October 3, 2019, 6:30 pm
It’s that special time of year again! NBA season is right around the corner, which means it’s time for you to get your notebooks and excel spreadsheets out and beef up for the NBA season. The following is a 12-team mock draft for Rotisserie, 9-category Yahoo leagues. I am going to be analyzing each round, pointing out the value picks and the not so valuable picks, and finally end with some thoughts on how some of these teams did along with philosophies that informed their drafting. If you’ve never played Roto before, this is a great read to acclimate yourself on how it differs from other forms of fantasy. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
- Anthony Davis, PF/C, (LeBron the Goat → LtG going forward)
- James Harden, PG/SG, (North Bay Dawgs → NBD)
- Stephen Curry, PG/SG, (KD’s Foot → KDF)
- Karl-Anthony Towns, C, (My Team *Actual team name, not my team* → MyT)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, (Marlon’s Team → MarT)
- Nikola Jokic, PF/C, (Toon Squad → Toon)
- Damian Lillard, PG, (Alan’s Team → Alan)
- Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, (WABs → WABs)
- Joel Embiid, PF/C, (jon’s genius team → JGT)
- LeBron James, SF/PF, (Rafael’s Team → RafT)
- Bradley Beal, SG, (Real’s Team → Real)
- Kyrie Irving, PG, (Bryan’s Swell Team → BST)
No real surprises this first round, as has been the case with pretty much every first round I’ve seen through mock drafts this season. The first five players off the board are all locked into the top echelon of players. Anthony Davis usually goes first, Harden and Curry switch off going two and three, and Giannis and Karl-Anthony Towns alternate between four and five. Nikola Jokic is almost guaranteed to go six thereafter, and Damian Lillard similarly at number seven..
The real interesting part of the first round is what teams 8-12 choose to do, as the five players that typically go in that range do so in a variety of different orders. Particularly in Roto – where risk of injuries or load management is far less important than it is in H2H – there are several arguments that can be made about who gives you the best bang for your buck at these spots.
My Favorite Pick: I like Kawhi Leonard at that number eight spot over the other four players taken after him. I believe he has the safest floor of the bunch, and he hurts you the least across all nine statistical categories. I know the missed games will still be a thing, but for the ones he plays, hes guaranteed to stuff the stat sheet and really not ding you anywhere. Take a look at last year’s value ranks by totals (which places a stronger emphasis on out of position stats, like say blocks from a PG) between the five guys taken here (rankings courtesy of Basketball Monster):
Pick Name Team 2018-2019 Rank by Totals FG Rank FT Rank 3’s Rank PTS Rank REB Rank AST Rank STL Rank BLK Rank TO Rank 8 Kawhi Leonard LAC 18 52 9 89 23 63 102 21 169 454 9 Joel Embiid PHI 17 91 44 136 12 7 78 162 10 518 10 LeBron James LAL 65 43 522 92 28 53 19 66 121 507 11 Bradley Beal WAS 10 212 50 12 4 77 21 9 49 516 12 Kyrie Irving BKN 14 74 18 21 24 103 15 23 111 497
Kawhi is a top-100 option in every category aside from BLK and TO. All five guys here hurt you in turnovers so that category is a wash in this argument, and I believe that blocks are pretty easy to come by at several different rounds throughout the draft. He has elite percentages, fantastic scoring and steals numbers and I think he will be more of a playmaker with the Clippers than he had to be in Toronto, making that assists number look a tad more intriguing.
Guys like Beal and LeBron can be real drags to FG and FT percentage respectively, and Embiid is more top heavy in stats like points and rebounds, while not contributing all that much in 3’s and STL. I like well-rounded players to start any draft, because that affords you more flexibility down the road to make riskier picks. For similar reasons, I like Kyrie at 12 as well, who provides similar across-the-board value that Kawhi does.
Also let me just say a word about the load management concerns with Kawhi. What are the chances he actually doesn’t get held out for the same amount of games as he did last season? I know people were quick to write off the comments he made about not talking load management with the Clippers since arriving there, but honestly, it is worth looking at the differences between this year’s situation vs. last year’s.
Whatever warm feelings he has towards the city now, it was no secret that Kawhi never wanted to be sent to Toronto. Based on some of the stories that have come out about his decisive actions in free agency this summer I buy into the notion that Kawhi always knew he wasn’t returning to Toronto, which reinforces the idea of why he was so adamant about the intense rest schedule that he and the Raptors came up with: to protect and maximize his leverage.
Now that he has a full season in between him and his quad injury, and is in the place he wants to be, why shouldn’t he want to play more than he did last year? Was last year really the start of a long-term trend, or was it Kawhi playing the safe route to get out of situation he never chose to be in? I feel that we should pump the brakes a bit on the resting narrative with him. I think it will happen, but I’m not convinced that he sits as many, or more, games as he did last year.
My Least Favorite Picks: It’s hard not to view LeBron as the worst option of these 12 guys with his value heavily buoyed by name recognition. His abhorrent FT% tanked his ceiling to being not much higher than a mid-second round pick. Even if he stays healthy this season, it would take a remarkable turnaround from the charity stripe to get him close to being a top-10 fantasy player. There are plenty of arguments to be made about building a punt squad around him, but I really would have preferred taking the two guards that went after him.
My picks: Damian Lillard. The last guy in the “easy pick” tier of players this round. Not much to say about this pick other than that things got much harder for me past this point. Picking in the middle of rounds in this draft was a chore. When you’re playing with guys who know their fantasy hoops like this bunch, a lot of those sneaky value guys get a lot less sneaky apparently. I made a couple of panic picks as a result, but we’ll get into those later.
- Paul George, SF/PF, (BST)
- Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, (Real)
- Nikola Vucevic, PF/C, (RafT)
- Luka Doncic, PG, (JGT)
- Andre Drummond, PF/C (WABs)
- Rudy Gobert, C, (Alan)
- Kemba Walker, PG, (Toon)
- Jrue Holiday PG/SG, (MarT)
- Trae Young, PG, (MyT)
- Mitchell Robinson, C, (KDF)
- Russell Westbrook, PG, (NBD)
- De’Aaron Fox, PG, (LtG)
The second round has been ripe for taking risks and this draft was no different. Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Mitchell Robinson and De’Aaron Fox are all 21 and under and all carry expectations that they will take the next step in their careers to elevate them to this level. For fantasy purposes, I’d bet that at least one of these guys gets to this second-round valuation. I have a hard time believing that most of them will, however, and there is a good chance there are some reaches here among those guys. In general this round is filled with elite point guards and centers flying off the board. There will be many more opportunities to get quality big men later on, but top tier point guards will start to run dry pretty quickly in the next few rounds.
My Favorite Picks: Before this draft took place, Russell Westbrook had been going towards the top of the second round, but he fell to the bottom of the second round in Yahoo’s latest adjustments, and it has taken him from an unapproachable asset to a very safe play. His shortcomings will obviously still be there, but they are much easier to swallow when you’re taking him outside the top-20. The team who wound up taking him here also took James Harden in the first round, creating a huge advantage in PTS, REB, AST and STL compared to the rest of the field through two rounds. If you’re able to pair Westbrook with a top-5 pick, your team has as strong a floor as any to start a draft.
My Least Favorite Picks: The Luka Doncic and De’Aaron Fox picks were probably the biggest reaches this round. Doncic’s draft ranking currently sits at 27, which has fallen a bit from about 20 where he was being taken earlier. Going at 16 isn’t that off base with his ADP of 19, but either way I’m just not as sold as others on how much of a leap he is prepared to take. I definitely think he won’t finish anywhere close to his near-outside the top-100 ranking from last season but he has a long way to go to get anywhere close to this valuation.
As for Fox, this is about as early as I’ve seen him go in pretty much any draft. I’m in the group that thinks he could be in for a monster leap this season. However, even if he reaches this top-24 value, taking him this early really limits his upside, and runs a decent risk of him not meeting it at all considering that he was just ranked 39 on totals last season. The one justifiable aspect of this pick is that it came on the turn, and likely wouldn’t have been here for this team when they picked again. I have a much bigger issue with the pick this team made to start off the third round…
My Pick: Rudy Gobert, as safe a play as any considering who was left on the board. I was actually pretty thrilled with getting him here because he and Dame complement each other perfectly. The biggest knock on Gobert is that he’s a real drag on your team’s FT%. Pair him with Lillard, the second-best player in FT% by total value last season, and the two negate each other to give you a very workable floor in that category. Gobert’s strengths, REB, BLK and low TO, obviously also negate Lillard’s biggest weaknesses as well. Finding players that counteract Gobert and Lillard’s weakness (FT% and TO’s) play a large part of my draft strategy past this point.
- Zion Williamson, PF, (LtG)
- John Collins, PF/C, (NBD)
- Myles Turner, PF/C (KDF)
- Deandre Ayton, C, (MyT)
- Donovan Mitchell, SG, (MarT)
- Draymond Green, PF/C (Toon)
- Chris Paul, PG, (Alan)
- LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, (WABs)
- Ben Simmons, PG, (JGT)
- Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C, (RafT)
- Pascal Siakam, PF, (Real)
- Otto Porter Jr., SF/PF (BST)
This round really does a lot to define what kind of team you’re going to have moving forward. While your first two picks establish your base set of stats, your third one allows you to put emphasis on which categories you really want to dominate in. Here are some of the picks that are the most notable in that regard.
My Favorite Picks: I’m a Myles Turner kind of guy. Plain and simple he’s one of my favorite third-round picks because of his ability to really hurt you nowhere while also winning you a category almost by himself. The team who took him here, KDF, will pair him with Steph Curry and Mitchell Robinson, two players who even out each other’s weak points and make for a very well-rounded duo. Throw in Myles Turner and you’ve now basically guaranteed that you will dominate blocks, further negate Curry’s likely high turnover mark, and add enough supporting stats to continue to build upon that high floor. This was a very safe third pick for this team.
Another player chosen here who works well with the players taken before him is Draymond Green. He was taken by Toon Squad, who went with two very safe picks in Nikola Jokic and Kemba Walker. The well rounded nature of Draymond’s game makes for a great pairing with Nikola Jokic, particularly in AST and STL. Those two alone make this team a threat to be among the upper echelon in guard stats with all of the out-of-position numbers they get there. While Kemba isn’t exactly exciting, he is about as safe as it gets when it comes to elite guard stats. He works well with these two, and they may be my favorite combination of players up to this point.
My Least Favorite Pick: Okay. We’ve got to talk about what happened at the start of the round. Zion Williamson, making a compelling case to be near the top of the all-time rookie hype list, is a major risk to not hit this draft valuation. He will undoubtedly be fun to own, and if you’re in a keeper league draft I have no argument against you taking him with your first pick. But in context here, this is a highly questionable pick, particularly seeing how this team already made a reach with picking De’Aaron Fox right before him.
This team is buoyed by the surest of sure things in Anthony Davis, but even the most dominant fantasy player can’t totally make up for the value you’re likely going to lose by making two reaches within your first three picks. I don’t like this team’s prospects moving forward.
My pick: Chris Paul. I feel like I played myself a bit here. The guy who I really wanted was LaMarcus Aldridge, but I assumed that I would have a chance at snagging him next round given that his draft rank was at 53 and his ADP was at 44. Sure enough though, he goes right after me at 32. Should’ve known better than to assume that a Hoop-Ball guy would fall in a draft filled with Hoop-Ball readers. Anyway, I’m fine with Chris Paul here. There is a good opportunity for him to exceed this valuation at the beginning of the season, though I’m not crazy about the variety of different possibilities that could derail his fantasy outlook. Injuries, a trade to a less favorable situation and the possibility of being shut down if he’s not dealt all loom large over him.
- Robert Covington, SF/PF, (BST)
- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, (Real)
- Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, (RafT)
- Devin Booker, PG/SG (JGT)
- Clint Capela, PF/C (WABs)
- Brook Lopez, C, (Alan)
- Khris Middleton, SG/SF, (Toon)
- Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, (MarT)
- Buddy Hield, SG, (MyT)
- Lauri Markkanen, PF, (KDF)
- Kevin Love, PF/C (NBD)
- Zach LaVine, PG/SG, (LtG)
Things get trickier here in round four. With 50 players off the board by round’s end, this round represents your last chance to possibly go after a top-30 player. There’s bound to be at least one or two taken here, and figuring out which ones do will go a long way into making your team as dominant as possible.
My Favorite Picks: This feels crazy for me because I’ve been out on him for a while now, but Devin Booker at 40 seems like a real nice spot for him. On a totals basis, Booker wasn’t outstanding, finishing 66 on the season last year. I can’t help but feel that playing with a real PG in Ricky Rubio, perhaps the only competent PG to play alongside Booker in his career, can actually smooth the edges of the rougher parts of his game, and maybe turn him into a nice fantasy player.
The biggest knocks against him are his high-volume inefficiency and his high turnover mark. Both are products of him playing out of position as a PG and offensive initiator, when really he is best served initiating for himself. I don’t care if Booker gets less assists this year, I want my shooting guard to shoot, and Rubio should really help him do just that. Before when Booker was going early in the third round, I wanted nothing to do with him. But at 40? I could see some upside.
The other guy I liked from this round was Jayson Tatum at number 39. Yahoo’s latest tune-up took him from being ranked in the 50s, a ridiculously easy valuation for him to hit, to now being ranked at 37, very much narrowing the window for him to exceed that value. I personally believe that he still can exceed this mark, riding on durability, likely stronger team morale, and another year of maturity under his belt. To look at it simply, Tatum finished 40 on the year last season in total value. If you think that heading into his third season he can AT LEAST hit that again, he’s a very sensible pick.
My Least Favorite Picks: This is easy because I get to combine the next two sections. My least favorite pick was my pick: Brook Lopez. I was banking on at least one of Aldridge, Jackson Jr, and Capela being available when it got to my turn, and unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. I’d consider this my first real panic pick of the draft as Lopez really wasn’t in my plans. I like his combo of 3’s and BLKs, and I’m not worried about his pathway to minutes. I just don’t like how he meshes with my team. The FG% and REB totals are pretty bad for a center, and it now has me worrying about wasting Gobert’s dominance in those two categories by pairing him with three guys who all hurt me there. My panic now sits with me as I enter round 5. I am surly.
- Bam Adebayo, PF/C, (LtG)
- D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, (NBD)
- Mike Conley, PG, (KDF)
- Blake Griffin, PF/C (MyT)
- Al Horford, PF/C, (MarT)
- CJ McCollum, PG/SG (Toon)
- DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, (Alan)
- Kyle Lowry, PG (WABs)
- Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF (JGT)
- Derrick Favors, PF/C, (RafT)
- Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, (Real)
- Tobias Harris, SF/PF, (BST)
This is probably my least favorite round of the draft. Most of these guys are vets that are trending down, and you’re really just left hoping that you picked the one who is least likely to bottom out. That’s not to say there isn’t solid value to be had here, it’s just that you won’t have a good time trying to discern where it’s coming from.
My Favorite Picks: I personally liked my DeMar DeRozan pick this round just because I feel very confident that he will not fall behind this spot. It’s unsung work that he puts in, but DeMar is a solid contributor and likely a top-50 play again this season. He doesn’t hurt you in percentages and gets you consistent PTS, REB and AST, the latter of which are particularly solid for his position. He doesn’t do much in defensive stats, but the other guys I’ve taken up to this point more than make up for that deficiency.
I also love the Tobias Harris pick at 60. So much so that as I’m writing this I’m starting to hate the DeMar pick that I just endorsed. Harris is a guarantee to exceed this mark, it’s not even close. People overrated his drop-off after moving to Philly. As a fourth option on that team he was still 47 on totals after the trade, a full round higher than he is taken here. Jimmy Butler is out of town now, and Horford and Josh Richardson are not going to be soaking up shots like he did. I like Harris a lot as finishing well within the top-50, probably even top-40, and now that I am at the end of this paragraph I’m now officially pissed off that I took DeMar over him.
My Least Favorite Picks: DeMar DeRozan
Just kidding, I still stand by him (even if my heart is out of it now). My real least favorite pick is C.J McCollum at 54. Fine player but really boring fantasy asset. His contributions aren’t particularly hard to come by. The best thing he has going for him is his low turnover mark, which pairs nicely with high-volume scoring. In general, however, he has no real room for growth and I’m not sold he can meet this ranking.
Derrick Favors is also an uninspiring pick here at 58. I think most of the fantasy community agrees that he will see an uptick in value starting on a fast-paced Pelicans team, but even going here at 58 (which is far better than the early 40’s he was going at before Yahoo’s rankings adjustment) sorta takes away his upside. If you take him here you’re rooting for him to meet this mark more than you are rooting for him to exceed it. Not my favorite choice here.
- Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, (BST)
- Malcolm Brogdon, PG/SG, (Real)
- Josh Richardson, SG/SF, (RafT)
- Victor Oladipo, PG/SG (JGT)
- Jonas Valanciunas, C (WABs)
- Thomas Bryant, C, (Alan)
- Julius Randle, PF/C (Toon)
- Terry Rozier, PG/SG, (MarT)
- Jamal Murray, PG/SG, (MyT)
- Lonzo Ball, PG, (KDF)
- Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, (NBD)
- Ricky Rubio, PG, (LtG)
Now that we’re in the 6th round strategies become more apparent. Most teams have an idea of what they’re good at and where they lack. Here we‘ll start to see some divergence among teams looking to shore up their deficiencies, and teams doubling down on where they’re strongest,
My Favorite Pick: Two guys I’m really high on this round: Malcolm Brogdon and Gordon Hayward. Let’s start with Brogdon. He’s been easily my favorite mid-round PG in drafts this year. I wind up with him about as often as I can. A lead guard with high level percentages and low turnovers is a rare commodity in fantasy hoops, making Brogdon a logical complement to any team build you have. He’s going to be asked to do quite a bit more in Indy, which could drive some of those favorable metrics down but he should also get more opportunities as a distributor and a scorer, and the fact that he can be had towards the end of all of these other PG’s coming off the board makes him very attractive for savvy owners looking to bulk up on elite wings and bigs.
As for Hayward, he has bounce-back written all over him this season. I don’t care that you’re bringing in Kemba for Kyrie, there will be more shots to go around and I can see Hayward taking a few of them. We know he has Brad Stevens’ confidence, and seeing the news about Jaylen Brown and the Celtics being at odds over his contract situation, it’s possible that a greater wing role could be available for Hayward as that sorts itself out.
My Least Favorite Picks: Terry Rozier. Yuck. Not much to add on that one. I know he’ll put up ridiculous counting stats but I just want no part of what he’s going to do to your percentages and turnovers. To the credit of the team who took him, they end up building a strong foundation FG%, minimizing the area that Rozier hurts you most. But man, I don’t want the headache. I don’t like Lonzo Ball in pretty much any way at this spot either. Tons of questions about his role on this constructed-on-the-fly Pelicans team. The deficiencies in his game paired with that make him a gamble not worth taking for me.
My Pick: Wanted Jonas Valanciunas in this spot but of course, he went right before me. Thomas Bryant works well though. He is one of two fantasy-relevant players in Washington and I will happily soak up the high FG% and rebounding numbers he will put up with *checks notes* Ian Mahinmi being his only real competition for minutes.
- Ja Morant, PG, (LtG)
- Larry Nance Jr., PF/C, (NBD)
- Marvin Bagley, PF/C, (KDF)
- Kelly Oubre Jr., SF, (MyT)
- Marc Gasol, C, (MarT)
- Wendell Carter Jr., C (Toon)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, (Alan)
- Jeff Teague, PG (WABs)
- Caris LeVert, SG/SF (JGT)
- Miles Bridges, SF, (RafT)
- Steven Adams, C, (Real)
- Joe Ingles, SG/SF, (BST)
At this point moving forward you’re just looking for guys who you know can give you sustained value over the course of the season. None of these guys will carry your fantasy team, but play your cards right and they can set you apart from the other competitive teams you’re up against. This is likely the last round you could find some near top-50 upside.
My Favorite Picks: Kelly Oubre Jr. is an under-the-radar pick in these rounds. Though his numbers weren’t particularly great on a totals basis (ranked just 93 after being sent over to Phoenix), he did display an appealing stat set that is hard to come by in these later rounds: value in both defensive stat categories. I think he has more runway in year two in Phoenix with T.J Warren and Josh Jackson out of town, and is a fun upside play. Steven Adams also fell far lower than I would have thought, he probably has the best chance of exceeding his draft ranking of anyone on this list.
My Least Favorite Picks: I’m not crazy about Wendell Carter Jr. here. I realize I could get burned because the stat set is appealing and I do like his real-life outlook, but from a fantasy perspective he was a pretty frustrating guy to roster last season. He finished ranked 117 on a per game basis and that was largely due to the inconsistent output he provided on a night to night basis. He was near the top of the league in fouls per game, which makes sense given his propensity for blocking shots, but it was obviously a very limiting factor for him to establish consistency on the floor. I’m not sold that he will be able to get to this level quite yet, but as I said, the upside is there.
My Pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s a weird pick for me. I see all the reasons to be excited about his upside as many other analysts have noted. His solid efficiency and defensive output from a guard spot make him among the most intriguing prospects still available. I do have questions about how he transitions into playing a lot more off guard than he probably did in LA.
He certainly has a lot to gain offensively playing off the point god Chris Paul, but it does make you wonder how much of a learning curve it may be for him to transition into playing SG full time. I also was influenced into making this pick because I was lacking on PG depth and most attractive PGs had already been taken. When you draft a player because of the position they play, it typically dampens your excitement.
- Fred VanVleet, PG, (BST)
- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, (Real)
- Montrezl Harrell, PF/C, (RafT)
- Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, (JGT)
- Delon Wright, PG/SG (WABs)
- T.J Warren, SF/PF, (Alan)
- Jeremy Lamb, SG/SF (Toon)
- Hassan Whiteside, C, (MarT)
- Nicolas Batum, SG/SF (MyT)
- Dejounte Murray, PG, (KDF)
- Jarrett Allen, C, (NBD)
- Enes Kanter, C (LtG)
I was pretty opinionated about most of the field for this round. I really like half of these picks and equally dislike the other half. I’ll quickly run through my reasons for most of them. You can assume the ones I don’t give a thought on here are just fair picks with no real upside or downside.
My Favorite Picks: Mikal Bridges is a prototypical big fantasy value guy with unimpressive looking stat lines. He should repeat that in year two.
Montrezl Harrell was a near top-50 guy last season and I truly believe his role from last year will not change drastically with the two superstars in town. He is a per-minute beast and will play a lot.
Delon Wright should play well in Dallas, doesn’t need to be the lead distributor to do what he does best as a fantasy asset.
T.J Warren (my pick) is about to walk into lead scoring responsibilities with Oladipo shelved indefinitely. His versatility and role with this team should make him worth owning even when Dipo returns.
Hassan Whiteside at 92 isn’t as bad as when he was going in the 70’s. He’ll tank your FT numbers but the good he provides is unparalleled to any player available. He fixes his shot just a little and he becomes worth it here.
My Least Favorite Picks: Fred VanVleet has a little NBA Finals luster left on him to be going this high. I get that there are guard minutes up for grabs but I doubt he sees the floor enough to get inside the top-100.
Domantas Sabonis starting at PF excites me less than him just playing exclusive backup center. Even if the minutes are there I’m not crazy about what he provides fantasy wise, especially if he’s going to be out of position.
Nic Batum just isn’t going to play.
Jarrett Allen infuriatingly is staring down a log jam battle at center with DeAndre Jordan in town. I want no part of either.
- Derrick White, PG/SG, (LtG)
- Marcus Smart, PG/SG, (NBD)
- Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, (KDF)
- Dewayne Dedmon, C (MyT)
- Gary Harris, SG/SF, (MarT)
- Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, (Toon)
- JJ Redick, SG, (Alan)
- Lou Williams, PG/SG, (WABs)
- Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG/SF (JGT)
- Terrance Ross SG/SF,, (RafT)
- Davis Bertans, PF/C, (Real)
- Alex Len, PF/C, (BST)
This is a hold-your-nose-and-hope-everything-works-out-round (HYNHEWOR for short). Random mix of veterans with new roles and young guys with less defined ones. You’re just hoping for top-100 upside here.
My Favorite Picks: I’ll let my Atlanta Hawks’ homerism show a little here and go with both Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len. I’m not that concerned with Dedmon’s path to playing time even with all of the big men Vlade signed this offseason. He is fantasy gold when he gets minutes and I think he’s the favorite to start. There are a lot of variables on this roster that could potentially threaten his pathway to minutes moving forward, but for now he is guaranteed to at least be top-100, making him a solid value here.
Len, on the other hand, has far less hindrances to playing time in Atlanta. He has earned himself the starting job over what was truly an impressive reclamation project last season. He won’t blow you away, and does run the risk of posting the occasional dud, but the potential he has as a shot blocking, 3-point shooting (I know it’s crazy to me that this exists for him too) big man makes him well worth the flier at this spot.
My Least Favorite Picks: My own pick, JJ Redick. This was my true panic pick of the draft. I was targeting Marcus Smart and Dedmon and wasn’t saddled with an appropriate backup once they went off the board. There are too many questions in New Orleans’ backcourt for me to feel comfortable with Redick being able to hit top-100 value. I mostly took him because I wanted a guy who would boost my 3’s and FT, but if that’s all I wanted I could’ve just taken Joe Harris two rounds later. Ditto this point for Davis Bertans.
- JaVale McGee, C, (BST)
- Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF, (Real)
- Patrick Beverley, PG/SG, (RafT)
- Eric Gordon, SG, (JGT)
- Danny Green, SG/SF (WABs)
- P.J Tucker, SF/PF, (Alan)
- Bojan Bogdanovic, SG/SF (Toon)
- Serge Ibaka, PF/C, (MarT)
- Brandon Clarke, PF (MyT)
- Dario Saric, PF/C (KDF)
- Thaddeus Young, SF/PF (NBD)
- Zach Collins, PF/C (LtG)
No need for these little blurbs before my favorites and least favorites from this point forward. The philosophy for all of these late round picks is shoot for that fringe top-100 upside.
My Favorite Picks: Danny Green is in a perfect situation to replicate what he did with Toronto last year. I know it’s en vogue to be apprehensive about every Lakers move, but their decision to get Green was nothing short of solid. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective, and will get plenty of run time thanks to his valuable perimeter defense. He was, get ready for this, number 54 on a totals basis last season! I’m all in on this pick, and it is one of the best of the post-100 picks available. If you take a gander at the draft order here you’d probably guess that I wanted Green and had him sniped right before I picked huh? WRONG.
P.J Tucker is and always will be my guy, and for pretty much every reason I’m high on Green. His role is rock solid with the Rockets and he will get you great value in unassuming ways. For those keeping score at home, his rank by totals last season was 50!! Can’t emphasize this enough, these are the guys you want to target here.
My Least Favorite Picks: Thaddeus Young is actually quite similar to Green and Tucker when you think about how they come across their fantasy value. The only thing that sets him apart from them is a clear and defined role. I didn’t understand his move to Chicago when it happened and I still don’t. He could become an unassuming stat champion like Green and Tucker, but that probably isn’t happening unless playing time opens up in the Bulls frontcourt. I’m comfortable watching how he adjust to his new bench role from afar.
- Joe Harris, SG/SF, (LtG)
- Kevin Huerter, SG, (NBD)
- Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, (KDF)
- Kyle Anderson, SG/SF (MyT)
- Marvin Williams SF/PF, (MarT)
- Rudy Gay, SF/PF, (Toon)
- Dwight Powell, PF/C (Alan)
- Evan Fournier, SG/SF, (WABs)
- Brandon Ingram, SG/SF (JGT)
- Justise Winslow, PF,, (RafT)
- Cody Zeller, PF/C, (Real)
- Paul Millsap, PF/C, (BST)
My Favorite Picks: There goes Joe Harris, 18 picks after my JJ Redick pick. There isn’t much to add here other than pointing out that he has an utterly spectacular FG percentage for a guy who is primarily taking shots on the perimeter. It isn’t easy to find guys who can help you in both percentage categories this late in the draft, but Harris does just that and more with his high volume 3s.
Justise Winslow is also intriguing at this spot if you’re into that. The percentages will drive you mad but the assists, which are pretty hard to come by at this point, will be there if you need them. It’ll be curious to see how the position battle between he and Dragic turns out, but regardless, I feel that his pathway to minutes is there.
My Least Favorite Picks: Marvin Williams, and really any Hornets vets, are likely staring down a large regression this season. Marvin in particular is going to be losing his starting role to Miles Bridges, and rookie P.J Washington could eventually cut into his playing time as well later on in the season. He has been a fantasy warlock for a while now, but I just don’t see it with him this year unfortunately. I guess while we’re here, I’m more okay with taking Zeller because the competition behind him is thinner than it is for Marvin. Still, that’s a situation I am more than happy to stay away from.
My Pick: I’ll be honest guys, this is my favorite pick of the round. Dwight Powell is a GUARANTEE to exceed the value I’m getting him at here. I just don’t understand why he is going this low. He was ranked an absurd 22 overall by totals through the final two months of last season, and while it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that he is set to take a step back with Porzingis ready to suit up, a number that high just cannot be ignored.
He had a calm, do-a-little-bit-of-everything feel to his fantasy game: high rebounds, defensive stats and percentages with a dash of scoring with threes. I think that he actually has a nice complementary skillset to Porzingis as a rim-runner, and should figure to open the season as the starting center. If you want to find a guy in this range that could potentially get you top-75 value, look no further.
- Maxi Kleber, PF (BST)
- Cedi Osman, SF/PF (Real)
- Kelly Olynyk, PF/C (RafT)
- Rajon Rondo, PG (JGT)
- Will Barton, SG/SF (WABs)
- Kent Bazemore, SG/SF (Alan)
- Goran Dragic, PG (Toon)
- Jerami Grant, SF/PF (MarT)
- Jakob Poeltl, C (MyT)
- Willie Cauley-Stein, C (KDF)
- Harrison Barnes, SF/PF (NBD)
- OG Anunoby, SF/PF (LtG)
My Favorite Picks: I’m higher on Jerami Grant than most. I know the regression in minutes (32.7 per game last year) is coming, but I do question by how much. Denver had their big coming out season last year, and I don’t think they will have the same incentive to get that top of conference spot. That means more rest for their vets and more runway for their deep bench to flex their muscles.
Grant is filling a huge need for this team as a backup four who does everything they’d want, an energetic glue guy who can hit 3s and guard the opposing teams’ best forward. I’m also not one to bet on injury but Paul Millsap’s days of making it through an entire season are probably done, and Grant would be the sole beneficiary of that sort of situation. 140 is far too low for him, and I think he has a decent shot of competing for the top-100.
Also shout out to OG Anunoby: my favorite nobody-is-talking-about-this-guy-guy (NITAGG). I know the fantasy game hasn’t always been there, but this dude is about to walk into a starters role with a championship core around him. I’ll take him at 144 any day.
My Least Favorite Picks: Really hard to nitpick anything when it comes to these late round picks. I will say though that taking Willie Cauley-Stein while Kevon Looney is still on the board makes no sense to me. Looney is the odds on favorite to get more minutes based on offseason talk, and even if it’s an even split of playing time between the two I see no upside for WCS.
My Pick: I went with Kent Bazemore. I’m just looking for anyone who has a clear and defined role at this point, and while it’s not very defined, Baze certainly does have a clear role to play for this Blazers team. They need him to fill the defensive wing role that Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu once occupied. Positionally speaking I don’t know exactly how it is all going to come together for Portland, but I am confident that Bazemore will be involved. If he stays healthy he is a very quality fantasy asset.
- Kevon Looney, PF/C (LtG)
- Taurean Prince, SF (NBD)
- Rui Hachimura, PF (KDF)
- Spencer Dinwiddie, PG (MyT)
- DeAndre Jordan, C (MarT)
- Reggie Jackson, PG/SG (Toon)
- Ish Smith, PG (Alan)
- Markelle Fultz, PG/SG (WABs)
- Elfrid Payton, PG (JGT)
- D.J Augustin, PG (RafT)
- Nerlens Noel PF/C (Real)
- Jae Crowder, SF/PF (BST)
My Favorite Picks: I like Taurean Prince as a semi-bounce-back candidate and am intrigued to see if the Nets play him at PF at all. Brooklyn has zero depth at that position and if he factors into the equation there the added playing time will be a nice plus for him. Jae Crowder is also looking like the lead wing in Memphis and is perhaps the safest long-term pick of this round.
My Least Favorite Picks: There is no log jam I want less a part of than the PG battle New York created this offseason. Elfrid Payton’s career was on life support before a relatively solid season in New Orleans. Now that he is in New York playing with Dennis Smith Jr. the playing time won’t be there for him to do the things that he’s actually good at, leaving room for him to just be a drag on your percentages.
My Pick: Ish Smith is prepared to enter training camp as the only PG on Washington’s roster that’s ready to play. I already believed that Ish would start the year in this spot before Isaiah Thomas got hurt, now there are no obstacles to the starting gig. He’s always been a nice source of assists and that was what I was banking on by taking him here.
And that was the draft! Here are how all 12 teams finished. The following charts ranks each team 1-12 by how many projected roto points they are expected to have. In the second chart I labeled where each team ranks 1-12 by category as well, showing you how they compare relatively to the rest of the field
FG FT 3’s PTS REB AST STL BLK TO ROTO Points NBD .458 .796 1777 15942 6378 3744 1152 534 2156 70.5 Marlon .488 .756 1274 15161 6437 3260 984 880 1836 66.5 Alan .474 .796 1427 14790 5362 3348 996 788 1583 65.5 Toon .460 .808 1654 16853 5721 3880 969 498 1988 65.5 Real .488 .774 1397 15251 5793 2800 1079 752 1670 64.5 Rafael .472 .754 1516 15317 5901 3129 952 826 1674 62 My Team .479 .808 1492 14917 5636 3354 834 683 1860 58 BST .461 .793 1737 13628 5269 2545 1035 758 1465 57 WAB .482 .777 1092 14535 6109 3208 938 714 1704 53 KDF .479 .762 1294 13116 5577 2750 945 811 1470 48.5 JGT .467 .776 1405 16262 5620 4135 871 464 2262 48 LtG .495 .783 908 12476 5396 2882 848 652 1592 43 FG FT 3’s PTS REB AST STL BLK TO Rank NBD 12 T-3 1 3 2 3 1 10 11 1 Marlon T-2 11 10 6 1 6 5 1 8 2 Alan 7 T-3 6 8 11 5 4 4 3 3.5 Toon 11 T-1 3 1 6 2 6 11 10 3.5 Real T-2 9 8 5 5 10 2 6 5 5 Rafael 8 12 4 4 4 8 7 2 6 6 My Team T-5 T-1 5 7 7 4 12 8 9 7 BST 10 5 2 10 12 12 3 5 1 8 WAB 4 7 11 9 3 7 9 7 7 9 KDF T-5 10 9 11 9 11 8 3 2 10 JGT 9 8 7 2 8 1 10 12 12 11 LtG 1 6 12 12 10 9 11 9 4 12
For those who are new to Roto here are how these point breakdowns work. In a 12-team league, you are rewarded 1 to 12 points per category depending on where you rank in each one. If your team ranks number 1 in FG%, that is 12 roto points. If your team is dead last in rebounds then that would equal one roto point. You award points based on the inverse of your ranking, across 9 categories. Theoretically the maximum amount of roto points a team could get in a 12 team league is 108 (12×9) and the minimum would be 9 points (1×9). This mock shows off some good dos and don’ts for drafting strategies. I’d like to take a deep dive on a few of these teams to highlight the things I found most interesting.
1st Place: North Bay Dawgs (NBD)
North Bay Dawgs is our projected winner of this mock, and it’s quite impressive how they managed to get there. This is basically a punt team, but not necessarily by design. This team ranks dead last in FG percentage and near dead last in TO and BLK. Every other category, however, they are at least a top-3 team in, leading the way with top rankings for 3s and STL. When I look at the sum of this team’s parts, I don’t get the sense that there was a large emphasis on picking guys who fit this mold, as there is actually quite a lot of statistical variance across the players they took.
What works: Let’s start with the foundation: James Harden and Russell Westbrook. I noted how Westbrook could establish a super high floor when paired with any of the top 5 picks in this draft, and this is particularly the case when paired with James Harden. These two will vault any team up to the top in PTS, REB and AST, and each provide high level upside in 3’s (Harden) and STL (Westbrook). They also will destroy your FG percentage and TO margins, which is exactly where this team fell short. To me, these two players had more of an impact on the final result of their team’s finish than anyone else’s first two picks.
Some of the guys they took do have stat sets that mesh well with a would-be punt build here. John Collins is a scoring and rebound dynamo (though he does have relatively strong FG percentage), D’Angelo Russell makes a lot of sense when you factor out his shooting woes, and so does Marcus Smart with his poor shooting but high marks in 3s and STL.
The real key here is how this team managed to overcome the huge drag Westbrook brings to their FT shooting. Harden accomplishes a lot of this on his own (he was number 1 in FT percentage by totals last season), but adding high-volume, high-percentage guys like Love and Hayward really helps elevate this team to the top-3 spot they occupy.
Where it could go wrong: Here’s my beef with punting strategies. When you automatically rule out one (and in most cases it’s really two) categories, you create a much smaller runway for yourself when issues arise. Injuries are a part of the fantasy landscape, and if you happen to take a few to some important players that help buoy your dominant categories, you have less to work with to try and keep your team competitive. Again I don’t think this team meant to build a punt team, but the end result is essentially that they have one.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that this team loses John Collins and Kevin Love for extended stretches of time (not unreasonable given their recent histories). It won’t kill this team but it does take a tremendous amount of wind out of the sails in their PTS and REB categories. Now your team goes from ranking 3rd and 2nd there to really being around 5th and 4th. Not terrible, but now you have a much different ceiling when paired with your last place rankings across two separate categories.
Built to last? Is this a team that can attain this first place projection? I think it’s very possible. Above all else you need to see Kevin Love play a majority of his games and Gordon Hayward to have the bounce-back season everyone is projecting for him. Those two would represent the biggest values to this team if they have successful seasons. Put that on a stable foundation of the Houston guards and have yourself a formidable team.
2nd Place: Marlon’s Team (MarT)
Marlon’s team is ranked number 2 overall and is largely dominated by strong big man stats. First place in REB and BLK and tied for 2nd place finish in FG%. The rest of this team is floated by middle of the pack rankings (5-6) in PTS, AST and STL. Giannis Antetokounmpo was taken first, which makes sense as your foundation for success here, but what’s interesting is that Marlon’s next three picks are all guards: Jrue Holiday, Donnovan Mitchell and Eric Bledsoe. How does a team lead the pack in big man stats without a true big man being taken with their first four picks?
What Works: The out-of-position production that Marlon’s players give him makes this team so potent. Giannis is obviously quite a large man even though he isn’t your prototypical “big man,” so I wouldn’t call his stat set out of position. Between Holiday, Mitchell and Bledsoe, however, you get 13.8 rebounds per game, which is 4.6 per player. That is by no stretch an insignificant figure from your point guards, much less three of them on the same team. When you factor in the above-average rebounding rates of them, Giannis, and then other bigs this team drafted like Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford and DeAndre Jordan, the top-tier rebounding and high block numbers look a little clearer.
Where it could go wrong: There are a few redundancies on the roster that I’d question would stick around for the entirety of the season, some of which could even go as far as to account for the high projected totals in the categories this team thrives at. For one, I don’t believe that Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka both stay on this squad all year. Too much of what these guys do on their real life team take away from one another, and it’s possible that one of the two fades from the fantasy conversation as the year progresses. That is exactly what happened to Gasol after his mid-season trade to the Raptors, when he was barely a top-100 guy.
DeAndre Jordan is another guy who could end up losing his value if he is outplayed by Jarrett Allen. The projections assume that Jordan gets in there and sees decent minutes in the 20s, but this is one that could easily go south. If Marlon’s team loses two out of three of those guys, they may not be as overwhelmingly dominant as the projections suggest. Understanding that projections can only account for so many probabilities helps in understanding how seriously one should take them.
Built to last? I actually like Marlon’s chances of staying a top tier team more than I do North Bay Dawgs, mostly because his foundation is so well off. Giannis paired with the three guards taken after him provide so much statistical variation that I am confident they can maintain a competitive floor for this team no matter how the rest of the roster rounds out.
3rd Place: Alan’s Team
My team will be the last of the upper tier teams I’ll look at in this section. My team tied with Toon Squad for third place overall. I built my foundation around Damian Lillard and Rudy Gobert, two players I identified as being perfect complements to one another for how well they cover up each other’s deficiencies. So how did I do building a team around those two?
Unlike the teams ahead of me, my highest ranking in any particular category is just 3: FT% and Turnovers. The exact two stats I was looking to solve for with my Lillard and Gobert picks. Elsewhere I am pretty well rounded, ranking 4th overall in both STL and BLK. I’m also okay in traditional guard stats, ranking 5th in 3-pointers and 6th in AST. So how does this collection of decent but not fantastic rankings net me a 3rd place finish overall?
What Works: The reason I got here is because I placed a great emphasis on rounding out my percentages. For all the good Lillard and Gobert provide, they are both large drages to FG% and FT%, respectively. With that in the back of my head, I made a point to go after guys like DeMar DeRozan, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and T.J Warren because they all bring positive value to both percentage categories, a skillset that is very hard to come by after the first couple rounds of picks.
Just take those three guys, set aside their percentages for a bit, and look at all the across-the-board value they give me. DeRozan brings good rebounding and passing numbers from his position, SGA generates a ton of defensive stats from the guard spot, and Warren brings a level of high octane scoring (which actually makes his percentages all the more valuable). I targeted all of them because they share the commonality of being really good in a couple of areas, but when put together, they present a well-rounded, versatile foundation that is reflected in the final standings.
Where it could go wrong: I think this team has enough of a foundation to last through potential injuries to my more vulnerable players, and enough bench depth for me to feel safe from the floor falling out from under me. My main concern is that my ceiling isn’t high enough, that I made a team that is perhaps, too safe. Damian Lillard and Rudy Gobert are solid contributors, who I know I will get a lot out of. But after them, where do I have guys who could really exceed their draft spot? Chris Paul, Brook Lopez, DeMar DeRozan and even guys like J.J Redick, and P.J Tucker are all players that I sort of know what I am getting.
If I told you that none of those guys would play above where I took them in the draft would that surprise you? They all seem like safe picks, but collectively, they also seem to lack that upside that fantasy owners are all trying to seek out. Instead of a team that is well-rounded with a high floor, what if I made nothing more than a middling team?
Built to Last? Ultimately I think that this team is more likely to be competitive than fall off. There are too many players I see here that should have safe roles throughout the season. The lack of upside is a very real concern, and one that I felt as I was making my picks. In the end, I feel comfortable going with an all encompassing approach when it comes to Roto. I like the option to pivot to other categories if things don’t go according to plan in the ones I thought I’d do well in. This team is built to do that, and in my mind, built to last.
Before we go, I’d like to take a look at a couple of teams who didn’t perform all that great, and see if we can figure out why:
8th place: Bryan’s Swell Team (BST)
Bryan’s team really stuck out to me because of how polarizing his final rankings were. This team was actually really good in five of the nine possible categories, finishing 1st overall in TO’s, 2nd overall in 3-pointers, 3rd overall in STL, and 5th overall in BLK and FT. So how does a team with this many strengths finish in 8th place out of 12? The other four categories on Byran’s team are among the bottom three throughout the league. This team ranks dead last in REB and AST, and is 10th overall in FG percentage and PTS.
What went wrong: So here’s the rub I left out for Bryan’s team here. He was auto-drafted throughout the draft. I know I know, why even bother analyzing a team that had no thought put into it? I was so taken aback by the large gap between the good and the bad on this team that I just had to look into it. When I saw the breakdown of the players on Bryan’s team, it became very clear how this happened. Bryan’s team has a total of THREE guard eligible players on it: Kyrie Irving, Joe Ingles and Fred VanVleet.
Seven of this team’s 13 players are eligible to play Small Forward and a whopping NINE of them are eligible to play Power Forward. The end result here is a team that is nothing but switchable forwards who all bring the same stat set to the table. Just so we’re clear, this team is fielding Paul George, Otto Porter Jr., Robert Covington, Tobias Harris, Jonathan Issac, Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder. That is half of your roster devoted to guys who all more or less do the same thing.
So why does this matter? It’s a funny and actually somewhat helpful example of what happens when a team focuses too much on building up on guys who all provide similar things. While the philosophy of dominating five categories out of nine can work to your advantage in H2H leagues, Roto is not as kind. Even if you have a strong foundation in the majority of categories, it only takes being terrible in three other ones to make you nothing more than a middleing team. The lesson here is that in Roto, one should aim to be more of a generalist than a specialist.
Okay let’s look at one more team:
12th Place: LeBron the Goat (LtG):
Before we get to the analysis of this team, I want to get out ahead of this and say that this team was not auto drafted and was present for the entirety of the draft. He also deserves a ton of credit because he was doing it from his phone at a baptism party. How about that! Of course I understand if someone isn’t able to make it to a mock draft, but the extra mile put in by this participant is noted and appreciated. Thanks again for your commitment to helping with this!
The two of us also got to talking a bit about his strategies and fantasy background. He has been playing in H2H leagues for the last 20 years, but this was his first introduction to Roto. He told me that he loves taking big swings on players (in his own words, people call him “Jack Reacher” in his personal leagues). So with this in mind, let’s see how this philosophy panned out in the roto projections.
What went wrong: It wasn’t all bad for this team, they actually ranked number one overall in FG percentage and 4th overall in TO’s. Unfortunately this team was ranked last or near last in a few categories, such as: 3’s, PTS, REB and STL, ultimately leading them to be being projected the 12th place finisher. When I looked at the roster, the issue I saw wasn’t that the players he chose were bad (I actually like the majority of their outlooks individually). It was because of the value he lost out on by taking them where he did.
For reference, here were some of Jack’s patented reaches:
- De’Aaron Fox at #24
- Zion Williamson at #25
- Zach LaVine at #48
- Bam Adebayo at #49
Now it is worth noting two things here. One, this team was picking on the turn, as I mentioned earlier, making these picks understandable. Two, before Yahoo changed their rankings, all four of these guys were actually going at these spots according to their average draft position. In the latest changes, however, guys like Zion went from being ranked in the 30s to being ranked in the 40s, While Bam and LaVine went from being taken in the 50s to being taken in the 60s.
So in Yahoo’s calculus, even though these players once made sense going at the spots where our friend drafted them, the change in their rankings made them bad values at those spots. Because they were taken where they were, this team not only missed on better value, but allowed those same value picks to be taken by other teams around him. The end result is a disadvantage statistically, to which as, we have learned, Roto is unkind.
So the lesson here is to always pay close attention to where guys are going. There is a ton of value that your team can take advantage of by not reaching, and instead going after guys that fall to you. Your return on investment will be greater, and so will your chances of winning.
Well that’s all for this mock ladies and gents. Thank you all for taking the time to read and hope you all have successful draft seasons!