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Fantasy Basketball Mock Drafts: Practice or Pointless?


The first team is on the clock. The draft has begun. You're picking 2nd overall, wondering if you'll land Anthony Davis or James Harden. Then the first selection is made: Cedi Osman, CLE - SF/PF. The owner proudly announces "if he's good enough to work out LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard, he's good enough for my first round pick," then leaves the draft room. Everyone else starts cursing and leaves the draft, too.

Welcome to the world of mock drafts.

Are mock drafts worth your time? Is going through a practice fantasy draft worth it if nothing is on the line, and you're not facing serious or realistic competition? Is it benefiting you as an owner if you are seeing Lonzo Ball being taken as the first overall pick or Kobe Bryant being selected in the fifth round? Let’s evaluate these questions and see if it is actually worth it to go through the hassle of watching hypothetical mock owner’s status turn into an auto draft after two rounds.

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Mock Drafts: Practice Makes Perfect?

Like anything you want to be good at, whether it is improving your jump shot for your local pickup games or trying to master the art of cooking the perfect steak, generally practice makes perfect, correct? That’s what we have been told our entire lives. If you want to get better at something you have to put in the time. The one main issue with mock drafts is that there are many outside factors (other not-so-serious mock owners for example) that affect your progress and to every draft, whether it is a mock or not, comes out different from one to another.

Let’s use the practicing your jump shot example to stick with the basketball theme. We have all had those days when you are on the court in your neighborhood just shooting around without any pressure or onlookers and you cannot miss. Then five minutes later, three other players arrive at the court and you play some two on two and you cannot buy a basket. The stakes got higher, there is now a defender in your face and other factors that affect your mindset. In the overall picture, you most likely had more confidence going into this specific pickup game due to your practice. Though the results were not there, you were probably shooting with more confidence, meaning the defense had to work a little harder.

So, how does this translate to an NBA fantasy mock draft you say? Practice usually does make perfect--well possibly better anyways--in mock draft terms. Practicing builds confidence and going through the trials of a jump shot on your local concrete jungle hoop will help you better know the court and even get used to the wind that day. These factors can easily be carried over from a mock draft.

Whether you are a fantasy veteran or a beginner, draft boards and features can change from year to year. This is a basic yet simple factor, but if you go in blind and are not used to the filtering column option for example and then are stuck scrambling with the clock clicking down to make your pick, then you may end up regretting that specific selection that could have easily been avoided if you were a more prepared. In reality, this point can possibly be overcome with just one or two run-throughs of a mock draft.

The quality of a mock draft plays a key factor as well. What is meant by this that some mock drafts that have every slot filled often start out quite serious for the first few rounds. The picks seem somewhat accurate, and you begin to feel a bit of pressure when your turn comes up with the clock ticking. Then, one owner disappears, then auto draft kicks in for this owner. Then another, then another, then by the seventh round, it is you and “Team LeBron is God” making honest and decent selections and the other eight owners are stuck in auto draft. We have all been here.

How do we avoid these types of issues and how do we make mock drafts worth our time?

  1. Try to enter mock drafts that are nearly full or just a single slot left, meaning that there will be less “ghost” slots that are doing automatic selections.
  2. Depending on when your official league draft is, the later the better for mock drafts, meaning if your draft is not until the second week in September, then maybe wait for a few days leading up to your draft as the later these mock drafts are taken part in, the more accurate they usually are. Have you ever done a mock draft in early August? Do not waste your time.
  3. Maybe try and get a few of your league members to join you in a mock draft, or more specifically, friends who are not in your league as you do not want to let the other league members get a peek into what your upcoming season's strategy is. This will better the odds for a more accurate mock draft.

 
In the big picture, mock drafts can be useful. They let you get comfortable with the draft platform you are using, you get a general idea of where players are being selected as this can vary greatly from the preseason rankings that ESPN, Yahoo, or whichever platform you are using has in place and finally, it will help you with your overall confidence going into the draft as you will just be more comfortable and ready when the big day arrives. When it comes down to it, mock drafts are still fun, too, and they will not make your official draft any worse than not doing any at all, so why not try a couple to get into the fantasy spirit?

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