Our latest mock draft took place prior to the news that Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss the entire preseason due to a thigh issue. Leonard went fifth overall in this draft. Barring any word that he will miss or be affected during regular-season action, it's unlikely he'll drop more than a few spots in most drafts.
This mock was a 12-team roto-style draft using points, 3s, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, FG% and FT% as categories.
The participants, in order of draft position, were Joe Kaiser, Tom Carpenter, Keith Lipscomb, John Cregan, Austin Tedesco, Matt Wittyngham, Renee Miller, Eric Karabell, Leo Howell, Seth Walder, Jim McCormick, Kyle Soppe.
Below you'll find comments from some of the managers, followed by the draft results.
Joe Kaiser: After taking Giannis Antetokounmpo first overall, I didn't pick again until 24 and 25 and was lucky enough to have two versatile players there in Gordon Hayward and Kyle Lowry. The only problem is, Kristaps Porzingis was also on the board, and if I could do it all over, I wouldn't pass on him. After a second season that looked a lot like his first, Porzingis has a chance to completely elevate his game on a depleted Knicks roster that no longer has Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis' 3-pointers and blocks make him a dream for roto when you also factor in his scoring, rebounding and high shooting percentages. Coming back with my next two picks, I was able to land Jeff Teague with one of them, which tells me if I passed on Lowry and went with Hayward and Porzingis with my first two picks I could have still come back and found a second-tier point guard like Teague, Ricky Rubio or Goran Dragic. This tells me that holding off on a point guard to address other scarce positions is another option for someone who finds themselves drafting No. 1 overall in a 12-team snake draft like I did.
Tom Carpenter: I keep finding myself selecting Clint Capela, Nerlens Noel and JJ Redick in the range of Rounds 7-11 in roto-style leagues, and with good reason. All three should have secure roles on their respective teams, so there isn't much bust factor at that stage of the draft. And in roto leagues, where there is a premium placed on filling out 3s, steals and blocks, this trio of ballers has the potential to make a significant mark. I'm particularly interested in Noel, even if he doesn't start, because he is just 23 and playing on a one-year "prove it" contract. Routine double-doubles plus 1.5 SPG and 1.5 BPG is entirely within his range -- and with an ADP of 124, he is a major sleeper in my eyes.
John Cregan: Gary Harris is getting a shocking lack of respect from Fantasyland. His 112 ADP is about two rounds off, so I grabbed him at 94 to help shed some light on his current plight. Shooting guard is looking thin after the middle rounds, and Harris should be flying off the shelves. Great percentages, elite 3-point production, solid rebounds ... Harris is primed to take a leap in his sophomore campaign.
Austin Tedesco: I've decided to be a sucker for the "Minnesota Kevin Love is sorta back, we swear" messages coming out of Cleveland and LeBron's Instagram account. If you try, you can talk yourself into it. Unless he really, really wants another MVP award, James can chill out during the regular season. Who knows when Isaiah Thomas will be rolling at full strength (and there shouldn't be a rush). So why can't the Cavs' offense run through Love at the elbows for long stretches of games? Of the players left on the board in the middle of Round 3, it feels like Love has the most upside.
Renee Miller: I surprised myself by clicking Rudy Gay's name in Round 8. This was a part of the draft with a lot of questions. Some guys who went around Gay were in positional battles, like Reggie Jackson and Harris, and others were single-category guys like Tim Hardaway Jr. or injury risks like Noel. I've long been a fan of Gay's versatility, as a player who's averaged 18 PPG, six RPG, 2-3 APG, 1.3 SPG and nearly 1.0 BPG during 35 MPG in his career. His move to the Spurs could be a fantasy disaster, or it could fix a bunch of what has been wrong with Gay. For one thing, I know coach Gregg Popovich makes players better and will work to streamline Gay's game. On the other hand, Pop does whatever helps the Spurs win, and with Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge commanding the starting forward slots, will there be enough minutes for Gay to pay off a Round 8 selection this season? Since he can play both positions, I think if his efficiency improves, the answer is yes, even if he averages 27-28 minutes. In a mock draft, I like to take players I'm not sure of and gauge my level of regret over time. So far, I have little with this pick.
Eric Karabell: I'm trying to target some different players in these mock drafts, but it appears that's not really happening. I've chosen Stephen Curry twice in three drafts late in Round 1, and Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas, with his rebounds and safe percentages, is another common choice after the top 50. I'm avoiding rookies and players destined to shoot poorly from the field and the line, and apparently, I'm overly concerned about being deficient in assists, 3-pointers and blocks. Hey, at least I'm consistent. I surprised myself by choosing Steph's buddy Klay Thompson in Round 3 of this particular mock, because it's the first time I went with someone who didn't pile on the assists or rebounds that early. Not sure I'd do it again, but on the nights the Warriors play, I'll get many 3-pointers!
Seth Walder: In a vacuum I prefer Nikola Jokic over Chris Paul, but if we were to do this mock over again, I would take the Rockets' guard with my 10th overall pick. After taking a first-round big, I ended up chasing stats like assists and 3-pointers more than I was comfortable with down the board. And because there are plenty of forwards and centers who I like later in drafts, I found myself in the precarious position of either loading up on, say, rebounds and hoping to make a trade or reaching for a guard who could round me out better but provide less value. That's exactly the situation I faced in the sixth round, when Andre Drummond was still available. I wanted him, but I didn't need the type of production he offered and was looking at alternatives like Lonzo Ball, Isaiah Thomas and George Hill. Ultimately I stuck with Drummond, but really I didn't leave myself any great option.
Kyle Soppe: If I can get John Wall and Chris Paul at the turn ... I want to pick last in Round 1 every single time this season. Which boxes don't I check with this duo? The scoring and rebounding numbers are strong for the point guard position, the assist numbers are obviously elite, and I have two of the top three players in terms of steals per game last season. This tandem comes with essentially no downside and allows me to take the board as it comes the rest of the way. The only weakness I see on the roster I built around these two is potentially blocks, but given the stability of my high-end numbers, I have the ability to plug in a block specialist or two (I was hoping to land Tristan Thompson alongside Robin Lopez) to keep me in the middle of the pack. Winning a roto league isn't a about winning every category, so if I can control the damage there, I'm going to be a contender in this league.