Commentary

12-team mock draft

Updated: October 7, 2008, 4:54 PM ET
By Guy Lake | Special to ESPN.com

Usually, about this time of year, you see a lot of expert basketball drafts published on various sites around ye olde interweb. They can be useful because they give readers an early indication of where the fantasy cognoscenti are placing their bets. They are snapshots in time of who's hot and who's not. There is one problem with expert drafts, however: The participants are all "experts." As a consequence, the results often do not reflect what knowledgeable everyday owners see in their own drafts.

To address this issue, we decided to mix up the format. Instead of gathering 10-12 writers, we invited four (myself, Brian McKitish, Keith Lipscomb and Eric Karabell). To round out the dozen, we invited eight uber users of the ESPN game: Tony Yeates, Rob June, Clark Olson, John Diver, Jay Cohen, Frank Hennessey, Raymond Chung and Adam Baker. These guys play a ton of fantasy and know the game inside and out. The results, as you will see below, are very indicative of how players should be valued at this time.

Here are the basics of the draft. It went down on Sept. 30 with these 12 participants and followed ESPN standard league rules with rotisserie scoring. The categories were points, 3-pointers, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage, free-throw percentage, steals and blocks. The rosters were made up of one point guard, one shooting guard, one small forward, one power forward, one center, one guard, one forward, three utility spots and three bench spots.

I'll go round-by-round through the draft, letting you know what I liked, what I didn't and what I questioned.

If you are getting ready for your own draft(s), I highly encourage you to use our Mock Draft Lobby. Remember, practice makes perfect or, as a Marine Corps colonel who was the father of a friend of mine used to say, "Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance."

12-Team Mock Draft held Sept. 30 using ESPN standard scoring
ROUND 1
PickOverallByPlayer
11BakerLeBron James, Cle, SF
22ChungKobe Bryant, LAL, SG
33HennessyChris Paul, Nor, PG
44LakeAmare Stoudemire, Pho, PF/C
55CohenSteve Nash, Pho, PG
66DiverDirk Nowitzki, Dal, PF
77McKitishDwyane Wade, Mia, SG
88OlsonShawn Marion, Mia, SF/PF
99LipscombJosh Smith, Atl, PF/SF
1010JuneKevin Garnett, Bos, PF
1111YeatesDeron Williams, Uta, PG
1212KarabellDwight Howard, Orl, C
Take the best player available with as little risk as possible.

I like: Chris Paul with the third overall pick; Paul anywhere outside the top two is excellent value.

I dislike: Dwight Howard going in the first round in a league with rotisserie scoring. His free-throw percentage is too difficult to overcome if you want to make a run for the championship in this scoring format.

I question: Steve Nash as the No. 5 overall pick. Yes, the Suns have threatened to curtail his minutes in recent seasons and failed to follow through, but this season, with Terry Porter as head coach, Goran Dragic on board and Nash turning 35 this season, I believe them.

ROUND 2
PickOverallByPlayer
113KarabellAllen Iverson, Den, SG/PG
214YeatesElton Brand, Phi, PF
315JuneTim Duncan, SA, PF/C
416LipscombCarmelo Anthony, Den, SF
517OlsonMarcus Camby, LAC, C/PF
618McKitishAl Jefferson, Min, C/PF
719DiverChauncey Billups, Det, PG
820CohenBaron Davis, LAC, PG
921LakeDanny Granger, Ind, SF
1022HennessyCarlos Boozer, Uta, PF
1123ChungKevin Martin, Sac, SG
1224BakerChris Bosh, Tor, PF/C
In the second round, look for a pick that will complement your first-rounder. If you took a point guard in the first, look power forward/center in this round or vice versa.

I like: My pick of Danny Granger. His numbers in the second half were just nutty. As the unquestioned No. 1 option in 3-point loving Jim O'Brien's offense, I expect first-round value from Granger this season.

I dislike: Kevin Martin being taken with the 23rd overall selection. Other shooting guards were available who offer a great diversity of statistical contributions: Joe Johnson, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Andre Iguodala.

I question: Carmelo Anthony going this high. Lipscomb could be banking on a roster shake-up in Denver that sends Allen Iverson out of town and boosts Carmelo's scoring even higher. I will say this: Anthony's contributions in the percentages are phenomenal, but Keith probably could have found a more well-rounded player.

ROUND 3
PickOverallByPlayer
125BakerAndre Iguodala, Phi, SF/SG
226ChungPaul Pierce, Bos, SF/SG
327HennessyYao Ming, Hou, C
428LakeJose Calderon, Tor, PG
529CohenKevin Durant, OKC, SG/SF
630DiverVince Carter, NJ, SG/SF
731McKitishRudy Gay, Mem, SF/PF
832OlsonJason Kidd, Dal, PG
933LipscombJoe Johnson, Atl, SG/SF
1034JuneCaron Butler, Was, SF
1135YeatesPau Gasol, LAL, PF/C
1236KarabellRashard Lewis, Orl, SF/PF
Small forward bonanza!

I like: Most of the picks in this round. There is a ton of value here in Round 3, especially concentrated in small forwards and shooting guards.

I dislike: Yao Ming's selection here. If the past three seasons have taught us anything, it is that when Yao is healthy, he is a top-five player in the fantasy game. The other thing we should have learned is that he has a nasty habit of ending his season in February.

I question: How Rudy Gay fell this far. Gay has the formula we like to see in fantasy players: He is the best player on a bad team on whom the offense is going to depend. I expect huge numbers from Gay this season, and if you can get him in the third round of a 12-team draft, you will have done very well.

ROUND 4
PickOverallByPlayer
137KarabellDavid West, Nor, PF
238YeatesAndre Miller, Phi, PG
339JuneMichael Redd, Mil, SG
440LipscombHedo Turkoglu, Orl, SF/SG
541OlsonJason Richardson, Cha, SG/SF
642McKitishBrandon Roy, Por, SG
743DiverMike Dunleavy, Ind, SG/SF
844CohenAntawn Jamison, Was, PF
945LakeJamal Crawford, NY, SG/PG
1046HennessyRay Allen, Bos, SG
1147ChungDevin Harris, NJ, PG
1248BakerMo Williams, Cle, PG
The swingman run peters out here, and the second-tier point guards start going.

I like: Jason Richardson with the 41st overall pick. He ended the 2007-08 season No. 18 in the ESPN Player Rater. That is value you can take to the bank.

I dislike: My pick of Jamal Crawford. It happens; I saw every player in my waiting list get snapped up and was looking for a shooting guard with assists, and I froze. Crawford certainly is that, but Stephen Jackson went 15 picks later (to Eric Karabell) and provides similar, if not greater, value.

I question: Ray Allen here. In previous years, Allen provided owners with more than 3-pointers and scoring. He is more limited now, and in Round 4, owners should be targeting players who can help across more categories (as many picks in this round reflect).

ROUND 5
PickOverallByPlayer
149BakerAl Horford, Atl, C/PF
250ChungLuol Deng, Chi, SF
351HennessyGerald Wallace, Cha, SF/PF
452LakeRon Artest, Hou, SF
553CohenGreg Oden, Por, C
654DiverJason Terry, Dal, SG/PG
755McKitishAndrew Bogut, Mil, C
856OlsonLamar Odom, LAL, SF/PF
957LipscombAndrew Bynum, LAL, C
1058JuneJermaine O'Neal, Tor, C/PF
1159YeatesManu Ginobili, SA, SG
1260KarabellStephen Jackson, GS, SG/SF
Center run!

I like: Both the Gerald Wallace and Ron Artest picks. They are risky but the upside is tremendous, and both can help teams rise to the top in a hard-to-fill category: steals. As I mentioned earlier, I also love the Stephen Jackson pick. It can be hard to do, but often the best value can be found going against a position run.

I dislike: Taking any rookie this early. Greg Oden is that, plus a health risk. Likely, Jay saw the center run starting and wanted to get in. The problem is, he took one of the highest-risk players at this position.

I question: Rob June's selection of Jermaine O'Neal. Again, the center run was in full swing and it proved hard to resist. O'Neal will be the second choice in the Toronto frontcourt, and his health issues are well-documented. If he somehow stays healthy, this will be looked on as a great value pick. Right now, it is hard seeing that come to pass.

ROUND 6
PickOverallByPlayer
161KarabellMike Bibby, Atl, PG
262YeatesAndrei Kirilenko, Uta, SF/PF
363JuneT.J. Ford, Ind, PG
464LipscombMike Miller, Min, SG/SF
565OlsonCorey Maggette, GS, SF/SG
666McKitishEmeka Okafor, Cha, C/PF
767DiverRasheed Wallace, Det, C/PF
868CohenTracy McGrady, Hou, SG/SF
969LakeAndris Biedrins, GS, C
1070HennessyMichael Beasley, Mia, PF
1171ChungLaMarcus Aldridge, Por, PF/C
1272BakerJosh Howard, Dal, SF

I like: Mike Miller … an awful lot this season. He is going to be the No. 1 perimeter threat on the Timberwolves. With defenses caught in between the likes of Miller, Randy Foye and Rashad McCants outside and Al Jefferson inside with Kevin Love passing from the post, Miller is going to get a lot of good looks. Excellent value here.

I dislike: Andrei Kirilenko. I really do. He is getting picked in too many leagues based on past reputation. His second half last season was terrible: He averaged 27.0 minutes, 9.4 points, 0.8 3-pointers, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. This is unworthy of the sixth round.

I question: Jay Cohen's choice of Tracy McGrady. Jay called him a good value here and he may be right, but the fact that T-Mac is complaining about his back and knee before the season even starts gives me pause.

ROUND 7
PickOverallByPlayer
173BakerRaymond Felton, Cha, PG
274ChungChris Kaman, LAC, C
375HennessyTyson Chandler, Nor, C
476LakeKirk Hinrich, Chi, PG/SG
577CohenDerrick Rose, Chi, PG
678DiverLeandro Barbosa, Pho, SG/PG
779McKitishRandy Foye, Min, PG/SG
880OlsonRichard Hamilton, Det, SG
981LipscombRajon Rondo, Bos, PG
1082JuneTony Parker, SA, PG
1183YeatesBen Gordon, Chi, SG
1284KarabellSamuel Dalembert, Phi, C
ROUND 8
PickOverallByPlayer
185KarabellGilbert Arenas, Was, PG
286YeatesMehmet Okur, Uta, C
387JuneRichard Jefferson, Mil, SF
488LipscombJohn Salmons, Sac, SF/SG
589OlsonDavid Lee, NY, PF
690McKitishCharlie Villanueva, Mil, PF/SF
791DiverPeja Stojakovic, Nor, SF
892CohenZach Randolph, NY, PF/C
993LakeBrad Miller, Sac, C
1094HennessyAl Thornton, LAC, SF
1195ChungBeno Udrih, Sac, PG
1296BakerZydrunas Ilgauskas, Cle, C
By Rounds 7 and 8, teams should be looking to fill in the blanks for positions and categories. You shouldn't watch other team's picks. Focus on your team needs and execute your strategy.

I like: Rob June's tandem of Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson. They will give him excellent scoring and a very good field-goal percentage. Plus, Jefferson's free throws will help offset Parker's poor showing at the line. Rob needed a little boost in his scoring, and he could not have done much better than these two to fill that need. Other value picks I really like in these rounds: David Lee, Mehmet Okur and John Salmons.

I dislike: Ben Gordon and the rest of the Bulls' backcourt this season. Gordon just signed with the Bulls, giving them a backcourt of himself, Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha all vying for playing time. I expect a lot of up-and-down nights from all these players, with at least one of them getting squeezed out of ownership consideration (most likely Sefolosha).

I question: Whether I made the right call with Brad Miller. He faded badly last season (due to bone chips in his right elbow and a stress fracture in his right leg) and I am concerned that his strong averages will add up to mediocre totals by the end of the season.

ROUND 9
PickOverallByPlayer
197BakerMonta Ellis, GS, PG/SG
298ChungTroy Murphy, Ind, PF/C
399HennessyJoakim Noah, Chi, C/PF
4100LakeJamario Moon, Tor, SF/PF
5101CohenKevin Love, Min, PF
6102DiverRicky Davis, LAC, SF/SG
7103McKitishFrancisco Garcia, Sac, SG/SF
8104OlsonRashad McCants, Min, SG
9105LipscombJameer Nelson, Orl, PG
10106JuneMarc Gasol, Mem, C
11107YeatesRudy Fernandez, Por, SG
12108KarabellAl Harrington, GS, PF/C
ROUND 10
PickOverallByPlayer
1109KarabellRafer Alston, Hou, PG
2110YeatesRamon Sessions, Mil, PG
3111JuneTayshaun Prince, Det, SF
4112LipscombNick Collison, OKC, PF/C
5113OlsonKenyon Martin, Den, PF
6114McKitishDrew Gooden, Chi, PF
7115DiverShane Battier, Hou, SF
8116CohenMarvin Williams, Atl, SF
9117LakeThaddeus Young, Phi, SF
10118HennessyMarcus Williams, GS, PG
11119ChungRyan Gomes, Min, SF/PF
12120BakerEarl Watson, OKC, PG
These picks should round out the starting lineups of a standard league team. Positions should be less important than categories, as the final three spots on a standard roster can be filled by any position.

I like: Monta Ellis here. Of course, there is a lot of risk selecting Ellis. There is a chance he struggles getting back to his former explosiveness upon his return. However, with the 97th overall pick, this is a risk worth taking. Much bad language followed Adam Baker's selection of Ellis. Other strong value picks in these rounds: Ricky Davis, Francisco Garcia, Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah and Marcus Williams.

I dislike: Karabell's picks in these rounds. Up to this point, Karabell had been amassing a very strong squad. These two players have the potential to torpedo his field-goal percentage despite the fact he has Dwight Howard. Harrington has dropped weight and worked on his inside game with Mark Aguirre. He used to be effective in the post, but playing out of position at center last season, he was almost forced to go outside. If he cuts back on the 3-pointers and becomes more efficient, he could redeem this pick. Alston will hurt Eric both from the field and the line.

I question: Whether Rudy Fernandez provides a good return on investment at this point in the draft. Remember, you are still taking starters at this point. You want players with more assured playing time than a guy like Rudy. The Blazers have a ton of talent in the backcourt.

ROUND 11
PickOverallByPlayer
1121BakerHakim Warrick, Mem, PF
2122ChungChris Duhon, NY, PG
3123HennessyRussell Westbrook, OKC, PG
4124LakeJ.R. Smith, Den, SG
5125CohenChris Wilcox, OKC, PF/C
6126DiverAnthony Parker, Tor, SG
7127McKitishMike Conley, Mem, PG
8128OlsonRonnie Brewer, Uta, SG
9129LipscombJarrett Jack, Ind, PG
10130JuneAndres Nocioni, Chi, SF/PF
11131YeatesBoris Diaw, Pho, PF/SF
12132KarabellLuis Scola, Hou, PF/C
ROUND 12
PickOverallByPlayer
1133KarabellLouis Williams, Phi, PG
2134YeatesJason Maxiell, Det, PF/C
3135JuneDerek Fisher, LAL, PG
4136LipscombWilson Chandler, NY, SF
5137OlsonO.J. Mayo, Mem, SG
6138McKitishMickael Pietrus, Orl, SG/SF
7139DiverGrant Hill, Pho, SF
8140CohenBrandon Bass, Dal, PF
9141LakeNene Hilario, Den, C/PF
10142HennessyRodney Stuckey, Det, SG/PG
11143ChungWally Szczerbiak, Cle, SG/SF
12144BakerTravis Outlaw, Por, SF/PF
ROUND 13
PickOverallByPlayer
1145BakerJeff Green, OKC, SF
2146ChungBobby Simmons, NJ, SF
3147HennessySean May, Cha, PF
4148LakeLuke Ridnour, Mil, PG
5149CohenTyrus Thomas, Chi, PF
6150DiverCuttino Mobley, LAC, SG
7151McKitishMario Chalmers, Mia, PG
8152OlsonNate Robinson, NY, PG/SG
9153LipscombJerryd Bayless, Por, PG/SG
10154JuneAnderson Varejao, Cle, PF/C
11155YeatesJames Posey, Nor, SF/SG
12156KarabellRonny Turiaf, GS, PF/C
Bargain basement time! Owners should treat the final three picks of their drafts as free-agent acquisitions. This is the time to catch lightning in a bottle and aim for upside. There is no reason to play it safe with a player you will dump for the first hot player in the regular season.

I like: Players who can bust out in a big way. Don't we all? Here are the guys taken in the last three rounds who I think have the best chance of making a name for themselves in the fantasy game: Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith, O.J. Mayo, Rodney Stuckey, Louis Williams, Jason Maxiell, Nene and Jeff Green. There is little downside to any of these picks. If they don't pan out, hit the waiver wire.

I don't like: Safe plays in the late rounds. Here are the guys who might help buckle your seat belt, but won't help you win the race: Jarrett Jack, Luis Scola, James Posey, Cuttino Mobley, Grant Hill and Derek Fisher.

I question: Chris Wilcox's ability to make an impact this season. You watch him jump in the lane and you think you have a stud on your hands. Then you watch more and see the utter lack of range and utter lack of defense and you realize why he isn't worth rolling the dice on. He has upside, but by this point in his career, he should have tapped it.

Guy Lake is fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at guy.fantasy@gmail.com.

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