NBA Mock Draft
As the RotoWidow so fittingly pointed out earlier this week, October brings with it a veritable cornucopia of sports treats, not the least of which is the start of the NBA season.
Even though we have to wait until the very end of the month for regular season games to begin, that didn’t stop Rotoworld from staging its Expert League mock draft last night. And, of course, RotoRob was a participant, a season removed from a second-place finish in the Auction Player’s NBA Expert League.
Besides RotoRob, participants in this year’s pool include: Beckett Media; Tom Carpenter from Roto Times; Steve Alexander, who runs basketball coverage for Rotoworld and who set up the league; Jonathan Gangi and Matt Lawrence, both Rotoworld columnists; HoopsKlyce.com; Brian Styers of USAToday; Roger Rotter from Fox Sports; Brian McKitish and Dave Gawron, both of Talented Mr. Roto; and Matt Buser from Yahoo.
To put things in context, we’re playing standard eight-category roto (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, three-pointers, FG%, FT%), and it was a 12-team snake draft. Active rosters have to have four guards, four forwards and two centres every week, with four guys riding your pine.
I didn’t exactly luck out like I did last year, when (if memory serves) I had the fourth overall pick in the 12-team draft. This year, I had to wait until No. 9 to make my first pick. But I was pretty darned stoked to get Elton Brand, who I had ranked No. 7, with this pick.
Here’s how the first round looked:
1. LeBron James, SF, CLE: Last year, it was King James and KG duking it out for No. 1. This year, James is a slam dunk as the top pick.
2. Shawn Marion, F, PHO: This is who I got at No. 4 last year, and he carried me, so it’s hard to argue with his overall game at No. 2. I had him third on my list, but it’s too close to quibble.
3. Kobe Bryant, SG, LAL: Now this might be a minor stretch. While I had Kobe at No. 4, passing up the all-around game that Kevin Garnett provides might be a mistake. Bryant will probably lead the league in scoring again, but he doesn’t rack up enough rebounds or assists to compensate. Still, we’re talking about a 35-PPG dude.
4. Garnett, F, MIN: Great pick at No. 4. Nice to luck out and have a stud like KG drop to you at this spot and also makes it one of those picks where the decision has been removed for you. All you to is click. Don’t think…just click.
5. Dwyane Wade, G, MIA: I prefer Dirk at No. 5, but again, Wade is a stud in points and assists and keeps getting better, so I can’t really argue this choice.
6. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, DAL: Easy call here considering his improved shooting that led to a career-best 26.6 PPG last year.
7. Gilbert Arenas, PG, WAS: As mentioned, I had Brand ranked here, but if you want a point guard, Arenas is a great selection. He and Steve Nash will alternate as one-two in the point guard race depending on your league, but this is a good pick. It certainly worked for me, letting Brand slip to me at No. 9.
8. Allen Iverson, PG, PHA: This pick made me giddy, and not because I thought the Answer was the answer at No. 8. If I wanted a PG here, I would have definitely grabbed Nash over Iverson, but to each his own. Like I said, I wasn’t going to complain as Brand dropped another slot.
9. Brand, PF, LAC: I opted for the scoring, rebounding and blocks of Brand over getting a stud PG like Nash. I dealt for Nash last year, and he almost helped me win it, so it’s not like I don’t love the Canadian kid. But with Amare Stoudemire back this year, it’s hard to see Nash’s point total approaching the 18.8 PPG he racked up last season. Plus Brand got in shape last year, and emerged as a true stud. He’s 27 and still getting better. I’m very happy with this pick.
10. Andrei Kirilenko, F, UTAH: A surprise pick this high. Because this was a snake draft, I think Gangi could have had Kirilenko with his next pick at 15 and he could have grabbed Nash here, who would definitely be gone by 15. I love Kirilenko’s all-around game, but this was a mistake, considering he’s a late-second round talent and his owner had another pick scheduled before AK-47 would have been off the board. Maybe Gangi hates Nash, but there are other superior choices he could have made here.
11. Nash, PG, PHO: What did Lawrence think when Nash fell to him at No. 11? “No. 1 assist guy — saweeet.” Talk about a nice break. You know he’s going to lead the league in assists again, especially with Amare back.
12. Ray Allen, SG, SEA: Another surprise pick this high. I had Allen lasting to the middle of the second round, but Rotter had back-to-back picks here and grabbed Chris Paul with his second choice. Paul’s a good pick at 13, but I might have preferred taking Paul Pierce here with the first pick, as he brings more all-around game than Allen. Or he could have gone big and taken Chris Bosh or Tim Duncan with Paul.
Here’s how the rest of my draft fared:
Round Two (16th overall) — Paul Pierce, G/F, BOS: I was stoked to add Pierce here, given that he’s coming off a career season. He’s a seven-cat guy, with blocks being the only stat he doesn’t offer much help in.
Round Three (33rd overall) — Ron Artest, SF, SAC: What the hell? Let’s take a nice safe, stable pick in the third round…not! I figure with the advantage of actually having a training camp this year, Artest’s shooting will improve. And you know he’s the king of steals, plus will offer some help in blocks. So he brings a bit of everything to the table. Well, everything but sanity, that is. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Artest can avoid a suspension for at least a half a season.
Round Four (40th overall) — Shaquille O’Neal, C, MIA: I’ ve never owned the Diesel before and I might regret not grabbing Mehmet Okur, Brad Miller or even Chris Kaman in this slot, especially when I learn first-hand what fantasy owners have been moaning about for years as they struggle to get out of the basement in the FT percentage category. I tried to compensate for this pick with strong FT shooters later, but at least I’ll be good to go in scoring, boards and blocks.
Round Five (57th overall) — Mike James, PG, MIN: I needed a point guard still, so what do I do? I pick the best shoot-first-I’m really-more-of-a-shooting-guard PG I could find in James. But he’s coming off a career season, so I’d thought I’d pounce and hope that with (somewhat) more scoring options in Minny, James will get more assists this year. Maybe? It’s not that he was that bad last year, racking up almost six assists per game, it’s just that after watching a full season of him hog the ball until three seconds remained on the shot clock before dishing off to someone who was put on the spot to put up a prayer, I understand the frustration of dealing with a shoot-first guard.
Round Six (64th overall) — Richard Hamilton, SG, DET: Rip’ll help with my scoring and assists. He’s an excellent FT shooter and his outside game showed signs of life last year. Plus he’s one of the league’s classiest guys, so he helps take the Artest edge off Team RotoRob.
Round Seven (81st overall) — Nenad Krstic, F/C, NJ: I wanted to land a second centre before I had to scratch and crawl to find someone with a clear-cut job, so I opted for Krstic here. He established himself as the main man in New Jersey last year, and his scoring (13.5 PPG) is developing nicely. A big man who will put a few points up on the board is sweet. I also expect Krstic’s rebounding to keep getting better this season.
Round Eight (88th overall) — Eddie Jones, G/F, MEM: Okay, here’s where I screwed up big time. I had been religiously tracking all the picks, but somehow I missed Josh Smith getting taken — in the third round. Why the hell I thought Smith would still on the board in the eighth round is a question better left to a team of psychiatrists, but suffice it to say I let my two-minutes run down while searching the board for his name. Only it wasn’t there. I panicked, had no one in my draft cue to grab as a last-second alternative (big mistake…don’t do that), so I got an automatic pick by the system. Players left on the board at that time included Jamal Crawford, Deron Williams, Andres Nocioni, Troy Murphy and Chris Wilcox, any one of which I would have been happy to see grabbed for me. But no. The dumb-ass system takes Eddie Jones for me. Eddie Jones. Thanks a freakin’ lot! Jones will be 35 before the season starts and his PT is on the decline. Granted, he’s good for steals, but so is the Hamburgler. I screwed the pooch here and have no one to blame but myself and my own lack of attention. Dumb. I’ll dump Jones as soon transactions can be made and pick up another swingman or maybe a point guard.
Round Nine (105th overall) — Stephen Jackson, G/F, INDY: I grabbed another swingman here for some positional flexibility (this time, on purpose even!). Jackson was a starter last season, and may have to come off the bench this year, but other than rebounding, he does a bit of everything. Maybe not my greatest pick, but Jackson has a tendency to get hot every now and then, so he can be a useful player to have when he’s on.
Round 10 (112th overall) — Adam Morrison, F, CHAR: Let’s see what the rook can do. I think he’ll be instant offense in the NBA, but either way, with his flop of a ‘do and cheesy ‘stache, he’s a fun player to have. And this is supposed to be fun, so you have to like your team (again, Artest comes to mind…). All indications are, though, Morrison is a pure scorer who will be able to make the transition to the pros.
Round 11 (129th overall) — Primoz Brezec, C, CHAR: Let’s start a run on Bobcats! I grabbed Brezec to act as my main backup at centre. He’s a starter who wasn’t able to build on a solid 2004-05 season, but Charlotte was a mess last year with non-stop injuries, so I figured it was tough for him to get anything going with a constantly-changing lineup. I’m betting Brezec bounces back this season, and if he doesn’t, he’s a steady enough option that he can still help me.
Round 12 (136th overall) — Jamaal Magloire, C, POR: I didn’t get Nash this year, so opted instead for the next-best Canadian NBA player (are there any others?). Magloire helps provide depth at centre, although his exact role is unclear. He thinks he’ll be the starter, but Portland already has Joel Przybilla. I was torn which of these two I wanted, but opted for the Can-con. Magloire was healthy last year and will really help me in rebounding. Unfortunately, he’s going to hurt me in FT shooting, so I better not play him and Shaq in the same week.
Round 13 (153rd overall) — Kenny Thomas, PF, SAC: Thomas took over as the starter for the Kings about a third of the way into last season and while he’ll probably return to the bench this year, he offers good rebounding and nice FG percentages. But that’s about it. Still, at this point, you’re looking to shore up particular categories, and here’s a guy that simply won’t hurt me in anything.
Round 14 (160th overall) — J.J. Redick, SG, ORL: Again, I was thinking about category help here with my final pick. I realized I needed some outside shooting, so I’m hoping the rookie can fill it up from outside. Also, Redick missed, what, maybe four FTs his entire college career? He’s the FT-shooting Shaq antitode that may help take the sting out of owning Shaq Daddy. Redick could miss the start of the season with some foot issues, and he’ll probably be coming off the bench to start the year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he takes over the Magic starting SG position in short order. This guy is the best pure shooter to hit the association in a long time.
All told, I’m more or less pleased with my results picking out of the nine-hole. The Jones’ screw-up in the eighth round flustered me, but I quickly wolfed down a Jos. Louis to regain my energy for a strong finish.
I’ll have a solid rebounding team, with good FG percentages and lots of blocks, but may come up short in assists. Scoring should be okay, and with Artest, my steals will be strong. I might be weak in three-pointers, but James and Redick will help me there. Finally, FT shooting could be a problem thanks to Shaq, but I’m trusting Pierce to get back over the 80% mark and for Redick to be a 90% stud from the line (of course, he’ll actually need to get to the charity stripe on a regular basis for it to matter).
I’ll check in periodically, especially when I relaunch my Three in the Key column on RotoRob, to provide you with details of how things are going.
In the meantime, if you’d like to see a complete list of the mock draft, let me know and I’ll hook you up.