nicolas Batum. Bradley won me over, again, with his solid shooting percentages, his excellent defense, and his breakout from 2016-17. He should easily be Detroit’s new first scoring option and will most likely end the season as a Top 50 guy. So, Bradley, it was for me.
I’m high on Taurean Prince, but was really considering him as more of a late-round sleeper. Taking him at Round 5 is kind of pricing him in, or even overvaluing him, depending on who you’re talking to. That said, I’m excited to own him this year and, yes, he’s in the “Erik’s Elite 80”.
1. Rasta Death March, Pick 61, Harrison Barnes SF/PF
2. Team Hoop-Ball, Pick 62, Jae Crowder, SF/PF
3. KINGSfan55, Pick 63, Nicolas Batum, SG/SF
4. Aklan Archers, Pick 64, D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG
5. Missing Remote, Pick 65, Marquese Chriss, PF
6. Roto Baggins, Pick 66, Thaddeus Young SF/PF
7. Team Ex-YU, Pick 67, LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C
8. Prestige Worldwide, Pick 68, Robert Covington, SF/PF
9. Team VS (Ball Don’t Lie), Pick 69, George Hill, PG/SG
10. We talking about practice?, Pick 70, Jrue Holiday, PG
11. Sloane Ranger, Pick 71, Tobias Harris, SF/PF
12. Arch Rivals, Pick 72, Jeff Teague, PG
Ah, Round 6. I wanted a PF-eligible guy right about now. That said, as a long-time fan of Nicolas Batum and his stat set, I must admit that I was very tempted. I was swayed away from Batum because I believed I did not need his assists at this point and his 40% shooting from the field was a buzzkill to the theme I had going. Thad Young was an intriguing option but in the end, Jae Crowder beat him out due to 3-pointers made and better shooting from the line.
My Crowder pick definitely raised some eyebrows in the forums. The move to Cleveland is expected to be a downer on his outlook. I agree, and I did downgrade his 2016-17 finish by a dozen draft spots. Will he be far worse than your garden variety 62nd pick? Probably not. The Cavs will give him respectable minutes. Enough minutes to give my team the stat set I am looking for from my “3 and D” guy. Robert Covington was also a serious contender. While he has the better steals-blocks array compared to Crowder, Ro-Co does tend to stab your team’s shooting percentages in the back at inopportune times.
My team is coming together. I visualize being competitive in FG%, FT%, threes, and turnovers while killing it in assists and steals. I am likely not going to get weekly wins in blocks and boards. So, my current plan is to now make sure I win seven of the nine cats as much as possible. The challenge will be in preserving my shooting percentages in the process.
Marquese Chriss picked this early was a bit of a surprise, but given that he’s a serious breakout candidate this season, I can see where his drafter was coming from.
There you have it folks, the first six rounds of the mock. Although, I didn’t get too much of the nitty-gritty of where guys where going as far as ADP is concerned, I do hope that my thoughts regarding draft philosophy and strategy were something you could appreciate.
Remember, you can always reach me on Twitter: @FantasyHoopla, if you want to chat about fantasy hoops!