Aaron Bruski

Offseason Beat

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Pre-Preseason Mock Draft

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When mocking this early before training camp, it’s not necessarily the lack of position battle data that befuddles folks, it’s the lack of reliable ADP data to make in-draft decisions with.


And in an experts draft, all of the hype guys, sleepers, or merely undervalued guys are not exactly a secret, so my sense is some of the sexy sleeper picks will go a lot lower in your typical public league draft. I tried a typical strategy of taking a player with what I perceived to be a higher ADP instead of the guy that I liked, but when it was time to scoop up my undervalued target in the next round I was pick-pocketed multiple times.


Overall, I think the fantasy basketball world is still in training camp so to speak, so look at this as a starting point and not an end-all, be-all depiction of where guys should go – even if you’re somehow drafting for real today.


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FORMAT: 8-cat, Roto, 4 Gs, 4 Fs, 2 Cs, 2 Flex, 3 Bench


Round 1


1. Kevin Durant - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld

2. LeBron James - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

3. Kevin Love - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

4. Russell Westbrook - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

5. Chris Paul - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

6. Kyrie Irving - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

7. Deron Williams - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

8. Andrew Bynum - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

9. Josh Smith - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

10. Dwyane Wade - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

11. Al Jefferson - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

12. DeMarcus Cousins - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld


I’m with Adam in taking Durant over LeBron, but I wouldn’t mince many words over it. It’s a mileage and rest issue for me, with Durant holding an edge there. I drew the first ‘oohs’ in the draft when I passed up on Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, but aside from Westy’s monster upside I’m willing to take a statistical hit to get one of the most durable players in the league.


I’m down with Irving at No. 5 but I’m a bit concerned that he’s setup to be overdrafted by our lofty expectations, but the first-round names that follow all come with more serious risk.


I have concerns about a slight decline by Jefferson occurring in concert with an increased role for Derrick Favors, and also because his numbers were basically the same over the last two seasons. The difference? Instead of ranking No. 16 and No. 6 in 8- and 9-cat formats (per-game) like he did last year, he was a top-32 and top-15 finisher during 2010-11 in those formats, respectively. It’s possible the rankings morphed around him and not because of him, which begs the question of what things will look like if they slide back the other way.


While I like DeMarcus Cousins this year, I like him closer to the back-end of the second round. Even with Dwyane Wade’s knee issues, he proved he could provide top-5 value last year despite playing four less minutes per game. His versatility buoys his value, and even if he misses a few games he could end up being a steal for my alcoholically similar namesake. I think we’ll see Love go where you see him at, a lot. Deron Williams and Andrew Bynum are right where I thought they’d go, just without Wade ahead of them, and I have Josh Smith in the early second round right now, but his upside certainly warrants consideration in the last half of Round 1.


Round 2


1. Kobe Bryant - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld

2. LaMarcus Aldridge - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

3. Stephen Curry - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

4. Serge Ibaka - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

5. Dirk Nowitzki - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

6. Carmelo Anthony - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

7. Pau Gasol - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

8. Ty Lawson - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

9. James Harden - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

10. Rajon Rondo - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

11. Kyle Lowry - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

12. Marc Gasol - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld


Kobe Bryant proved me wrong last year, surviving what turned out to be an overblown wrist diagnosis while showing ‘less’ decline in his explosion than a man should show with his odometer. Posting top-10 value in 8-cat last year, I’m concerned about further decline and also the impact Steve Nash will have on his production as a whole. There’s no need for him to ‘gun’ anymore.


The pick of Curry occurred before Monday night's blurb about his ankle acting up, and while I originally had Curry in a similar zone on my spreadsheet I've since bumped him down prior to Monday night.  I just thought about it more and didn't like the risk.  Monday's news just affirmed what I had originally been feeling. My pick of Harden over Goran Dragic was a prime example of taking a guy that I had ranked lower with the hopes of getting the (not so) undervalued guy on the turn. You’ll see next round that Adam snaked me.


I have LaMarcus Aldridge at the end of the first round but it’s a fluid place on my draft board. Ibaka, Nowitzki, Melo, and Gasol are in a good place. I like Lawson, Rondo, and Marc Gasol, but I have them closer to Round 3 than Round 2. Still, they’re quality picks that provide a high ‘floor,’ which I tend to look for at this stage of the draft over upside, knowing I can out-manage folks over the course of the year. However, a busted out early pick can destroy one’s season.


Serge Ibaka is a bit high for me, here, but there’s enough general upside to forget that fact – and though Scotty doesn’t know, I’m guessing this is the year he figures it out.


Round 3


1. Goran Dragic - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld

2. Al Horford - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

3. Dwight Howard - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

4. Paul Millsap - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

5. Brandon Jennings - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

6. John Wall - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

7. Greg Monroe - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

8. Steve Nash - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

9. Rudy Gay - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

10. Danny Granger - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

11. Nicolas Batum - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

12. Blake Griffin - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld


It’s always fun to see where Dwight Howard goes, but personally I’m staying far away this year. I just don’t like a guy with a back injury that will be handled with kid gloves playing for a contender. Paul Millsap performed similarly to Dwyane Wade in that he didn’t lose his value with limited minutes. If traded it’s doubtful he’d be so limited that his fantasy value suffers too much. If anything, he’ll land somewhere and be a top option again.  John Wall was selected before news of his knee injury hit the net. 


Brandon Jennings could be a massive steal in the third round, as he has first round upside and a very low floor. Had I not drafted Russell Westbrook, I’d have taken him without a doubt. I’m not as high on Steve Nash this early as Andriesse is, but if anybody can prove me wrong it will be Nash with a full set of weapons. I’m fine with Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, and Nicolas Batum here (note the draft occurred before Granger’s knee issues), but Griffin’s mid-round value in a Roto league is going to be a punting project for Norof.


Round 4


1. Mike Conley - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld

2. Marcin Gortat - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

3. Ryan Anderson - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

4. Klay Thompson - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

5. Paul Pierce - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

6. Andre Iguodala - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

7. Anthony Davis - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

8. Joe Johnson - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

9. Ersan Ilyasova - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

10. Jrue Holiday - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

11. David Lee - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

12. Paul George - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld


I love the Conley pick in the fourth round as it’s about as safe as it gets. He’s a rock. I detailed Ryan Anderson’s 3-point shooting in Orlando on Twitter the other night, and it turns out that Dwight Howard did very little in terms of getting Anderson loose. When on the floor together, Superman 2 only impacted 19-of-109 makes by Anderson, who loses his man when he turns his head rather than benefiting from any ball rotation that Howard might create (or not create). My biggest concern is the ability for sticky finger guys Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, and Greivis Vasquez getting him the ball, as Orlando did a good job of moving the ball to him.


My Anthony Davis radar is on red alert, as I’m about as bullish as one could get. At this point, it’s a race to see how cheaply you can get him, or in other words, who has the biggest cajones to pull the trigger. He has top-20 upside in my book when you look at Serge Ibaka’s numbers and ask yourself if the NCAA Player of the Year can meet those marks.


Steve has a man-crush on Klay Thompson and might get an apartment with him, too. I kid, and while I won’t argue with the pick too much I’ll add that there are a few more mouths to feed than when he had the neon green light last year, posting top-40 and top-50 value in 8- and 9-cat leagues as a starter, respectively. Joe Johnson may be the bust of this round, taking last year’s top-40 value, patella issues, and mileage to a place in which Deron Williams isn’t going to stand around and watch Iso-Joe. I’m betting on Ilyasova’s big contract and versatile fantasy game, but really I’m just hoping to break even on this pick.


Round 5


1. Roy Hibbert - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld

2. Eric Gordon - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

3. Amare Stoudemire - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

4. Wesley Matthews - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

5. Brook Lopez - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

6. Chris Bosh - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

7. Jeremy Lin - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

8. Monta Ellis - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

9. Kenneth Faried - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

10. Gerald Wallace - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

11. Damian Lillard - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

12. JaVale McGee - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld


Eric Gordon was taken in a reasonable range given the risk-reward quotient at the time, but we’ve since learned that his knee is acting up again. Nice contract there, New Orleans. For what it’s worth I’m just not drafting the guy. I like Amare Stoudemire a lot later for the obvious reasons of age, mileage, and injury risk, but it’s worth noting that sometimes the older guys come through (see Kevin Garnett last year).


I’m a bit uneasy about Wes Matthews repeating last year’s late-year performance, but the Blazers are not very deep and I think the chemistry issues left the building when Raymond Felton and Nate McMillan did. Matthews has second round upside and I don’t see him falling below a mid-round value.


Brook Lopez was a Round 5 value per-game two years ago, and I just don’t see him making it happen after so many injuries and a crowded cast. I like Jeremy Lin in Round 5 without a doubt, as he’ll play as much as he can handle and has a high ‘floor.’ I’m concerned about Monta Ellis after he posted late-mid round value in Milwaukee last year, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he picks it up. If anything, it’s interesting to see where Damian Lillard goes in drafts, but again, it’s possible he slides further in your public league draft. I think Kenneth Faried might be a bit early here, but he’s an example of an early pick I won’t argue with – he’s a Manimal. I love McGee this late as he’s all upside.


Round 6


1. O.J. Mayo - Ethan Norof, Rotoworld

2. Marcus Thornton - Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld

3. Tyson Chandler - Tommy Beer, HOOPSWORLD

4. Isaiah Thomas - Steve Alexander, Rotoworld

5. Joakim Noah - Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics

6. Kevin Garnett - Matt Buser, BasketballMonster.com

7. Andrea Bargnani - David Klyce, HoopsKLYCE

8. Andrew Bogut - Dennis Velasco, Baller Mind Frame

9. Zach Randolph - Aaron Bruski, Rotoworld

10. Tony Parker - Brian Flood, Former 30-Deep Winner

11. Tyreke Evans - Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld

12. Danilo Gallinari - Adam Levitan, Rotoworld


O.J. Mayo is another guy that folks might struggle to peg, and I like him in this range here. Marcus Thornton is a safe play here, but he’s not a good bet to exceed his numbers from last year with players improving around him. Speaking of which, Doc took Isaiah Thomas here just to spite me, and also because he posted last year’s top-50 per-game value in just 31 minutes last year. As I’ve mentioned a bunch, he’s a good bet to get those minutes and increase his role.


Zach Randolph, while a somewhat safe pick at this stage, is an example of me being snaked with the incorrect belief that my guys would fall to me. The rest of the bunch is more or less where I would think they would go.


To catch the rest of the draft and a treasure chest of fantasy information, check out our NBA Draft Guide.  It should be the starting point for all of your fantasy research this season.  The player profiles take the heavy lifting out of figuring out what a player's story is, the projections give you the ability to customize our outlooks to your format, and the articles fill in the gaps so you can go into your draft armed to the teeth. 

Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. In 2015 he was named FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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