Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

NBA Draft Winners and Losers


It was another exciting draft night in the NBA, filled as usual with baseless trade rumors, actual trades that came out of nowhere, bad picks by the Kings, good picks by the Spurs, and the UK voting to leave the European Union.  Well, I guess that last one doesn't usually happen in the NBA draft.  As a quick postmortem, let's run through which teams I thought I had great drafts and which ones I thought didn't do so well.  This is more from a real NBA perspective than a fantasy perspective, but for you fantasy nuts, the overall value of an NBA player is worth knowing because it will impact fantasy opportunity and upside.  In future posts, I'll dive into the immediate fantasy implications, with a fantasy rankings of players based on positive impacts in their rookie years and over their careers.

 

Draft Winners

The Philadelphia 76ers

From the second they won the lottery and earned the rights to draft Ben Simmons, the player with the most obvious path to becoming a superstar in this draft, the 76ers came out big winners. But beyond the top, the Sixers kept making awesome picks, grabbing two international players with big time potential to be shooters with the frames and athleticism to be solid wing defenders in the 6'8" Timothe Luwawu (who's a bit further ahead on defense and developing a shot) and 6'6" Furkan Korkmaz (who already has a great shot, and just needs to fill out his skinny frame). I can really see an actual path to this becoming a real time now, with Simmons leading the offense as point forward with excellent 3-and-D players like those two and Robert Covington surrounding him in all the backcourt positions. Now the 76ers just need to find a "point guard" who can fill a similar role.

The Atlanta Hawks

I've seen wildly varying draft grades on them, with some analysts professing their love, and others calling them "big losers." I love what they did, though.  One thing I look for is whether a team has a solid philosophy in place for what guys they want to make an investment into as draft picks.  Once you get past the first few picks, everyone is a gamble.  It's all about knowing what type of player you're willing to take a chance on and spend the time to develop.  It's also about the belief you have in your coaching staff in what skills they can develop, versus what skills and attributes they want the players to bring to the table.

The Hawks clearly believe in the ability of their coaching staff to build up a player's shooting, and made selections of players who brought size, athleticism, and defense to the table, along with signs of play-making ability.  In a previous post I talked about the concept of the "switch four," which at its narrowest definition I'll say is the kind of player who can play both on the wing or as a small-ball four and credibly defend both wings and bigs, allowing versatility in a team's defense and offense.  Guys like Jae Crowder, Harrison Barnes, DeMarre Carroll, and Richard Jefferson.  In that piece I said that the smart teams in the draft would seek out guys who could fit that role, because they're so much more valuable, and a much scarcer commodity, in the modern NBA than a normal big.

That's why I wasn't shocked that the Celtics took 6'8" wing Jaylen Brown at 3rd overall despite his stats at Cal raising major red flags from an analytical standpoint.  And that's exactly what the Hawks did in selecting the 6'8" Taurean Prince at 12th, about 10 picks ahead of where he was expected to go. Not to toot my own horn, but in my switch fours piece I said Prince would "go a lot higher than most draft boards currently show, as teams covet a player who can fill exactly this role."  Okay, I will toot my own horn... Nailed it.

The Hawks second pick at 21st overall also fit the mold.  He's only 6'6", so he doesn't quite bring the height that Prince does, but he's strong and very athletic on defense, and more than capable of hanging with bigger players.  I could see him as a Jefferson type who will do the dirty work and play above his size on defense. Meanwhile on offense, Bembry has shown very nice playmaking skills for a wing as a passer and a ball handler.  He just needs to improve his shot from range, which is clearly something the Hawks think they can help him do.

The Chicago Bulls

I am probably one of the biggest Denzel Valentine believers you'll find outside of Sparty fans and pure analytics nerds. And I love the fit in Chicago. I'll probably write a full piece on him later, so I'll save my words here. For now, I'll just say I think it was total steal to get a guy with his skillset at 14, after so many questionable guys went ahead of him.

Then in the 2nd round, they went for 6'8" German wing Paul Zipser, another massive steal.  I hate to keep harping on the value of the switch four, but once again, here's a smart team picking one up.  Zipser needs to add some strength to handle some of the biggest power forwards in the league, but he certainly has the frame for that, and he has the athleticism to switch onto perimeter players.  Meanwhile on offense, he's a guy who can drive to the basket and hit catch-and-shoot jumpers, skills that will allow him to mesh a solid role player alongside superior ball-handlers and distributors like Jimmy Butler and Valentine.

I absolutely adore these two picks by the Bulls.

Other Winners: Memphis Grizzlies (steals fit needs), San Antonio Spurs (as usual), Golden State Warriors (the rich get richer).

 

Draft Losers

The Charlotte Hornets

Wow, trading the 22 pick for Marco Belinelli was terrible. The Pacers were able to turn the 20th pick into a versatile 28-year-old forward in Thaddeus Young, while all the Hornets got for the 22nd pick was a 30-year-old career backup wing who can't play defense and whose prime year shooting numbers were 95% a byproduct of getting wide-open looks in one of best flowing offenses of all-time in the early 2010s Spurs.  This trade looked awful the second they made it, and now looks even worse in retrospect after watching guys like Luwawu slide past it.

I feel bad for Coach Clifford.  I didn't think their front office could possibly one-up picking Frank Kaminsky at 9 instead of grabbing Justise Winslow or taking the king's ransom Boston was supposedly offering them, but they managed to do it.  Crying Jordan face, indeed.

The Sacramento Kings

Meanwhile, the Kings absolutely fleeced the Hornets, but managed to fumble it away. To put it into an analogy that Michael Jordan would understand, it's like the Kings won big in a heads-up poker game against the Hornets, then took their winnings and blew it all on the roulette wheel.  They traded back the 8th overall pick, presumably because all the highest players left on the board there were big men they didn't need like Marquese Chriss and Jakob Poeltl, but then used the 13th overall pick to reach on a raw big man in Georgios Papagiannis. All much to the chagrin of Boogie Cousins.

Then they blew the pick they stole from Charlotte on a Syracuse guard in Malachi Richardson, who while being a good shooter, is known for ball-stopping, over-dribbling, and bad shot-selection, and whose defensive upside is probably overrated by playing in that Syracuse zone. His upside is basically Dion Waiters 2.0.  Finally, they wrapped up their three first round picks with YET ANOTHER RAW BIG MAN in Skal Labissiere, who was basically a non-factor in Kentucky this year. I don't get it. These picks don't fit the direction the NBA is headed, so they're not going to be in-demand trade assets, and they don't fit a need for a team that already has DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Just the Kings being the Kings, I guess.

The Milwaukee Bucks?

So I'm not going to rip the Bucks as hard as I just ripped the Hornets and Kings. I could say a lot of things here about not making a "value" pick on a big like Thon Maker when those are in big supply in the NBA, or get into the conspiracy theories about the Bucks only drafting guys represented by Jason Kidd's agent. On its surface, this pick seems dumb.

But I can't help feeling some doubt after listening to interviews with Maker.  Maybe I shouldn't let a kid's personality win me over, but it's hard when you have a young guy talking so openly and intelligently about the ins-and-outs of basketball and the areas he's working on improving. He sounds like a coach compared to all the other guys saying "uhh, I just want to do what's best for the team."  Maybe it's because Maker's secretly 30 and not 19, who knows.

Unlike the Kings and the Hornets, though, I can put myself in the Bucks shoes and see the logic, and the philosophy of the pick.  Maker is big, he's athletic, he has potential for both rim protection and perimeter defense, he might be able to develop a long range shot.  He has the rawest of raw projections as the ideal modern NBA center.  So as the Bucks, if you believe you can truly teach a raw prospect to play basketball the right way, like you did with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and you see a guy with these tools, this obvious intelligence, and the clear willingness to learn and improve, maybe reaching a bit in the draft isn't so stupid after all.

Other Losers: Utah Jazz (why couldn't they just get Jeff Teague for 12 instead of taking George Hill?), Houston Rockets (though they kind of redeemed themselves by signing UDFA Gary Payton II), New Orleans Pelicans (I think Buddy Hield will be a good fantasy player, but not worth 6th overall as an NBA player because of his lack of potential as a passer and defender).

More Recent Articles

 

Titanic Disappointment - Will Ryan Tannehill Help Tennessee?

In the midst of being shutout by the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Tennesse Titans coach Mike Vrabel made a move that many casual NFL fans had been expecting for the past few weeks: he decided to give Ryan Tannehill a shot at quarterback instead of Marcus Mariota. While Tannehill wasn't noticeably better on Sunday, throwing... Read More


Warning Signs: Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Jared Goff

This is going to be a special edition of Warning Signs. Usually, we take a look at players from different teams who have disappointed thus far. This week, I am going to focus on a single team full of players to worry about. It is not good to have a team of big stars where... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


We Must Overreact Immediately! Week 6 Outliers

In Week 6, several players exploded in fantasy lineups. There were a few receivers that were above the rest of the pack in Week 6, such as Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin and Tyreek Hill, but there shouldn't be any surprises there as those guys should have been in fantasy lineups. At the quarterback... Read More


Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 7

The bye week difficulties continue this week with Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay all getting their rest in Week 7. It should be noted, however, that just because a player is currently in their bye week, doesn't mean you should avoid them on the waiver wire. In fact, this is often the easiest way... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

All of a sudden, the Chargers look like one of the worst teams in football and the Jets look like a playoff contender. Maybe things won't shake out that way in the end but it goes to show how quickly things change in the "Not For Long" NFL. For that reason, we advise looking at... Read More


The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 7)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More


Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More


Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 6 is done, and we've seen some outstanding games thus far. We've also seen a lot of surprising teams through six weeks. The San Francisco 49ers, after picking in the top 10 for four straight years, are 5-0 with one of the most complete teams in football. As far as kickers go, we're seeing... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Some of you have been rewarded for your meticulous roster planning by receiving excellent production from your running backs. Unfortunately, many of you have been equally prepared when making roster decisions, but have been undermined by injuries, inconsistent usage, or underwhelming performances. If that applies to you, then those unwanted outcomes have forced you to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

We weren't really surprised by the top-scoring fantasy wide receivers from Week 6. Out of the top-20 receivers, only Jamison Crowder, Auden Tate and Jaron Brown were less than 50% owned. Jaron Brown (0% owned) was only targeted five times but he scored two touchdowns off of those five targets. Auden Tate (23% owned) hauled... Read More


Tight End Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers – Week 7

Another week, another four teams on bye in the NFL. Fantasy football players are going to have to make due this week without Carolina’s Greg Olsen, Tampa Bay’s O.J. Howard and Pittsburgh’s Vance McDonald, not to mention Seattle’s Will Dissly, who was injured this past Sunday. It could be a worse week for fantasy players... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 7

It was another big week at the quarterback position, as five quarterbacks topped 30 points and 12 scored more than 20 heading into Sunday Night Football. Most of the big performers were players we expect, such as Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson, but we also got some surprising starts from quarterbacks who are widely available.... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

The Jets are back! OK, maybe not back because they were never here but at least there's some actual hope and fantasy value to be had from a previously winless team. The tight end landscape has changed drastically again, as Hunter Henry returns right at 60% ownership, while breakout second-year Seahawk Will Dissly's season appears... Read More