NBA Draft Kit: Preseason Mock Draft + Reactions

NBA Draft Kit: Preseason Mock Draft + Reactions

This article is part of our NBA Draft Kit series.

In collaboration with our partners at CBS, the RotoWire NBA staff took part in a 13-round mock draft Tuesday night.

While the league won't be played out, the mock was still a valuable exercise in determining player value with the real draft season just a handful of weeks away.

Click here to view the full draft results. Picks were made based on a 12-team, nine-category, Head-to-Head format.

Here's what RotoWire's participants had to say about how the draft went down:

Which pick was the biggest reach of the draft?

Alex Rikleen: There were a lot of ugly picks in round five, but Dennis Smith Jr. at 5.9 is potentially team-ruining. That's the 57th overall for a player I have ranked outside my top-130. He's a replacement-level fantasy point guard on a real-life team that just drafted an excellent passing guard in Luka Doncic. Smith was selected over three point guards who I have as roughly top-70 guys (Ricky Rubio, Jeff Teague, Lonzo Ball), and at least two that I have in the 70-85 range (Dejounte Murray, Reggie Jackson). Looking only at his best month-long stretch last season -- and I'm being generous with "month", going only from 12/29 to 1/26 to avoid two bad games on either end -- Smith was barely a top-90 player.

I've written in multiple places about why I don't see LeBron as worthy a first-round pick, so seventh was way too high. As for Ayton and Doncic, I love the talent levels, but history says fantasy managers should not draft rookies with a top-80-ish pick. Since the lockout, an average of less than two rookies per season have finished inside the top-80, and less than half of those rookies had the highest ADP among rookies that season.

James Anderson: Drummond in the 2nd, Vucevic in the 4th and Ayton in the 4th all stand out as pretty big reaches. I understand going for Drummond and taking the FT% hit at some point, but taking him ahead of guys like Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan and Chris Paul doesn't make sense to me. Vucevic is a pretty bad real-life player, so I think there's a ton of playing time risk as the Magic eventually transition to getting more minutes to their younger core players. He's not even a big-time shot blocker, so if he loses playing time he's a borderline-replacement-level player. Rookie centers almost never play well enough to justify a fourth-round selection, and I don't think Ayton is in the KAT/AD tier of talent that can pull that off.

Jeff Edgerton: I think I may win the award for most mentions with this question after I took D'Angelo Russell, Rajon Rondo and Kaminsky. All that aside, I think that Al Horford in the 3rd round was an early reach. There was a run on big men, so I can understand the desire to lock one in, but I think it was too early.

Mike Barner: I thought DeMar DeRozan went a little high at 2.8. Some notable players who were still available at that point included Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

DJ Trainor: Deandre Ayton was taken directly before Blake Griffin, Clint Capela, Klay Thompson and Aaron Gordon. Say what you want about those four guys, but assuming good health, all four should reasonably be inside the top-50 at the end of the season. The same can't be said of Ayton in Year 1.

Ben Miller: Deandre Ayton came off the board a lot earlier than expected. I get the desire for an upside pick, but he's not going to be needed to score much alongside the likes of Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, and Trevor Ariza, so he'll be more of a boards and blocks guy with decent percentages. I also felt Dennis Smith Jr. at 57th was a pretty big reach and Dejounte Murray was a little early at 78th overall.

Alex Barutha: D'Angelo Russell at 48. I think taking Russell relatively high and hoping for a breakout is justified. But I'd prefer a player with a higher floor in that range, and Russell has hardly shown improvement in overall efficiency or assist-to-turnover ratio.

Oscar Heanue: For me, two guys in the 5th round really surprised me: John Collins and Jarrett Allen. Collins, in particular, strikes me as a guy who not only isn't super-proven, but is pretty limited in what he offers. With plenty of high-level, multi-category contributors left on the board, taking a guy who realistically is only going to excel in FG% and rebounds seemed like a bit of a reach.

Joel Bartilotta: Gary Harris is one of those players who's a better real-life player than a fantasy player. Players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap steal much of the usage in Denver and that makes Harris a tough bet to reach value as a third-round pick. In addition, Harris averaged just 2.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.2 blocks per game last year -- he has too many deficiencies for a player going that high.

Which player was the best value pick?

Rikleen: Steph Curry (1.8), Chris Paul (2.9), Kevin Love (3.3), Rudy Gobert (3.9), Otto Porter (6.6), Robert Covington (6.11), Larry Nance (10.1), George Hill (12.9).

All of those players went at least 50% later than I have them ranked on my own board.

Anderson: Dejounte Murray and Joe Ingles in the 7th round. I was picking close to the turn and opted for Ricky Rubio in the 6th, crossing my fingers that Luka Doncic, Murray or Ingles would make it back to me in the 7th. They all went, but Murray and Ingles almost made it. Murray and Ingles aren't traditionally talented, but the sum of everything they contribute equates to fifth-round fantasy value in my book.

Edgerton: DeMarcus Cousins in the 10th round. Recovering from an Achilles is a nasty proposition for any player, but at 28, Cousins' long-term outlook is still positive. It's not yet clear how Boogie will be utilized on a team that hasn't used the five as a focal point of its offense in the past, but it's undeniable that he's a huge talent and a vast improvement for the Warriors, who've essentially relied on veteran's minimum players at the position in recent years. Even though we probably won't see him until January, he's worth stashing for a second-half run in any league.

Barner: Taurean Prince was a steal in the eighth round. I didn't find him until after I made my pick in the seventh round and he didn't make it back to me.

Trainor: I'll toot my own horn here and say DeMarcus Cousins in Round 10. This is a head-to-head league, so ideally he should be back at full strength with plenty of time before the fantasy playoffs. Under the same logic, grabbing Kristaps Porzingis in Round 11 gives me a very solid team at some point in 2019, but I'll struggle mightily until then with just one reserve spot to utilize.

Miller: Taurean Prince in Round 8 with the 91st overall pick was definitely a steal. He's a guy that could have gone a good 20 or 30 picks earlier in some drafts. On my own team, I really liked my Robert Covington selection in Round 6 with the 71st overall pick. He's a top-50 guy, in my opinion, so he fell a lot farther than where I would have expected.

Barutha: Taurean Prince at 91, Danilo Gallinari at 143 and Rudy Gay at 149. Prince averaged 19.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.5 AST, 3.2 3PM and 1.3 STL after last year's All-Star break. If Gallinari stays healthy, he'll likely be the Clippers' second-leading scorer. Gay is now two years removed from a torn Achilles and is the Spurs' second-strongest option on the wing, which could push his minutes into the mid-to-upper 20s.

Heanue: I like Otto Porter's value in the 6th round. He's a guy who can score efficiently and get you plenty of steals, so I would have had him pegged more as a 3rd or 4th rounder.

Bartilotta: Hassan Whiteside. This is certainly a risky pick, but Whiteside is a guy who's been close to a second-round ADP, when healthy and engaged, over the last few seasons.

After the draft, which player(s) do you get a sense you're higher on than others in the industry?

Rikleen: A lot of players, it seems. From the list above, we all seemed to agree Paul, Love, Gobert and Hill were going later than they should. But there was no indication anyone else thought Curry, Porter, Covington or Nance were undervalued. Similarly, I was ready to leap for joy when I got Josh Richardson (5.12), Brook Lopez (7.12) and the pair of Thad Young and Nance at the 9th/10th turn -- but all of those picks were met with total crickets. Lonzo Ball (6.7) and Julius Randle (6.10) were both players who I thought would have been huge bargains at 6.1, but who I had to pass on for strategic team-building reason. I was surprised they lasted until the end of the round.

Anderson: A bunch of middle-round guys: Dejounte Murray, Joe Ingles, Luka Doncic, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Jamal Murray, Brandon Ingram. That's where I think you can really swing your league. Some of those guys are discounted because they haven't truly broken out yet; some are discounted because they aren't big-time scorers but are great at everything. I really buy into Rubio's mini-renaissance he showed in the second half with Utah last year and I love plugging Ingles in to give me a boost across the board, which allows for more flexibility in the later rounds.

Edgerton: I'll refer back to the Russell pick here. I think he's been largely overlooked after the early-season injury and a less-than-stellar return to action. I was also surprised to see Mo Bamba fall as much as he did (I took him in the 13th). He will be stuck behind Vucevic in the short term, but it's conceivable that the Magic could slide Aaron Gordon to the wing and employ two big men in the frontcourt, given that both Bamba and Vucevic can space the floor.

Barner: I might be higher than most on Julius Randle, who I selected in the sixth round. Big men selected ahead of him included Nikola Mirotic and Jarrett Allen. I think he's a great fit with Anthony Davis and is primed to carry over his success from last year.

Trainor: Kent Bazemore, who I grabbed in Round 9. He's coming off his best statistical season, will presumably be afforded the same workload this coming season and is still just 29 years old. I would have been content taking him as early as Round 7, but thought he'd be more likely to fall than Elfrid Payton and Jayson Tatum, who I took in Round 7 and Round 8, respectively.

Miller: I don't think others in the industry look down upon these guys, but players like D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle seem to be undervalued. If Russell can stay healthy, he's easily the Nets' top playmaker and he'll be working for a hefty pay raise with the Nets having to decide on an a potential extension in the near future. Randle, on the other hand, seems to be overshadowed alongside Anthony Davis and he'll also be battling Nikola Mirotic for time. Still, with the attention that Davis commands, I feel like Randle should fit in seamlessly without any drastic drops production.

Barutha: Tyreke Evans (58), Will Barton (74), Joe Ingles (82). I understand Evans has an injury history and he won't be the No. 1 option like he was in Memphis. But he'll be a primary ball handler and probably the No. 2 option. Barton is the Nuggets' only real option at small forward. Ingles is boring, but he's a dominant three-point shooter and solid in assists and rebounds.

Heanue: I think I took Draymond Green a little higher than most people would have, but I love what he brings to a fantasy squad. Some people write him off because of his low scoring, but the fact that he can simultaneously give you good-to-great production in steals, blocks, rebounds, and assists is pretty special.

Bartilotta: Nic Batum, who I got in the sixth round, is one of my favorite stat-stuffers in the league. Getting a player who has a 15-5-5 floor with the 64th pick is incredible value.

What were your thoughts on where stars returning from major injuries came off the board?

Rikleen: All of them made sense and were good bargains when they went -- especially since this was a H2H league. In H2H, I have Kawhi 9th on my board, so getting him at the turn was an easy call. Gordon Hayward at 4.3 is just a few picks below where I have him, and about half a round below where he finished in 2016-17. Mike Conley at 5.4 is a great risk with a massive reward if he is fully recovered.

Cousins at 10.6/114th is a risk in Roto, but a steal in H2H. When it comes to drafting players like Cousins in H2H leagues, my motto is if you aren't making the playoffs without him, then you aren't winning the championship with him. Cousins should be fully operational by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around, and at that point you've got a good chance at top-30 or better value.

The fact that DJ Trainor doubled-down on the strategy by picking Porzingis with his next pick, 11.7, will limit his roster flexibility through the season but could make him a playoff juggernaut. Then I finished the 11th round with Isaiah Thomas (132nd). At that point in the draft, I expect to drop the players soon anyway, and point guard was my weakest position.

Anderson: I'm fine with Kawhi with the first pick in the second round -- I obviously could have taken him two spots earlier but opted for Jimmy Butler, who has slightly less upside but seems quite a bit safer. Early-to-mid second round is where Leonard should go. Don't mind Cousins in the 10th at all -- he could be back anywhere from December to February. He obviously won't have the same usage we're used to, but in the 10th round the risk is worth the reward. I think there's more risk that Porzingis misses most of the season, if not the entire campaign, but again, in the 11th it's fine -- I just probably wouldn't have done it with only three bench spots.

Edgerton: The Warriors have no need to rush Cousins back so he'll have the luxury of waiting until he's 100%, which will likely be in January or February.

Porzingis will likely be out until January, at the very earliest, and there's a chance he could be held out for the entire season -- especially if the Knicks struggle over the first few months, as expected. I was surprised to see him drop to the 11th round, however.

As for Kawhi, I decided pre-draft that if he fell to me at 24 I'd take him, but I was pretty certain that wouldn't be the case. There's simply too much potential there if the move to Toronto improves his mindset. I would be more concerned about what's going on between his ears as he appears to be past his injury.

Barner: Kawhi was a reasonable selection with the first pick in the second round, based on his upside. Cousins and Porzingis went in rounds 10 and 11, respectively, which isn't much of a risk that late.

Trainor: As I mentioned above, I took two of those three. I feel much better about Cousins than Porzingis, since I think the Warriors will welcome a fresh presence in their offense during the latter part of the regular season, whereas the Knicks might play Porzingis for a couple months in 2019 and shut him down for the rest of the season if they're not in contention. Kawhi has a lot to prove, so I don't think it's possible to draft him too high this preseason.

Miller: I thought Leonard's draft positioning was about right in that late first or early second round group of picks. I would have drafted him a couple of picks earlier than 13th overall. Cousins and Porzingis are huge question marks and are obviously going to be popular late-round fliers for those trying to stash them for playoff runs. The two were drafted in the 10th and 11th rounds, respectively, and that didn't bother me much. However, with this league having just three reserve spots, having either of them stashed for more than half the season could present some problems if your roster succumbs to injuries early on.

Barutha: I think they were picked well overall. I can't imagine getting Leonard much lower than 13. Cousins could go a little higher than 114 in H2H. The murmurs that Porzingis may sit out most of the year scare me off in general, but it's hard to argue drafting him at 127.

Heanue: I regret not going for Cousins a round earlier, because I think he could really be the piece that puts a lot of fantasy teams over the edge in the playoffs this year. Other than that, I think Kawhi and Porzingis were drafted relatively appropriately, given what we know about their injuries.

Bartilotta: I'm scared to death to take Leonard in the first 20 picks with the injury question marks and change of scenery, but I can't blame anyone for taking that risk, given his top-10 upside. While Cousins is a nice IR stash, he's simply going to be too limited for me to draft him in any leagues. Even if he miraculously returns in January, he'll likely miss most back-to-backs and be held to strict minute restrictions. Porzingis is the most interesting injured player. There's a chance -- though not a good one -- that he could be back sooner than Cousins. While an ACL tear is serious, it frightens me less than a torn Achilles.

Were you surprised to see the first two rookies -- Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic -- taken nearly two full rounds apart?

Rikleen: I wasn't surprised by any of it. I didn't like it. But I wasn't surprised.

Anderson: I wasn't surprised, but I do think it's ridiculous. Doncic absolutely belongs in the 6th round, but I probably wouldn't have taken Ayton until the 6th or the 7th. He's just not going to block enough shots to make up for the typical rookie big man growing pains. His team is garbage too, which should increase his usage, but he's not going to be in a good position to succeed.

Edgerton: I expected Doncic to go a little earlier, definitely. The guy was an absolute beast for Real Madrid and he's played at that level since he was 15. He's the most NBA-ready rookie by far.

Barner: While they are two vastly different players, I think their fantasy upside this year is relatively close. If anything, I think Ayton may have gone a round or two too early.

Trainor: That only happened because Ayton was taken a too high, so I wasn't surprised that people still waited on the other rookies.

Miller: I wouldn't say I was surprised regarding the difference in where the two were taken. However, they both came off the board a couple rounds earlier then where I would've felt comfortable taking them, so my surprise was more about how willing others in the draft were to spend an earlier round pick on a rookie. That said, I do think those two are clearly the top two rookies and will have plenty of relevance in standard leagues this year. Just a personal preference to wait on the them.

Barutha: People have such varying opinions on rookies that it doesn't surprise me, and I think both players were taken in appropriate spots given the players that were available at their respective positions.

Heanue: I wasn't especially surprised by this. Ayton was the No. 1 pick for a reason, he has the tools to be a big contributor in the NBA right away. In Phoenix, he should have a lot of opportunity to put up numbers, whereas I think Doncic might have more of an adjustment period and have more competition for touches.

Bartilotta: I believe Ayton is significantly more valuable than Doncic right now, so, if anything, I believe they should be more like three or four rounds apart. Ayton will be the unquestioned guy up front in Phoenix, while Doncic will have more players to contend with for possessions.

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

Rikleen: I'm legitimately pumped about my team, and very bummed we won't be playing this one out. I feel like I got a significant discount with every single pick. I will demolish the field in steals. I should be excellent in FT% and very good in threes and turnovers. I think I'll be able to win rebounds ~60 percent of the time, blocks ~40 percent, and assists ~30 percent. I'm probably doomed almost every week in FG% and points. My biggest problem is that I drafted for value and not for fit.

I was disappointed to pass on Covington and Ball when I took Markkanen at 6.1, as I felt both players were better values. However, Covington was redundant when I already had Leonard, Harris and Richardson, and I wasn't prepared to adapt my team to Ball's peculiar skill set at that point. I also consider grabbing Randle there, who I think could be this season's version of 2014-15 Draymond Green, and who I rated as a slight discount at that pick. However, I had Markkanen far enough ahead of Randle on my own board that I felt I had to pass, especially when Markkanen felt like a better fit for my team at that point. I was happy to take Markkanen, and I think I got a lot of value, but that was my toughest decision of the draft.

Anderson: The 11th spot is pretty brutal. I really wanted Damian Lillard or Nikola Jokic and they went right in front of me. If I could have paired Jokic with Ben Simmons, that would have been ideal. I think I could compete with this team, but I wouldn't expect to win the league. I'm middle of the pack in a lot of categories and wouldn't bank on winning any one category.

Edgerton: I'd give myself a C- minus overall. With the first pick, my strategy was to go with Giannis and wait on other frontcourt talents as I'd clearly be in a lower tier by the time it got back to me. The guard pool was still fairly deep so I elected to load up there with Lowry and Mitchell at 24 and 25. Looking back, I think taking Kevin Love in that spot would have been a better way to balance out my roster. Instead, I waited one more round and got Dwight Howard. I think this was my biggest error. I also tripped on the Rondo pick. I was blindsided by Kanter being taken and didn't prepare adequately for a backup.

Barner: Blocks will be my big weakness. When Paul was falling in the second round, I was hoping to pair him with Harden, but he went one pick ahead of me. If we were playing out this league, I'd really be kicking myself for losing track of Prince. I like my guard trio of Harden, Holiday and Thompson and think the combination of Love, Randle, Collins and Kanter could provide more production than some people might think. Overall, I think my roster could compete for a playoff berth

Trainor: Thanks to the mid-season additions of Cousins and Porzingis, I would win the playoffs, but making the playoffs would be tough since there are only three reserve spots in this format. I'd be handicapped for the first few months of the season and would potentially have too big of a hole to dig out of.

Miller: Overall, I was very satisfied with my roster. There are plenty of talented scorers in my lineup and all of my big men are able to knock down the deep ball at least somewhat effectively. Depth at guard is a concern, however, and I'll likely struggle to compete in the assist category for much of the year. I was hoping to grab Donovan Mitchell in the third and Clint Capela in the fourth, both of whom went a pick or two ahead of my draft slot.

Barutha: I felt like I was getting such good value on forwards that my guard position is a little shallower than I'd like. I also ended up with a ton of established players and didn't take much risk, so I may have less upside than most other owners. Overall, however, I'm satisfied with how things went.

Heanue: I wasn't expecting Westbrook to drop to No. 5. I had been planning on taking either Giannis/Davis/Harden, based on availability. So that threw a wrench in things. Overall, I think I put together a team that can dominate in points/rebounds/assists/blocks, which makes up for the fact that it'll basically be guaranteed to take an L in turnovers and threes on a weekly basis.

Bartilotta: My goal in a H2H categories league is to get players who can fill multiple categories. I feel I did that well with guys like Nikola Jokic, John Wall and Nicolas Batum. My only weaknesses are at the forward positions, but that's easily the shallowest positions in fantasy this season. I was disappointed to miss out on Kevin Love in the third round, as he would have solidified my rebounding numbers.

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Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A multi-time FSGA and FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM Fantasy alongside Jeff Erickson, as well as The RotoWire NBA Show on Sirius XM NBA with Alex Barutha. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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