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The 2013-14 campaign tips off Tuesday evening, which means that the vast bulk of fantasy drafts will take place in the next handful of days. Taking part in and examining mock drafts is an important part of getting a handle on which players are going when in different formats. With that in mind, we got our gang of fantasy hoops experts together again for another mock draft.
This one is a 13-round, 10-team, head-to-head league using eight categories (points, 3s, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, FG% and FT%). We use 10 starters and keep a three-man bench. While we may dub this a mock, we decided to play it out for real, which gives a little more authenticity to our picks.
Let's check out the results and the thinking behind some of our selections. (Click here for a full rundown of picks by team.)
Things would have been a little more interesting had I not somehow snagged the top pick in our previous mock and this one, but I can't complain. I think you can flip a coin between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but I'll still give the edge to Durant because of his free-throw advantage. No surprises in the rest of the first round, though I'm glad to see Derrick Rose getting more love as the season nears.
My rosters are always chock full of the young and talented, so I love the Wall/Unibrow duo you got on the turn. What are your expectations for this pair of No. 1 overall NBA draft picks, and were you comfortable taking them this early?
Neil Tardy: "It wasn't entirely planned. I'd targeted Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis for picks 10 and 11 -- until I realized that Brian McKitish owned the eighth pick. Having read Mac for years, I had no doubt he would select Rose. There were safer alternatives obviously, but I wanted a point guard and a big, and I wanted upside. Going into last season, I felt that Wall would take a step forward, and he showed it after the break (20.7 points, 7.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 81.0 percent foul shooting on 7.1 attempts). As for Davis, I think he's ready to make the move coming out of the gate in 2013-14. It might be silly to throw out his preseason numbers (22.0 points, 6.3 boards, 2.0 blocks, 1.8 steals and stellar percentages), but I honestly believe that's in range for him -- only with even more rebounds -- once the games count."
I will basically never own D12 in a roto system. That's because you'll have to be at or near the top of your league in every category in order to win any competitive league, and having Dwight Howard basically ensures that you will not do that in free throws. Going head-to-head in categories is completely different, though. I can punt free throws and still beat my opponents in enough categories to win. As an added bonus, we aren't using turnovers, so Howard is even stronger. I expect to see the Magic version of Howard in Houston and wouldn't hesitate to take him in the first round of H2H category leagues.
A fully healthy D-Will would have gone in the first round, but he's still not right. Are you OK with the risk of taking him at 14?
Josh Whitling: "I'm not overly concerned about the ankle -- Williams thinks he'll be ready for the season opener -- and even if he misses the first couple of weeks, I was pretty sure I was going to grab Reggie Jackson with my final pick (which I did), and he'll be an adequate fill-in if needed. I think Deron is in for a spectacular fantasy season, even if his scoring diminishes, because I think his assists and efficiency will rise. His field goal percentage rose last season, primarily because he went from taking 4.5 shots per game between 16-23 feet the previous campaign, to 2.8 per game last season. I see that trend in efficiency continuing now that he'll have to create his own shot even less, and can focus upon driving and finishing at the rim, driving and kicking to accomplished teammates, and spotting up for open looks. I also have a gut feeling that being under Jason Kidd's tutelage will increase his steals. If Williams gives me 18 points, 10 assists, two 3s and more than a steal per game while shooting better than 45 percent from the floor and 85 percent from the stripe, that's a cornerstone point guard I feel great about building my team around."
I have long had a fantasy infatuation with ballers who can go out and get me freakishly large stats in any particular category, so it's no surprise that I love Rubio's potential in assists and steals. Plus, with Durant and Howard already in the fold, they can cover up his FG% woes. After three picks, I have high-end production in every statistical category, except FT%, which I will just punt, if needed.
Ty Lawson remains an underrated fantasy option. Does his value change for you in H2H versus roto?
Mike Huang: "I think I value Lawson more in a roto league. With year-end accumulation, Lawson's bouts of inconsistency can hurt me less than in a head-to-head league. But let me be clear, it's not that big of a difference. Lawson's main hurdle will be to completely embrace his role as the Denver Nuggets' playmaker and No. 1 or 2 scoring option. Especially without Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari."
I listed Pau Gasol as one of my prime sleepers for this season, because I'll be shocked if he doesn't far exceed draft spots such as this. So long as he is on the court, he's going to rack up a ton of stats. I was surprised he lasted past guys with smaller offensive roles such as Brook Lopez, Chris Bosh and even Tim Duncan, who is great, but also considerably older than Gasol.
Blake Griffin has been a nightmare at the free throw line and an underachiever in hustle stats, but getting him at No. 35 seems like a nice score. Does the H2H format change your thinking on his value? Do you think Doc Rivers will draw out a better fantasy game from him?
Amin Elhassan: "I felt Griffin's positives (FG%, rebounding) would outweigh any negative impact in terms of FT%, although he has been steadily improving in that area, and might crack 70 percent this season. Doc Rivers' top assistant, Alvin Gentry, brings a highly successful offensive playbook with him, but the Clippers' improved perimeter shooting will be an even bigger factor in opening the court for Griffin to be even more devastating offensively."
The beauty of setting up a well-rounded team with my first three picks is that it gave me versatility going forward. I didn't have to reach for a particular stat or position. Instead, I just aimed to take the best players available. Having added the big-man stats of Gasol, I paired him up with Brandon Jennings. I believe we will see a new Jennings with the Pistons -- one who is committed to taking good shots and racking up bigger assist totals.
The Utah Jazz frontcourt has been a source of frustration for years in Fantasyland, but they finally thinned it out this offseason, which means that Derrick Favors is poised to break out. How high do you think his fantasy value will go this season?
Brian McKitish: "There's a lot to love about Favors this season. Not only is he incredibly talented, he's also in a near-perfect situation to produce big-time fantasy numbers. After averaging 9.4 points, 7.1 boards and 1.7 blocks in just 23.2 minutes per game last season, he could realistically post 14 points, 10-11 rebounds and two blocks per game in the extremely thin Jazz frontcourt."
I would have snagged Andre Drummond had he fallen to me, but I was content with O.J. Mayo. He should have little trouble scoring in the upper teens and banging down at least a couple of 3s each game. Not sure I can call him a sleeper, but he definitely appears to be undervalued a bit in most drafts I've seen.
You took Westy at No. 52, which is right on par with his current ADP of about 50th. Do you feel good about taking him in that spot?
Ross Marrinson: "Russell Westbrook at No. 52 is tremendous value, I think. He looks to be ahead of schedule to return from injury, but even if he misses those four to six weeks, or roughly 20 games, I'd rather have Westbrook's points, assists, rebounds and steals for 60-ish games than a full season from just about anyone drafted behind him. He'll average 20-plus ppg, six-plus apg, five-plus rpg and a steal per game. There aren't a lot of guys with that type of multicategory output in the top ten, let alone at No. 52. His FG% and 3PT% are lower than I'd like, unfortunately, but I feel as though I more than make up for those deficiencies with Kevin Love, Tony Parker and Klay Thompson."
Speaking of guys who can churn out freakish stats; JaVale McGee is a blockmeister extraordinaire. Pairing him up with D12 should put me right in the mix for blocks every week. If I end up with too many blocks, he'll make for a great trade chip to a team in need. He also reinforces my FG% to counter my chucking guards, and that might carry even more weight if Nuggets coach Brian Shaw follows through on his plan to increase McGee's role on offense.
It doesn't seem to matter with which team Jose Calderon is balling or to whom he is dishing passes; the guy racks up a ton of dimes. Do you expect that to continue in his new digs in Big D?
James Quintong: "I drafted Calderon for all the assists he can dish out, thanks in part to having some big-time scorers in Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis."
I was actually hoping that one of Tobias Harris, Kenneth Faried, Gordon Hayward or Chandler Parsons would drop to me. Each of them carries a load of upside this season. However, I was content with adding Amir Johnson, who brings with him steady stats and no negatives. He's basically Kevin Garnett-lite, without the age and health concerns. That makes him a perfect option to round out my starting lineup.
Sticking with my theme of players who can bring big numbers, Danny Green will help me shore up my ability to compete in 3s each week. If I get lucky, his scoring might even creep into the low teens. This seems like the right area of the draft to take Eric Gordon, as Whitling did. Despite his upside, I'm still shying away from the talented guard, though. We play odds in fantasy hoops, and the odds say that even though the risk-reward ratio is right in the ninth round, he still won't come through. I hope he does get over the hump, though, because he has a fun game to watch.
It's been tough to get a read on No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Anthony Bennett. People debate whether he was worthy of being the top pick, he's coming off shoulder surgery and his weight and conditioning need work. What are your expectations for him as a rook?
John Cregan: "This was my All-Upside draft (after Chris Paul in the first). For the first two to four weeks, I have absolutely no expectations. There's a 50 percent chance I drop Bennett after the first week of the season (in a non-keeper league). At that stage in the draft, it's a low-risk, medium reward situation. I was just looking for some upside late, and all it will take is one big game to start the rush to pick him up. But for the first half of the season, Tristan Thompson is a safer bet."
At first glance, DeRozan doesn't seem to fit the profile of the players I said I like to draft, since he doesn't crush it in any category besides scoring. In fact, I'm prone to mocking people for even owning him in fantasy, because a guard who doesn't contribute 3s, steals and assists is borderline useless. However, with the 100th overall pick, DeRozan does contribute a special stat: scoring. Securing a potential 18-plus PPG scorer this late works in this H2H format by giving me one more player who is churning out points.
At this point, I'm just looking for a lotto-ticket type pick. I like Beverley's game, and I think he has a legitimate shot at securing a major role in the Houston Rockets offense. If he flops, I'll just cut him and move on the hottest player on the waiver wire. He's a quality late-round flier.
Joe Johnson lost a lot of fantasy love in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, and even more with the addition of Pierce and KG. Do you think he could have a renaissance campaign in a Ray Allen-like role this season?
Eric Karabell: "By round 11, I was simply looking for more scoring and 3-pointers, and Johnson should be able to provide something similar to last season. Then again, since I'll take the under on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combining for 140 games, Johnson seems a bit underrated to me."
I think the likelihood that Andrea Bargnani makes a significant impact this season with the New York Knicks is slim. But it could happen, and that's why he's worth a pick in the late rounds. I wouldn't draft him before this spot, and I won't hesitate to dump him to waivers if he stumbles early on.
If Harrison Barnes had a starting role locked up and was sure to get a lot of touches, he'd be on everyone's breakout list. Instead, he may come off the bench and will have several options ahead of him on offense. On the other hand, we all saw in the playoffs what he brings to the hardwood, so I have him stashed on most of my rosters. One injury or trade, and Barnes could blow up.