Part One – The Top Seven
With the Lottery now squared away, NBA Draft season is upon us, and we have the fever! Redraft Hero is here to provide you with an early breakdown of the top 14 picks in this year’s NBA Draft and what DFS players can expect from a fantasy perspective. Leveraging this information for early season DFS lineups and season long fantasy basketball formats is highly recommended. You can thank us later.
Being that Redraft Hero is a Minnesota-based site and is comprised of contributors who are lifelong Wolves fans, it’s needless to say we were pretty giddy about this one. Towns is a perfect fit for this roster and should see huge minutes from the jump off. DFS fanatics could easily argue that Jahlil Okafor would be a better fit for the young Wolves for fantasy purposes, as Okafor provides a more refined set of scoring skills than Towns at this point in their careers. That may be true, but the fact that Towns will be the first true rim protector to don a Minnesota jersey in over a decade, tells us that Coach Flip Saunders is going to give him plenty of run. Pairing Towns high minutes with his ability to block shots and rebound for a team that desperately needs both, he could be a very solid early season option at the center position. Towns is more skilled on the offensive end than many fans are aware of, and he can already shoot the ball at an efficient clip which is a rare skill for a 19 year old big man. This mid-range shooting prowess and natural ability to finish Ricky Rubio lob passes, has us giving DFS readers the green light on Towns. Finding value at center is always key when constructing daily lineups and Towns has all the makings to provide players with some high returns early on.
Coming off a rough 2014-2015 campaign, the Lakers struck gold by not only retaining their top 5 protected lottery pick (had the pick fell to 6 or lower, Sam Hinkie would have been Harlem shaking all across Philadelphia last Tuesday) but also moving up to grab the number 2 overall pick. Mitch Kupchak and the Buss Brass will likely select whatever big man Minnesota decides to pass on, and in our mock, that’s Jahlil Okafor. Okafor has a soft touch around the basket and a solid face-up game that will translate nicely to the NBA. Okafor is not as fundamentally sound as say Jabari Parker was last year when Milwaukee drafted him in this same spot, but he’s very solid, and should contribute for a lowly Laker right away.
There are plenty of scenarios where this pick could change. The Lakers are always a highly attractive free agent destination and with low post names such as Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, and Paul Millsap available for hire this summer, the Lakers could go guard with this pick (say D’Angelo Russell) and bank on landing a veteran star in free agency. We’re not GM’s and the draft is a little under a month away so we’ll steer clear of free agency speculation for now. If Okafor does land in LA, he would be joining a team that could look completely different come opening night. Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, and Tarik Black are the only front court players on the Lakers roster who have guaranteed contracts for next season (Ed Davis has a player option, and LA has a team option for both Bob Sacre and Jordan Hill). Depending on how things play out when free agency opens, Okafor could be in for some huge minutes. Coach Byron Scott obviously wants a player that can come in and contribute immediately, and Okafor definitely satisfies that desire. It will be interesting to see how Okafor’s defense (or lack thereof) and rebounding translate to the pro game, but the big man from Duke is poised to make an early impact.
Philly needs a lot. At times last season, the Sixers resembled a highly talented YMCA squad compromised of D-Leaguers on cheap 1 year deals. Sure there were bright spots in the form of Robert Covington heat-checks and Nerlens Noel going into BEAST MODE (has Marshawn trademarked this phrase yet?). Additionally, some less obvious bright spots for Philly was shown when looking at their LEAGUE LEADING! points per game off drives to the basket. The Sixers were also second in the league, only trailing the Spurs, for Distance Traveled per 48 minutes. These numbers tell us that Philadelphia wants to run a lot, and drive to the rim. They have drafted big men the last two years who are capable of playing at a high pace in Nerlens Noel and the Twitter MVP Joel Embiid (if you haven’t checked out Embiid’s Twitter account, do yourself a favor and take a look here). What’s missing is a Point Guard who can make plays and shoot at a respectable clip to spread the floor and provide better spacing to an offense that has looked quite congested the past two seasons.
D’Angelo Russell is our early pick for NBA Rookie of the year if he lands in the city of brotherly love. Russell would play very heavy minutes and have the opportunity to lead the young Sixers from the Point Guard position. This could very well be the reincarnation of the Damian Lillard rookie campaign. While Russell is not as skilled as Lillard was coming out of Weber State in running the pick and roll offense (Lillard was the most advanced pick and roll rookie point guard in quite some time), his natural ability to score from anywhere on the floor will be exemplified from day 1 in the NBA. Russell is a player we are targeting in all season long fantasy basketball leagues as well as early season DFS lineups. This is a match made in heaven for fantasy purposes.
Triangle alert! With a pitiful roster and Phil Jackson running the front office, the Knicks will be a very active organization this summer. At this point, the strategy and execution of how the Knicks will address their many needs are unknown. What we DO know, is that they plan to run the triangle offense. Jackson has been very public (see his recent tweets for more detail) with his distaste for the current three point-centric play many NBA offenses are using. Jackson sees this strategy as a trend, and has shared his belief in the triangle offense and his continued commitment to that offensive approach. We have no opinion on this belief, the dude is the Zen Master and has the rings to back any strategy he chooses, but this information is useful for predicting the Knicks draft approach.
With Carmelo Anthony “injured” for the vast majority of the games after last season’s all-star break, New York was not able to run the pure triangle-based offense they wished to. As a result, the Knicks ran a variation of the triangle that resulted in a Team Field Goal Percentage that was third worst in the league. The Knicks commitment to a half-court, triangle-centric offense is further displayed considering New York played at the third slowest pace in the league trailing only Miami and Utah.
With the two bigs that the Knicks likely desired most already off the board at pick 4, New York will likely turn to the young Emmanuel Mudiay to lead their team into the future. Jose Calderon is the only Point Guard on New York’s roster with a guaranteed contract for next season (they have a team option for Langston Galloway, and a qualifying offer for Alexi Shved) so Mudiay would have plenty of opportunity for heavy minutes early on next season. Mudiay is a playmaker, with elite physical tools and a high basketball IQ. Translating his play from the Chinese league Mudiay was in last season to the NBA is a difficult task, but the fact that Dante Exum was drafted 5th overall to Utah last season with the same ambiguity bodes well for Mudiay’s chances of landing in the top 4 of this year’s draft.
The triangle offense can be cumbersome for young players to learn, so Mudiay’s early season DFS value will depend on his ability to adapt to the system and effectively lead the Knicks offense. If the young Texas-born product is able to do this and impress both Jackson and Coach Derek Fisher, he could provide DFS players with high returns. His shooting is a question mark at this point, but Mudiay should be able to attack the rim right away which should result in easy points and healthy assist totals. His length could potentially provide DFS players with solid rebounding and steals totals. Be sure to follow summer league and the pre-season to see how the Lakers utilize him, but if Mudiay land in the Big Apple, we’re buying.
GM Rob Hennigan is a Sam Presti-product after working under him for 4 years in OKC before Hennigan landed the GM gig in Orlando. We know Presti is a fan of the best player available draft strategy (see Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, etc.) and being a Presti disciple, Hennigan has followed suit in Orlando. Hennigan went with Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, despite having Aaron Afflalo under contract as the Magic’s shooting guard at that time. Hennigan went with Aaron Gordon at the 4 spot in last year’s draft and obtained Elfrid Payton in a draft-day trade with Philly. This track record tells us that Hennigan tends to target highly athletic players who were solid contributors in college that possess a very high ceiling and a commitment to defense.
Justise Winslow is a prime example of what we consider a “Hennigan guy”. He is ultra-athletic, plays stingy on and off ball defense, and he has the frame and skill set to grow into a major contributor in the NBA. However, his streaky shooting and inability to create his own shot has us taking a wait-and-see approach with Winslow. He is likely to provide solid rebounding for his position and a steady number of steals, but Justise is a player to pass on for DFS and fantasy basketball purposes until proven otherwise.
After another rough season in Sac-Town, the Kings are in total win now mode. They entered last year with a similar approach but faltered miserably after a promising start. The Nick Stauskas project seems to be a work in progress, and we’re doubtful that becomes a success story being that Ben McLemore plays the same position and is a more polished player at this point (and that’s saying something). This further increases the need to get this pick right and maybe take a safer approach with this year’s pick.
It may seem odd, but Cauley-Stein is very good fit for this team. DeMarcus Cousins does not get enough credit for his improved effort on the defensive end and picking Cauley-Stein here would rid Cousins of the burden to anchor the defense. Another plus is Cousins would free up even more energy for rebounding and adding to his already dominant presence on the offensive end of the court. WCS will provide the Kings with immediate aid on the defensive interior. Even with Cousins surprisingly stingy on ball post defense, the Kings are in desperate need of a shot blocker (they ranked 3rd worst in blocks per game as a team last season). For DFS purposes, Cauley-Stein is not a player to target early on in the season. He is very raw on offense, and looks like a poor man’s DeAndre Jordan on that side of the ball at this point in his career. He should be a solid rebounder, but we are waiting to see what the Kings roster and rotation looks like in the opening weeks of the season before playing WCS in any daily leagues.
After a quick YouTube binge, we are starting to buy into the Hezonja hype a bit. The tape says he’s a versatile wing who can shoot and create off the dribble. Predicting how or if this will translate to the NBA where Hezonja will face some of the most skilled athletes on earth, remains to be seen. At first glance, drafting Hezonja would essentially be writing off the Gary Harris pick from last season, but the Nuggets love loading up at the wing so it could work in spurts. When it comes to DFS, Hezonja is a guy to pass on. With Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, Harris and Will Barton all set to return next season, there are too many bodies and not enough minutes to go around to support Hezonja’s DFS case. Considering the overpopulation at wing, the Nuggets could absolutely take Kristaps Porzingis here, which may be a better fit and could provide some DFS value right away, but for now, Mario is the pick.
Check out our part two of our NBA Mock Draft here.
Created By: Forge
You need to login to comment on this post. Click here to login.