It’s the first week of September. Fall hasn’t quite hit — especially in our Fort Lauderdale offices, with a Miami Heat index well over 100 degrees Wednesday — but it is getting closer. The most obvious sign of that is the NFL’s kickoff this weekend, but for me, there is a more meaningful harbinger: Our first Fantasy basketball mock draft.
One reason to schedule a mock draft so early is as a kind of test drive of the projections and rankings. We’ve still got more than a month and a half until the season starts, and another month or so until draft season really kicks off, so this is the time to figure out where everything is supposed to fit.
For example, it is pretty clear I have Pau Gasol ranked too high. He went 40th overall in our 10-team, H2H points league Wednesday, whereas I had him ranked 21st in my top-200 for this format. That could turn out to be a huge value for Igor Mello, who paired him with Kevin Love at the four-five turn, but it’s no sure thing. Pau was solid yet again in 2015-16, averaging 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 blocks per game while appearing in 72, but the 36-year-old went from a Chicago team that desperately needed to ride him, to a San Antonio Spurs team that is going to lighten his load. Minutes and shots are going to be a bit less plentiful for Gasol, who also carries obvious injury risk. At No. 40 overall, I think he’s a fine gamble; not so much at the end of the second round.
I think I came away from the draft with a solid team. I was able to balance out the risk of Anthony Davis at No. 9 overall by grabbing John Wall and his huge assists totals in the second round. However, in my next draft, I am going to make one change: I’m going to focus on forward earlier.
Anthony Davis is terrific, and his 39.7 Fantasy points per game will be well worth the draft slot if he can just manage to stay healthy for 75 games (for the first time in his career). And my combination of Davis-Wall-Al Horford to open the season gives me three of my top-five at their positions, a nice place to end up.
However, I might have been better off snagging someone like Paul George in the second round, because small forward gets shallow really quick. Heath smartly paired George with Stephen Curry , and Scott White also did well by grabbing Kevin Durant in the first round and Blake Griffin in the second; add on Nicolas Batum in the fifth, and Scott has arguably the strongest stable of forwards in the game.
And, the good news for Scott is that he didn’t have to sacrifice much else to get that strength at the shallowest position in the NBA. Potential breakout star Dennis Schroder is a solid value in the fourth round, Darren Collison could have a huge season in Sacramento, and Rajon Rondo in the seventh round gives him really terrific depth — even if I am wary of the whole Chicago situation this season. Add in Brook Lopez in the eighth round, and Scott comes away with arguably my favorite draft of the league.
Mine didn’t go so well overall. There is a lot of boom-or-bust on this roster, with Andrew Wiggins and C.J. McCollum hopefully ready to take another step forward, and the likes of Tyreke Evans , Dwyane Wade and Jrue Holiday all representing major risks. Holiday in particular enters the season with an extremely cloudy outlook after announcing he will be out indefinitely dealing with a family matter; he and Chris Bosh are the toughest players to peg right now, and both stayed on the board until the reserve picks started in Round 11.
The good news is this was just a test drive. I didn’t total the car, but I’m not totally pleased with how my first ride went either. I have some changes to make to my rankings, and maybe some tips to learn from Scott — he’s not just a baseball expert, apparently!
This is a H2H scoring format, with one point per point, rebound, steal and block, two per assists; you lose one point for every turnover as well. Our rosters required one PG, SG, SF, PF and C each; one forward and guard; and three flex, with three bench spots as well.
Our draft order is as follows:
1. Igor Mello, CBSSports.com Editor
2. Michael Gallagher, Rotoworld.com
3. Jared Dubin, CBSSports.com Writer
4. Brandon Wise, CBSSports.com Editor
5. Heath Cummings, Senior Fantasy Writer
6. Scott White, Senior Fantasy Writer
7. Kyle McKeown, BasketballMonster.com
8. Joe Polito, CBSSports.com Social Media Coordinator/Fantasy Basketball Co-Host
9. Chris Towers, Fantasy Writer
10. Joseph Levin, CBSSports.com Producer
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / 2016 Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: 10-Team H2H Mock Draft