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Mock draft: Five contenders to the No. 1 spot

10/12/2007

The following draft was held Monday, Oct. 1. It is for a league with 10 teams and eight categories for rotisserie scoring: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, 3-pointers, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage (and no turnovers). Thirteen-man rosters include 10 starters and a three-man bench. Starters include a center, a power forward, a small forward, a point guard, a shooting guard, a forward (can be power forward or small forward), a guard (can be point guard or shooting guard) and three utility players (can play any position). Rosters can be changed daily.


Top of the draft

While there is no real consensus No. 1 pick this year, the top five were very predictable, and you could make a case for LeBron, KG, Kobe, Arenas or Marion as a legit No. 1.

It should be noted that we drafted before news came out about Amare Stoudemire's knee. The surgery was successful and the Suns claim he'll be practicing in about three weeks, but clearly any issue surrounding Amare's knees will be of concern to fantasy owners. For now, I'd avoid him in the first round, at least until we see him practicing and playing.

Chris Paul was an interesting pick at No. 8. He was slightly less productive than other point guards such as Iverson and Kidd last season, but he's younger and should be improving as those other guys fall off a bit. The tail end of the first round seems like a reasonable place to draft Paul. The third point guard taken should be either Paul or Kidd. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade was probably the riskiest first-rounder, but if there were no health concerns, I'd probably take him No. 1 overall. If Wade is your first-round pick, just make sure you design a balanced team that can afford to lose him from time to time.

It seems there are six centers who are head-and-shoulders above the rest. They are Stoudemire, Yao Ming, Al Jefferson, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby. Once you get beyond these six, the rest have major holes in their fantasy repertoire. If you don't get one of these six guys, you'll have to account for what you're missing at other positions, and all six probably will be off the board by the end of the fourth round at the latest.

Biggest Reach: Al Jefferson, second round, 15th overall.
There wasn't much reaching in the first three rounds. That's probably a good lesson; you want your first few picks to be guys who are solid in enough categories to keep your team consistent. Still, the safer pick here would have been Gasol over Jefferson; he's been doing it for longer, and we know what to expect out of him. Having said that, I'm expecting big things out of Big Al this year.

Biggest Steal: Paul Pierce, third round, 21st overall.
You get to have it either way with Pierce. Either you've got one of the best rebounding guards in the league, or you have one of the best scoring forwards. In a league with starting spots given to PG/SG/G and SF/PF/F, Pierce's eligibility at guard and forward goes a long way toward providing roster flexibility. His scoring may fall off a bit this year with KG and Ray Allen on board, but he's become a far more efficient scorer as he has aged, and he should have more opportunities for always-valuable assists this season than ever before. He should also rack up more steals now that he doesn't have to expend all his energy on the offensive end. Just wait until Pierce starts sealing off his man under the hoop and catching those lob passes from KG. I'm drooling just thinking about it.


Rounds four through six

Here, in the middle rounds, we start to see the personalities of the owners come out a bit more. Everyone has guys they like and guys they don't like. Mind you, we are still drafting players we expect will put up numbers for us every day. This isn't time to start taking fliers on your favorite second-round draft pick hoping he will be this season's Gilbert Arenas (or even this season's Luther Head). We did, however, see the first two rookies go off the board: Kevin Durant with the sixth pick in the fifth round (46th overall) and Corey Brewer with the third pick in the sixth round (53rd overall). We really have no idea what sort of production to expect out of these guys. Both guys will be starting at either shooting guard or small forward, and we should be able to expect a lot of scoring out of Durant and a lot of steals for Brewer. As for playing time, though, I'd be a little concerned about Brewer. Depending on how the Wolves set up their guard rotation, he could find himself getting squeezed for minutes by the combination of Ricky Davis and Rashad McCants if Sebastian Telfair and Marko Jaric get any playing time.

Reaching
At this point in the draft, you have to reach occasionally to make sure you get the guy you want, but I do think Brewer came off the board a bit early. In this case, Tardy had his starting five all slotted in and took a chance. But I think Brewer would have lasted another round or so, and guys like Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph and Tyson Chandler would have been better value picks in the sixth round.

Taking Kirk Hinrich with the sixth pick in the fourth round (36th overall) was also a slight reach. Leandro Barbosa had slightly better production last season and was drafted eight picks later, and the difference between Hinrich and the other point guards on the board (Raymond Felton, Andre Miller, Tony Parker, Mike Bibby and Mo Williams) was negligible.

Stealing

I'm a little down on Ray Allen this season in fantasy, but I can't possibly argue with getting him with the second-to-last pick in the fourth round (39th overall). He was a statistical force last season, and he contributes in every category except blocked shots. Even if his numbers drop a little overall, he's clearly a tremendous value in the fourth round.

Marcus Camby at No. 38 was also a great move. When he's healthy, he's an absolute force in rebounds and blocks, and he gets more steals than any center not named Ben Wallace. Last season, he was one of the best players in all of fantasy. Yes, he's a bit of a health risk, but anyone can get hurt. The second round wouldn't have been a reach; the fourth round is outright theft for a player like Camby.

I also think people are sleeping a little on Ricky Davis. I was ecstatic to take him in the middle of the sixth round (55th overall). Yes, he can be a head case, and it remains to be seen how he reacts to being the go-to guy on a young team at this stage of his career. But he's extremely durable and is the only proven perimeter scorer on a team that should be pretty bad this season. On a similarly bad Cleveland team in the pre-LeBron era, Davis put up 20 points, five assists and five rebounds, and for a guard he shoots a pretty good percentage from the floor. If he duplicates those numbers this season, don't say I didn't warn you.

The second half


Once we're past the middle of the draft, it's all about risk and reward. You need to concentrate on filling out the positions you need on your roster, but you also need to try and grab some players who could be much, much better than people think.

Steals
Monta Ellis (61st): He proved last season that he can play Nellie-ball, and the departure of J-Rich means more minutes, shots and opportunities for Monta.

LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 70): Aldridge had excellent numbers as a starter, and with Greg Oden out of the picture for this season and Zach Randolph exiled to NYC, LaMarcus should block plenty of shots and shoot a high percentage from the floor.

Chris Kaman (No. 71): Berry drafted two pretty good center sleeper candidates in a row with Aldridge and Kaman. Kaman was a train wreck last season, but he's worth an eighth-round pick to see if he returns to his double-double form of two seasons ago.

Andrei Kirilenko (No. 72): Blocks and steals. AK-47 was an elite fantasy player as recently as two seasons ago. He's not durable and he disappears a lot, but there's a chance you're getting second-round production in the eighth round here. It's worth the risk.

Danny Granger (No. 80): He doesn't miss games, he plays defense, he hits 3s, and after one year in coach Jim O'Brien's shoot-3s-whenever-you-want offense, he won't be an eighth-round pick anymore. It's a perfect storm for fantasy goodness.

Rudy Gay (No. 85): The more Memphis plays in transition, the better Gay is going to look. I'd guess 16 points, eight boards, three assists, one-plus steals, one-plus blocks and a few 3s. Enjoy!

Andrew Bynum (No. 86): Bynum is clearly the best center on the Lakers and he's improving rapidly. A double-double, two-plus blocks, and 55-60 percent shooting from the field are completely within the realm of possibility. I'm just glad he's on my (fantasy) team.

Ben Wallace (No. 91): He was still among the top-10 fantasy centers last season. Just make sure you don't need him to score any points. Or hit any free throws.

Stephen Jackson (No. 94): On the one hand, he's suspended for the first seven games of the season. On the other, he's just been named captain. I'm going to take that as a good sign. He's super-durable, he scores from anywhere on the floor and he plays two positions. Not a bad guy to stash on your bench.

Shaquille O'Neal (No. 98): If he falls out of the top 100, can we consider him a sleeper? If you can hold a bench spot for the big fella, then why not? When he plays, he's still fantastic.

Boris Diaw (No. 105): As long as Amare is an injury risk, I love this pick. And even if Amare is healthy, I think Diaw can figure out how to coexist this time around.

Eddy Curry (No. 119): He'll score a lot and shoot a high percentage from the floor. He will hurt you everywhere else, but 20 points per game out of a 12th-round pick can never be a bad thing.

Jose Calderon (No. 120): I've been saying this for months: Calderon is the best point guard on the Toronto Raptors. T.J. Ford says he wants to be an All-Star this season (who doesn't?), but Calderon will keep stealing his minutes and racking up assists.

Reaches
Kyle Korver (No. 75): I probably could have taken him in the ninth or 10th round. I like him because he learned how to be a better scorer last season. He got to the line more and made more midrange shots, which should open up his long-range game even more this year. Still, eighth round was too high.

David Lee (No. 88): He's great. I know. But I just don't see where the minutes are going to come from this season. He's not going to be out there guarding other teams' small forwards. If he averages over 25 minutes per game and matches last season's numbers, then color me surprised.

Brad Miller (No. 99): I understand that the next center drafted was Robert Swift and that I'm quibbling with a 10th-round pick here, but honestly, what does Brad Miller bring to the table at this point? Yes, he averaged 3.6 assists, which is good for a big man, but -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- I'd rather have Eddy Curry.

Mike James (No. 103): I like James, but the Rockets have way too many small combo guards, and James is just about the least exciting option among them. Plus, Jarrett Jack and Delonte West were still on the board. Keep an eye on this situation, though; if Francis doesn't resurrect his old self, it's possible I'll have been wrong about Mr. James.

The endgame


Guys We Somehow Neglected to Draft At All!
Daniel "Boobie" Gibson (PG, Cavaliers): If Sasha Pavlovic doesn't report, there will be big minutes for Boobie.

Troy Murphy (PF/C, Pacers): Again, coach Jim O'Brien is going to let his team shoot 3s. The only question here is whether Troy can play enough D to stay on the floor.

Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell (SG and PG, Clippers): I understand that these guys are old, but they still form the starting backcourt for the Clippers. Mobley will play, and he'll hit a lot of 3s. As for Cassell, as long as he's healthy, he'll keep Brevin Knight on the bench most of the time.

Anthony Parker (SG, Raptors): He's deadly from long range, and he contributes a little across the board.

Dorell Wright (SF/SG, Heat): He's extremely talented and, once again, this could be the year he takes off. You definitely want him if Wade gets hurt. Wade owners might even want to take a flier on him in the final round of drafts.

Chris Webber (PF, Free Agent): See where he ends up. He's still a big dude, and he's still a great passer.