New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: Experts Mock Draft Team Recap

by Matt Smith @SmanSports Over the past two weeks I have been participating in an industry experts slow mock draft, organised by Zack Rewis over at The Fantasy Fix. This mock draft contained More »

New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: Potential Landing Spots for Kevin Love

by Josh Hayes @Fantasyhoopspod Kevin Love’s recent trade demand has the entire NBA in a frenzy with teams trying to acquire three-time NBA All-Star. It’s always rough to see any team, much More »

New Fantasy Hoops Insider Guest Blog: 2015 Top 20 NBA Mock Draft

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New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: 2014 NBA Mock Draft

by Matt Smith @SmanSports   This 2013-14 NBA season feels like it has been all about tanking and titles. Back in October last year it was pretty evident which teams would be fighting More »

New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: NBA Postseason Fantasy Ramifications Part 2

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New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: Fantasy Trade Machine: 5 Worst Draft Picks This Season

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New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: Experts Mock Draft Team Recap

by Matt Smith @SmanSports

Over the past two weeks I have been participating in an industry experts slow mock draft, organised by Zack Rewis over at The Fantasy Fix.

This mock draft contained some of the best fantasy minds in the business including Rotoworld’s Steve Alexander and Fantasy Alarm’s Mark Kaplan who Josh and Fantasy Moses both spoke with last season on podcast 98 and 96 respectively.

This was a Rotisserie scoring, 8 category (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, threes, FG%, FT%) 12 team draft comprising of 15 rounds.
I was lucky enough to land pick 2. The following is a run down of my selections and the thought process behind each pick:

Pick 2 – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

The debate continues around Davis or LeBron. I am bullish about Davis’s ability and fantasy ranking and this was the perfect test to build a roster around him. Like some,I don’t have the ‘injury prone’ label on him and believe Davis will play 75+ games this season for two significant reasons: Davis is reportedly bigger and stronger than last season, already putting on around 15 pounds of muscle; and the signing of Omer Asik will allow Davis to play power forward, as opposed to center, where he doesn’t have to play as much of a physical game night after night, thus increasing his durability.

Coming into his third season, Davis will again improve and he could easily average 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals, 3 blocks whilst shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. If he can do that he will be the consensus number 2 fantasy player in the game.

Pick 23 – Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
I was targeting Kyle Lowry with this pick however he was drafted with pick 22. Once he was off the board I couldn’t turn down Drummond for two reasons: 1) This pick builds on Davis’s strengths and I should now dominate rebounds, blocks and FG%. Additionally, both Davis and Drummond also offer 1.2+ steals from the PF/C position which is rare; 2) As a tactical move i couldn’t let the next owner have a Kevin Durant/Andre Drummond duo, which in my mind is the deadliest combo in the game.

Pick 26 – Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns)
It was time to grab a solid point guard here and with Lillard, Irving and Bledsoe already off the board Dragic was my guy. Regardless if Bledsoe is a Sun or not, Dragic is guaranteed a back court starters role with consistent minutes. He offers a superb assists/steals/threes combo, as any good point guard should, and continues my strong assault of FG%. Derrick Rose came under very strong consideration here also.

Pick 47 – Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks)
Rounds 2 and 3 saw the usual point guard run, with 8 point guards being drafted inside 11 picks. I think this ranking is about spot on for Teague who can show glimpses of being worthy of a second or third round pick at times. Here’s hoping that he can have a consistent season and a healthy Al Horford can ease the offensive pressure on him.

Pick 50 – Isaiah Thomas (Phoenix Suns)
What can I say, I love point guards. Thomas’s rankings is very hard to gauge right now with Bledsoe still working through contract negotiations. If Bledsoe leaves Phoenix, Thomas should start at point guard (moving Dragic to shooting guard) opening up significant playing time and thus seeing his ranking rocket back inside the top 30. If Bledsoe stays a Sun, Thomas will come off the bench and could play 25-30 minutes per game making him a borderline top 50 player.
Drafting three point guards in a row, all who are very good free throw shooters, increases my FT% ranking. They all make up for Drummond’s deficiency, therefore there’s no need to tank that category.

Pick 71 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
There’s no hiding the fact that I want Antetokounmpo on my fantasy teams this season – so much so, I seriously considered drafting him with my previous selection at pick 50.

The talk about him handling some of the point guard duties and running the offence is a great sign for his fantasy value. I can see him averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while flirting with a three, steal and block per game – a Nicolas Batum-esque type line. If my predictions are correct he should finish the season a top 50 player making him a steal at pick 71.

If that’s not enough, he will likely be SG, SF and PF eligible in most formats with the realistic chance to add PG eligibility to that during the season, giving teams incredible roster flexibility.
Pick 74 – Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
After the All-star break last season Faried averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks and shot 54% from the field. As he enters his fourth season I’d expect 15-16 points per game with similar peripheral stats from Faried. He continues to build on my Davis/Drummond platform of rebounds and FG% whilst providing handy steals and blocks.

Pick 95 – DeMarre Carroll (Atlanta Hawks)
After seven picks I had three points guards, three power forward/centers and a versatile Antetokounmpo.
I was targeting Carroll with this pick who had a very strong second half to last season. He contributes across all categories with steals and threes a strong suit, two categories that complement my trio of guards. If he isn’t ranked inside the top 80 players at the end of the season I’d be very surprised.

Pick 98 – Jordan Hill (Los Angeles Lakers)
A sleeper pick of mine who should fill the opening at the center position for the Lakers, left by Pau Gasol. I think Boozer will play at power forward with Julius Randle behind him off the bench. If Hill can get 30 minutes per game, which I think he will, he should easily average a double-double this season. Keep him in mind at this point of your drafts.

Pick 119 – Gerald Green ((Phoenix Suns)
My trio of guards gave me a nice start in three pointers made however I don’t have a specialist in that area. Guys like Kyle Korver, Jodie Meeks, JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford all came off the board in the 15 picks prior. Like Thomas, Green’s value is attached to Eric Bledsoe, but for a guy who made the 4th most three pointers in the league last season, and either way is locked into the Suns high tempo offensive rotation, I’ll take him.

Pick 122 – JR Smith (New York Knicks)
Back to back three point specialists around the 120 mark who both finished inside the top 10 in 3 pointers made last season = great value!
Both guys should easily stay in the top 15 for threes made this coming season and although JR is erratic, frustrating and unties opponents shoe laces he can also provide a huge boost in this category.

Pick 143 – Kendall Marshall (Milwaukee Bucks)
Another sleeper pick here. It’s still to be determined if Marshall will be the starting point guard or a backup off the bench for the Bucks. At this point in the draft I’ll take the chance that he starts and averages 7-8 assists which he is more than capable of.

Pick 146 – Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves)
This is probably my favorite pick of my whole roster. At least one of two things are going to happen in Minnesota – Kevin Love gets traded and/or Nikola Pekovic gets injured. Either way this is brilliant news for Dieng who came out nowhere at the end of last season to average 12 points, 12 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.9 steals and shot 50% from the field in 12 games as a starter.
Highlight his name on your rankings sheet.

Pick 167 – Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers)
Any rookies with fantasy potential were well and truly gone by this stage. Barnes was one of a handful of starters left available and averaged 1.9 threes as a starter last season. He’s worth a shot as a backup SF if your league is this deep.

Pick 170 – Donatas Motiejunas (Houston Rockets)
Motiejunas will be the sole big-man backing up Howard and Terrence Jones for the Rockets. He may be able to see 20 minutes of playing time but should Howard or Jones miss time, he will well and truly come into fantasy calculations.

Overall, I’m really happy with the composition of this roster. I have a perfect blend of elite talent, solid fantasy players who you can rely on and some young, up-and-coming sleepers who could breakout in a big way this season. Most importantly it’s a roster which is competitive across every category and should see me towards the top of the standings – if this were a real league.

You can read more about draft strategy, composition and preparation in our inaugural Fantasy Hoops Insider Draft Kit which will be out soon.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to know where a certain player was drafted, you can tweet me @SmanSports

New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: 2014 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

by Matt Smith @SmanSports

‘It’s better to be lucky than good’

I couldn’t think of a more accurate statement to describe the past week surrounding the NBA Draft and more specifically Joel Embiid. Embiid already had question marks regarding a stress fracture in his back and has now sent NBA teams, scouts and the draft order into chaos with news that he will require surgery on a stress fracture in his right foot. All because of bad luck Embiid has gone from being the expected first pick in the draft to tumbling down the draft order as his next 4-6 months will be spent in the gym rehabilitating his foot. Without any setbacks this would see Embiid back on the court around Christmas, if he’s lucky.

With only days remaining until the 2014 NBA Draft here’s my final mock of how I see the top 10 picks:

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, 6’8, Small Forward)

The Cavs now only have one decision to make…Do they trade the number 1 pick or do they select Andrew Wiggins? Those that follow me on twitter know I think if Cleveland can send this pick and pieces for Kevin Love they should.  If not, then Andrew Wiggins is their only option. Wiggins is athletically gifted and highly touted to be the best player of this draft class. He will take a few years to develop and mature as an NBA player but he’ll be worth the wait.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker (Duke, 6’8, Small Forward)

I had Parker going to the Bucks prior to Embiid’s injury and nothing changes now. Parker is a great fit for Milwaukee at small forward and should be a starter from opening night. He could easily average 14-18 points per game and will be the early favorite for Rookie of the Year.

  1. Philadelphia 76er’s: Dante Exum (AIS – Australia, 6’6, Point Guard)

Philly could be the most inconvenienced with Embiid’s injury. All signs pointed to them landing Wiggins at pick 3, the player they coveted most and a perfect positional fit. I can’t see them taking Embiid with Nerlens Noel already occupying an injury-prone defensive big-man roster spot. The 76er’s are now seemingly forced to take the next best player, Dante Exum. Unluckily, Exum profiles to be a Michael Carter-Williams clone - a long, athletic guard who likes to attack the rim and has a questionable jump shot. Drafting Exum would mean Philly play him at the off guard spot next to Carter-Williams next season, hoping the two can co-exist. The other alternative is they swiftly trade Carter-Williams for another lottery draft pick.

  1. Orlando Magic: Noah Vonleh (Indiana, 6’9, Power Forward)

While Embiid is an enticing option here for the Magic, I think they take the ‘safe’ option with Vonleh. Vonleh is a very good young player in his own right and fills a need for Orlando at power forward next to Nikola Vucevic. Offensively, Vonleh can score both inside posting up and outside with his smooth jump shot. His ability to stretch the floor would allow Vucevic to work inside and give more room for Oladipo to attack the basket. Vonleh is also an excellent defensive rebounder, using his massive hands (he has the 2nd largest hand width ever measure at the draft combine at 11.75 inches) to his advantage.

  1. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid (Kansas, 7’0, Center)

Taking Embiid here works for a number of reasons for the Jazz. Utah won’t make the playoffs next season in the deep Western Conference therefore providing Embiid all the time he needs to recover from foot surgery and physically preparing himself for a gruelling NBA lifestyle. Another season at the bottom of the standings would give Utah a subsequent lottery pick in the 2015 draft – adding more young talent to join Embiid, Favors and Burke. In the interim, Utah has Enes Kanter with one season left on his contract meaning if Embiid still isn’t NBA ready, the Jazz could re-sign Kanter short term. If Embiid shows why he was the number 1 pick post injury the Jazz can let Kanter walk for nothing and have a formidable Embiid/Favors frontcourt for years to come.

  1. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart(Oklahoma State, 6’3, Point Guard)

Boston would love Embiid to fall to them here but if he’s off the board they’ll go back to plan A which is Marcus Smart. Smart is a quality point guard – quick, tough and a great defender. Boston can groom Smart behind Rondo before trading him while he still has some value.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle (Kentucky, 6’9, Power Forward)

Unluckily, Randle has slipped out of top 5 contention due to concerns surrounding surgery on his right foot which may or may not of healed properly (Randle maintains he is fine). This could be great news for the Lakers who will surely thank the 6 teams above them for letting him fall this far. Randle is a strong power forward, a relentless rebounder and can score around the basket. Randle was a Lakers fan growing up, the feeling will very soon be mutual.

 

Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon (Arizona, 6’9, Power Forward)

Gordon is an athletic power forward with explosiveness and great leaping ability in the mould of Kenneth Faried or Blake Griffin. Sacramento has a hole to fill next to DeMarcus Cousins and with Gordon the best player available here it seems a logical choice.

  1. Charlotte Bobcats: Doug McDermott (Creighton, 6’8, Small Forward)

McDermott is one of the best shooters available in the draft. In the NCAA last season he made 2.7 threes per game at 45%. He is also a smart defender and has a high Basketball IQ. For a team that needs scoring, three point shooting and a wing player, McDermott will fit in perfectly as a Bobcat.

       10. Philadelphia 76er’s: Nik Stauskas (Michigan, 6’6, Shooting Guard)

Stauskas gives Philly added guard depth behind Carter-Williams & Exum. If Carter-Williams is traded then Stauskas would step into a starter’s role. Either way he is a great three point shooter and gives the 76er’s a much needed offensive perimeter threat.

As the days and hours quickly pass until the start of the 2014 NBA Draft, there’s only one thing to say to the young men hoping their basketball dreams come true…good luck.

 

As always you can find me on Twitter @SmanSports for NBA Fantasy/Reality questions or comments.

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