Now that Jeff got to take a crack at mocking the first-round, I figured I’d add to the discussion and give you my thoughts on how I expect the first 12 picks to play out. I suspect that the players drafted in the late-first will be shuffled around a little between now and October 27. The power in this draft is in the top eight or so picks, as Jeff pointed out. Outside of that, it looks like you’re getting interchangeable parts at the end of the first. On the bright side, though, you’ll likely get two of the league’s Top 15 players when you’re drafting at slots 10-12: assuming you make the right decisions.
The rules: Standard 12-team roto draft with eight categories: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals, Blocks, Three-Pointers Made, Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Percentage.
TOM LORENZO’S FIRST ROUND ‘09-10 FANTASY BASKETBALL MOCK
1. LeBron James, CLE
Although it’s a win-win situation, this may be the toughest decision in the draft. Last season we asked King James to improve on his FT% and he did (+6.8%). We also knocked him for his 3PT shooting and he shot 34.4 percent from the floor making 1.6 per game. After losing to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals is there any reason to believe that he won’t come back to the game hungrier than ever? (Bonus: For those in TO leagues, he posted his lowest showing last season at 3.0 per game.)
2.Chris Paul, NOH
You really can’t go wrong with taking Paul at the top spot. Paul shot an impressive 50.3 percent from the floor and 86.8 percent from the charity stripe. He’s not a prolific 3pt shooter (0.8 ) and is a non-contributor in blocks (0.1 ). His shooting percentages, steals (2.8) and assists (11.0), however, are head and shoulders above the rest. Paul supporters will claim that those statistics are enough to bump him ahead of LBJ. I think where you win or loss in this debate is what you do with the rest of your squad. neither of these players have many deficiencies in their game. If you draw second pick in the draft you might be thankful that the decision will be made for you. (Bonus: 3.0 TO per game in ’08-09, the highest in his career.)
3. Dwyane Wade, MIA
D-Wade quieted many of his critics last season by playing in nearly all of his team’s games (78), improving on his FG% (49.1), and knocking down some threes (1.1), all while leading the league in scoring (30.2 PTS) and posting career bests in steals (2.2), blocks (1.3) and assists (7.5). Some aren’t ready to anoint him as 1C, but no one is questioning whether or not he is the third best fantasy player in the game.
4. Kevin Durant, OKC
The time has come for Kevin Durant to place his stamp on the fantasy game. He finished the ’08-09 season tremendously and if he can somehow come close to his February numbers (30.6 PTS, 53.8 FG%, 1.7 3PT, 87.6 FT%, 1.45 STL, 0.55 BLK, 6.3 REB, 3.5 AST) then there will be very little debate on whether or not you should have taken Durant over proven superstars like Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.
5. Danny Granger, IND
As Jeff noted, what held Danny Granger back last season were injuries. He’s got a sweet stroke for a 6-8 forward and if he remains healthy this season he can cement himself as a Top 5 fantasy baller for many years to come. I would like to see him post more than 5.1 rebounds per game this season, but other than that he is on his way to being a superstar.
6. Kobe Bryant, LAL
To be honest with you, the real struggle here was not whether or not Bryant should be picked ahead of Durant and Granger, but it was whether or not he should be selected ahead of Dirk Nowitzki. From here on out it’s less about personal accolade and more about winning titles. That’s not to say he’s not going to be an elite player in this league, but he’ll defer more to his teammates – especially since he can now “trust” them. Safe pick at No. 6, but no longer a Top 3 fantasy performer.
7. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
I’m willing to give Dirk a pass for last season. It was a tough year both on and off the court for Nowitzki. The re-signing of Jason Kidd helps his cause as does the pending free agency in the summer of 2010. I think you’ll see his three-point shooting go up a notch, which will look nicely alongside one of the more consistent stat lines in the game and plus-percentages.
8. Dwight Howard, ORL
This is a bit of a tough pill to swallow for roto leaguers. He’s likely to shoot somewhere around 60 percent from the line, yet he will most likely lead the league in rebounds, blocks, and possibly field goal percentage. He too should enter this season hungrier than ever after winning the East in ’08-09. Another plus working in his favor is that he vocalized the fact that he wanted to play a bigger role on the offensive side of the ball in the playoffs. This is his team, I’m not sure how Van Gundy won’t be able to oblige.
9. Deron Williams, UTA
Williams was also struck by the injury bug last season. He is, though, the only player in the league who can manage to dish more assists next season than Chris Paul. With 10.7 last season, I can see him breaking the 11.0 per game mark with a healthy combination of Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap in the post. He unfortunately is just a 1.0 STL guy and a much poorer rebounder than CP3, but he is clearly the second best point guard in the league.
10. Amare Stoudemire, PHX
Amare had a tough season in ’08-09. I expect him to step it up this year, especially since he is in line for a huge contract in 2010. It never hurts to have Steve Nash and the prospect of making big bucks on your side. I’m looking for 23 PTS, 9 REB, 1.5 BLK, and 55.0 FG% this season.
11. Brandon Roy, POR
Roy looks to be another consistent star in the making. He’s more of a Dirk Nowtzki type of star (does nothing great, but a lot of very good things) and I expect him to grow in the same way Dirk did over his career (no psychically!). The addition of Andre Miller might take the ball out of his hand more, meaning fewer assists. But I expect his scoring to take a notch up and, as an added bonus for those of you in TO leagues should note he only allowed 1.9 last season.
12. Chris Bosh, TOR
Tough choice here between Bosh, Gasol, and Jefferson. Bosh makes the most sense to me because he is the go-to guy on his team (unlike Gasol) and doesn’t scare me, health-wise, as much as Jefferson does. Another plus is that I think Jose Calderon is in for a big season and that could really help Bosh’s value.
Just missing the cut:Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson, Jose Calderon, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash, Devin Harris.