A group of RotoWire basketball writers and editors celebrated the latest breakdown in NBA labor talks by holding our first NBA mock draft of the season.
The teams were selected for a standard nine-category head-to-head league - points, rebounds, assists, steals, FG%, three-pointers, assists, steals, FT% and turnovers - with roto scoring.
The ongoing lockout had a significant effect on the valuations of some players, particularly unsigned free agents like David West and Jason Richardson, and players like Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith went undrafted due to their foreign contracts. But even with the uncertainty, some traditions held. As usual, I drew a draft slot at the bottom of the first round ... and Andre "The Professor" Snellings continued his Lou Gehrig-esque streak with yet another selection of Kevin Garnett.
No big surprises at the top of the first round, as the top four picks match the top four in Rotowire's player projections for nine-cat leagues (though CP3 and LBJ rank second and third, respectively). Nabbing Howard at this spot is an eyebrow-raiser, though the H2H format of this draft mitigates his category-killing impact on FT% significantly.
An early run on top guards allows LaMarcus Aldridge
to slip into round two - I suspect the Professor was very pleased with that result. Of course, some of Aldridge's value last season came from the fact that he was filling in for Portland's oft-injured centers for much of the season. Does a healthy Greg Oden
diminish Aldridge's fantasy value? Is there such a thing as a healthy Greg Oden
? Rudy Gay
is another question. He was headed for a career year before injury ended his season - but the Grizzlies thrived without him late in the season and during the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he's re-integrated into their offense this season.
Seeing a bit of a run on point guards in round three, as Wall (63 in our nine-cat player rankings), Nash (74) and Lowry (49) all go well ahead of their projected slots. Evans could be a steal in the third round. I can see him thriving in a "two guard who initiates the offense" role, alongside Jimmer Fredette
in the "point guard who mainly shoots threes" position made famous by combos like Dwyane Wade
and Mario Chalmers
, Kobe Bryant
and Derek Fisher
, and, of course, Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr.
Shocking to see Chris Bosh
and Brook Lopez
in the fourth round, but that seems about right; Bosh's numbers took an expected hit with his arrival in Miami, and Lopez was just awful on the boards last season. Lawson is a major breakout candidate this year, as he's no longer sharing his job with Billups or Felton; Felton's value could take a hit in Portland's deliberate offense. I was pleased to get Billups here - if healthy, he should thrive playing D'Antoni-ball.
And we have a run on centers ... or big men, at least. Liberal position eligibility rules in most leagues, and "small" lineups used by most NBA teams have largely eliminated scarcity; most power forwards also qualify at the five spot these days. The selection of Jrue Holiday
was one of the first to elicit a lot of "Curse you" comments from the assembled, which is the best possible reaction a pick can get. Marcus Thornton
is a risky pick; if Evans is going to play the two and John Salmons
the three, will Thornton get enough playing time to merit this pick? Pleased to get Gallinari here. With Wilson Chandler
set to spend the season in China, Gallo essentially becomes Denver's primary scorer.
Here we start getting into the "calculated risk" portion of the program. West and Richardson are both unsigned free agents at this point, with fantasy values that could fluctuate wildly depending on where they land. The fact that Bynum lasted this long tells you everything you need to know about this group's opinion on his durability.
Just past the half-way point, and the owners start making more aggressive - potentially risky - picks. Lamar Odom
could be a steal if he's moved back into the starting lineup as many expect. DeMarcus Cousin
s could be huge, but he's a major turnover risk.
We've already discussed the risks associated with drafting players who aren't under contract ... that is worth noting again here with the selection of Kris Kardashian - er, Humphries. It's also important to note that, according to a number of reports, the next NBA labor agreement will almost certainly contain a one-time amnesty, allowing teams to cut some of their overpaid, underperforming players loose. There's at least a chance that the selections of Baron Davis
, Antawn Jamison
and Mo Williams are what brought that to mind - all three are veterans that aren't part of their teams' long-term plans, and all three could be blocking promising youngsters (Kyrie Irving
, Tristan Thompson
, Eric Bledsoe
) from getting regular run. This could be a big factor in leagues that draft early.
|1. Anderson Varejao (Cle - PF,C)||Jeff Stotts |
|2. Paul George (Ind - SG,SF)||Sam Mischke |
|3. J.J. Hickson (Sac - PF,C)||John Clemeno |
|4. Austin Daye (Det - SF,PF)||Kyle McKeown |
|5. Samuel Dalembert (Sac - C)||Josh Fathollahi |
|6. Rodney Stuckey (Det - PG,SG)||Mike Barner |
|7. Andrei Kirilenko (Uta - SF,PF)||Andre Snellings |
|8. Jimmer Fredette (Sac - PG,SG)||Jacob Guth |
|10. Nick Young (Was - SG,SF)||Charlie Zegers |
|11. Chase Budinger (Hou - SG,SF)||Jack Moore |
|12. Omri Casspi (Cle - SG,SF)||Eric Johnson |
Most players who have signed contracts with foreign teams this summer fit into three basic categories: those who are essentially taking a paid vacation, getting in a little run while they wait for the league to re-open for business. Deron Williams
is the most notable example. Then, there are free agents locked in to playing for their foreign clubs for at least the duration of the season - Wilson Chandler
and J.R. Smith
won't have opt-outs of their Chinese-league contracts, and are locked in to playing across the Pacific until the Chinese Basketball Association season finishes. And then there's Andrei Kirilenko
. Kirilenko's contract with CSKA Moscow will reportedly have an opt-out, so the restricted free agent will have the option of returning to the Jazz or negotiating with other NBA teams. But he signed a three-year deal, which is a pretty strong indication that he may opt to stay in his homeland no matter what happens with the labor deal. Leagues that hold their drafts after the lockout is settled and player movement has taken place won't have to worry as much about these unique situations - but owners drafting early should pay close attention.
Couple of very interesting picks in round 10. I believe Jeff Teague
will win the starting point guard job in Atlanta on the strength of his playoff performance. The Professor apparently has a high opinion of Ricky Rubio
's short-term fantasy value - higher than mine, anyway. I'm also having a hard time seeing how Rudy Fernandez
and Anthony Randolph
get enough playing time to have real value; Dallas is loaded with guards and Minnesota with forwards. And Landry Fields
could face a playing time challenge of his own, as rookie Iman Shumpert
has reportedly been very impressive at exhibitions and other events this summer.
|1. DeJuan Blair (SA - PF,C)||Jeff Stotts |
|2. Trevor Ariza (NO - SG,SF)||Sam Mischke |
|3. Tony Allen (Mem - SG,SF)||John Clemeno |
|4. Ed Davis (Tor - PF,C)||Kyle McKeown |
|5. Gary Neal (SA - SG)||Josh Fathollahi |
|6. Rashard Lewis (Was - SF,PF)||Mike Barner |
|7. Evan Turner (Phi - SG,SF)||Andre Snellings |
|8. Derrick Williams (Min - SF,PF)||Jacob Guth |
|9. Jordan Crawford (Was - PG,SG)||Kevin Payne |
|10. Anthony Morrow (NJ - SG,SF)||Charlie Zegers |
|11. Ryan Anderson (Orl - PF,C)||Jack Moore |
|12. Corey Maggette (Cha - SF,PF)||Eric Johnson |
Several more interesting picks in this round. Tony Allen proved invaluable during Memphis' run to the playoffs - but that happened while Rudy Gay
was sidelined. Gary Neal
should have a bigger role this season with George Hill
out of the mix in San Antonio. Turner could become a much more important player if Andre Iguodala
is traded as many expect. And while I'm hesitant to get involved with any of the players in Minnesota's small-forward logjam, I'd rather have rookie Williams than Anthony Randolph
More high upside picks here, as is appropriate this late. Toney Douglas
played much of last season with a bad shoulder, but was good-to-great at times. Harrington could find himself in a much more important role with Kenyon Martin
out of the picture in Denver. Bayless seems like a great value this late, though I'm interested to see how he'll fit with Kemba Walker
in Charlotte's backcourt.
And here's where we take the leap from "high upside picks" to "wild shots in the dark." Michael Redd
, for example, is unsigned and still working his way back from major knee problems - but couldn't he generate some value as "designated three-point shooter" on a contender? Same goes for McGrady, who was pretty good in limited minutes for a bad Detroit team last year; what if he's this season's veteran's minimum guy on, say, the Heat or Celtics? Greg Oden
, of course, is the poster child for "high upside."
FINAL THOUGHTS & QUICK HITS
started out strong, but I see a lot of questions on his squad. John Wall
may have been a reach at 25th overall in a league that counts turnovers, and I'm not sure where Paul Millsap
is going to line up this season or if he'll be effective playing the three. Jonny Flynn
seems like a good high-upside late round pick, but I really don't think he'll get much from Bismack Biyombo
as a rookie.
looks awfully tough. If his 5-6-7 picks (Elton Brand
, Andrew Bynum
, Devin Harris
) play most of the season and Paul George
continues to develop, he could be the team to beat.
Love Team Clemeno
's pick of Blake Griffin
in the third round. Not as high on Felton, Hedo Turkoglu, Antawn Jamison
or Tony Allen. Think there's a lot of upside with JJ Hickson, but I thought that last year, too.
I love the top and bottom of Team McKeown
's draft - he finished very strong with Ed Davis
, Tristan Thompson
and Kemba Walker
. Not as big a fan of Andray Blatche
, Mo Williams, Austin Daye
or Fernandez in the middle rounds.
nabbed some excellent high-upside players. I already mentioned Gary Neal
; Sam Dalembert - who could wind up playing the middle for Miami this season - is another.
's squad could improve significantly when the NBA re-opens for business and we learn where Jason Richardson
, Chris Kaman
, Rodney Stuckey
and O.J. Mayo
will play this year.
Same goes for The Professor
, especially if an Iguodala trade gives Evan Turner
a bigger role. But Dre may have reached a bit on Kyrie Irving
and Rubio, and Kirilenko's status for the upcoming season is highly uncertain.
I imagine Team Guth
will be active in the trade market, as his team is about nine-deep in center qualifiers (Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire
, Zach Randolph
, Tim Duncan
, Aaron Gray
and Timofey Mozgov
.) Good problem to have.
has some pretty major questions: David West
and Kris Humphries
(unrestricted free agents), Michael Beasley
(could be traded or lose playing time in Minnesota's crowded frontcourt) and Brandon Roy
(massive injury risk). If some of those gambles pan out, he'll be in excellent shape.
went for Golden State Warriors in the second and third rounds, which makes him vulnerable to a change in team philosophy under new coach Mark Jackson. Could Monta Ellis get traded when the NBA resumes business? Would he be as valuable in another system?
looks strong from top to bottom - quite possibly the best overall job in this mock.
I'm fairly pleased with Team Zegers
- particularly getting Gallinari, Marcin Gortat
and Jared Dudley
in the middle rounds. But I may have left myself a bit thin at power forward/center. Maybe I should give Jacob a call.