30-Team NBA Fantasy Draft Breakdown

Matt Stroup

There’s only one league out there — at least only one in my life — where you pull Dwayne Bacon off the shelf at pick No. 153 and then celebrate like your life just drastically changed for the better.

Moments after the pick, I receive a message from a colleague, saying he had been hoping to get Bacon on his squad. I try to sound humble. Yeah, we’ll see how it works out. But the truth is, I’m excited.

That’s right, it’s a Dwayne Bacon victory lap.

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Never mind that Bacon’s best stretch last season was not exciting (12.8 ppg, 1.8 3s and not much else during a 12-game run to close out the year). The fact is, Bacon is a locked and loaded starter for me, the sixth player to join my roster and a guy I can hardly afford to lose.

This is life in 30 Deep, the 30-team league I’ve been playing in with a bunch of Rotoworld colleagues and other fantasy analysts for the last decade or so. 

I enter this year as the reigning 30-Deep champion, which I pulled off picking from the No. 23 spot last year (I still need to send team T-shirts to Chris Paul, Buddy Hield and Clint Capela). 

This season, if I’m going to repeat, I’ll have to do it picking from an even less ideal position — 28th — in this 30-team snake draft. 

Yes, it’s a massive advantage to have an early pick. At the same time, it’s also a fun challenge to try to win a league when your best player is the equivalent of a third-rounder in another format. And no matter who your best player is, in a 30-team league, depth matters a ton. 

This ultra-slow draft is around its midway point as we speak, and today I’m here to recap picks 1-150. I’ll stop every 15 picks for some analysis. Let’s go…

Picks 1-15

1. Anthony Davis
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Karl-Anthony Towns (Tommy Beer, Rotoworld)
4. James Harden
5. Nikola Jokic
6. Stephen Curry
7. Joel Embiid
8. Bradley Beal
9. Damian Lillard
10. LeBron James
11. Jrue Holiday (Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld)
12. Russell Westbrook
13. Luka Doncic
14. Kawhi Leonard
15. Trae Young

Thoughts: I’ve consistently been pulling late first round picks in most of my drafts (or in the case of this draft, very late first round), but if I was picking at or near the top, I don’t know how I’d have the discipline to pass on Steph Curry. I realize there’s some risk for rest, but that’s true for just about everyone at this point, and the last time Steph played a season without Kevin Durant on his team (in 2015-16), he averaged 30.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.7 apg, 2.1 spg and 5.1 3s — and was the runaway No. 1 fantasy player. With that said, I can see the appeal of taking KAT first in the load management era. … This is a 9-category league, so you can count me out on Westbrook and Doncic, who are threats to put you into the negatives in all three of what I call the Sub-Zero categories — FG percentage, FT percentage and turnovers. Nevertheless, I could hear Dr. A scream clear across the state of Georgia when Luka was taken three picks ahead of him. … Trae Young has had some turnover issues this preseason, but he had none of them in an impressive showing against the Knicks on Wednesday (23 points, five boards, nine dimes), a game where he was getting into the paint at will. Over his final 40 games last season, TraeTV put up 22.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 8.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 2.4 3s, shooting 43.8 percent from the field (with 3.6 turnovers). I love taking a shot on him in the 15 range.

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Picks 16-30

16. Zion Williamson (Steve Alexander, Rotoworld)
17. Kyrie Irving (Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld)
18. Rudy Gobert
19. Kemba Walker
20. Jimmy Butler
21. Andre Drummond
22. Devin Booker
23. Donovan Mitchell 
24. De’Aaron Fox
25. Nikola Vucevic
26. Paul George
27. Ben Simmons
28. Deandre Ayton (Matt Stroup, Rotoworld — me!)
29. LaMarcus Aldridge
30. Ja Morant

Comments: Here’s the good news on Zion: He’s averaging 23.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.5 spg — on 71.4 percent shooting — in the preseason. Here’s the bad news: Through four games, he has zero blocks, just one total 3-pointer and he’s 22-of-32 from the FT line (68.8 percent). Tommy Beer and Ryan Knaus both said on the podcast recently that they’re not worried about the blocks, but between shaky production in 3s and FTs, make sure you’re building your roster accordingly if you have Zion. (Fri. afternoon update: Zion is now set to miss a "period of weeks" to start the season, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Woj adds there's "no shortage of confidence" for a full recovery, but the durability questions with Zion aren't going anywhere soon.) … I’ve said it before — I think you are straight-up stealing from people if you get Nikola Vucevic anywhere around 25. He was the No. 11 player in 9-category leagues last season (20.8 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.1 3s), he is re-signed to a long-term deal in Orlando (four years, $100 million), and remains the undisputed centerpiece of the Magic. I’ll take him in the 13-15 range if I think I’m going to miss out on him otherwise. … I went with Ayton here because he already posted close to top-30 value last season, and whether he does anything in 3-pointers or not, I think 22 and 12 is potentially in there somewhere (he averaged 16.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.9 spg and 0.9 bpg as a 20-year-old rookie). … This is early for Morant, but when your next pick isn’t until around No. 90, there’s something to be said for getting the guy you want. Here's my full writeup on Morant from earlier in the summer after the Grizzlies traded away Mike Conley.

Follow me on Twitter – @MattStroup 

Picks 31-45

31. Julius Randle
32. Jaren Jackson Jr.
33. Pascal Siakam (me)
34. Blake Griffin
35. Kristaps Porzingis
36. Myles Turner
37. Zach LaVine
38. Jamal Murray
39. Draymond Green
40. Mike Conley
41. Mitchell Robinson
42. Bam Adebayo
43. Tobias Harris
44. John Collins (Ryan Knaus)
45. Caris LeVert (Steve Alexander)

Reactions: I was thrilled to get Siakam here, a player I would draft anywhere starting around No. 25. He was a top-40 player last season (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.0 3s), and is set for a major spike in volume with Kawhi Leonard no longer in Toronto. … I love Porzingis’ upside, but I’m too scared to invest in him in the 30 range with all the potential for rest. I do think he’s going to be a lot of fun when he’s actually out there though. … I’m also fading Blake Griffin, who was closer to 70th overall than 30th last season. … This is a steal on Mike Conley and John Collins, two players who could easily go in the 30 range. 

Picks 46-60

46. Clint Capela
47. D’Angelo Russell
48. C.J. McCollum
49. Buddy Hield
50. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Mike Gallagher)
51. Lauri Markkanen
52. Domantas Sabonis
53. DeMar DeRozan
54. Khris Middleton
55. Marvin Bagley
56. Kyle Lowry
57. Thomas Bryant
58. Otto Porter (Tommy Beer)
59. Lonzo Ball
60. Jayson Tatum

Meanderings: Capela was a borderline top-20 guy in 9-category leagues last season, and has been one of the best values I’ve seen this draft season. Him dropping to 46 is just insane, even if he has to concede a couple of rebounds here and there to Russell Westbrook. … I’m a huge fan of Hield, a high-volume ironman who played 82 last season while dropping 3.4 treys a game. … Among a bunch of safe/solid/boring names like McCollum, DeRozan and Middleton, one name that really stands out to me here is Bagley, who averaged 14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.0 bpg as a 19-year-old rookie, hinting at a pretty monstrous ceiling in the near future. 

Picks 61-75

61. Jonathan Isaac
62. Jonas Valanciunas
63. Chris Paul (Tommy Beer)
64. Terry Rozier
65. Marc Gasol
66. Kevin Love
67. Eric Bledsoe
68. Malcolm Brogdon
69. Collin Sexton
70. Al Horford
71. Josh Richardson (Mike Gallagher)
72. Hassan Whiteside
73. Aaron Gordon
74. Danilo Gallinari
75. Ricky Rubio

Reflections: Getting Isaac around the 60 spot of any draft is a beautiful thing, which I'm sure is the same thing Tommy Beer is saying about landing Chris Paul. Remember, CP3 was a top-20 player when he was on the court last season, so this is a pretty safe spot to gamble even if we know he’s going to miss a bunch of games. … Rozier popped off for a 24-7-8 line with two steals and four treys on 9-of-15 shooting on Monday, and if he can somehow shoot somewhere in the 43-45 percent range, he’s going to be an absolute fantasy dynamo. … In a portion of the draft filled with intriguing old dudes, this was phenomenal value on Al Horford, a top-30 player in 9-category leagues on a per-game basis last season. 

Continue onward for thoughts on picks 76-150, and a look at my roster so far...

Picks 76-90

76. Dejounte Murray (Steve Alexander)
77. Robert Covington (Ryan Knaus)
78. Serge Ibaka
79. RJ Barrett
80. Kelly Oubre
81. Jeff Teague
82. Victor Oladipo
83. Gordon Hayward
84. Lou Williams
85. Fred VanVleet
86. Justise Winslow
87. Steven Adams
88. Delon Wright (me)
89. T.J. Warren
90. Montrezl Harrell

Impressions: This is a strong one-two combo from the Law Firm of Alexander and Knaus. Steve gets a potential breakout PG in Dejounte Murray, a 23-year-old who was last seen posting 10.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.5 bpg and 0.2 3s over his final 34 games in 2017-18. Now back from his torn ACL, he has shown signs that he’s improved his 3-point shooting, most recently scoring 20 points with four dimes and two treys on Wednesday. … Meanwhile, Covington is a forgotten man coming off a season of just 35 games, but in those 35 games, he was the 16th overall player in 9-category leagues — yes, 16th — behind averages of 13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 spg, 1.3 bpg and 2.4 3s. … As for my pick, Delon Wright averaged 12.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.6 bpg and 0.8 3s in 26 games after he was dealt to Memphis, and could make a run at similar numbers as he’s expected to start at PG for Dallas. Wright has had a quiet preseason, so you might be able to get him slightly later than this.

Picks 91-105

91. Brook Lopez
92. P.J. Tucker
93. Miles Bridges (me)
94. Dennis Smith Jr.
95. Wendell Carter Jr.
96. Joe Ingles
97. Zach Collins
98. Dario Saric
99. Derrick Favors
100. Jarrett Allen
101. Dennis Schroder
102. Jaylen Brown
103. Jeremy Lamb
104. Derrick White (Ryan Knaus)
105. Larry Nance (Steve Alexander)

Surprises: I can’t believe Brook Lopez falls this far after a top-30 season, and it won’t always be that way. He went 56th in the Yahoo Friends and Family Draft recently. … I’m similarly happy to get Miles Bridges, who put up 12.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.9 bpg and 1.5 3s on 52.7 percent shooting over his final 12 games last season, and is set to be a centerpiece for the Hornets in a bleak-but-intriguing post-Kemba Walker landscape. … Wendell Carter Jr., Zach Collins and Derrick Favors are three other names that jump out to me from this stretch of the draft. 

Picks 106-120

106. JaVale McGee
107. Rui Hachimura
108. Brandon Ingram
109. DeAndre Jordan
110. Kevon Looney (Mike Gallagher)
111. Andrew Wiggins 
112. Kyle Kuzma
113. Dewayne Dedmon
114. Gary Harris
115. Bojan Bogdanovic
116. Will Barton
117. Marcus Smart
118. Tomas Satoransky (Tommy Beer)
119. Dwight Powell
120. Evan Fournier

Takeaways: I devote my time in this space to two players: Gary Harris and Tomas Satoransky. Harris, as we know, had a maddeningly disappointing season in 2018-19, playing in just 57 games and never really getting going as he averaged just 12.9 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. However, this is a guy who put up top-35 value in 2017-18, averaging 17.5 ppg, 1.8 spg and 2.3 3s. He certainly looked more like that guy on Monday night when he put up 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting in just 24 minutes, and I’m optimistic that a healthy Harris will be an outstanding late-round value this season. … As for Satoransky, he was recently named the starting PG for the Bulls after landing a three-year, $30 million contract in the offseason. In the wake of John Wall’s season-ending injury last year, Satoransky averaged 11.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.6 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.0 3s across 45 games.

Picks 121-135

121. De’Andre Hunter
122. Mikal Bridges
123. Tyler Herro (Tommy Beer)
124. PJ Washington
125. Nicolas Batum
126. Dwight Howard
127. Harrison Barnes
128. Cody Zeller
129. Bogdan Bogdanovic
130. Goran Dragic
131. Brandon Clarke (Mike Gallagher)
132. Paul Millsap
133. Enes Kanter
134. Alex Len
135. Kevin Huerter

Wheezing Onward: This is the rare draft where I don’t get De’Andre Hunter, who scored 15 points with a couple of 3s on Monday night and is ready for big minutes right away. … PJ Washington is another late-round player on the rise, as he looks set to start in the land of opportunity — Charlotte. In his most recent preseason game on Wednesday, Washington had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two 3s in 31 minutes.

Picks 136-150

136. Taurean Prince (Steve Alexander)
137. Jakob Poeltl (Ryan Knaus)
138. D.J. Augustin 
139. Jarrett Culver 
140. Spencer Dinwiddie
141. Terrence Ross
142. J.J. Redick
143. Ivica Zubac
144. Matisse Thybulle
145. Tyus Jones
146. Darius Garland
147. Reggie Jackson
148. Eric Gordon (me)
149. Patrick Beverley
150. Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Last Writeup: I was somewhat gutted to miss out on Culver and Garland, but in a league this deep, Gordon’s 3.2 treys per game (his average the last three seasons combined) will make a notable difference.  

My Team So Far

We have eight starters in this league. With six rounds complete, here’s my squad:

PG — Delon Wright (mildly concerned after a slow preseason, but the skills and role are there for a nice breakout year)

SG — Eric Gordon (I like him more in a deeper league, since he’s mostly just a points/3s guy)

SF — Miles Bridges (sub par preseason box scores make him easier to land on draft day. Don’t forget about him)

PF — Pascal Siakam 

C — Deandre Ayton

GDwayne Bacon (the aforementioned impetus for the gratuitous victory lap; mostly a points and 3s guy, but another focal point for the intriguing and probably really bad Hornets) 

F — Whoever it is, will not be good

Util — Will probably be worse

I’ll let you know how the rest of this thing turns out next week. I’ll give you a preview: It’s bleak. To give you a sense of where things are at, I just did some research on Lonnie Walker.

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