The 2019-20 fantasy hoops campaign officially tips off in eight days, which means we are in the stretch run of draft season.
By comparing this draft to our others, you can see how player value changes depending on the scoring system and size of the league. As for this mock, read below for key takeaways from our experts.
The participants, in order of draft position: Michael Schwartz, Matt Williams, Marc J. Spears, John Cregan, Preston Johnson, Ohm Youngmisuk, André Snellings, Kyle Soppe, Jim McCormick, Andrew Lopez, Tom Carpenter and Joe Kaiser
Michael Schwartz: The NBA may be a game of guards and wings, but head-to-head fantasy is all about the big men. Five of our first eight picks and nine of our first 24 were centers, and there were more centers picked in the first two rounds than point guards and shooting guards combined.
Centers who shoot a high percentage are just so valuable in a league like this, where you lose a point for every miss, which is why I was sure to grab Clint Capela, who has ranked in the top three in FG% in each of the past three seasons, at the end of the second round. That’s also why I selected 69 FG% shooter Mitchell Robinson at the end of the fourth round and Derrick Favors at the end of the sixth, as he moves to one of the league’s fastest teams, the Pelicans.
Matt Williams: Heading into this draft, I was trying to determine the right value for point guards, especially Trae Young. He had a significant jump in production after the All-Star break last season, and I decided to select him with my third pick (26th overall). Was it a little early? Potentially, but I knew no way he was dropping to my next selection.
Young averaged 24.7 points in the second half of last season, the most by any rookie since Tim Duncan in 1997-98. This came after he recorded 16.9 PPG before the All-Star break.
However, more important than his second-half output, Young had the ball in his hands a lot. According to Second Spectrum, he used the most on-ball picks as a ball-handler and ranked sixth in total touches last season. A lot of potential for a strong season, especially in an offense that led the NBA in pace in 2018-19.
Marc J. Spears: It might sound elementary, but I have my eyes only for versatile players and diamonds in the rough. I feel like I got a couple diamonds in the rough at their draft position in Gordon Hayward, Julius Randle and Kelly Oubre Jr. I also added two of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters late in Joe Harris and Landry Shamet. Harris, Shamat, Oubre, Taurean Prince and Dennis Smith Jr. are also starters who were late picks, and I believe they’ll will have strong numbers on their team. Perhaps I could have added more rebounding and shot-blocking.
John Cregan: It’s a points league, and it’s an expert draft, so I made this my “go for it” draft. I went for players I felt had the greatest chance of outperforming their ADP by the largest margin … even if the players carried a degree of risk.
Will Kawhi succumb to load management? If he plays 70 games, he could post a top-10 campaign. Gallinari (at 68) is one of this season’s roto enigmas, but he clocked in at 37 on last season’s Player Rater. And I really like Miles Bridges and Kevin Huerter.
I realized that Paul George was not going to work for me until the later rounds. In a non-roto situation, the pressure to reach for a PG disappears. So I was fine rolling the dice on Derrick White as my starter.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Picking sixth overall is a tough spot because you just miss out on the top four (Giannis, Harden, KAT and AD). I was tempted to take Stephen Curry, who appears poised to go old school Steph with Klay Thompson out, or LeBron James, who could have a monster year coming back fresh and motivated from last season with Davis by his side.
Instead, I went for the safe Nikola Jokic, knowing full well the Nuggets center will fill it up nightly. I wanted Siakam or Doncic in the second round and missed out on those two, so I went with Jimmy Butler, figuring there will be plenty of volume for stats there in Miami. I absolutely was thrilled to land Kristaps Porzingis in the sixth round, believing that he will return higher value than that playing alongside Doncic.
André Snellings: I had the seventh pick in a season when I consider there to be seven players in the top draft tier, so I expected my choice to be easy. However, a player outside my top seven — Joel Embiid, whom I consider a top-tier talent, but durability pushes him down slightly for me — went early, leaving me with a choice of LeBron and Curry for the pick. I took Curry, who has historic-season upside with Kevin Durant and Thompson out, but I immediately felt buyer’s remorse.
The reason is position scarcity. I recently completed my draft tiers column, and there are relatively few impact small forwards out there, while the point guard position is much deeper. This bit me throughout the draft, and I ended up with a thin and unproven set of small forwards with plenty of productive point guards. … I should have taken LeBron.
Kyle Soppe: Rebound, rebounds, rebounds. I don’t think you can overstate the importance in loading up on rebounds — you want game-to-game consistency, and the bigs offer that at the highest level. It’s not very comfortable to go without a guard in the first four rounds, but I don’t regret doing it in the least.
Montrezl Harrell (18.4 PPG in the second half last season on 60% shooting) and Thomas Bryant (more than 24 points and 14.5 rebounds per 48 minutes last season) are two of my targets in all formats, and I’m making sure to get them in all points leagues … no matter the asking price!
Jim McCormick: This was a sharp room in terms of recognizing the value of volume, especially with how the market for bigs played out. Sourcing quality options in the backcourt later in the draft proved challenging, thus I had to take on some age and injury risks with the pairing of Paul and Conley. That said, I dig the foundation I was able to secure in the first four rounds, especially if Valanciunas’ rebounding opportunity rate mimics last season’s magical run on the glass with Memphis.
Per the Harris selection, I’m not the biggest fan of Tobias in category or roto formats, given he’s mostly offering scoring and rebounding production without much defensive or creation nuance, but I do think he consumes a valuable uptick in shots, rebounding chances and usage on the new-look Sixers that makes him ideal for points formats. If I can offer one last takeaway, it’s for you to draft Caris LeVert. I almost always do. You will enjoy it.
Tom Carpenter: “Did I really just do that?!” I actually said that aloud after taking Zion Williamson with the 14th overall pick. Granted, I’m willing to invest in rookies earlier than most people, and the same goes for taking chances in the first couple of rounds, but rolling the dice on a first-year player that soon even pushes my boundaries. I wouldn’t take him quite that early in category/roto formats, but in a points league like this one, he can cover up any category holes in his game, and the volume will be there for sure. I actually feel this is about the exact right spot for Zion in a points league.
Joe Kaiser: With the last pick in a 12-team league, I opted to address PG and SG by getting Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal with picks No. 12 and 13. There was a strong temptation to take Rudy Gobert with one of those picks, but given the depth at the center position, I decided to hold off until the later rounds. At 36/37, I was pleased to land Blake Griffin and a second PG in Kemba Walker. This meant holding off another 20-plus picks for a SF or C, but I felt Walker was worth taking over Jayson Tatum or Jonas Valanciunas. At picks 60/61, I landed DeAndre Jordan and Enes Kanter, and I was still able to get Harrison Barnes and Andrew Wiggins to solidify the SF position with picks 84/85. Take note: That’s a good stage to address SF if you miss out on a good one in the early rounds.