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I was out for a run — my left calf and lower back howling at me — when I got the text:
“Hey, you’re up in 30 deep with 11 mins left on the clock.”
Panic set in. I started running again, then sprinting, taking a few days off the life of my calf in the process.
Got inside, ran to the computer… and I was not on the clock.
Turns out the person texting me had made a mistake. I was still two picks away.
This is life in 30-Deep, the 30-team, 9-category fantasy league where we draft around the clock (draft room only closes midnight-10am ET), and if you don’t set your queue or sprint home from that run, you are out of luck.
As I’ve done in recent years, today I’ll be posting a bunch of the picks from that draft with analysis. I’ll break down the first 50 picks below (pausing every 10 picks for some comments), and picks 100-150 are available in the Draft Guide.
Quick note here: For the first time in this league, we reversed the draft order of the third round, which makes life slightly less horrible for those of us who inexplicably got stuck with a pick in the late-20’s.
Now, to the picks:
Thoughts: A little surprising to see Towns go first, but such is the state of James Harden-related angst in 2020. I still think I’d take Harden first or second in most leagues. … No, that was not Steve Alexander picking third with Luka. … You will not see me drafting Giannis in an 8- or 9-category league, because personally I don’t trust my ability to build a good punting roster (and Giannis shot a career-low 63.3 percent on 10.0 FT attempts last year). … One reason I don’t mind drafting near the end of the first round is the possibility of Lillard, Tatum and even Curry making it all the way into the 8-10 range.
Reactions: In a 30-team league where one early-round injury pretty much sinks your season, Kawhi at 11 or even Durant at 16 is way too adventurous for me. Same with Kyrie at 18, though I can’t fault anyone for swinging for the fences, and all three players are likely to post first-round value whenever they are actually playing. … I’ve watched most of every Hawks preseason game so far, and John Collins seems to be deferring too much with all the new firepower the Hawks added. That needs to change in a hurry (and I’m guessing it will) for Collins to justify a top-15 draft position. … That was in fact Dr. A who took Morant at No. 20, and the upside for Morant is obviously tremendous, but I’m a little worried about whether his fantasy production will actually match how dynamic he is in real life. Morant was No. 135 on a per-game basis in 9-category leagues (according to BasketballMonster.com), and while a jump in points and assists seems inevitable, he’s also probably going to need significant gains in 3s (0.9 last year) and steals (0.9) to make a leap toward the top-20. He’s definitely got the talent to make it happen, but I can’t quite see Morant getting all the way there this year.
Pondering: My general plan this year is not to draft LeBron anywhere given the lingering concern of potential rest after their NBA Finals run and the quick turnaround to start this season. However, if I’m picking first in a 12-team league and he falls all the way to 24 or 25 — and suddenly I can land LeBron James as the third-best player on my squad — I’ll take that risk. … I was starting to entertain the idea of somehow getting Bam Adebayo at 26 before our old friend Tommy Beer ruined my morning. I ended up with Deandre Ayton, who finished just 32nd overall in 9-category leagues, but had been on a serious roll before the season shut down back in March. In his previous 21 games prior to the shut down, Ayton had put up 20.5 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.8 bpg — and there’s no reason he can’t make a run at those stats this year. … Heading into Friday, the Pelicans had played exactly one preseason game, and Zion went for 26 points and 11 rebounds — with no steals, no blocks and no 3s. Just one game, sure, but I continue to be worried about all of those areas after he posted 0.7 spg, 0.4 bpg and 0.3 3s last year.
Daydreaming: VanVleet was the 25th overall player on Basketball Monster’s leaderboard, so I was really happy to land him here. With his 1.9 spg and 2.7 3s last season, he became just the 11th player to put up 1.8 spg and 2.5 3s (or more) in a season. … Chris Paul’s age (he’s 35) is the only reason he falls this far, a full 25 spots past his No. 14 overall finish last season. … Donovan Mitchell has finished 54th, 56th and 54th in 9-category leagues through his first three seasons in the NBA. Is this the year he makes a jump at age 24? For better or worse, I think he’s always going to go earlier than I want to draft him.
41. Christian Wood (you guessed it, Dr. A)
42. Zach LaVine
43. Jimmy Butler
44. Kyle Lowry
45. Gordon Hayward
46. D’Angelo Russell
47. Domantas Sabonis
48. Khris Middleton
49. Jonas Valanciunas
50. Tobias Harris
Summarizing: Steve was thrilled to see Christian Wood go off in his preseason debut — 27 points, 10 boards, one steal, one block and two 3s in 24 minutes — and it may be even tougher to draft him in the 40 range as we get into this weekend. … LaVine had career-highs in points (25.5), steals (1.5), blocks (0.5) and 3s (3.1) last season, and if you’re already punting turnovers, then getting him on your squad is a must. The 3.4 TOs per game are really his only glaring fantasy weakness. … Hayward is dealing with a finger injury, so check the latest on our player news page before you draft him. … A lot of safe picks toward the latter part of this group of 10 (Sabonis, Middleton, Valanciunas, Harris). In a 30-team league there’s nothing wrong with going with safe/productive. However, in a standard-sized league, I try not to take Tobias Harris every round. Would much rather swing for the fences with the majority of my picks.
That brings us to the end of the top 50. If you want the picks and analysis from 51-150, as mentioned, you can check that out in the Rotoworld Draft Guide.
And for more last-minute draft prep, check out our latest podcast episode below: