Expert Mock Draft: Anaylsis
What to do when the NBA season is months away and the only ball you can catch is on late night TV following the World Championships? Well, if you are an NBA fantasy expert, you e-mail your bros and put together a mock draft. Way back on August 16, a group of experts gathered in front of their laptops and did just that. While everyone else was sweating their fantasy baseball teams and planning for their football drafts, these guys got together to take a look at the fantasy landscape this season in the NBA.
Participating in the draft were: Matthew Berry, representing NBA.com; Brian Flood of CBS Sportsline; George Winkler from Sporting News; Adam Madison of TalentedMrRoto.com; Pro Trade's Jeff Ma; David Sabino of Sports Illustrated; Mike Yam of ESPN; Chris Liss of Rotowire; NBA TV's own Rich Kamla; and Brandon Funston from Yahoo!.
The ten-team league has 15 roster spots per team with the following positions: PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, FC, C, Util and six bench spots. Categories are the standard eight with no turnovers. The draft is more than a mock; the league will play out the season on NBA.com's new Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner (UFC). Hoopheads who like robust commissioner features and maximum flexibility should check out NBA.com's revamped fantasy site. It threatens to be the new standard.
Let's take a look at how these expert hoopheads see the upcoming season and who's rising and falling in the dog-eat-dog world of fantasy basketball.
A lot of the usual suspects were taken in the first round, but there were some interesting picks. Dwyane Wade vaults to the number two overall pick, up from last year when he was an early second round pick in most leagues. While Wade is one of the most entertaining players in the NBA, he better add a consistent three-point shot to justify this jump. KG has obviously slipped in the experts' eyes, all the way to fifth. He's a fantastic pick at that spot. It looks like David Sabino is sold on Amare's health. If you are not, you may want wait a bit. I am a little surprised to see Kobe go ahead of Shawn Marion, but George Winkler could be thinking the Matrix's numbers drop with the return of Amare. The second round was almost entirely dominated by point guards and big men. Chris Bosh has established himself as a fantasy stud with his scoring, high-volume percentages and rebounding. It is his free throw shooting that lands Bosh ahead of Tim Duncan in this round. Chris Paul is a top three (some say two) point guard this year. If you want him, you'll have to go early. Yao was drafted exactly where he should be taken, though in two center leagues a first round pick is justifiable. Small forwards Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko went at the end of the round and represent excellent values. Both could put up first round numbers.
The third and fourth rounds were very interesting. A couple of picks could be reaches, and a couple of players have slipped from previous heights this season. A center-eligible Pau Gasol is a very nice pick. He is young, driven and only getting better. However, his recent injury at the World Basketball Championship wasn't predicted. The next pick, Carmelo is a reach. His scoring is top-notch and that he was selected a team captain on the U.S. team tells you he's matured. However, this is fantasy. He'll have to improve his rebounding (4.9 rpg last year) and add another category (steals, blocks or threes) to justify this high a selection. Jameer Nelson is another reach. He has plenty of potential and the starting gig is all his, but he has yet to show he can stay healthy for an entire season. Look where T-Mac and Jermaine O'Neal fell. These guys used to be first round and second round locks respectively. It's all about health. They will be steals if they play anywhere near the full 82. Rotowire’s selection of Stephon Marbury in the fourth round is a gamble with a lot of upside—if Marbury returns to his 20 point/eight assist self. Safer picks in this guard-heavy round include Joe Johnson (whose post All-Star break numbers were just sick), Mike Bibby, Michael Redd and Andre Miller. Clearly, our experts wanted to make sure they had a top guard by the fourth round in this draft.
These rounds are some of the most important in your draft. You expect first and second round talent from picks made in those rounds, and most owners get it, but when you can get third or fourth round talent in the middle rounds, you will push yourself to the top in your league. Matthew Berry got great value selecting Big Z at the start of the seventh round. If Ilgauskas lasts this long in your league, you'll be very happy. A number of valuable small forwards came off the board in these middle rounds. I love the Caron Butler pick, and Andre Iguodala's Swiss Army game will make George Winkler smile. The experts are showing us that Andres Nocioni is not a sleeper. He has been the last kid waiting to be picked in the schoolyard for the past two years. No longer. The number of solid point guards selected in these rounds gives you an idea of what to expect in the middle rounds of your league: Sam Cassell, T.J. Ford, Speedy Claxton, and Mike James in particular should all be good values for their owners. If he puts up numbers close to last year, Ricky Davis was a steal in the 9th round.
As we move toward the later rounds of the draft, we see the experts taking more calculated risks with their selections. Some of them could bear fruit very quickly. I love the Danny Granger pick to open the tenth round. Owners in keeper leagues should go even sooner for the Matrix Jr. Another great value pick is Adam Madison's selection of Darko Milicic, who, after the blocks he puts up year, will be known as the human eclipse instead of the human victory cigar. If you need harder to find categories like blocks, steals and threes, they can be found even this late. Milicic and Samuel Dalembert will be excellent shotblockers. Mike Miller, Kyle Korver and Hedo Turkoglu will each fill up the three-point totals for their owners. Smush Parker and Devin Harris will help in steals.
At this point in the draft, picking players is like digging through the crates of a used record store. Yes, there's a lot of Herb Alpert and Burl Ives, but there are some dusty gems in there as well. This league has a deep bench and our experts have filled their starting positions. It is time to hunt for sleepers or, to bleed the metaphor a bit more, that copy of the Incredible Bongo Band's Apache you know is in there somewhere. Let's break it down. Potential Apaches: J.R. Smith, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Leandro Barbosa and Darius Miles. Likely Herb Alperts: Shelden Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Jamaal Magloire and J.J. Redick. There is no reason not to trust your instincts and take risks at the end of your draft. If players don't pan out, the waiver wire will always be there.
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The views expressed by TalentedMrRoto.com represent only the views of the writers; they do not represent the views of the NBA or any NBA team.