Round five already? This is going faster than Rick Pitino’s –
Nevermind. You get my point — each round of this mock draft is flying by. Henry at Weakside Help and I have already tag-teamed to knock down four rounds of this mock draft (head-to-head, nine categories, 12 teams, 13 rounds), with pretty solid results thus far, if I may say so myself. (That’s more of a nod to Henry’s work so far, given that he’s always taking a later round than I am.)
While drafting a single rock-solid fantasy basketball team is a tough task in and of itself, trying to build 12 solid teams at the same time is much more insane. For each round I find myself attempting to see things from 12 different angles — the closest thing to schizophrenia that someone can experience in the realm of fantasy ball.
Regardless, I’m thoroughly enjoying the process and am eager to tackle this fifth round, the most difficult (and probably the most questionable) one for me so far:
49. Marcus Camby (joins K. Durant, T. Evans, A. Horford, P. Pierce): This team has plenty of scoring punch, so adding a nonscoring beast like Camby won’t weigh that category down much at all. While the eventual “returns” (yes, the quotes are very necessary) of Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla are looming as threats to his minutes, neither of those two big men can be trusted to play significant minutes for a while. Besides, Camby only played 31:11 per game last season and still averaged 7/11 along with 1.1 steals and 2.0 blocks. He should get plenty of playing time in the beginning of the season and should remain the anchor of the Blazers’ middle for the duration of the season — so long as he can stay healthy himself. While Henry expressed concerns about this team dragging down Durant’s pristine FT%, Camby’s dismal 58 percent average last season is kind of a fluke, since he only shot 1.4 free throws per game. Horford and Camby have this team in very good shape up front, while Durant, Evans and Pierce spread their strengths across the other categories. I’m a bit scared of what Henry will think of this, but I can’t allow a potential beast like Camby, who can easily put up top-25 numbers, fall into the 50s.
50. Kevin Love (joins L. James, B. Roy, C. Billups, J. Noah): Is there room for Love in Minnesota? If Michael Beasley hadn’t been dumped into Minnesota, Love would be an easy pick here. But with Beasley around, and with the Timberwolves committed to the manna that is Darko Milicic, Love’s path to fantasy stardom is a tad cloudy. Neither Beasley nor Milicic are capable of replacing the rebounding gap that Al Jefferson left behind, which means Love (who averaged 11 boards per game in 2009-10) could feasibly average 15/12.5, along with a dash of threes, assists and steals. Add to this the possibility that he has a good shot at starting and playing more than the 28:36 he averaged last season and there’s more room to go up than down. He fortifies this squad’s rebounding and strong shooting percentages.
51. Mo Williams (joins C. Paul, C. Bosh, J. Johnson, R. Gay): Like Antawn Jamison, Williams stands to shoulder a bigger load of the Cavaliers’ offense this season, thanks to the departure of the-one-who-shall-not-be-named. This should mean more minutes, shots, points, assists and turnovers. While his shooting percentage could dip, 18/4/6 along with 2.5 threes aren’t too bold to ask from Williams this season. One under-the-radar risk to his value is his spotty health record — he’s only played more than 69 games twice in his seven-year career (though his rookie season DNPs weren’t all due to injuries). Williams solidifies this backcourt and bulks up its threes and all-around numbers. A PF/C like Camby or Love would’ve been nice here (gee, thanks…me…), but maybe one of the other big men I didn’t reach for here will be around in round six. (Besides, having the long-anticipated duo of Gay/Love would have been too much to bear.)
52. Aaron Brooks (joins D. Nowitzki, J. Kidd, A. Iguodala, A. Jamison): The little man isn’t just known for busting out bold attire in postgame interviews — he’s known for launching on-target bombs from beyond the arc. Brooks averaged 2.6 threes per game last season, tying Danny Granger for the highest average in the NBA. While he’s known to go on hot and cold streaks, Brooks should continue to skillfully captain the Rockets’ offense. If Yao Ming does make a successful return to the floor sometime this season, that could mean more open looks and assists for Brooks, who’s only 25 years old. While I dig getting Brooks here, it’s not quite clear what this team excels at just yet, which worries me a bit.
53. Raymond Felton (joins K. Bryant, A. Jefferson, M. Ellis, M. Gasol): By now we all know how friendly coach Mike D’Antoni’s systems are for capable point guards. Even Chris Duhon thrived in this offense before he lost his soul. Felton, a huge upgrade from Duhon, now finds himself in a dream of an offense with a dream of a pick-and-roll partner in Amar’e Stoudemire. Not only is Felton resilient (has missed only 11 regular season games during his five years in the league), but he’s a decent all-around point guard who consistently steals about 1.5 balls per game. In New York, Felton shouldn’t have much trouble fending off Toney Douglas at the PG spot and seems set to reach numbers around 15/3/9, along with 1.5 threes per game. His shooting from the floor is always suspect, and that isn’t going to change this season. Still, a healthy guard in a potent offense is great insurance for Black Mamba and Ellis, and sets this backcourt in firm position to succeed. Little Gasol (great pick) and Jefferson can hold their own in the frontcourt, so all this team seems to need are some solid forwards to fill out its starting roster. I don’t see much missing here.
54. Jason Richardson (joins D. Granger, J. Smith, N. Hilario, D. Rose): Maybe it was that obvious empty SG spot that made me look for a capable player to fill out this starting five, or maybe it was seeing that the last three players aren’t exactly known for helping with threes, but whatever the reason, I’m convinced Richardson could be an absolute steal at No. 54 overall. A new swingman who seemed to open things up in Orlando is now in Phoenix (see below), and I expect that he’ll do the same for the Suns, which should mean more open looks and easier possessions for J-Rich. With Stoudemire out of town, there are now about 15.4 shots per game that need to be claimed, and I have a sneaking feeling that Richardson will take his share of those. He should also shoulder a bigger load of the overall offense, which could mean better all-around numbers. With Granger and J-Rich set to combine for 16+ threes per week, and with this team’s already solid steals, blocks and rebounds, things are looking pretty swell.
55. Kevin Martin (joins P. Gasol, R. Rondo, T. Murphy, Z. Randolph): Martin could easily go a few spots higher than this. He scores 20+ points with ease, is good for around 1.5 threes per game and kills it from the free-throw line. However, the guy seems as susceptible to hurting himself as Justin Bieber is (he hasn’t played more than 61 games in the past three seasons). That, along with the surging youth movement in the form of Brooks, Chase Budinger and Trevor Ariza makes it hard to believe that Martin has anywhere to go but down, albeit not by much. That said, he helps this team’s FT% and threes, while strengthening its chances with points. If he can stay healthy, Martin’s an outright steal here. (By the way, I love how three of these dudes could average 10+ rebounds per game this season.)
56. Hedo Turkoglu (joins D. Williams, B. Lopez, D. West, D Gallinari): Turkoglu’s recent NBA career reads like “Toy Story 3″: He started off in a fallen heaven (a defeated Orlando Magic squad), where he felt scorned and unloved ($), so he decides to leave for what he thinks will be greener pastures ($) but turns out to be the complete opposite of what he had left behind (Toronto Raptors). After suffering for a short while in that hell, he somehow manages to escape and now finds himself in a situation that appears to be even better than where he started off (Phoenix Suns). OK, if you haven’t seen the film yet (how dare you!?!?), the moral of the story is this: Phoenix is just about the perfect stage for the resurrection of Hedo’s career. Expect the offense to flow through him often (which is another reason I’m a bit down on Steve Nash this season), and his three-point prowess should serve him well on the Suns. Averages of 15/4/5, along with 2+ threes aren’t too much to hope for. The major concern for Turk is that he’s arriving to a Suns team that finds itself with lots of depth at the forward positions — he’ll have to fight for minutes with Grant Hill, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye. Nevertheless, at No. 56, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Gallo (great pick at No. 41 — could give top 25 value if all goes well) and Turkoglu should give this team a strong foundation in threes, while the rest of the roster appears well-rounded.
57. Devin Harris (joins S. Curry, C. Anthony, T. Duncan, A. Bogut): I’m glad Henry got to choose his fellow Aussie. Bogut’s health concerns me, especially in the early going, but he’s a monster when healthy and paired with Duncan makes for a formidable (although a delicate) frontcourt. Harris is also a health concern but besides his low FG%, he offers really solid value at this spot in the draft. Don’t forget that he averaged 21.3 points per game in 2008-09. With the additions of Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw, the floor should be better spaced for Harris to maneuver around, which should improve his shot selection and bump up his assists. The key to his value is his frail body. If it can hold up for even 72 games this season, No. 57 overall seems like a fair deal.
58. Anthony Randolph (joins D. Wade, A. Stoudemire, A. Bargnani, B. Davis): I couldn’t resist. My sensible side says Randolph’s frail body, questionable attitude and new surroundings make him unworthy of anything higher than a sixth-round pick. But the child in me reads how coach D’Antoni raves about the kid’s athleticism and calls him a “multi-position player” and gets very giddy. Jared Jeffries was a multi-position player for the Knicks, but he barely made left a mark. Make no mistake: Randolph is another type of animal altogether. To be honest, I was about to reluctantly scoop up Kevin Garnett here, but then I realized that all of KG’s probable averages this season are probably near the bottom of Randolph’s potential in New York. Tack onto that his sky-high potential and I just couldn’t justify not taking him now. Is it risky to take on two Knicks? Is it risky for this team to draft a bit high on three (Ant-Rand, Bargs and B-Diddy, in my humblest of opinions) of its first five players? Is it possible that Randolph could finish the season with top-30 value? Yes, yes and yes. This team is clearly the gambling man’s darling right now, and I love it.
59. Andray Blatche (joins G. Wallace, D. Howard, M. Ginobili, R. Westbrook): Here’s another slight reach. Blatche busted out a can of something awful on opponents down the final stretch of the season in 2009-10, so he’s on most owners’ radars by now. The downside is that he’s healing from a broken foot (though he seems set to be ready for training camp) and that the Wizards’ backcourt is much stronger than it was last season. No matter — Blatche might score less than he did in his magical stretch last year, but he should grab around 8 rebounds a game (thanks to the misses that carom off the rim courtesy of John Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich) and put up solid numbers across the board. The frontcourt in Washington is his for the taking, unless you consider Yi Jianlian and the inconsistent JaVale McGee serious threats. If he can get back into shape by the start of the season, No. 59 should be about right. This team’s frontcourt looks very solid, and steals and blocks shouldn’t be much of a concern here. Threes do seem a bit absent, but like Henry said, you can usually fill in that category with later picks in drafts fairly easily.
60. Jeff Green (joins D. Lee, S. Nash, C. Boozer, S. Jackson): He’s similar to Rudy Gay: he does a lot of things well but doesn’t do one thing great. Don’t get me wrong — Green is a solid all-around contributor for fantasy purposes. Since it seems best to ignore blocks for this squad, Green helps them in two categories that it still has a shot at winning: threes and steals. The one major concern is that his ceiling is already set, seeing how little he’s improved between the second and third years of his young career. Green rounds out this team’s starting five, which seems like a decent competitor in FG%, FT%, rebounds, threes and steals so far.
To recap, here are our 12 teams after five rounds of drafting, with grades that reflect how good they look to me so far:
Team 1: K. Durant, T. Evans, A. Horford, P. Pierce, M. Camby (A-)
Team 2: L. James, B. Roy, C. Billups, J. Noah, K. Love (A-)
Team 3: C. Paul, C. Bosh, J. Johnson, R. Gay, M. Williams (B)
Team 4: D. Nowitzki, J. Kidd, A. Iguodala, A. Jamison, A. Brooks (B)
Team 5: K. Bryant, A. Jefferson, M. Ellis, M. Gasol, R. Felton (A-)
Team 6: D. Granger, J. Smith, N. Hilario, D. Rose, J. Richardson (A-)
Team 7: P. Gasol, R. Rondo, T. Murphy, Z. Randolph, K. Martin (A-)
Team 8: D. Williams, B. Lopez, D. West, D. Gallinari, H. Turkoglu (A-)
Team 9: S. Curry, C. Anthony, T. Duncan, A. Bogut, D. Harris (A-)
Team 10: D. Wade, A. Stoudemire, A. Bargnani, B. Davis, A. Randolph (B+)
Team 11: G. Wallace, D. Howard, M. Ginobili, R. Westbrook, A. Blatche (B)
Team 12: D. Lee, S. Nash, C. Boozer, S. Jackson, J. Green (B+)
What do you think? Which team looks the best so far? Let me hear your reactions in the comments section below. Look for round six at Weakside Help sometime soon.