Where did Russell Westbrook and James Harden go in our latest mock draft, a 10-team head-to-head categories format?
We’re just a couple of weeks away from the tipoff to the 2019-20 fantasy basketball campaign, which means we are entering the heart of draft season.
To get you properly prepared, our experts recently took part in our third mock draft. This one is a 10-team draft for a head-to-head (H2H) categories league.
This is where you compete against a single opponent each week in the usual fantasy categories (points, rebounds, 3s, etc.). Depending on your league format, you will then either pick up a win, loss or tie each week depending on who won more categories, or you will get a win, loss or tie for each category, which are totaled up throughout the regular season.
With that in mind, you can check out the results of this 10-team H2H categories mock and read key takeaways from our analysts below.
The participants in order of draft position, were:
Preston Johnson: I was pretty happy with how my draft went outside of one team I had targeted going in: the Indiana Pacers. I really wanted to take advantage of their backcourt situation while Victor Oladipo works his way back into playing shape.
I had back-to-back picks in the sixth and seventh rounds, and the time to select Malcolm Brogdon was approaching. I hadn’t rostered a small forward yet, and I needed another big man. I had snatched Devin Booker and Kemba Walker earlier anyway, and so I passed on Brogdon. Cregan took him with the very next pick in the draft.
I convinced myself all would be well if I could scoop Jeremy Lamb in a later round. In round 10, Lamb was sitting atop my queue. I was one pick away with Cregan on the clock again. What could go wrong? Well, Cregan did it again, and I missed out completely on the Pacers backcourt.
John Cregan: After getting Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Vucevic with my first two picks — locking down center with a deep reservoir off volume and efficiency — I decided to take big swings in subsequent rounds. I took whichever player I felt like had the biggest upside at any particular point in the draft, rather than going for safer investments.
I really liked the combo of Jaren Jackson Jr. at 39 and Chris Paul at 42. I believe Jackson has more upside than any other mid-round player. Chris Paul at 42 is a risk. But in a H2H scenario, I’m more willing to gamble on players with injury red flags. And if Paul stays in OKC, he’ll outperform that fifth-round valuation.
I spent a lot of time deliberating Thomas Bryant versus Mitchell Robinson at 59. Both players have the opportunity to outperform their ADP by multiple rounds. It comes down to team statistical need. I chose offensive upside over defensive upside. But I love either player in that slot.
Jim McCormick: In a weekly categories format, I’m completely content to punt or actively devalue one or several categories with an eye on becoming elite in several key and repeatable statistics. Most of this is done as a reaction to the value presented to me in the draft. In this case, I loaded up on scorers, shooters and defenders but likely won’t win assists in the many weeks I’ll play foes with multiple true point guards.
I said to the room as the draft began that I was going to try to see how a roster constructed around Anthony Davis would look compared to selecting Stephen Curry. You can’t really go wrong, given both are so entirely dominant building blocks, but it was a fun pivot from most outcomes that would have me build around Curry. I dig this Brow-driven roster, though, and would likely enjoy checking my defensive stats every night.
Tom Carpenter: For me, the first purpose of a draft is securing a quality base of talent. The second is having players other managers want, so I can trade them for stats or players I desire more. I typically draft talent and pay little or no attention to positions or even specific categories. I figure I’ll flesh the categories out via trades during the season.
In this case, I was happy to snag Curry at No. 4, since he is my top-rated player in category formats, and another scoring point guard in Irving in Round 2. In Rounds 3 and 4, I ended up securing shot-blockers in Gobert and Porzingis, then tacked on Whiteside in Round 7. Then, I drafted trade-able names in McCollum, LaVine, Ingram and Kuzma. Now I’m in position to trade off some one of my star point guards, one of my block artists and any of the aforementioned tradeable names if/when they get hot to improve my long-term roster.
André Snellings: In this draft, I noticed that I had interest in a couple of injured players just before they were drafted, but I just missed them. I took Terry Rozier with my fourth-round pick. However, immediately after I took him I realized that Kristaps Porzingis was still on the board and, despite his injury risk, I would have seriously considered taking him with that fourth-round pick.
In Round 11, I took Kelly Oubre Jr., but immediately after I took him, I noticed that Oladipo was still there. Stephania Bell and I talked about him in our look at injured players, and I’m not expecting much if anything before the New Year. With that said, a half season of top-50 play from Oladipo is worth serious consideration once we get past the eighth round of most drafts, so I would have taken him had I noticed him with my 11th pick.
Eric Karabell: The centers really slid in this draft, and I kept taking them, feeling pleased about the value, even knowing I might not have enough assists and 3-pointers. In the end, I handled assists fine with Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague joining first-round selection Nikola Jokic, but I would need to play Eric Gordon to have enough triples, so perhaps next time, I will focus more on team needs than value. Mock drafts continue to be a valuable learning experience.
Kyle Soppe: There’s a top tier of five players in my opinion, so picking later than that is not ideal this season. Understanding that, I opted to put a premium on versatility in the first three rounds. It seems that big men are falling after a certain point, and in knowing that, I was able to build accordingly.
Bryant and Montrezl Harrell are players I want this season, and by banking on getting one of them, I supplemented my “guard” stats in the earlier stages with guys like Eric Bledsoe and Ricky Rubio. We’ve still got time, but I envision this being my strategy entering live drafts this season … a few hand-picked bigs in the mid-to-late rounds with versatile options around them.
Joe Kaiser: With the No. 9 pick, I saw Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the board, and I had a decision to make. I knew that taking a center in the first round may make things difficult in the following rounds — given the depth at center, it may be better to hold off on that position — but No. 9 felt too high to be taking Simmons, who has been a non-factor from 3-poing range so far in his career.
I ended up taking Embiid. Then, with guys like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George available in the second round, I again passed on point guard and selected Leonard. Problem is, by the time my pick rolled around in round three, all the top-tier point guards were gone. If I had to do it over, I probably would have gone with point guard in Round 1 and held off on taking a center until the middle rounds.
Matt Williams: One of the burning questions coming into the NBA season: Can Simmons develop a jump shot? Maybe the summer workout videos convinced me to select him, but there are certainly reasons to be skeptical. According to Second Spectrum, Simmons had an average field goal attempt distance of just 5.4 feet last season, the lowest among all guards.
Putting that in perspective, DeMar DeRozan had the next shortest average FGA distance among guards to attempt 500 shots in 2018-19 at 11.6 feet, more than double the distance of Simmons!
However, even if his jumper is slow to come this season, Simmons still has a lot of fantasy value. He is one of three players to average seven rebounds and seven assists per game in each of the past two seasons — the others are LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.