2019-20 Fantasy Basketball: Industry Mock Draft 1.0
Despite the 2019-20 season being a few months away, it is never too early to see what industry professionals are thinking. I joined a number of analysts in the first Fantrax industry fantasy basketball mock draft, this one taking place prior to the free agency period. We were able to gather a wealth of knowledge including astute individuals from sites including Fantrax, Rotowire, Rotoworld, Basketball Monster, Hoop-Ball, In This League, Watching the boxes, and the Hot Take Podcast.
This mock draft finished up just days before the NBA Summer League, however, a trip to Las Vegas meant I wasn’t able to compile things until now. A number of the selections would certainly have to be reviewed after what was a crazy last few weeks. I have put together everyone’s thoughts on their teams, most of which came after the free agency period had begun.
The results of the mock draft can be found at the bottom of the page, with the draft order as follows:
- Kyle McKeown (Basketball Monster)
- Alex Rikleen (Rotowire)
- Jonas Nader (Rotoworld)
- Greg Ehrenberg (Basketball Monster)
- Steve Toroni (Hot Take Podcast)
- Mike Catron (Watching The Boxes)
- Scott Bogman (In This League)
- Alex Barutha (Rotowire)
- Mike Apotria (Hoop-Ball)
- Brendan Woodward (Fantrax)
- Matt Smith (Basketball Monster)
- Adam King (Fantrax)
Mock Draft Analysis
1. What was your favorite and least favorite pick, when looking at your final squad, and why?
Kyle McKeown – My easiest pick was James Harden at no. 1, having more confidence in Harden’s role and production than the other options at the first overall pick, regardless of who the Rockets add to the roster this summer.
My favorite pick was Andrew Wiggins at 120, not because I like Wiggins but because I (stupidly) didn’t have a small forward on my roster, and as much as there are holes in Wiggins’ production, he also should have a big role regardless of what team he might be on. My least favorite pick was probably DeMarcus Cousins at 25, the first pick of the third round. I grabbed him under the belief that Cousins was going to end up on a team that looked at him as a first or second option. He should be the third option on the Lakers, and while he could still return good value at 25, he also may have been available 22 picks later with my fourth-round pick. There’s also a general concern that Cousins won’t be able to stay healthy going forward.
Alex Rikleen – My favorite was Draymond Green at the top of the fifth round, which just feels like silly value, and who was a perfect fit for the team build I was constructing. My least favorite has to be DeAndre Jordan at 7.2. This was before we knew he was going to the Nets and competing with Jarrett Allen, a development which makes me like the pick even less. But even before knowing that, he was a risky and redundant pick, and not great value when considering that players like Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter were still available. Jordan did and still does make sense for my roster construction, but that doesn’t make me enjoy the pick anymore.
Greg Ehrenberg – Steph Curry. I am anticipating a massive amount of usage for Steph this season. Last year with KD and Klay off the court, Curry had a 46.4% usage rating and scored 42.8 points per 36 minutes. The arrival of Russell is going to take away some touches from Curry, but he’s going to need a big season to keep Golden State afloat. Steph is my pick to win NBA MVP this season.
Steve Toroni – My favorite pick was Zach LaVine in the fifth round. To be able to get my leading scorer based off of last years numbers (23.7 PPG) in the fifth round makes me feel pretty good. He essentially averaged 24/5/5 last season and was 12th in the NBA in usage rate (30.5). That UR is better was better than guys like Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Damien Lillard, and Kyrie Irving according to Fox Sports Advanced Stats.
My least favorite pick is Kyle Kuzma. When drafting him – his role was a lot more established. Free Agency changes things and he will most likely be coming off the bench for the Lakers in 2019 as they have added a few pieces at the Forward position. I still think he will be valuable for Fantasy and it is not a wasted pick in the sixth round – but his path to minutes/starting role is now more in question.
Mike Catron – I’m very pleased with getting Karl-Anthony Towns with the sixth overall pick since he is consistently a top-five fantasy player and a great all-around center to build with for any type of strategy. My favorite pick, though, is Lauri Markkanen at 54. Markkanen was injured for almost half of the season last year and still finished top 55 in per-game value. He has the ability to average 20p/10r while hitting multiple threes and shooting a great FT% for a big. It would be nice to see an improvement in his assist numbers now that the Bulls have a more consistent starting unit this season. He should be on pace to take a nice leap and easily be a top 50 player next season.
My least favorite pick here is DeMar DeRozan in the fourth round. I could have started taking some chances at this point but went safe. After three rounds of safe picks, I think a fourth-round was one too many. DeRozan is a great scorer but has big category weaknesses. I was one off on my target of Oladipo here.
Scott Bogman – My favorite pick in this draft was Nikola Jokic. I don’t know that I got him at a value at all but I like the fact he averaged close to a triple-double and he does everything with no deficiencies. KAT didn’t change situations but AD is now with Cousins and LeBron in LA and Embiid added Horford in the frontcourt with him. Jokic has improved in points, boards, assists and steals 3 years in a row. My least favorite pick was probably Harrison Barnes, he was probably the best player for the way I built my team but drafting him never feels like the right thing to do.
Alex Barutha – Favorite pick was Pascal Siakam at 32. There’s no way he’ll go that low now that Kawhi is in LA. Least favorite was Thaddeus Young with my last pick (113). I just don’t think there’s much hope for him to see a ton of minutes in Chicago behind Lauri Markkanen.
Mike Apotria – Favorite pick: Kyle Lowry, just simply for value in the 5th round. Least favorite was Steven Adams. Just wanted another big, but wound up getting a better one in Thomas Bryant in the final round.
Brendan Woodward – I like Kawhi at 15 – he has chosen his ball club for the first time in his professional career and will want to prove to himself and to the world he made the right decision going to the Clips. As such I see him missing fewer games this season and finding himself back in the top ten fantasy discussion. Special mention for Richo who I think will thrive in the Philly system.
Kris Dunn was my least favorite pick. At the time of drafting Sato hadn’t been picked up by Chicago so my thinking was that a healthy Dunn could beat out the rookie Coby White for minutes for a good portion of the season. Dunn showed top 50 upside when healthy so with minutes in the high 20s I saw him as a lock for top 100 value. With the recent additions to the Bulls squad, and the rhetoric emanating from Chicago however, I now think Dunn it might be a tall order for him to get the minutes he needs to be impactful unless he is traded into a favorable situation.
Matt Smith – My favorite pick was Julius Randle. Drafting before his decision was announced, I was hoping he would land in a positive situation and the Knicks are about as good as gets for Randle (desperate them signing numerous power forwards). He should be able to put up top 50 value this season, therefore, returning some investment if you can find him in the mid-rounds.
My least favorite pick is Dario Saric. Like Randle, he should be able to return value from that spot, but I don’t expect him to take a big leap, instead being a solid top 80-100 type of player. In a proper draft, I would look for someone with a higher ceiling – in hindsight someone like Markelle Fultz or Isaiah Thomas.
Adam King – Oddly enough, my favorite pick was Derrick Favors in the final round. He should slide into the starting center position for the Pelicans and could be looking at a top-60 season if he can stay on the court. He finished the 2018-19 season as the 75th ranked player in just 23 minutes per game. That will almost certainly increase, depending of course on his health. My least favorite pick was probably Zion Williamson at 13. That is too high to reach in my opinion but I was fairly sure he wasn’t coming back to me at 36. I also wanted to see how he pairs with Andre Drummond, given Drummond’s punt free-throw ranking. Zion is going to be one of the more hyped players this draft season and managers are going to have to reach to secure him.
2. What was your strategy for the mock draft?
Kyle – We started this draft before free agency opened, so I was targeting the BPA (best player available) throughout, based on the idea that there were still a lot of balls up in the air. My intent was to try and mitigate mistakes by targeting players who I thought would have the most secure roles and production, but I ended up drafting a lot of potential injury issues because I thought the players were falling to good spots (Porzingis, Cousins, Love).
Alex Rikleen – Giannis is my No. 1 overall player not only because he’s incredible at everything, but also because he can be a viable starting point for any imaginable team build. So when both Luka Doncic and Simmons were both available heading into my second and third pick, I thought they combined nicely with Giannis as the start of a team that was really strong in assists and rebounds even though it still didn’t have a SG or a C. With Mitchell Robinson and Draymond Green available heading into my fourth and fifth picks, I decided I could lean into a rebounds-assists-steals-blocks build, where I was punting points and free throw percentage and generally good at field goal percentage. After that, it was just about picking guys who continued to build on what I was already strong in, preferably without doing too much FG% harm.
Greg – I kept some awareness of balancing stats, but for the most part, I went after the best available players. With free agency situations up in the air, it was tough to be exact with values and stats for individual players. I found it simpler to focus on best fantasy producers.
Steve – My strategy going in was to pick the best player available – no matter if I felt I was reaching. I knew players like John Collins, Marvin Bagley, and Collin Sexton would be available in certain spots and I took advantage. I feel that these names are not the sexiest at this point in time, but all three have tremendous Fantasy outlooks in 2019. The big ceiling of these players goes well with the stability of a Russ Westbrook and Nikola Vucevic.
Mike Catron – My strategy for almost any draft is best player available for the first two rounds. Many people come into a draft with a specific punt strategy. It is a great idea until your targets suddenly disappear right before your pick leaving you screwed. I like to build a punt strategy based on my first two or three picks, which means you need to prepare multiple strategies. This is harder but often better at coming away with a team that can compete right out of the draft.
Scott – My strategy for the mock was BPA. In general, I like to take centers and point guards early before the position thins out. Taking Jokic and CP3 early meant I didn’t have to reach on another PG too early for assists. I might have lucked out by getting Dennis Schroeder late in the draft. The logical move for the Thunder would be to trade Westbrook and Schroeder would walk into a starting job.
Alex – Generally, I just chose the best player available. Usually, that means someone who is heavily relied upon by their team.
Mike Apotria – I was just going with the best player available.
Brendan – The strategy is always to formulate the strategy after the first couple of picks. Drafting Lillard and Kawhi with my #1 and #2 lead me to believe that on this occasion building a balanced team would be the best path to winning.
Matt – My strategy like any draft is to build around a strong foundation of guards and bigs – which you can see in the first six rounds – then fill the roster out with a couple of wings who can help in multiple categories. Finding players who will return value from their draft position is also important and I feel I achieved that with Caris Levert and Mikal Bridges in the eighth and ninth round.
Adam – My strategy was to punt free-throws, as demonstrated by a number of my selections. That being said, I never turn down a player if he doesn’t ‘fit’ my build. I was very happy with C.J McCollum at the end of the sixth round and he is far from a punt free-throw guy.
3. Which players do you see jumping in value due to free agency moves?
Kyle – I drafted Ricky Rubio and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander based on a little bit of faith both would end up in bigger roles this season. Rubio signed with the Suns and should be asked to play more and produce more than he did last season with the Jazz. SGA was traded to the Thunder, and it looks like Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder are on the trade block, opening the path to a bigger role for SGA in his second season.
I didn’t draft Jarrett Allen here, but he’s probably important to mention as a big potential loser following the DeAndre Jordan signing. Allen still might be the starter, but Jordan’s presence will at least limit Allen’s potential growth unless we see him get a consistent three-point shot and improve his ability to defend on the perimeter so he can play next to Jordan, which I don’t see as likely.
The Knicks rotation is likely going to be a poop show the whole season. I’d be reluctant to target anyone on the Knicks for fear that coach David Fizdale operates his rotation as haphazardly as he did last season. They have a lot of duplicative talent, and that’s terrifying to see at Fizz’s disposal.
Dwight Howard getting traded is really interesting for Thomas Bryant’s value, and I might find myself targeting wings more early in drafts knowing that Bryant should be available later.
Alex Rikleen – Hassan Whiteside is a huge winner. He’s absurdly talented, but he’s had off-the-court personality clashes throughout his career that have gotten in the way of his ability to get on the floor, and have at times hurt his production when he did play. Remember, this guy was completely out of the league for two years, and it wasn’t because of his talent. It was clear that the situation in Miami had turned toxic for him, and so getting to start fresh – and in one of the most stable franchises in the league, no less – and getting a clear starting role (even if only temporary) is a huge win for him. Other big winners include Willie Cauley-Stein, every single starter on the Suns, Clint Capela (wins by not getting traded), OG Anunoby, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Greg – From my team, a couple of players benefited from moves. Domantas Sabonis should see extra playing time and could potentially start with Thad Young signing with the Bulls. While not a free agency move, Hassan Whiteside is in a good situation with the Blazers. They lost a lot of frontcourt depth and he’s in line for a big role. Disgruntled in Miami, I think he desperately needed a change of scenery. I don’t typically put a ton of value in contract year narratives, but Whiteside on a contract year should help with his motivation, which has been a question the last couple of seasons.
Steve – Terry Rozier (Charlotte) and Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana) come to mind for other teams. Both are going to be starting point guards next season and were taken in the seventh and ninth rounds respectively.
As for my team, Enes Kanter could be a steal in the tenth round. I needed another Center and he was signed by the Celtics not long before my pick. I see him splitting minutes with Robert Williams. Daniel Theis will see minutes at the five also. However, it would appear that the starting role is Kanters to lose and he can average a double/double in that role in Boston.
Mike Catron – Mike Conley on Utah is of interest to me. That will be a guy with one last shot at taking a run at a title, so he will be motivated and will have a better supporting cast. Kemba Walker should improve his shooting percentage in a Brad Stevens system. Many of the top players will continue to be great no matter where they landed. I’m more interested in the teams they left with openings. Pelicans, Raptors, Thunder, and even the Warriors will have new players getting starters minutes in new roles. Those new players are often overlooked in favor of the big free agent names.
Scott – Jimmy Butler seemingly being a lone wolf in Miami will probably improve his overall production, unless they add Westbrook. Gordon Heyward, Enes Kanter, Pascal Siakam, Ricky Rubio, Grayson Allen, Malcolm Brogdon, Willie Cauley-Stein, Terry Rozier and Malik Monk should all take a bit of a bump also.
Alex Barutha – There are almost too many to list. A few are: Westbrook, Siakam, Adebayo, Brogdon, Kanter
Mike Apotria – I think Kyrie, Lowry, Rozier and Thomas Bryant all saw their value rise during free agency.
Brendan – Kawhi for the reasons mentioned above. He has something to prove at the Clips. Valancunas returning to Memphis is big too – just look at his lines with that franchise before he went down with an injury toward the end of last season. Dunn becomes hard to draft now unless he finds himself in a new home.
Adam – This year’s free-agency was a whirlwind, leaving a number of players in favorable positions. Some of the more intriguing to me are Jimmy Butler, Steven Adams, Bam Adebayo, Derrick Favors, Lonzo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Malcolm Brogdon.
4. What are any interesting takeaways you have from the draft?
Kyle – Zion Williamson went with the 13th pick, and while that may be the peak of his potential this season, it’s worth arguing that if you want Williamson and have the final pick of the first round, that also means you won’t pick again before Williamson gets drafted, meaning you’d have to take him there or resign yourself to missing out on him.
It was funny and crazy to see Darren Collison get drafted and to then have him retire on the same day. I don’t think anyone was even considering that a surprise retirement would invalidate a pick, but it happened and made for some good draft-room reactions.
Alex Rikleen – It was interesting to see a group of experts let Kawhi Leonard fall to the mid-second round. In per-game production, he’s easily a top-7 player. I have him seventh on my big board, and the only reason he’s not higher is because I expect him to miss 20 games. When picking late in the first, I often end up with him after others let him slide. But after seeing him fall to 2.3 here, I may be tempted to try to do exactly what (who is @HiddenUpside?) did by taking Lillard first and hoping Leonard falls to me in the second. I also think that this draft will play a big role in setting the market for sophomores like Jaren Jackson Jr (3.3) and Mitchell Robinson (4.11) – both might seem surprisingly high, but both strike me as fair. If you want those two defensive experts this season, you’ll have to pay up.
Greg – The increasing Load Management trend is going to have big fantasy implications. Kawhi slid into the second round and would be a surefire first-round pick if not for rest concerns. The player who I think will see the biggest downtick in value because of nights off this season is Joel Embiid. After he limped into the playoffs, I think Philly is going to be extremely cautious with his regular-season workload. The Sixers are a lock to make the playoffs and I think they will adjust from how they handle his workload.
Steve – Obviously, there was great value to be had in the draft as it is very early in the year. Rookies like Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett will not be sixth and seventh-round picks in September. But, one take away from me for this draft is that big names will always be taken in spots where you can acquire young talent with upside. DeMar DeRozan went a full round ahead of Zach LaVine and their numbers were comparable last season. A strategy in this regard could be to take a point guard or center instead of DeRozan and wait for LaVine if you want SG production.
Another example is DeMarcus Cousins taken at the 3.01 over players like Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russel, and Mike Conley. Prime point guard players passed up for a big name at PF/C when players like LaMarcus Aldrige, Mitchell Robinson, John Collins, and Jonas Valanciunas were taken later with similar statistical outlooks as Cousins.
Mike Catron – There were multiple surprisingly high picks of young players. There is going to be a lot of rankings all over the place and I think it is important to not take giant risks with your early round picks, but after getting a solid core take risks with high-upside players. New players have shown up in the top 20 last season and young players are making larger impacts. We are seeing a shift to the post-Lebron era players and I think these draft results show that it will be a very strange year.
Scott – Jonas Nader practices what he preaches that’s for sure, Turner, JJJ, and Isaac on the same team sound right! Holy Zion! Borderline first-round pick already! I thought Doncic went high but hopefully, he will improve the FG and FT percentage, don’t have to worry about the turnovers in this mock at least. I don’t think I would spend an early 3rd on Cousins even if he hadn’t signed with the Lakers. Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Love were great 4th round values, The entire 5th round seemed to come at a great value. Gordon Hayward could end up being one of the best values in the draft at a 6th round if he can get healthy enough to come back to form. There were some great sneaky good late picks, Bam Adebayo in the 7th, WCJ in the 8th, Rozier in the 9th and if he can get any damn playing time Nerlens Noel in the 10th.
Alex Barutha – I got most of my guys later than I had them personally ranked. So, on one hand, I feel good about that. On the other hand, I should double-check my rankings to make sure I’m not valuing certain players incorrectly. But that’s the point of a mock draft.
Mike Apotria – A takeaway I got was how quickly blocks will go off of the board this season. Worth investing in early or taking a specialist. Also noticing how deep point guard is and it seems like that is a position of value going forward.
Brendan – Zion will be going early. PG and Beal could be steals in casual leagues. With the player movements this offseason, 2019-20 could be the year for up and coming players to make a splash.
Matt – The second and third round look very even and more than ever it is going to be about which trio you want to build your team around. Also, finding assists late in drafts is historically very difficult and this year is going to prove that once again. From round six onwards, Ricky Rubio, Terry Rozier, and Tomas Satoranksky were the best assist options.
Adam – I think a number of people are going to be looking at potential games played as the reasoning behind certain selections. Kawhi Leonard is clearly a first-round player but the ‘load management’ issue is very real. This is going to be the case for players such as Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. Another point of note is that with all the information available, sleepers are going to be increasingly harder to find in many drafts. As the knowledge of managers increases, potential sleepers are only going to stay that way for a limited period, before the hype train goes into full effect.
Full Mock Draft Results:
Click on the table to see full size.
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Adam King joined FantraxHQ in 2018. He also currently writes for Rotowire and has previously written for Locked on Fantasy Basketball and Locked on Timberwolves. He has played sports his entire life with fantasy basketball becoming a passion over the past six years. By day, Adam is the service coordinator at the Autism Centre in Canberra, Australia. Adam was born and raised in Queanbeyan, Australia and currently resides in Bungendore, Australia with his wife and two children.
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