OK, I’m being a little bit hard on myself. I always have the opposite of Drafterglow, only seeing where my team’s holes are and imagining the worst possible season for each player. Keeps me from getting disappointed I guess.
Anyways, I took part tonight in my first live fantasy draft of the season (with others on Thursday, Sunday morning and Sunday night). It was a league set up by the crew at Give Me the Rock and included bloggers from Points in the Paint and 2nd Round Reach as well.
This season I’d prefer to have either the top four picks or bottom four picks in any 12-team draft (that middle section of picks 5-8 is some tough choosing). Just before the draft began, Yahoo! randomly generated the draft order and I landed at third overall, which I was happy about.
Unfortunately, I was also drafting while tending to my ill fiancee, who needed an endless string of Advil, liquids, BioFreeze and general companionship. It didn’t really affect my ability to draft, except for when I mistakenly tried to select Vick’s VapoRub.
Here’s how the draft went:
1st round (3rd overall): Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire correctly went first and second overall and I chose LeBron James over Kobe Bryant. This decision was pretty easy for me. The Lakers are good enough that Kobe will be able to put it in cruise control from time to time while Lebron still needs to be dominant on an every night basis for the Cavs to be a contender.
Picking LeBron also gives flexibility in my second round pick to determine whether this team will be a small-ball or big-man type of team. LeBron gives enough 3-pointers, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks that he is a good foundation for either type of team.
2nd round (22nd overall): After watching the selection of plenty of big men and point guards I thought “might” fall to No. 22 overall (Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, David West, Chauncey Billups and Baron Davis), I felt like Tim Duncan was the way to go.
As I mentioned in my Spurs Team Preview, Duncan is as consistent as you can get and the absence of Ginobili for the first six weeks of the season means he will be relied on for offense more than usual. Plus, with both Steve Nash and Jose Calderon still on the board, I felt confident I’d get a solid point guard with my third-rounder, which was just five picks away.
With the combo of James and Duncan the team had a solid FG% and was strong in rebounds and blocks. Though, admittedly, the FT% will be garbage.
3rd Round (27th overall): Nash was grabbed two picks after Duncan, which was fine by me because I preferred Calderon, who I nabbed in the third round. I was hoping for Rudy Gay to fall to me here, but he was grabbed with the pick before mine.
Based on his numbers as a starter last season, Calderon is a rare point guard that will actually help my FG%. He is an excellent FT%, makes 3-pointers and will be among the league leaders in assists. He should also chip in some steals.
Someone in the draft room made the snide comment that he’ll be out of the league in three years. That may be true, but THIS season he is the number one point guard for an offensive-minded team in the Eastern Conference that likes to run and without a capable backup to replace him. As far as I’m concerned, he’s golden.
Fourth Round (46th overall): I didn’t really want to, but at this point I felt I had to grab Ron Artest. I’m never really high on Artest because I generally dislike players who are bad in BOTH percentages, but I had him 39th on my head-to-head rankings and felt the value was pretty good.
Although picking Artest put my team in the FT% doldrums, he definitely addressed my need for steals and adds a solid number of points and 3-pointers. His FG% is also poor, but my first three picks are all solid in that category so no worries there. I flirted with picking Michael Redd here but felt it was too much of a reach. I then began hooping he would be available on my next pick.
Fifth Round (51st overall): Alas, Redd was taken just two picks before mine and I had to make a choice: reach for a player who provided some of what I needed (namely FT%) or “go bigger.”
Well, I went bigger with a high upside pick in Andris Biedrins. He got a huge contract in the offseason and the Warriors appear ready to finally give him big minutes consistently. He could very well give 11 rebounds and two blocks per game and shoot 60 percent from the floor. I’m begging Don Nelson to love him more.
Of course, that selection also means my FT% is officially nearly unsalvageable plus I’m getting needy in the points and assists departments. As a result, I targeted a bunch of high-octane swing players for my next pick (Stephen Jackson, Josh Howard, Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford).
It was 19 picks away but I though ONE of those guys might be there.
Sixth Round (70th overall): So all five of those guys went within six picks of each other, leaving zero players remaining who had potential for 20 points per game and a good FT%. So I continued to hammer the big man theme into my team and went with Andrew Bogut.
Bogut is on the verge of averaging a double-double and two blocks per game and, much like Artest, seemed to slip a little farther than he should. He has been banged up throughout the offseason, so maybe that’s the reason, but I was happy to have him.
So at this point, with Duncan, Biedrins and Bogut, it is going to be tough to get more rebounds, blocks and a better FG% against this team on a week-to-week basis. However, there were also gaping holes in points, assists, FT% and – to a lesser degree – 3-pointers that needed to be addressed.
Seventh Round (75th overall): Peja Stojakovic would have helped greatly at this point but he got swiped two picks before mine so I selected Leandro Barbosa. It was a pick that made me take short walk around my apartment because I wasn’t totally happy with it.
At best, this is the season Barbosa begins to become Nash’s replacement and posting stats like he did two seasons ago. At worst it will be an erratic repeat of last season’s performance, when he seemed a little lost in ineffective for long stretches. Either way, he’ll drain about two 3-pointers per game, provide solid percentages and possibly a helpful number of steals and assists.
Considering Nash’s age and health concerns it’s not far-fetched to think Barbosa may see increased minuted and productivity. Frankly, I’m torn on what to think about this pick, hence the walk.
Eighth Round (94th overall): Apparently I was still in the risk-taking mood in this round, going with Ben Gordon. There is a lot of potential here for points, 3-pointers and FT% (all of which I needed), but the Bulls’ akward roster situation/rotation and Gordon’s general unhappinesswith the franchise makes it hard to get too excited.
He did sign a new contract, which may have eased his tensions with management, andhe has been battling a toe injury for most of the preseason. My other option here was to go with Francisco Garcia, but since he already has a multi-week injury, I stuck with the healthier and more proven choice.
Ninth Round (99th overall): It was time for me to go for a guy who I feel is being overlooked and has his best seasons ahead of him so I enthusiastically grabbed Ronnie Brewer.
Brewer may be on the verge of a major breakthrough and if he gets the 30-plus minutes per game he deserves, could average 15 points and two steals per game. Plus, his athleticism guarantees he’ll shoot better than 50 percent from the floor (not that my team of 7-footers needed help in that department).
I just missed out on Garcia and Thaddeus Young here so Brewer was an easy choice for me.
Tenth Round (118th overall): After watching numerous injury risks purposely slip past me (Marcus Camby, Gilbert Arenas, Manu Ginobili), this seemed like a good time to to add the medical element to my squad and Monta Ellis was just sitting there for the taking.
Even with his injury, I had Ellis ranked at 112 so this isn’t a reach even though he is going to miss 30 games or so. I’m not 100 percent confident he’ll be his normal self once he returns but fairly confident he’ll be one of the top 120 players in the league.
Eleventh Round (123rd overall): Now I was officially in upside mode, starting with Louis Williams.
In his fourth year, Williams is just 21 years old (22 on 10/27) and emerged last season as crucial part of the 76ers playoff run. Now he’ll be the first guard off the bench on a team with a lot of positional versatility and will share the court with Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand often.
If he gets near 30 minutes per game, expect about 15 points, 1.5 steals, 4.0 asissts and 1.0 3-pointers per game.
At this points I had to exit the draft room so I put my team on auto-pick and queued up a number of high-upside players, ie the kind of players you should be grabbing at this point.
Twelfth Round (142nd overall): Here I landed the much-talked about Amir Johnson, who is not guaranteed any significant playing time but will likely start in the frontcourt in place of Antonio McDyess. Any injuries to the frontcourt will be a boost for Johnson, who could be a plentiful source of FG%, Rebounds and Blocks.
Thirteenth Round (147th overall): And with my last pick the auto-picker selected Paul Millsap; he of the great per minute numbers who can’t avoid foul trouble. His potential for the combination of steals, blocks and rebounds is always intriguing but he has problems staying on the floor. Still, I like him as a last rounder.
Overall, I do like the team. There are three players who will likely average 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game (Duncan, Biedrins, Bogut) and I have zero concerns about my FG% with 10 of the 13 players drafted shooting better than .460 last season.
Barbosa, Gordon, LeBron, Artest and Calderon will be enough to keep me competitive in 3-pointers and there are a number of options to provide steals (Artest, LeBron, Brewer, Calderon, Wiliams and Ellis all averaged better than a steal per game last season).
The big weaknesses are FT% (only four of 13 players better than .780 last season) and assists. LeBron and Calderon will provide a plentiful amount of assists, but Barbosa or Williams will really need to step up their production in that category to help the squad.
I’d be surprised if I won FT% more than five times all season, though. It’s not a real big concern as I knew I was sacrificing that category when I went with Biedrins/Bogut back-to-back.
If Johnson and Williams progress as I expect (hope) and Ellis returns healthy by January, I like the team’s chances.