The NBA never stops, which means that fantasy basketball never stops. Yes, the formal season ended just over a week ago (and the season that really matters – the fantasy one – ended what seems like a decade ago); but the rumors haven’t stopped swirling, Twitter hasn’t cooled down, and now here comes the draft. We don’t take naps!
This is Fake Team’s mock for Thursday night, with a breakdown of the fantasy implications of each potential pick. Of course, once we know where guys are actually going, we’ll need to revisit this. Unless I somehow predict every single lottery pick correctly, which I wouldn’t rule out.
Either way, this should be a helpful “get to know the prospects” tool. Let’s get it.
1. Philadelphia 76ers - PG Markelle Fultz (Washington)
College stats: 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, 2.1 3PM, and 3.2 turnovers, shooting 48% from the field and 65% from the line
Fantasy analysis: I think the Celtics-Sixers swap worked out well for the consensus No. 1 overall pick. He fits in better with Philly given the load of talented guards already on Boston’s roster (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart). There are some legitimate concerns about pairing two ball-dominant guys in Simmons and Fultz, but I see the rookie thriving (fantasy wise) in this scenario. Playing alongside someone who demands attention and is a remarkable passer should lead to a lot more open three-pointers, and pick-and-rolls between the two should prompt more assists. My breakdown of Fultz’s fantasy potential in one word: dope. Process complete?
2. Los Angeles Lakers - PG Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
College stats: 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 2.2 3PM, and 2.5 turnovers, shooting 55% from the field and 67% from the line
Fantasy analysis: I actually agree with LaVar Ball – this is an excellent fit for Lonzo and future fantasy owners. D’Angelo Russell is heading to Brooklyn, so the road is paved for Ball to run the show immediately. The dude has incredible vision and the Lakers play with a ton of pace (6th in the league in pace factor – an estimate of possessions per 48 minutes – last season). Are we going to get a little showtime back?
3. Boston Celtics - F Jayson Tatum (Duke)
College stats: 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks, 1.4 3PM, and 2.6 turnovers, shooting 45% from the field and 85% from the line
Fantasy analysis: The Celtics already have last year’s No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder (not to mention they are poised to chase Gordon Hayward in free agency), but they could use another volume scorer to take some pressure off of IT4 and space the floor. That’s what Tatum was born to do: put the ball in the basket. He probably would not average as many points in Boston as he would in Phoenix, Sacramento, or Orlando, but expect better efficiency.
4. Phoenix Suns - F Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)
College stats: 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 3PM, and 1.5 turnovers, shooting 51% from the field and 78% from the line
Fantasy analysis: The Suns could use a resourceful forward like Isaac who can defend, grab boards, and knock down shots. Scoring wasn’t a big challenge for them in 2016-17, but they struggled mightily on the other end - somewhere Isaac can really help them. The 19-year-old would get burn right away in this situation, and projects to be a solid all-around contributor (points, rebounds, blocks, steals). I like the fit and the fantasy potential. Hook it up, Phoenix.
5. Sacramento Kings - PG De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)
College stats: 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.4 turnovers, shooting 48% from the field and 74% from the line
Fantasy analysis: Now we’re talking. With last year’s starter Darren Collison potentially gone in free agency, the opportunity could be immense for De’Aaron in Sacramento. You’re not going to get many three-pointers from the Kentucky stud, but with his absurd athleticism, expect Fox to give you a little bit of everything else; and as that shot develops, the point guard should blossom into a fantasy beast. I’m all in here.
6. Orlando Magic - F Josh Jackson (Kansas)
College stats: 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 3PM, and 2.8 turnovers, shooting 51% from the field and 57% from the line
Fantasy analysis: I like this landing spot for a promising fantasy player in Jackson. Orlando needs a small forward, so the Kansas product would probably start day 1. He’s raw offensively, but given the Magic were 27th in points per game in 2016-17, would probably be turned to for some scoring. The other stats would come with the opportunity, which should only build.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves - G Malik Monk (Kentucky)
College stats: 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.7 3PM, and 2.0 turnovers, shooting 45% from the field and 82% from the line
Fantasy analysis: Due to his advanced skill level, Monk should see the court no matter where he ends up. In terms of fantasy value, I imagine the former Kentucky Wildcat as one of those specialized players who can get you over the hump in categories like points and 3PM. The dude just gets buckets, plain and simple. Think Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Tim Hardaway Jr. With Zach LaVine slotted in as the starter, I wouldn’t expect Monk to receive big minutes if he winds up in Minnesota, but he should be able to produce when out there given the heightened attention paid to guys like Towns and Wiggins.
8. New York Knicks - PG Frank Ntilikina (Strasbourg/France)
College stats: 5.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.9 turnovers, shooting 49% from the field and 62% from the line
Fantasy analysis: Always tough to tell what sort of fantasy impact the international prospects will have. Kristaps Porzingis averaged only 11 points per game in his final season in Europe before taking the NBA by storm. I won’t pretend like I’ve seen Frank beyond the Youtube clips, but I do know that the Knicks need a guy capable of defending the plethora of juggernaut point guards in the league, and Ntilikina has that potential due to his length. That’s not necessarily valuable fantasy input, expect that it means the 18-year-old point guard could see some real playing time and therefore deliver in other categories.
9. Dallas Mavericks - PG Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State)
College stats: 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.7 3PM, and 3.4 turnovers, shooting 46% from the field and 72% from the line
Fantasy analysis: DSJ is an interesting fantasy prospect, and this is an interesting fit. The NC State point guard definitely appears NBA-ready, at least in terms of pure athleticism and scoring ability. There’s a good chance he would be handed the keys right away in Dallas, in which case I’d be excited to have him on my fantasy roster. His defense is the major question mark – but we’re fantasy owners, so we don’t really care!
10. Sacramento Kings - F OG Anunoby (Indiana)
College stats: 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 1.6 turnovers, shooting 56% from the field and 56% from the line
Fantasy analysis: OG could end up missing some of next season as he continues to rehab his right knee, which required surgery back in January. But Sacramento is a prime landing spot (never thought I’d say that) given the likely departure of Rudy Gay, their general lack of forwards, and the fact that they can afford to let Anunoby get healthy while rebuilding. There’s great fantasy potential in terms of versatility (has ability to contribute across a number of categories, offensive and defensive), so owners will have to monitor his playing time.
11. Charlotte Hornets - F Lauri Markkanen
College stats: 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.9 3PM, and 1.1 turnovers, shooting 49% from the field and 84% from the line
Fantasy analysis: Hard to see the Hornets passing up on Markkanen if he falls to 11. Surrounding Kemba with more shooters seems like a good formula. Lauri is another guy who should receive time in his rookie season, but is likely to be mostly a scoring specialist. For a seven-footer, his rebounding skills have to improve for him to be a really exciting fantasy player.
12. Detroit Pistons - G Luke Kennard (Duke)
College stats: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.4 3PM, and 1.6 turnovers, shooting 49% from the field and 86% from the line
Fantasy analysis: I think there’s a good chance current Pistons’ shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signs with another team this summer, which leaves a gap at the shooting guard position. Even if he doesn’t step into the starting role instantly, Kennard should get decent run in this situation. Here’s another guy who projects as a volume scorer, and could very well give you a boost in percentage categories and potentially in rebounds/assists.
13. Denver Nuggets - F Zach Collins (Gonzaga)
College stats: 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers, shooting 65% from the field and 74% from the line
Fantasy analysis: Collins should be a great role player at the next level, but it’s unclear how much opportunity he’ll get right away. Denver has some openings in the front court (they traded away Nurkic last season), but I wouldn’t expect Collins to be doing the heavy lifting early on. It’s certainly possible, nonetheless, that the big fella develops into a reasonable fantasy option in deeper leagues.
14. Miami Heat - F Justin Jackson (UNC)
College stats: 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.6 3PM, and 1.7 turnovers, shooting 44% from the field and 75% from the line
Fantasy analysis: With Justise Winslow returning from injury, Jackson probably wouldn’t play a huge role in Miami; but having spent three years at UNC, the multifaceted forward is definitely ready to contribute when called upon. The Heat sometimes struggled on the offensive end, so perhaps they would turn to Justin to provide a scoring boost (either with the starters or off the bench). He’s a guy that’s worth keeping an eye on, because the array of ways he can influence the game is intriguing from a fantasy perspective.