• If you are a regular reader, you may have seen my previous mocks and questioned my mindset when I propose certain players falling in this upcoming draft.  To be fully transparent, I must disclose that neither I nor any other mock draft writer knows the intricate workings of the minds that make up the NBA front offices.  That being said, I do believe certain front offices take various approaches to the draft based on multiple factors.

    These factors include current team composition, future contract terminations, the depth of positions available in the league and prospect personality fit.  To provide guidance to readers for both my past and future mocks, I thought it best to provide some insights on my thoughts for this draft.

    Positional Depth

    I believe this year’s draft will be mostly dominated by forwards, both small and power.  The reason for this is the flexibility that these players provide in the changing NBA world.  Small forwards can play down as shooting guards to provide extra length on defense or can play up to power forward in small ball lineups utilized by several teams in the league.

    In addition, the ever-increasing importance of the 3-ball has forced teams to looks for power forwards that can play both inside and out and are shifting away from traditional centers.  This makes power forwards move valuable in that they may be used at center in certain sets.  I also believe this will be a tough year for true point guards.  For example, Kris Dunn was widely considered a top draft pick at the end of the NCAA season.

    However, it is becoming more apparent that few teams are seeking a true floor general near the top of the draft and Dunn has fallen closer to the 7th to 10th pick range.  Combo guards will stand to benefit from this and other undersized guards will fall further than expected.

    Size Matters

    While undersized players may have been very dominant at the college level, they will meet a different level of competition in the NBA where their shortcomings will be more of an obstacle to overcome.  Forwards classified as “tweeners” often struggle as they are too short to play power forward, but too slow to play small forward.

    Today’s NBA is experiencing a shift in point guard style where the position is more focused on scoring, rather than distributing.  Due to this, we are seeing more point guards with favorable height at the position given opportunities.  Tyler Ulis, Kay Felder and Demetrius Jackson are some examples of quality college point guards that may slip in the draft simply because of their height.  All three players measured under 6’0″ and under without shoes at the NBA Draft Combine.

    Drafting Need or Value

    The reason so many mock drafts are pinning Brandon Ingram as the number one pick this year is because of the seemingly perfect fit with the 76ers.  It makes much more sense for the 76ers to fill their small forward spot with a potential star and let their trio of recently drafted bigs find their niche on the team at power forward and center.

    The problem here is that many NBA front offices would much rather draft the “best player available”.  If the 76ers go with Ben Simmons as the top pick, it would be because they believe Simmons is the top talent in the draft and could provide the most future value as a franchise cornerstone or potential trade bait.

    When a team is so far behind the other teams in the league, a common strategy is to take the top talent and move other players when possible in an attempt to rebuild the franchise.  This value based draft strategy also applies to players with potential skill level growth, like Cheick Diallo.

    Diallo rarely played any minutes for Kansas during the college season, but his combine numbers and potential are more appealing to NBA front offices than those of players like college teammate Perry Ellis, who is less likely to experience much growth from his current skill level.

    Teams Without Picks

    Various teams traded away their picks for this draft, as it appears that NBA front offices do not value this draft class as much as previous classes.  Some playoff teams traded away first round picks in an attempt to fill team holes in hopes of a title run.  Some non-playoff teams moved first round picks as well, allowing playoff teams like the Celtics and Raptors to improve their already impressive rosters.

    Draft Night Trades

    As mentioned above, several teams previously traded away picks in this year’s draft.  This also means several teams have a surplus of picks.  I do not expect teams like the Suns, 76ers and Celtics to keep all of their picks.  I believe these teams, and possibly others with several second round picks, will trade away picks as the draft gets closer.

    We will likely see several draft night trades as well.  With these potential trades on the horizon, it makes it difficult to generate a sensible mock draft with future trades taken in to account.

    Once a trade is made, teams may pick different players than the previous holder of the pick would have taken given various team needs and draft strategies.

    Mock Draft 3.0

    My next mock draft will be releasing in the coming weeks and I hope to add a full second round soon. For the time being, I felt the need to explain my draft thoughts to better support my mocks.  Hopefully readers find time to read this post and make sense of all past and future mocks.  Keep following the site for updates and news regarding this summer’s draft.

Fantasy News

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Raptors are planning to claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers, per Eurohoops' Nikos Varlas.

    Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports that the Raptors were interested in adding Antetokounmpo last season, but had their plans dashed when Dallas took Antetokounmpo with the final pick in the draft. He's incredibly raw still, but has the physical build that the Raptors seem to love in their developmental projects.

    Source: Nikos Varlas on Twitter

  • B.J. Johnson
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings have waived B.J. Johnson.

    Johnson had a decent showing in Summer League but never seemed likely to last in Sacramento given the team's depth at forward. After making seven appearances on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Hawks last season, Johnson will look to find more concrete footing in the league this season.

    Source: Jason Jones on Twitter

  • Kostas Antetokounmpo
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavs have waived Kostas Antetokounmpo, per Shams Charania.

    The youngest Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2018 draft but only appeared in two games with the Mavs last season. Dallas opens up a two-way contract slot and will likely find a more NBA-ready player on the market, while Antetokounmpo will look to latch on with another team for camp. Perhaps the 20-year-old can make it a family affair, with both of his older brothers playing in Milwaukee.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Christ Koumadje
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    The Sixers have agreed to a one-year, partially-guaranteed deal with rookie Christ Koumadje according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

    Rich Hofmann of The Athletic reports that it will be an Exhibit 10 deal. Koumadje went undrafted but flashed his defensive potential by averaging 2.4 blocks in only 13.6 mpg at Summer League. The 7'4" big man will be a developmental project for Philly and is not part of the fantasy landscape for the time being.

    Source: Michael Scotto

  • James Harden
    PG, Houston Rockets

    James Harden has taken his name out of consideration for the FIBA World Cup this summer.

    Harden will be focusing his efforts on getting ready for next season. There figures to be a large adjustment coming with Russell Westbrook replacing Chris Paul, and Harden playing alongside a ball-dominant scoring guard rather than a distributor will be something that figures to have a rough patch or two. Still, Harden reportedly told the Rockets that he's comfortable with playing off the ball more, so it should work out. Team USA, meanwhile, figures to be just fine considering the depth of talent available.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Josh Gray
    G, New Orleans Pelicans

    Josh Gray has agreed to a two-way deal with the Pelicans.

    Gray had a cup of coffee with the Suns back in 2017-18 and spent last season playing in Korea. The former LSU product has always been adept at stacking up steals, but he's unlikely to see much playing time given the backcourt depth in New Orleans.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Christian Wood
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Christian Wood will be competing for backup center minutes this season, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

    Markieff Morris and Thon Maker will be his primary competition, and Wood has the edge if Detroit is looking for some strength and rebounding. If they're looking for shooting, then it's safe to say that we'll see some smaller bench groups this season. Wood has been dominant at the G-League level and had some monster games at the end of last season but it's not a great landing spot for fantasy value given that Detroit's roster is built on their frontcourt stars. Deep-league owners should keep an eye on that battle in the preseason.

    Source: Keith Langlois on Twitter

  • Justin Holiday
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Justin Holiday has agreed to a one-year deal with the Pacers as of Friday's reports.

    Holiday will likely be a wing option off the bench for a secretly deep Pacers squad. There's some potential here if he can find an appropriate minute load.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Isaiah Pineiro
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings agreed to a one-year, partially guaranteed deal with Isaiah Pineiro on Friday.

    This seems like just a depth move for the Kings to have a G-League option for this upcoming season. He played for the Kings in Summer League and clearly impressed enough to get a contract.

    Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter

  • Kosta Koufos
    C, Sacramento Kings

    Kosta Koufos has reached an agreement with CSKA Moscow according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo.

    Haynes goes on to say that Koufos' deal will make him the highest paid American in all of Europe next season, so it's safe to say that it was an easy sell for Koufos who appeared to be facing a rather tepid market. His deal will also include an NBA option that will allow him to opt out of his contract should he decide to return to the States.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter