Mike Gallagher

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The Perfect Draft

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A competitive fantasy draft is such a rush. You spend weeks or months getting ready for one hour that will set up how you feel for the following six months. It’s almost like a entrance exam to get into grad school, but this time you could get money instead of paying thousands of dollars.


When taking an entrance exam, if you know 100 percent of the material and you’re a good test taker or whatever, you’re probably going to ace it. On the other hand, you can spend an infinite amount of time preparing for a fantasy draft with projections out the wazoo and doing millions of mock drafts, but you still could be surprised on draft day.


In the fantasy world, there’s always talk of the holy perfect draft. There really is no way you can have a perfect draft, but I have always had this saying when it comes to having a perfect draft in a competitive league:


When every pick has your want match up with your need, that’s the perfect draft.


Basically, if you should draft a certain position or stat (blocks, etc.), that would be the best player available. This year, it may be harder than ever to have what I call the perfect draft. There are not many centers this year, especially if you’re in a savvy league.


If you haven’t checked this out yet, we baked in the position scarcity to our rankings in our NBA Draft Guide.


For today’s column, I’m going to go through what a realistic “perfect draft” could be for me. I’m going to pretend I’m in a hybrid of a draft with my Rotoworld colleagues and a run-of-the-mill Pro league draft for dough. I’ll also do it for early in the draft order and later in the draft order for the first handful of rounds.


We’ll call early in the draft order as 1-4 and late as 9-12. This is also going to be for a nine-cat, head-to-head format.


Round 1


Early team: I want Karl-Anthony Towns in the worst way. He’s played in every game and we only have him going to the locker room once in his career. If you missed it, I made a case for KAT to go No. 1 right here.


Late team: Nikola Jokic is just too good. He’ll be elite in percentages (not quite KAT), he should put up PG-like dimes, he did put up almost 12 boards per game after the break last year, and again I’d really want to get my centers early. Denver is going to be a Golden State-like fantasy machine.


Round 2


Late team (meaning I picked later in round 1 and will pair with Jokic): Damian Lillard was No. 6 after the break last year, he’s in #TheBestShapeOfHisLife and he played really well with Jusuf Nurkic — Nurk losing weight suggests they’ll play fast, too. If you don’t get a big in the first round, I’d strongly suggest going Rudy Gobert, too.


Early team (meaning I’m pairing him with KAT): I always want Myles Turner here, and my favorite teams I’ve drafted/mocked have two bigs early. Turner was effective on unassisted scoring and he should be even better on blocks with Paul George gone. His upside is too high.


Round 3


Early team: Bradley Beal put up first-round value after the break and he’s entering his age-24 season. Now that the Wizards were finally able to rest him properly from that freaky stress fracture in his leg, he should dominate all year.


Late team: Mike Conley always seems to slide. The Grizzlies are going to push the pace and coach David Fizdale is going to let Conley show off some new wrinkles to his game. Sure, the sample size is small on the 2017 postseason averages, but they are tasty: 24.7 points, 3.3 boards, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.8 treys. Also post-break: 23-4-6 with 2.7 treys and 1.3 steals. Yummy.


Round 4


Late team: Al Horford is both a terrific fit with this team (Jokic, Dame, Conley), but he’s often the best player available in the fourth round. We saw his defensive stats plummet as the year went on last season, but expect him to basically be a KAT-like guy without the scoring — he’ll also be elite in dimes, too.


Early team: You can never have enough bigs early and most of my late-round targets, so I would love to take Paul Millsap and have my bigs covered here. He had a bad 2016-17, but added pace and not playing next to Dwight Howard should help him take off.


Round 5


At this point of the draft, the early/late factor kind of goes away, so let’s just do one per round going forward.


In basically every Rotoworld draft, Victor Oladipo goes in the fourth round and whoever picks first in the round usually takes him. I’ve seen him go in the sixth round at times, so most fantasy owners should be able to snap him up here. The Pacers are bereft of talent and we saw Dipo put up first-round value in the final half of 2015-16 — Russell Westbrook destroyed him.


Round 6


The secret is out on Dennis Smith Jr. and he often goes in the fifth round — Doctor A actually took him in the fourth round of one of our drafts, which is 100% justified. The Mavs are going to pick up the pace and they’re already calling him a cornerstone. 


Round 7


Aaron Gordon is all set for another breakout. Elfrid Payton said he’s ready to take that jump and we saw him flirt with top-30 value after the break now that he fixed his shot selection. 


Round 8


If you’ve read any mock draft I’ve done in our draft guide, you’ll probably notice I grab the Blue Arrow in round five. In normal leagues, there’s a decent chance you can sneak him in the eighth. Jamal Murray played through a groin injury last year and had that problem before, but surgery over the summer should really help him. Breakout coming.


Round 9


Marquese Chriss is probably another Rotoworld favorite and you can still sneak him in close to 100. Although, he’s usually off the board in the sixth or seventh. By the way, the Suns are expected to play him at center more now that Alan Williams is out. Chriss is a must-have guy for owners who missed out on a big early.


Round 10


There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Rodney Hood and after the eighth you have to think about buying it. The Jazz coaches appear to be committed to making him the scoring focal point and he has been in Utah all offseason for the first time in his life.


Round 11


This is a Ryan Knaus special here, but Patrick Beverley continues to be a value. There should be a lot of stats to go around on the Clippers, and also injuries to Blake Griffin or Danilo Gallinari could unlock Pat-Bev’s ceiling. I also love Willie Cauley-Stein in this neighborhood, assuming you’re good on PGs.


Round 12


Taurean Prince won’t slide in an industry draft, but there’s a decent chance you can get him after 100 in a decent league. The Hawks need scoring and we saw Prince fill up the stat sheet at times. 


Round 13


BOBAN! All Boban Marjanovic needs is 15 minutes and he’ll hit value here. In the Rotoworld mocks, I usually pounce at 100, especially if I’m short on bigs.


Round 14


Nets. Give me some Nets to close out my draft. Allen Crabbe is in a tailor-made position to succeed and he is probably right at the top of my list for candidates to be this year’s Otto Porter. I also love Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert higher than most. Hopefully, Crabbe's ankle is OK.


I also live on the “young players, bad teams” ideology late in my draft. You want lots of Bulls and Hawks on your late picks.

Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.
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