Beat the Experts Fantasy Draft Grades

Jonas Nader
Rotoworld

 

A few of my colleagues recently did a live 12-team draft with some lucky readers live from NBC Sports headquarters, so I was tasked with handing out grades for each team without knowing the identity of the fantasy owner. The important thing to keep in mind here is that this is a points league with the following values for each category:

Points: 1
Rebounds: 1.2
Assists: 1.5
Steals: 3
Blocks: 3
Turnovers: -1

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In case you missed the live show, you can re-watch here! You can also scroll to the bottom to see the full draft results. 

And as always, hit me up on Twitter here for any questions!

 

Team Ryan Knaus (RW): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kemba Walker, De'Aaron Fox, Khris Middleton, Mitchell Robinson, Domantas Sabonis, Gordon Hayward, Brandon Ingram, Collin Sexton, Tomas Satoransky, Will Barton, Jakob Poeltl, Nerlens Noel

There’s so much to like about this team. Giannis is already a monster and putting him in a format that doesn’t punish his poor FT% and lack of triples is just unfair. I’m not expecting Kemba’s numbers to regress too much in Boston because a starting PG in Brad Stevens’ system has been gold in recent years, while Fox is on the brink of stardom and looked phenomenal in the preseason opener. Mitchell Robinson has impressed the Knicks with his maturity on the defensive end this summer and he’s made strides to keep his foul rate down. If he can somehow get to 30 minutes this season he can block four shots per game and that’s 12 fantasy points right there. 

The Pacers are serious about the Sabonis-Turner combo up front and they were running a ton of offense through him in their first exhibition. Remember, this is a guy who led the preseason in usage rate last season and we know he can dish it out with 4.2 dimes per 36 minutes. Hayward has been the talk of the town in Boston with Enes Kanter predicting that he will “shock the world” now that he’s healthy, and there’s not much risk taking him in Round 7. Brandon Ingram has generated some hype for his playmaking ability in training camp and is the favorite to start next to Zion Williamson, and his game has always been better suited for points leagues where we don’t have to pay attention to his Dion Waiters-like percentages. This team also took a lottery ticket in the last round in Noel, a guy who could be a league winner with Steven Adams on the trade block. Noel’s per-36’s of 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.2 steals are out of this world. 

Grade: A+

 

Team Blendi Skeja: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, Al Horford, Robert Covington, Dewayne Dedmon, Joe Ingles, Spencer Dinwiddie, Alex Len, Goran Dragic, Joe Harris

Team 2 gets off to an impeccable start with KAT at No. 2, the safest bet to play 80+ games in the NBA. And with added playmaking this year in a revamped offense, this should be his best year yet. Kyrie is a strong pick in Round 2 even if he sits +/- 10 games for rest, and Butler as “the man” in Miami should be fun. We might see numbers that resemble his Chicago days when he put up a 24/6/5 line with 1.9 steals. 

Lauri and Horford are safe picks, but the latter has some load management concerns. RoCo still isn’t 100 percent which is a big red flag, but his steal/block totals were too juicy to pass on here – last year he became the first player in history to average 2+ steals, 2+ triples and 1+ blocks. Dedmon is a bit underwhelming and might get leapfrogged by Richaun Holmes, but Joe Ingles is a great value and may see a bump in stats operating as the sixth man and main playmaker for the second unit (he averaged 7.9 dimes per 36 minutes with Donny Mitchell off the court).

Grade: B

 

Team Warren Bray: Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, Pascal Siakam, CJ McCollum, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dejounte Murray, Steven Adams, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarrett Allen, Jerami Grant, Patrick Beverley, Kent Bazemore, Thaddeus Young

If I had to choose who will lead the NBA in fantasy points per game, it’s Davis and I don’t think it will be close. There’s nothing special about his supporting cast apart from LeBron, and LeBron himself said the offense will be flowing through AD. If he plays 70+ games and avoids his daily trips to the locker room, he’ll be the top fantasy player in his age-26 season. 

Gobert is a lock for a double-double with 2+ blocks, and that alone should keep him in the top-20. Siakam’s splits without Kawhi are tasty (20.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists per 36), but I’m curious to see how he handles being the man over the entire season. Round 3 is probably the right spot. CJ McCollum isn’t the best pick in Round 4 because his stat output has stalled a bit with the Blazers taking away his point guard reps, and the emergence of Anfernee Simons means that probably won’t change. SGA and Murray are better in category leagues where they get added value for their efficiency, but I’m fine with them here. 

Adams’ future in OKC is up in the air, so that makes me nervous even in this round. Finally, Jerami Grant has generated some buzz at Denver’s training camp and there’s word that he’ll be used all over the floor, especially with Paul Millsap fading out of his prime. 

Grade: B+

 

Team Dalton Del Don: James Harden, Zion Williamson, Donovan Mitchell, Jaren Jackson Jr., Hassan Whiteside, Otto Porter, Jonathan Isaac, Fred VanVleet, DeAndre Jordan, Jaylen Brown, Dwayne Bacon, Ish Smith, Bobby Portis

I’m a big fan of Team 5 as starting with Harden means you have a guy that will finish anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3 in total fantasy points. The Westbrook pairing concerns are overblown, as Harden is just as strong off the ball as he is on and I think he’s a safe bet to average 30/6/6, with or without his fancy new one-legged 3-pointer. Zion is one of the best stat stuffers we’ve ever seen at the NCAA level, and he’s back in shape after a minor hiccup at Summer League. If he gets 30+ minutes, and he’s going to, Zion will pay dividends here. 

Donny Mitch is safe as you can get in Round 3, and JJJ has breakout written all over him. The only rookie in history to average 19 points, 1.9 blocks, 1.0 steal and 1.0 triple on a 36-minute scale, JJJ will have added ball-handling responsibility this season and will play for a coach that actually knows what he’s doing. He’s a dark horse to lead the NBA in blocks with his historic block rate in the NCAA if he can get his fouls under control. Whiteside is strong in points leagues where his Shaq-like FT% can’t hurt you, and the last time he averaged 30+ minutes he game he put up 17 points, 14 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. Isaac bulked up over the summer and has all the tools to become a star if he develops consistency from beyond the arc, and FVV is a legit candidate to start and we’re already hearing Kyle Lowry trade rumors. 

Grade: A

 

Team Eric Burgagni: Russell Westbrook, Deandre Ayton, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Buddy Hield, Josh Richardson, Thomas Bryant, TJ Warren, Marcus Smart, Dwight Powell, Danny Green, Dennis Schroder, Dwight Howard

Westbrook isn’t an egregious pick here, but I’m not taking him over the likes of Curry, Jokic and Lillard. Yeah it’s possible that Westy can maintain a usage rate around 30% next to Harden, but it’s The Beard’s team and Westy’s knee surgeries are piling up. Ayton is a bad pick in Round 2 in my opinion, and it doesn’t help that he was 40th(!) in blocks per game despite seeing 30 minutes. No thanks. DeRozan is fine in Round 3 and Draymond is a steal in Round 4. Draymond has already talked about getting into peak shape and we saw what he could do without Klay and KD in the Finals with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 9 dimes and 2.7 combined steals and blocks. Warren is also a terrific value here if he can avoid his fluky ankle injuries, as his 3-point shot is legit and he’s scored 20+ PPG per 36 minutes in back-to-back seasons with a strong steal rate.  

Grade: C

 

Team Justin Studer: Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker, Julius Randle, Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, Danilo Gallinari, RJ Barrett, Lou Williams, Kyle Kuzma, Zach Collins, Reggie Jackson, Rajon Rondo, Cam Reddish

Team 6 opened with 6-7 strong rounds before fading in the end. You can’t go wrong with Jokic at No. 6 overall, a guy the Nuggets think can average a triple-double (it’s not as crazy as you’d think with 7.3 dimes last season). Devin Booker averaged 33.5 points and 7.1 dimes in his final 11 games and continues to flirt with Harden-like numbers without the defensive stats. The Knicks are going to use Randle as a point forward in New York, so it’s not crazy to think he could beat his numbers in New Orleans with 21 points, nine boards and three dimes. 

Morant and Barrett are two high-upside players who aren’t hampered by their efficiency concerns in thios format, and Zach Collins offers Brook Lopez-like upside as a shot-blocking and 3-point specialist. 

Grade: B+

 

Team Raphael Wertheimer: Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, John Collins, Blake Griffin, Marvin Bagley, Kyle Lowry, Malcolm Brogdon, Ricky Rubio, Gary Harris, Serge Ibaka, Evan Fournier, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay

This is one of the older teams in the league, and while it has one of the strongest per-game totals, there’s a lot of load management concerns here. GSW has talked about taking it easy on Curry, but obviously you’re not passing on him here. The dude put up 34 points, 6 rebounds, 5.5 dimes, 1.2 steals and 7.0 triples per 36 minutes without KD on the floor, and maybe they don’t rest him as much If they’re clawing their way into the playoffs. 

I’m not going near Kawhi, it’s as simple as that. He’s not even practicing in full, he has a chronic quad issue and he’s probably going to sit out 15 games. Hard pass here. Collins is a 20-10 player who will add some more dimes to his repertoire, but we’re all curios to see if he can get his steals/blocks back up like his rookie year. I really liked the Brogdon pick, and in the first preseason game it was him and Sabonis running most of the offense (Brogdon finished with 14 dimes). He’ll eat while Oladipo rehabs. 

Grade: B

 

Team Steve Alexander (RW): Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons, Myles Turner, Zach LaVine, Kristaps Porzingis, Wendell Carter, Andrew Wiggins, Delon Wright, Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr., Brandon Clarke, De’Andre Hunter, Willie Cauley-Stein

I love Luka, but this was a head-scratcher. I have Doncic around the top-20 for points leagues, because even though he can be a 25-6-6 guy there aren’t many steals and blocks to fluff up his value. Simmons is fine in Round 2 regardless of whether he can shoot now, but Myles in Round 3 was another reach. He’s a below-average rebounder, his usage rate will be lower next to Sabonis and he’s only elite in one category and that’s blocks. Turner is more of a 4thor 5throunder in this format. LaVine and Wiggins will get the job done here, and even though Porzingis will sit a reported 15-20 games, Round 5 isn’t terrible. Who knows, maybe the Mavs will remove some restrictions if they start hot. 

I’m a big Clarke fan and like that pick, but Hunter has alarmingly low steal/block numbers and WCS is going to miss a chunk of time to begin the year. And when he gets back, Looney will run the show. 

Grade: C+

 

Team Sam Orlik: Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic, D’Angelo Russell, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Conley, Caris LeVert, Miles Bridges, Marc Gasol, Justise Winslow, Terrence Ross, Taurean Prince, JaVale McGee, Landry Shamet

This team is a contender for sure and you can’t go wrong with Drummond at this price. Entering his prime in a contract year, Drummond won fantasy leagues by himself after the break last season when he averaged 18/17 with 2.1 steals and 1.7 blocks in the final two months. Bamba still isn’t a threat to Vucevic who is coming off his first All-Star game, and DAR is going to be a stud in Golden State. I’m all in, especially with coach Kerr saying he’s going to stagger DAR’s minutes with Curry’s. Conley in Round 5 is absurd and should crush that draft spot, and Bridges and LeVert are some of my favorite targets this year in the middle rounds. 

LeVert got his groove back in the playoffs last season and coach Atkinson believes he’ll be an All-Star, while Bridges is the only player with star potential on a roster that will struggle to win 10 games. 

Grade: A

 

Team Alex Badescu: LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Terry Rozier, Derrick Favors, Chris Paul, Lonzo Ball, Kevin Love, Derrick White, Kevon Looney, Kevin Huerter, Markelle Fultz, Malik Monk

This team might struggle in the early going, especially since George could miss up to a month of action. I have no idea what to expect from LeBron, who is going to be 35 in December by the way, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the AD arrival will give him some new life. Embiid has talked about playing 70+ games so he can get in the MVP conversation, but that’s up to his knees and not him. Favors’ numbers without Gobert last season were borderline insane, but can his back handle a full workload?

CP3 isn’t too risky this late, and I’m buying Lonzo stock. If Elfrid Patyton can post five straight triple-doubles in Gentry’s fast-paced offense, I’m sure Lonzo can and he also has a revamped jumper. I also love what this team did in the late rounds with Huerter, Looney and one of my favorite sleepers in Derrick White. It says a lot about White that he generated a ton of buzz in a star-filled Team USA camp. 

Grade: B+

 

Team Lester Limkakeng: Trae Young, Jrue Holiday, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bam Adebayo, Montreal Harrell, Jamal Murray, Enes Kanter, Jeff Teague, OG Anunoby, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rui Hachimura, J.J. Redick, Cedi Osman

Trae is probably more of a second-rounder but I get the logic here. He’ll play 35+ minutes and has a solid chance to lead the NBA in dimes. Jrue is a stud and still doesn’t get enough respect. In his final 10 games last season, Jrue averaged 22 points, 6.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.4 triples. LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t showing signs of slowing down yet, and Bam is going to be a beast with even more elbow touches this season. He might finish second in big man dimes behind Jokic. 

Harrell may not start, but he’ll find a way to get 26 minutes and that’s all he needs to clean up. As for Kanter, there’s zero chance he holds off one of my favorite sleepers in Robert Williams

Grade: B+

 

Team Jared Johnson (RW): Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Clint Capela, Tobias Harris, Kelly Oubre, Aaron Gordon, Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lamb, Larry Nance, Darius Garland, Victor Oladipo, Paul Millsap, Jarrett Culver

Drafting out of the 12th spot is incredibly difficult, but this team knocked it out of the park by taking two top-10 players in Dame and Beal. Dame is still in his prime and we saw what he did in the playoffs, and Beal’s numbers without John Wall were worthy of a top-5 pick. And now Wizards coach Scott Brooks expects him to average 7+ dimes. 

Capela has been undervalued all summer after a down year, but suddenly looks spry again. If he gets some positive regression with his block rate he’ll “dominate” like he said he will. Nance was a terrific grab who is often overlooked despite his juicy assist/steal rates, and Culver is probably my favorite last-round pick this year as a guy who could legit have a Donny Mitch-like rookie season. He’s that talented on both ends. 

Grade: A

 

Here's how the entire draft played out:

 

Round 1

 

1

Giannis Antetokounmpo(Mil - SF,PF)

2

Karl-Anthony Towns(Min - C)

3

Anthony Davis(LAL - PF,C)

4

James Harden(Hou - PG,SG)

5

Russell Westbrook(Hou - PG)

6

Nikola Jokic(Den - PF,C)

7

Stephen Curry(GS - PG,SG)

8

Luka Doncic(Dal - PG)

9

Andre Drummond(Det - PF,C)

10

LeBron James(LAL - SF,PF)

11

Trae Young(Atl - PG)

12

Damian Lillard(Por - PG)

 

 

Round 2

 

1

Bradley Beal(Was - SG)

2

Jrue Holiday(NO - PG,SG)

3

Joel Embiid(Phi - PF,C)

4

Nikola Vucevic(Orl - PF,C)

5

Ben Simmons(Phi - PG)

6

Kawhi Leonard(LAC - SG,SF)

7

Devin Booker(Pho - PG,SG)

8

Deandre Ayton(Pho - C)

9

Zion Williamson(NO - PF)

10

Rudy Gobert(Uta - C)

11

Kyrie Irving(Bkn - PG,SG)

12

Kemba Walker(Bos - PG)

 

 

Round 3

 

1

De'Aaron Fox(Sac - PG)

2

Jimmy Butler(Mia - SG,SF)

3

Pascal Siakam(Tor - PF)

4

Donovan Mitchell(Uta - PG,SG)

5

DeMar DeRozan(SA - SG,SF)

6

Julius Randle(NY - PF,C)

7

John Collins(Atl - PF,C)

8

Myles Turner(Ind - PF,C)

9

D'Angelo Russell(GS - PG,SG)

10

Paul George(LAC - SF,PF)

11

LaMarcus Aldridge(SA - PF,C)

12

Clint Capela(Hou - PF,C)

 

Round 4

 

1

Tobias Harris(Phi - SF,PF)

2

Bam Adebayo(Mia - PF,C)

3

Terry Rozier(Cha - PG,SG)

4

Eric Bledsoe(Mil - PG,SG)

5

Zach LaVine(Chi - PG,SG)

6

Blake Griffin(Det - PF,C)

7

Ja Morant(Mem - PG)

8

Draymond Green(GS - PF,C)

9

Jaren Jackson Jr.(Mem - PF,C)

10

CJ McCollum(Por - PG,SG)

11

Jayson Tatum(Bos - SF,PF)

12

Khris Middleton(Mil - SG,SF)

 

 

Round 5

 

1

Mitchell Robinson(NY - C)

2

Lauri Markkanen(Chi - PF)

3

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander(OKC - PG,SG)

4

Hassan Whiteside(Por - C)

5

Buddy Hield(Sac - SG)

6

Jonas Valanciunas(Mem - C)

7

Marvin Bagley III(Sac - PF)

8

Kristaps Porzingis(Dal - PF,C)

9

Mike Conley(Uta - PG)

10

Derrick Favors(NO - PF,C)

11

Montrezl Harrell(LAC - PF,C)

12

Kelly Oubre Jr.(Pho - SF)

 

 

Round 6

 

1

Aaron Gordon(Orl - SF,PF)

2

Jamal Murray(Den - PG,SG)

3

Chris Paul(OKC - PG)

4

Caris LeVert(Bkn - SG,SF)

5

Wendell Carter Jr.(Chi - C)

6

Kyle Lowry(Tor - PG)

7

Danilo Gallinari(OKC - SF,PF)

8

Josh Richardson(Phi - SG,SF)

9

Otto Porter Jr.(Chi - SF,PF)

10

Dejounte Murray(SA - PG)

11

Al Horford(Phi - PF,C)

12

Domantas Sabonis(Ind - PF,C)

 

Round 7

 

1

Gordon Hayward(Bos - SG,SF)

2

Robert Covington(Min - SF,PF)

3

Steven Adams(OKC - C)

4

Jonathan Isaac(Orl - SF,PF)

5

Thomas Bryant(Was - C)

6

RJ Barrett(NY - SF)

7

Malcolm Brogdon(Ind - PG,SG)

8

Andrew Wiggins(Min - SG,SF)

9

Miles Bridges(Cha - SF)

10

Lonzo Ball(NO - PG)

11

Enes Kanter(Bos - C)

12

Brook Lopez(Mil - C)

 

 

Round 8

 

1

Jeremy Lamb(Ind - SG,SF)

2

Jeff Teague(Min - PG)

3

Kevin Love(Cle - PF,C)

4

Marc Gasol(Tor - C)

5

Delon Wright(Dal - PG,SG)

6

Ricky Rubio(Pho - PG)

7

Lou Williams(LAC - PG,SG)

8

T.J. Warren(Ind - SF,PF)

9

Fred VanVleet(Tor - PG)

10

Bojan Bogdanovic(Uta - SG,SF)

11

Dewayne Dedmon(Sac - C)

12

Brandon Ingram(NO - SG,SF)

 

 

Round 9

 

1

Collin Sexton(Cle - PG)

2

Joe Ingles(Uta - SG,SF)

3

Jarrett Allen(Bkn - PF,C)

4

DeAndre Jordan(Bkn - C)

5

Marcus Smart(Bos - PG,SG)

6

Kyle Kuzma(LAL - SF,PF)

7

Gary Harris(Den - SG,SF)

8

Harrison Barnes(Sac - SF,PF)

9

Justise Winslow(Mia - PF)

10

Derrick White(SA - PG,SG)

11

OG Anunoby(Tor - SF,PF)

12

Larry Nance Jr.(Cle - PF,C)

 

Round 10

 

1

Darius Garland(Cle - PG)

2

Bogdan Bogdanovic(Sac - SG,SF)

3

Kevon Looney(GS - PF,C)

4

Terrence Ross(Orl - SG,SF)

5

Dennis Smith Jr.(NY - PG,SG)

6

Serge Ibaka(Tor - PF,C)

7

Zach Collins(Por - PF,C)

8

Dwight Powell(Dal - PF,C)

9

Jaylen Brown(Bos - SG,SF)

10

Jerami Grant(Den - SF,PF)

11

Spencer Dinwiddie(Bkn - PG)

12

Tomas Satoransky(Chi - PG,SG)

 

 

Round 11

 

1

Will Barton(Den - SG,SF)

2

Alex Len(Atl - PF,C)

3

Patrick Beverley(LAC - PG,SG)

4

Dwayne Bacon(Cha - SG)

5

Danny Green(LAL - SG,SF)

6

Reggie Jackson(Det - PG,SG)

7

Evan Fournier(Orl - SG,SF)

8

Brandon Clarke(Mem - PF)

9

Taurean Prince(Bkn - SF)

10

Kevin Huerter(Atl - SG)

11

Rui Hachimura(Was - PF)

12

Victor Oladipo(Ind - PG,SG)

 

 

Round 12

 

1

Paul Millsap(Den - PF,C)

2

JJ Redick(NO - SG)

3

Markelle Fultz(Orl - PG,SG)

4

JaVale McGee(LAL - C)

5

De'Andre Hunter(Atl - SF)

6

Eric Gordon(Hou - SG)

7

Rajon Rondo(LAL - PG)

8

Dennis Schroder(OKC - PG)

9

Ish Smith(Was - PG)

10

Kent Bazemore(Por - SG,SF)

11

Goran Dragic(Mia - PG,SG)

12

Jakob Poeltl(SA - C)

Round 13

 

1

Nerlens Noel(OKC - PF,C)

2

Joe Harris(Bkn - SG,SF)

3

Thaddeus Young(Chi - SF,PF)

4

Bobby Portis(NY - PF,C)

5

Dwight Howard(LAL - PF,C)

6

Cam Reddish(Atl - PG)

7

Rudy Gay(SA - SF,PF)

8

Willie Cauley-Stein(GS - PF,C)

9

Landry Shamet(LAC - PG)

10

Malik Monk(Cha - SG)

11

Cedi Osman(Cle - SF,PF)

12

Jarrett Culver(Min - SF)

 

 

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