- Seth Landman, Fantasy Basketball
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Our second mock draft of the 2011-12 fantasy season was for a 12-team rotisserie league. Be sure to check out Neil Tardy's analysis of Mock Draft 1.0, and for a closer look at the difference between roto leagues and head-to-head leagues, check out Josh Whitling's column in the draft kit. For our purposes, just remember that roto leagues tend to favor players who put up more well-rounded numbers.
The best example of this is Dwight Howard. Howard's ability to dominate multiple categories (blocks, rebounds, field goal percentage) makes him good in all leagues, but in a roto league, Howard's terrible free throw shooting will kill you all season, while his dominant performances in blocks and rebounds are spread out during the course of the season. In head-to-head leagues, his ability to single-handedly win you multiple categories means you can punt free throw shooting and concentrate on your strengths.
The participants in this draft, in addition to myself, were fantasy hoops analysts Tom Carpenter, John Cregan, Neil Tardy, Brian McKitish, Adam Stanco and Josh Whitling, Fantasy Insider Eric Karabell, Fantasy Focus Basketball podcast co-hosts Keith Lipscomb and Mike Yam, fantasy editor James Quintong and fantasy games engineer Christian Allgood. For the record, we conducted this draft just after finding out about Chris Paul being traded to the Clippers. Here's how it went:
To see all rosters by team, click here.
Round 1 breakdown: As usual this season, the most interesting pick in the draft, in many ways, is fourth overall. I'd be perfectly happy with any of the top-13 players outside of Monta Ellis in that spot, but Dwyane Wade is certainly a good option. Carpenter pointed out that he'd happily have taken Wade third given the opportunity, but it seems Paul is, especially now, the consensus No. 3.
My strategy: I was extremely happy to take Amare Stoudemire. He'll contribute across the board, which helps me in a roto league, and he finished last season sixth overall on the Player Rater.
Round 2 breakdown: It's going to be very interesting to see what sort of numbers Eric Gordon puts up in his first season with the Hornets, but given the way he shoots 3s and gets to the line, the potential for a monster season is there. I love Blake Griffin, but in a roto league I worry about his free throw shooting. He doesn't carry you in blocks the way Howard does, so his free throw woes are even scarier. On the other hand, if Griffin ever figures out how to boost his percentage from this line, he'll justify this pick easily.
My strategy: I'm high on Pau Gasol this season, and considering the Lakers just gave away Lamar Odom, Gasol is going to have to play big minutes once again. On the other hand, taking Gasol here meant losing out on getting a top-flight point guard, so it might have been worth looking a little more closely at John Wall.
Round 3 breakdown: Paul Pierce went nine spots higher in this mock than he did in Mock Draft 1.0, and that speaks to the difference between roto and head-to-head. Pierce's well-rounded numbers are far more valuable in a league where you don't need big performances on a week-to-week basis. Jrue Holiday finished last season 32nd on the Player Rater, so it's not going to take much improvement from him to make Whitling's selection a phenomenal value. I'm not a Tyreke Evans fan, but Karabell had this to say: "I think he's a potential top-20 guy, perhaps even more, and I got him at pick 32. Health is an issue, but his ability certainly is not." Beyond that, Evans is one of the few point guards who can get you five-plus rebounds on most nights, and he's a unique player overall.
My strategy: Dorell Wright is certainly a risk, but I think he can match his output of last season, especially since the Warriors don't have many other options on the wings and just let go of Reggie Williams in their pursuit of DeAndre Jordan. I would have absolutely taken Holiday if he had slipped.
Round 4 breakdown: This was the round of the center, and there are two I'm excited about. Andrew Bogut, if his arm is back to being healthy, should get back some of the offensive game he lost last season, and since he's turned himself into an elite shot-blocker, he has the potential to be a top-20 player if everything breaks right. Whitling got Serge Ibaka to make up for Kevin Love's lack of blocks, but that might understate just how good Ibaka is. He was the most valuable shot-blocker in fantasy last season and is the odds-on favorite to do it again.
My strategy: I don't really like Joe Johnson, but I wasn't quite ready to bite on Kyle Lowry or Ty Lawson. Johnson will at least rack up some assists from the shooting guard spot. JJ was a disaster last season, but I can't imagine he'll shoot below 30 percent on 3s again.
Round 5 breakdown: Andrea Bargnani got a lot of attention here, and he's certainly a risk. He finished 90th on the Player Rater last season, but since he played only 66 games, there's certainly room for improvement. With slight increases in blocks and rebounds -- remember, he is a 7-foot center -- he could push his way into the top 50. I think Marc Gasol probably could have gone before Marcin Gortat. Gasol was a top-35 fantasy guy last season and will only get better.
My strategy: I needed a point guard, and I had been hoping to get Mike Conley since I eschewed taking a point guard in Round 1. Conley isn't flashy, but he is steadily improving and contributes pretty well across the board. He's certainly not lacking for weapons around him, especially with Rudy Gay coming back.
Round 6 breakdown: We finally had our first rookie go off the board, as Kyrie Irving went 24 picks later than he did in Mock Draft 1.0. This is actually right where Irving belongs, and I'd be shocked if he found his way into the top 50 as a rookie. I thought really hard about DeAndre Jordan, as I think the Chris Paul trade should benefit him more than anyone. Lipscomb had this to say: "I was in need of blocks late in the sixth round, so I was happy to grab Jordan, since he's got double-double potential this season as well." Add to that the fact that Jordan shot nearly 69 percent last season, and we might have a real fantasy star on our hands.
My strategy: I've loved Greg Monroe since his Georgetown days and his well-rounded game should be perfect for a roto league, but I'll admit I was extremely tempted by Jordan even this early. Ray Allen is another player I considered, as he always seems to outperform what is expected of him, largely because his 3-point shooting is so valuable.
Round 7 breakdown: We saw a lot of aging vets go off the board in the seventh round, and one of the major storylines of this season will be how the compressed schedule effects guys like Garnett and Brand. Both were top-30 fantasy guys last season, so it's a little odd to see both being drafted in the seventh round of a 12-team league. If the schedule isn't as hard on the veterans as we think it might be, there could be some real value in players like KG and Brand.
My strategy: I was extremely excited to get Billups here. The big question will be just how much he'll drop off in assists and free throw attempts, but this late in the draft I'm happy to grab him. He should get a ton of open looks alongside Paul and is big enough that he can log plenty of minutes at shooting guard.
Round 8 breakdown: Like Irving, Derrick Williams slipped a lot from where he was drafted in Mock Draft 1.0, and as with Irving, this is right where Williams belongs. Darren Collison had a disappointing season in 2010-11, but he still has a ton of upside. Given the importance of point guards in fantasy, he looks like a really great pick this late in the draft.
My strategy: Batum has shown flashes of huge potential for years, and if he puts it all together, he'll be a steal. Unfortunately, we've been saying that for his entire career. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have gone with Collison to shore up my point guard situation instead of letting it go with Conley and Billups.
Round 9 breakdown: This was where I really started to notice the difference between a 10-team and a 12-team league. It just started to feel like there weren't any players left without major holes or questions. Carpenter had this to say about taking Ricky Rubio: "Rubio in the ninth will either look like a waiver-wire move in a month or a genius play." I think he's right, and I really have no idea which way it'll go. The same could be said for Kemba Walker, but this late in the draft, it probably makes sense to go with upside, especially if you've been conservative so far.
My strategy: I opted for a different kind of risk. Andrei Kirilenko, if/when he returns to the NBA, should vastly outperform his draft position, whether he ends up on the Jazz or not. He finished 89th on the Player Rater last season, playing just 64 games, and at the very least he should help me out in steals and blocks when he's in the lineup.
Round 10 breakdown: The pair of power forwards from the Toronto Raptors, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, are huge upside picks, and there isn't much standing in their way in terms of personnel. My favorite pick in this round, however, is Brandon Knight. If the Pistons end up letting Rodney Stuckey go, Knight is going to play big minutes. I'm not totally sold on Knight as great point guard, but he can definitely shoot it. A point guard who can knock down 3s will always be valuable in fantasy.
My strategy: Looking at the Clippers' current roster, it's clear that Caron Butler is going to have a major role. The fact that he shot 43 percent on 3-pointers in 29 games for the Mavs last season has small-sample-size red flags all over it, but he's got a track record of being a major fantasy contributor when he's healthy. As with Kirilenko, I'm just hoping he doesn't get hurt.
Round 11 breakdown: I love Ryan Anderson, but I'm a little worried that if Howard gets traded it's going to be hard for Anderson to find open looks. Still, a guy who can rebound and shoot 3s is a valuable commodity in fantasy, and this late in the draft he's a great pick. Tyrus Thomas will put up his usual huge numbers in blocks and steals if he can carve out some minutes in Charlotte's frontcourt. He should at least get the opportunity this time around.
My strategy: After opting to roll the dice with Butler over Knight, I really needed to take a shot on one more point guard. I'm thinking that if the Raptors wind up using their amnesty on Jose Calderon (or trading him at some point), Jerryd Bayless could rack up the assists with guys like Bargnani and Leandro Barbosa around him. Even if Bayless is the backup, there should be a decent amount of minutes for him, especially since Calderon and Barbosa often have trouble staying healthy.
Round 12 breakdown: If Baron Davis signs with a good team, Karabell's pick could end up being the steal of the draft. On the other hand, the reason Davis is available this late in the draft is that there's a decent chance he'll mail in the season and be hurt most of the time anyway -- he's already dealing with a back issue. I love the Paul George pick by Stanco. With Mike Dunleavy playing in Milwaukee, there should be plenty of run for George, a player who seems ready to break out.
My strategy: I don't know where Dalembert will sign yet, but I like that he can rebound and block shots without killing me at the free throw line. He's always a little more valuable in fantasy than he seems.
Round 13 breakdown: When Marcus Camby plays, he's going to rack up rebounds and blocks. That's all you can really ask for at this stage of the draft -- that when a guy is in the lineup, he's productive. I also can't argue with the upside of a guy like Derrick Favors, who is just one Al Jefferson injury away from being a major force in fantasy leagues.
My strategy: Glen Davis played nearly 30 minutes per game for the Celtics last season and averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds. Brandon Bass should be able to at least match those numbers, but he'll do it shooting a much better percentage from the floor. He'll be an asset at the foul line as well.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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