Ludicrously early mock drafting has become a time-honored tradition here at Roto Arcade, and it continues this week. Let's take a look at the early rounds of '09 fantasy drafts. Assume standard roto settings. Your drafters are Matt Romig, Matt Buser, Justin Phan, Brandon Funston, Dalton Del Don and Andy Behrens.
For earlier results, just follow the links: Round 1.
Kevin Garnett(notes), Boston Celtics PF – Round 2, Pick 1. To get the jump on the folks in the gallery below, yes Garnett’s minutes have declined for two consecutive years – his 31:06 per game last season was his lowest total since his rookie year – and he’s recovering from knee surgery, no slam dunk at age 33. The Celtics want Big Baby back as KG insurance, but they also appear willing to part with Ray Allen(notes) or Rajon Rondo(notes), a sign they still think Garnett can be centerpiece of a title team. They’re expecting Garnett to be 100 percent for camp. He fell just outside the top-10 in per-game fantasy output last season. Healthy, we’d expect first-round returns. (Romig)
Deron Williams(notes), Utah Jazz PG – Round 2, Pick 2. Some day, perhaps shortly after Bud Selig retires and Barry Bonds is elected to the Hall of Fame on his sixth ballot, sports historians will abandon steroids and cast a critical eye on the NBA’s juiced-ball era. Do you realize that of the top 30 single-game assist totals in NBA history, 15 were recorded between 1988-1992? Only one of the top-25 single-season assist totals has been recorded in the last 10 years. My point: now that all those NBA official scorers have been reassigned to Mellon Arena and tasked with making sure Sidney Crosby gets at least a secondary assist on every Pittsburgh goal from now until 2025, the assist is harder to come by. This makes Williams’ back-to-back 10.5-plus assist seasons all the more remarkable. He’s also an efficient scorer who will provide in the neighborhood of 19 points, one 3-pointer and one steal per game. (Mig)
Troy Murphy(notes), Indiana Pacers FC - Round 2, Pick 3. Murphy followed up Mike Dunleavy's breakout season with a breakthrough of his own, setting career-highs in four of six positive counting stats (2.2 3PT, 11.8 REB, 2.4 AST, 0.8 SPG) while maintaining an incredible level of efficiency (47.5 FG%, 45.0 3PT%, 82.6 FT%, 1.6 TO). He finished the season ranked seventh in per-game impact and only improved as the season went on. Murphy is once again poised to have a huge season in the very friendly Indiana system, paticularly with Mike Dunleavy's timetable being completely wide open, and he'll validate a pick here even if his numbers regress slightly. (Buser)
Steve Nash(notes), Phoenix Suns PG - Round 2, Pick 4. Nash was the 12th ranked player in per-game impact after Alvin Gentry took over last season, and that was with Shaquille O'Neal(notes) still on the roster. The Shaq trade frees the Suns to return to their fun-and-gun ways, so Nash regains elite status for roto re-draft purposes (and most others as well). He'll get occasional rest and won't push for 35 minutes per game, but the fantasy impact will be there. (MB)
Chauncey Billups(notes), Denver Nuggets PG - Round 2, Pick 5. I have absolutely no problem dialing up the Department of Redundancy Department once again to lock up a player who hasn't dropped outside of the top 20 in cumulative value a single time over the past five seasons. To give you some historical perspective, only two other players have accomplished this feat over that five-season span – LeBron James(notes) and Dirk Nowitzki(notes). (Kobe fell short in '04-'05 with a cumulative rank of 28) Mr. Big Shot is well into his 30s but has shown no signs of slowing down. Count on him to deliver another 75-game season of 17 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 treys, and a steal.
Jose Calderon(notes), Toronto Raptors PG - Round 2, Pick 6. There isn't a whole lot of flash and flare to Calderon's game, but his record-breaking efficiency alone makes him a fantasy commodity and vaults him into the top 20. His 4.3 AST:TO ratio topped fantasy-MVP Chris Paul's(notes) figure, while his 151-154 (98.1%) conversion rate on free throws shattered Calvin Murphy's record that had stood for 18 seasons. Calderon opted to undergo surgery during the offseason to repair a damaged ligament in his left ring finger and should be better than ever heading into training camp.
Jason Kidd(notes), Dallas Mavericks PG - Round 2, Pick 7. Those who avoided Kidd last season because of his odometer reading missed out on a top-10 performance in the Yahoo! game. Despite being 36 years old, Kidd has managed to remain healthy – four straight seasons of 80-plus games played. He also maintained his career-average of two steals per game last season, while dropping his turnovers to a very palatable 2.3 per game clip. Teamed with Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas has proven to be a nice home for Kidd. But rumors that New York has sincere interest in signing Kidd in free agency this summer, and a reciprocal interest from Kidd, is an enticing scenario to consider. Running the point for head coach Mike D’Antoni, whose teams haven’t finished out of the top five in scoring offense in any of the past five seasons … well, one just needs to look at Chris Duhon(notes) to see what kind of an impact D’Antoni’s system can have on a point guard. (Funston)
Dwight Howard(notes), Orlando Magic C - Round 2, Pick 8. I’m no doubt playing with fire here by agreeing to take on fantasy’s single-most negatively impacting stat last season -- Howard’s 59.4 free-throw percentage. Call this an experiment, though, as this mock team’s roster also possesses Dirk Nowitzki, who produced the third-most positively impacting FT mark last season -- 6.7 attempts per game at an 89.0 clip. Based on last year’s numbers, Nowitzki and Howard combined for a 66.2 free throw shooting percentage, which still leaves me with a lot of work to do in the category. Foul shooting accuracy will have to figure into the thought process for every pick on this team the rest of the way. If you throw out free throw shooting, Howard was the fourth-most valuable fantasy player last season. If his charity stripe work can be somewhat negated, he’s a nice deal at No. 20 overall. (BF)
Devin Harris(notes), New Jersey Nets PG - Round 2, Pick 9. Harris truly broke out last season, averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.9 APG and 1.7 SPG while finally given more than 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career. His wiry frame is a concern as far as durability, but at age 26, there’s also still room for further growth. And with Vince Carter(notes) traded away to Orlando, Harris is going to assume an even bigger role in the offense -- and since he also averaged 7.7 APG after the All-Star break last season, a monstrous 2009-10 could be in store. (Del Don)
Tim Duncan(notes), San Antonio Spurs FC - Round 2, Pick 10. Duncan is trending the wrong way, as his rebounds, steals and blocks all declined in 2008-09 compared to the previous season. While his minutes will continue to be monitored with San Antonio concentrating more on the postseason than the regular season, Duncan remains a double-double machine and an effective shot-blocker. Few center-eligible options offer his assist production as well. Duncan is 33 years old and has accrued a ton of mileage throughout his career, but he’s played in at least 75 games in each of the past four seasons. With other owners looking for the next big thing and Duncan being past his prime, he now comes at a discount on draft day. (DDD)
Caron Butler(notes), Washington Wizards GF - Round 2, Pick 11. My greatest fantasy weakness -- other than an inexplicable fondness for Boof Bonser -- is an appreciation for offseason self-hype. When elite players say things like this, I'm interested:
"I know, personally, I will be in the best shape of my life, the best condition of my life. Physically, mentally, I will be better than ever. I will have the best year of my career next year. I'm putting that on paper. I will have the best year of my career, on the court and off the court. I will be seriously ready."
Butler's per-game averages were excellent last year (20.8 PPG, 6.2 REB, 4.3 AST); it's all about durability. He's missed at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons. But even if this career-year stuff is just lip service, he'll be a useful fantasy piece. He's paired with LeBron James here. (Behrens)
Gerald Wallace(notes), Charlotte Bobcats F - Round 2, Pick 12. And here's another multi-category beast with durability issues. Wallace's improved shooting percentages boosted his value significantly last season; he was a 60-something percent free throw shooter as recently as '06-'07, but last year he cracked 80 percent. You know you're getting points (16.7 in '08-'09), rebounds (7.8), blocks (0.9) and steals (1.7). In fact, with Wallace and Chris Paul on the roster, this team may already have a steals surplus. (AB)
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