This article is part of our NBA Draft Kit series.
As the season draws near (only 13 days away!), average draft position (ADP) data becomes steadily more reliable. And the closer we get, the more ADP becomes a self-reinforcing cycle. This happens in several ways, including:
- Drafters see a player's ADP and use that knowledge to wait longer for someone they are high on
- When drafters are low on a player, they often become concerned they are missing something if that player remains available too far beyond ADP.
But sometimes ADPs are just wrong. Well, not "wrong", exactly, but way off from where they should be. Identifying these cases is key to avoiding the two ADP traps – missing a great player because you were afraid you were reaching, or drafting a player too high because their overinflated ADP made you think you were getting a value.
According to FantasyPros.com composite ADP, these are the players whose current draft value is most out of whack.
Too high: Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Current ADP: 2
My recommendation: Picks 9-15
There are two problems with drafting Doncic second overall. First passing on Steph Curry or Nikola Jokic is inexcusable. I wrote on this back in May, and nothing has changed. Those two are a clear tier-unto-themselves at the top. As Matthew Berry often says, "don't get cute". Passing on Curry or Jokic is an unnecessary risk.
Second, I don't even think Doncic is in the unusually large second tier. I have nine players filling the ranks between spots 3-10, and I have Doncic as my top name in Tier 3 – though I wouldn't complain if you want to bump him up ahead of traditional injury risks Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis.
Among potential first round picks, Doncic is effectively tied for last with Curry and Damian Lillard for last in stocks (steals plus blocks). He also crushes teams in FT% (and turnovers in 9-cat). James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns are all likely to provide more combined rebounds-plus-assists. Drafting Doncic in the first half of the first round assumes he's made a leap that hasn't happened yet and passes on players who have already proven it.
Too low: Michael Porter Jr, Nuggets
Current ADP: 36 (3.12)
My recommendation: Know your league-mates. Wait until the third round if you think you can, but I often take him in the mid-second round
MPJ's vaccination status (unvaccinated) is the only reason I don't have him as a first round pick - I had him 12th before he confirmed his status on media day, and dropped him to 14th due to the increased likelihood of missing games.
After Jamal Murray's (knee) season-ending ACL tear, Porter stepped into the role of Denver's second star and absolutely shined. He averaged 24.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 threes while shooting an absurd 57-49-85. It would be nice if he did a bit more on defense, but he's not a zero there either – 0.7 steals and 0.9 blocks in 31.3 minutes per game last year, and his minutes are likely to increase in his third season. Talent dries up quick in the second round of drafts this season, and I'm delighted to snag Porter once all the A-listers are gone.
Too low: Fred VanVleet, Raptors
Current ADP: 29 (3.5)
My recommendation: One pick after Michael Porter Jr.
Fantasy drafters are mostly ignoring the impact Covid-19 had on the players who caught the virus last year. As a result, players like Towns, Jayson Tatum, and VanVleet are all turning into draft day bargains. All three battled the virus, and their on-court production lagged for months after the initial onset.
When VanVleet contracted Covid-19, he was ranked 19th per game in 8-cat and 14th in 9-cat; he was averaging 20-4-7 with 3.4 threes and 2.5 stocks. His production lagged when he returned to action, but was able to close out the season strong. It's a small sample size, but over his final three appearances, he averaged more points, rebounds, assists, threes and steals than he did over those two months pre-Covid.
VavVleet should be in consideration for a second-round pick even before you factor in that he's only 27 years old, has improved every year, and should take on even more offensive responsibility with Kyle Lowry now in Miami.
Too high: Julius Randle, Knicks
Current ADP: 21 (2.9)
My recommendation: Late fourth round
This was my biggest surprise when I started looking at ADP. Like any loyal listener of the Lowe Post podcast, I like Randle, and his ascension to borderline stardom isn't surprising. But I don't understand why fantasy managers seem to think his numbers from last season are replicable. And, even if they were replicable, Randle wasn't a top 20 player last season in per-game value (he finished 26th in 8-cat and 39th in 9-cat). He was aided greatly by being one of the few stars in the league who both stayed healthy and avoided any virus-related absences.
The Knicks' offseason mostly consisted of getting rid of bad offensive players and bringing in good ones. They replaced a backcourt that couldn't pass or shoot with Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier – two players who aren't perfect but can do those two things. So how is Randle going to repeat his career-high 6.0 assists per game?
Before last season, he'd never topped 35% from three or 74% from the free throw line. He hit 41% and 81% last season, do we really think he can do that again? And with Walker and Fournier added to the impressive and improving core of RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, can Randle maintain last season's 29% usage rate?
Picking Randle in the second round is asking him to have back-to-back absolute-best-case-scenario seasons.
Too low: Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves
Current ADP: 44 (4.8)
My recommendation: Late third round
There's already some hype building around Ant-Man, but he's still got plenty of room to move up draft boards.
Edwards moved into the starting lineup about a month into his rookie season. The first month in that new role was ugly. But then, almost as though a literal switch was flipped, he got a lot better very quickly. Over his final 40 games, he averaged 24-5-3, 2.8 threes, 2.1 stocks and shot 44-34-77. Those shooting numbers won't hurt a fantasy team, and those raw stats will really help. Throughout that closing stretch he was a top-45 guy in 8-cat and top-60 in 9-cat.
But he wasn't done improving. His FG%, threes, and assists went up every month. And the ephemeral "eye test" showed steady improvement, too. With a proper NBA offseason under his belt, I'm willing to reach slightly above what he showed us last season – I think there is plenty more improvement still ahead.
Too low: Robert Williams, Celtics
Current ADP: 83*
Current ADP (excluding CBS): 61
My recommendation: I'm happy taking him in the early fourth round; a must-snag if he lasts to the fifth.
CBS has Williams really low in their default ranks, which muddles the picture around TimeLord's ADP. But even if we ignore the CBS data, his ADP is still way too low. For what it's worth, most industry analysts seem to agree – I haven't seen him last anywhere near that long in any industry draft I've been in, and FantasyPros' Expert Consensus Ranks has Williams all the way up at 45.
Despite playing just 18.9 minutes per game last season, Williams finished seventh in the NBA with 1.8 blocks per game. Among qualified players who blocked at least 1.5 shots per game, only Anthony Davis (32.3 MPG) and Nerlens Noel (24.2MPG) averaged more steals than Williams' 0.8. Williams is expected to move into the starting lineup this season, and he could finally be set for an increase in minutes. Even if he only gets to about 24 minutes per game with Al Horford and Enes Kanter in the mix, he would have a chance to be the league-leader in stocks – and my guess is he plays a lot more than that.
Keep in mind that Williams doesn't score, and so he's not right for every team build. But he'll come close to a double-double per night on top of potentially league-leading blocks and FG% numbers. He was already a top-70 player as a low-minutes backup. If he can stay healthy, there's a good chance he provides roster-defining production as a starter.
Too high: Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks
Current ADP: 47 (4.11)
My recommendation: Late fifth round
I'm only a round off of ADP on Porzingis, which isn't a ton compared to the other players in this article. But I wanted to call him out because most analysts are ranking the original unicorn even higher than his ADP, so I'm afraid he's going to move even earlier over the next few weeks. FantasyPros' Expert Consensus Ranks – an average of ranks submitted by analysts from across the industry – has Porzingis at 40 – another half-round higher.
Obviously, the biggest issue with Porzingis is his health. He's missed at least 15 games in each of the last five seasons. But there are a few things about last year's stat line that worry me. In both 2017-18 (pre-injury) and 2019-20 (after missing a season), Porzingis was a top-25 player. But that was in large part due to blocking more than two shots per game. That figure fell to 1.4 per game in 2020-21, and I think the way Dallas uses him – Jason Kidd has already made it clear Porzingis will play power forward – means that lower rate is likely to continue.
That drop was partially offset last season by career-best shooting numbers. But while I think the lower block numbers are here to stay, I'm concerned Porzingis' FG% and FT% are due for regression. He jumped five full percentage points in both categories compared to the previous season.