It takes a special breed to know what season it is right now.
Fall? Nope. Football season? Nope. Baseball postseason? Nope.
C’mon! If you’re reading this, you are the right breed. The kind of person who knows it is … fantasy basketball season!
NBA training camps and preseason games will get underway soon, but for the hardcore fantasy ballers who want to win their leagues, it’s time to get a jump on the competition by prepping early for your drafts.
With that in mind, we officially tipped off the 2019-20 fantasy basketball campaign by gathering our experts for our first mock draft, a 10-team head-to-head points format.
Regardless of whether you are a rookie or a grizzled fantasy hoops veteran, it is a wise move to take part in at least a couple of mocks of your own to work out the kinks and ace your real drafts. Head to our Mock Draft Lobby and give it a try.
In the meantime, you can check out the results of our mock and read key takeaways from our analysts below.
The participants in our 10-team points mock, in order of draft position, were: Austin Tedesco, André Snellings, Joe Kaiser, Jim McCormick, Marc J. Spears, Preston Johnson, Tom Carpenter, Kyle Soppe, Matt Williams, John Cregan.
Austin Tedesco: Maybe don’t take Darius Garland in the sixth round — and maybe don’t try to drop a player into your queue when it’s your turn to draft, either — but there’s still a lot to like here. Garland loves the most important shot in the NBA. He can create out of pick-and-roll. He’ll play big minutes.
I have no idea if he’ll even moderately succeed at all of his hypothetical skills as an NBA rookie, which is why I didn’t intend to take him this early. Now that I’m looking back over the draft … I’m more optimistic about his fantasy points than a lot of the dudes in the seventh round. Let it fly, Darius. (And please give him the ball, Collin Sexton).
André Snellings: I had something come up last minute, so my team was autodrafted until the latter rounds, and it gives you a good look at what that can look like. The autodraft clearly reflected the tendency of the points leagues toward big men having the advantage. I think that’s a good thing for the autodraft because a real person would be less likely to hammer the big men like that in favor of bigger names, possibly to their detriment.
As I mentioned in the draft chat, there is a lot of talent this season. I was still drafting guys I consider starting-quality in the last few rounds. I didn’t even get to draft some of my favorite sleepers (thinking of Brandon Clarke and Zach Collins, among others).
Joe Kaiser: Having the No. 3 pick in a 10-team draft is a great spot to be because you’re guaranteed a top-tier player like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis or James Harden and you still are set up to get a strong pick with the No. 18 overall pick in Round 2.
The guy I had my eyes on was Bradley Beal, who put up monster numbers once John Wall went down last season. And with Harden already in the fold, I would have set myself up with two of the very best SGs in fantasy hoops, with Harden also qualifying at PG. The problem is, Jim McCormick swiped Beal one pick before me and left me with Deandre Ayton. That one hurt.
Jim McCormick: I was happy to land Steven Adams in a points format, given I believe he’s going to enjoy a sizable leap in rebounding volume and efficiency sans Russell Westbrook. Keeping with this theme of underrated big men ideal for this format, I also like the value I netted on Bam Adebayo. I might be a bit light on guard depth, but it’s worth remembering points leagues are ideal for volume rebounders.
Preston Johnson: The scoring format in points leagues often disregards the efficiency of a player, but I like that the ESPN format accounts for it to some degree still. Subsequently, I found that my player projections valued big men more heavily than ESPN’s projections.
I wound up drafting Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert with my first two selections picking in the sixth spot, and I have both projected to be top-10 players this season. In later rounds I was able to add some of my favorite value picks in the draft with Derrick Favors, Thomas Bryant, Larry Nance Jr, Kevon Looney and Alex Len.
If you’re drafting using solely the ESPN player projections, my one piece of advice is to target big men earlier than they recommend (Adebayo was another I was hoping for, but I got sniped in the middle rounds). Oh, and if Trae Young falls to you in the fourth round, draft him.
Tom Carpenter: I like the early rounds of my draft, as I build a pretty well-balanced lineup, and I took some good upside fliers in the later rounds. Still, I have a habit this early in the preseason of drafting too many guys who have health questions (Paul George, Dejounte Murray) and too many rookies (RJ Barrett, Rui Hachimura, Coby White).
I’m always looking for upside and value, which they all present in mid-September. However, as I get closer to the regular season and real drafts, I’ll be limiting my exposure to that much risk.
Kyle Soppe: During the first mock of the season, I was reminded of just how much value is placed on rebounding in a points-based environment. The first round consisted only of players who are true threats to pull down 10 boards on a nightly basis, and that’s something that may not come naturally to most drafters.
We all have fun watching Kyrie Irving dance or Devin Booker put up massive (garbage time) scoring totals, but the fantasy world is one that revolves around consistency and the ability to rebound provides just that. Look at the double-double leaderboard and you’ll understand. There were eight players who double-doubled at least 54 times last season, with all of them getting there in at least 70% of their games played.
Stabilize your roster with “safe” rebounders in the early going, and you give your team a nice scoring floor to pair with your upside steals in the later rounds.
Matt Williams: Coming out of the draft, I was pleased to get Stephen Curry at 12th overall. Is it a risk? Of course, as Curry is the main offensive option for the Warriors with Kevin Durant now in Brooklyn and Klay Thompson out for most of the season. But there is hope based on last season, as Curry averaged 42.7 points per 36 minutes when Durant and Thompson were off the floor (271 minutes of game time). While he will not average that for an entire season, it gives an indication of what Curry is capable of when on the court alone.
The one player I wanted and did not get? De’Aaron Fox. Fox increased his scoring average by 5.7 points from his rookie season. He also dramatically improved his 3-point shooting percentage, going from 30.7 3FG% to 37.1 3FG%. That 6.4% jump from 2017-18 to 2018-19 was fifth-highest among 148 players to attempt at least 150 3-pointers in each season.
John Cregan: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander offers great value as an endgame pick. Even if he ends up playing the 2 alongside Chris Paul, SGA’s fantasy outlook is trending up in OKC. I was hoping Buddy Hield was going to drop to me at the end of the seventh round. Hield has top-50 upside in points leagues. I may regret picking DeMar DeRozan at 31. There’s a lot of value at SG later in drafts this fantasy season (especially points leagues). DeRozan was a safe pick, but I thought hard about taking Pascal Siakam (and his enhanced upside) instead.