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NBA Draft Kit: Westbrook Still No. 1 in Latest Expert Draft

Nick Whalen

RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.

In our first expert’s mock draft of the preseason, Russell Westbrook was the first player off the board.

A week later, even after the news of Carmelo Anthony joining up with Westbrook and Paul George in Oklahoma City, little has changed. Westbrook again went No. 1, followed closely by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was also the second pick in our first mock.

While Mock No. 1 reflected an eight-category Roto league, this latest mock draft is a bit more specialized. The league again consists of 12 teams but follows the Points scoring format and includes just six scoring categories: Assists, Blocks, Points, Steals, Total Rebounds, and Turnovers.

But all categories aren’t created equal: Assists are worth two points, while turnovers are worth negative-one point. Blocks, Points, Steals and Rebounds each equate to one point.

Roster format: 10 active players, four reserves. Starters: four guards, four forwards, one center, one utility spot.

Did the extra point per assist lead our experts to take chances on players like Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo earlier than normal? Take a look at the full results below, as well as a quick Q&A with the six participants representing RotoWire:

FULL DRAFT RESULTS AND TEAM ROSTERS.

What are your overall thoughts on how your roster turned out?


Nick Whalen
In our first mock, I started off with a pair of Warriors -- Durant and Green -- and this time I did the same, but I swapped Durant for Curry. In a league that places such heavy value on assists, I was thrilled to get my hands on Green. I was also surprised to land DeAndre Jordan in the fifth round. Even if he takes a step back with Chris Paul out of the picture, he’ll be a rebounding machine, and in this scoring format, his free throw woes aren’t a concern.

Kevin O’Brien
I like how my roster ended up because I was able to get players I like with every pick. I went heavy on the "big man" stats, but I feel a lot of the centers and players who regularly accumulate blocks/rebounds go fast, so I wanted to stock up there. I'm banking on the rookies all making a healthy impact in their first seasons.

Joel Bartilotta
It's very rare to get through a draft without having a player sniped one or two picks ahead, but that was the case for me. With this being a points league, in which assists are the most valuable statistic, I chose to go guard-heavy and that strategy worked out perfectly with my first six picks. Although I took two forwards with my first two picks (Kevin Durant and Paul George), I was fortunate enough to grab four high-upside point guards across my next four selections (Eric Bledsoe, D'Angelo Russell, Reggie Jackson and Rajon Rondo). That guard run was a beautiful complement to my elite forwards, and it helped me to craft a formidable roster.

Alex Barutha
With assists being worth two points and everything else being worth one point, my roster ended up very guard-heavy. Four of my first five picks went to guards, with the exception being Marc Gasol at center -- a passing big. Overall, I like my roster, but it's not a format I'm used to and took some risks with guys that I'd normally be lower on like Lance Stephenson and Dario Saric because of their passing upside.

Oscar Heanue
Overall, I felt my roster came out very well. LeBron is obviously a guy who is a great top option on a fantasy team, and I have a lot of confidence in the breakout potential of Schroder and Oladipo. I was also thrilled to pick up a solid vet like Aldridge as late as I did.

Andre Snellings
I'd say that my team is characterized as high-risk/high-reward. I started that from my first pick overall, as Anthony Davis could dominate this points-based format but his health is always scary. With my next seven picks, I drafted four players who ended last season injured, two rookies, and Zach Randolph with his...legal issues...as my 8th pick. A lot of risk, but if it pans out, in this scoring format, I think I have the team with the highest ceiling.

Which player was the biggest reach of the draft?


Nick Whalen
It wasn’t an egregious reach, but given the situation in Sacramento and the scoring format, I thought 61 was a bit early for George Hill, who’s probably a better real-life player than a fantasy player.

Kevin O’Brien
Dwyane Wade

Joel Bartilotta
Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert were taken at 23 and 26 overall by Kevin O'Brien, which ultimately felt like reaches for me. I love that strategy in a categorical format, in which you stack up rebounds, blocks, steals and field goal percentage, but taking those players this high will ultimately be a detriment to his team, with centers being less valuable. Not to mention, you can only start one center and a flex, thus clogging up his roster early and hurting his flexibility in the later rounds.

Alex Barutha
Thaddeus Young at 76. I'm relatively high on Young, but lower-risk/higher-upside guys such as Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Tobias Harris, etc. were still available.

Oscar Heanue
To me, the biggest reach of the draft was Khris Middleton at No. 25. Middleton is a quality player, but especially in points leagues where three-pointers and solid percentages are not rewarded, spending such an early pick on him feels wasteful. With several quality players left on the board, a guy whose career bests to this point were 18/4/4 averages feels like the wrong move to me.

Andre Snellings
In the draft overall, I think Khris Middleton at No. 25 was the biggest reach because of the format. In a roto draft, the pick is more justifiable. However, in a points-based league with assists as the double category, I don't think Middleton produces enough volume to justify going that high. For my own team, Ben Simmons in the fourth is my riskiest pick because he'll be a rookie in a new position, and he has to reach at least 85% of season potential without injuries to justify a pick that high.

Which player was the best value of the draft?


Nick Whalen
I thought Nic Batum (48) Lonzo Ball (50), Gary Harris (89) and Derrick Favors (92) all went a few spots too low, and I was also surprised to get Kevin Love at No. 42 overall.

Kevin O’Brien
Kawhi Leonard (12).

Joel Bartilotta
Being able to snatch up Kawhi Leonard at 12th overall was quite the steal, as he's a top-five pick in numerous drafts I've already done. In addition, Marcus Smart falling to 148 was a big drop for a player who could be approaching 30 minutes per game.

Alex Barutha
Kevin Love at 42. Assists being worth double points skews things a bit, but nightly 20-and-10 threats probably shouldn't be going in the fourth round of any draft. The additions of Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade probably don't help his case, but I just have a hard time imagining that he'll regress back to 16 points and 9 boards per game. Even if he does, I assume his assists will go back up.

Oscar Heanue
I felt that one of the biggest steals in the draft was Brook Lopez at 62. Lopez is a great scorer playing on a team that will desperately need guys who can score. He can pass well for a big and can be a decent source of blocks as well. Getting a player like Lopez that late in the draft can be a game-changer for teams in points-based scoring systems.

Andre Snellings
At the top of the draft, I thought Kyrie Irving was a definite first-round value in this scoring format. I would have taken him over each of the five players taken directly before him. I also felt that scoring combo guard types went lower than they should, such as Avery Bradley (#83), Dion Waiters (#94) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#132).

Which player(s) were you targeting but were unable to get?


Nick Whalen
I was really hoping to get my hands on one or both of Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons. Maybe it’s just rookie infatuation, but in a league that places such a heavy emphasis on assists, I think both players have a great chance to outperform their draft slot. If the Lakers are willing to look past Ball’s defensive issues, it’s not a stretch to think he could end the year as a top-five assists-producer.

Kevin O’Brien
Draymond Green, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz

Joel Bartilotta
There were only a couple of guys who I had queued up but wasn’t able to get: Myles Turner (36), Robert Covington (113) and Greg Monroe (135). I ended up with D'Angelo Russell (44), Clint Capela (116) and Justise Winslow (140) instead of those three, with Russell being a personal breakout favorite of mine.

Alex Barutha
Elfrid Payton (56). The Magic seem determined to make things work with Payton despite his slow development. He burst onto the scene after the All-Star break last season, however, averaging 13.5 points, 8.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds and just 2.5 turnovers (!) per game. I'm not sure his rebounding is sustainable, but in a fantasy format that rewards assists, it's not to love a guy who is a dedicated passer.

Oscar Heanue
I would have loved to pick Devin Booker, since he's a young guy with tremendous scoring upside. Unfortunately, I had to decide between him and Horford, and I went with Horford to fill my center slot.

Andre Snellings
Again, of all the players in new cities this season, the one that I think will explode is Kyrie Irving. I couldn't justify taking him over Anthony Davis and possibly Karl-Anthony Towns, but I would have strongly considered him over any other player that went in the 7-19 range..

Which player(s) taken outside the top 100 could you see being a significant fantasy difference-maker this season?


Nick Whalen
Both Jamal Murray (101) and Wilson Chandler (102) could end up looking like steals in retrospect. Chandler is finally healthy and no longer has to contend with Danilo Gallinari for minutes, while Murray could very well end up starting at point guard on opening night. Looking deeper, I like Taurean Prince (112) and Rudy Gay (144) as two of the savvier late-round pickups.

Kevin O’Brien
Jamal Murray, T.J. Warren, Evan Fournier, Robert Covington and Buddy Hield.

Joel Bartilotta
At pick 101, I was able to snatch up Jamal Murray and I feel as though he has just much upside as anyone taken after pick 100. If he captures that starting point guard role for Denver, Murray could be one of the breakout players with his sort of scoring ability in this top-five offense. As for the other teams, Patrick Beverley was a nice grab at 137 with his expanded role and lack of other weapons on his team.

Alex Barutha
Kent Bazemore (123). Bazemore is likely the No. 2 option in the Hawks' anemic offense. His progression as a player hasn't exactly been promising, but he'll likely see a high number of touches and may have to transition into a volume-shooting role, giving him plenty of opportunities to crack 20 points.

Oscar Heanue
One guy I'm looking out for is Buddy Hield. He put together a solid stretch after being traded to Sacramento last season, and as a sophomore, he certainly has a lot of room to grow this year. He strikes me as a guy who could really outperform his draft position.

Andre Snellings
In roto, I think there are some real difference-makers in the later rounds, but in points-based leagues with only assists doubled, the expected value talent falls off a lot faster. So by pick No. 100, you're down to players who would have to break out in an unusual way to be great value. Guys like T.J. Warren, Will Barton or super-young players/rookies like Jayson Tatum might have the best chance to break out. Also keep an eye on Derrick Rose (pick 149), who could have a big season if Isaiah Thomas' hip becomes a worst-case-scenario issue.