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Offseason Extra: Early mock team breakdown

by | Fantasy Writer
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The NBA offseason is short – especially when top-tier free agents have us gobbling up every rumor and report well into July. LeBron James made another decision. Carmelo Anthony stayed put. Chandler Parsons got paid. Pau Gasol switched conferences. Free agency was a whirlwind of speculation. But now the dust has pretty much settled and the period between now and when the season tips off feels like an eternity.

Luckily, Zack Rewis of thefantasyfix.com invited me to an offseason mock draft -- a 12-team Rotisserie affair with Fantasy Basketball analysts from across the interwebs. I leapt at the chance to cure my early August boredom, and here's how it all went down for my team.

Rules: 12 teams, 15 rounds, eight categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three pointers made.

Positions: PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G(2), F(2), Util.(2), Bench(4)

Round 1: James Harden, SG, Rockets -- No. 5 overall

Who went before him: Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Stephen Curry
Who I passed up: Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Serge Ibaka

A couple of factors went into this decision. First, the structure of the draft dictated we fill out specific positions, and there might not be a more shallow spot than shooting guard. When you boil it down, Harden is the only sure-fire stud at the position. He finished last season ranked fifth in points per game, 14th in assists per game 15th in 3-pointers made and 10th in free-throw percentage. And for all the grief he gets for his lazy defense, he still finished with more total steals than Mike Conley in the same number of games -- good for 17th in the league.

Second, Chandler Parsons left Houston and took his 13.3 field goal attempts and 4.0 assists per game with him. Trevor Ariza will get some of those shots, but he's much less of a playmaker and much more of a spot-up shooter/defender. The Rockets also traded Jeremy Lin, meaning Harden will most likely be the only creator on the roster. LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade are the only players since Michael Jordan in 1989 to average at least 25 points, four rebounds and seven assists per game for a whole season. Given the Rockets' lack of options and their top-five pace from last year, that ridiculous line seems attainable for Harden this season.

Round 2: Dwight Howard, C, Rockets -- No. 20 overall

Who went before him: DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Al Jefferson
Who I passed up: Chris Bosh, Kyle Lowry, Andre Dummond, Kyrie Irving

I was very close to taking Chris Bosh with this pick, but I felt Howard had fallen too far for me to pass him up. Obviously the seven people who picked before me in this round didn't want his poor free-throw shooting dragging down their percentages, but if you want to compete in blocks, rebounds and field-goal percentage, chances are you're going to draft at least one bad free-throw shooter to do so. In my mind, his 59 percent from the field (third in the league), 1.8 blocks per game (seventh) and 12.2 rebounds per game (fourth), outweighed his 54.7 percent from the charity stripe (fifth worst). During Houston's six-game stint in the playoffs, Howard was undoubtedly the best player on the floor, averaging 26.0 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. I'm expecting coach Kevin McHale to try and awaken Howard a bit earlier on this year with the hopes that his team has a more organized game plan once things slow down in the playoffs.

These first two picks basically set the tone for the rest of my draft. I began to devalue efficiency in an effort to dominate the volume stats. The fact that this format excluded the turnover category helped make my decision easier. There likely won't be another duo in the NBA with a greater workload than Howard and Harden this season, as the rest of their roster is comprised of specialists with glaring limitations.

Round 3: Ty Lawson, PG, Nuggets -- No. 29 overall

Who went before him: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki
Who I passed up: Paul Millsap, Mike Conley, Kemba Walker, Marc Gasol

Point guard is easily the deepest position in Fantasy. Lawson dealt with injury issues last season, missing 20 games on the year, but his averages indicate he's still among the league's best. He averaged more assists than Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry (8.8), more points per game than Tony Parker and Mike Conley (17.7) and more steals per game than Patrick Beverley and Kyle Lowry (1.6). Basically he's a well-rounded point guard with high assist potential. On a per game basis, here's what separated John Wall from Ty Lawson last season: 1.7 points, 0.2 steals, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks. That's it. Their assist, free throw, three pointer and field goal rate were nearly identical, and Wall went 19 spots ahead of him in this draft. I'd say that's pretty good value for Lawson.

Round 4: Chandler Parsons, SF, Mavericks -- No. 44 overall

Who went before him: Trevor Ariza, DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Bradley Beal
Who I passed up: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jeff Teague, Brook Lopez

Like shooting guard, small forward is another top-heavy position, that's why I couldn't wait any longer to snag an up-and-comer. Parsons has improved in each of his first three years in the league, and considering what the Mavericks just paid him this offseason, he'll likely play an even larger role in Dallas. I envision Parsons playing a lot of point forward for the Mavs, meaning there's room for his steadily increasing assist rate to keep climbing. His career free throw percentage isn't great (70.5 percent), but he's very efficient from the field. Last season, other than LeBron James and Kevin Durant, Parsons boasted the best field goal rate of any small forward averaging 16-plus points per game. I can see him putting up Nicolas Batum-type numbers as a more equally valued member of his new Texas team. Plus, with Shawn Marion and Vince Carter out of the picture, his only competition for playing time will be Jae Crowder and Richard Jefferson. I was very comfortable with this pick because there were plenty of talented power forwards still on the board, so I knew I could easily fill that position nine picks later.

Round 5: Greg Monroe, PF/C, Pistons -- No. 53 overall

Who went before him: Victor Oladipo, Isaiah Thomas, Jabari Parker, Nikola Vucevic
Who I passed up: Klay Thompson, Thaddeus Young, Rudy Gay, David West

Here's where the decisions started to get much harder. I still needed a power forward, but the ultimate three-point specialist in Thompson was still out there -- not to mention categorical Swiss army knife Thaddeus Young. I thought long and hard about drafting each of these guys, but I felt it was still too early for a one-trick pony like Thompson or a guy who seemed destined to leave the warm Fantasy confines of Philadelphia. Therefore, I went with the most upside at my position of need. Greg Monroe's future is just as uncertain as Young's, but his double-double potential combined with his youth made this choice a bit easier in the end. As of the posting of this column, Monroe still has not signed with a team in restricted free agency, but something's got to give in Detroit. A trade that clears space on the Pistons or moves Monroe to another team would do wonders to his value. And even in the bloated Detroit frontcourt, Monroe was still fairly productive. I planned to take a safer power forward with one of my next picks to hedge my bet.

Round 6: Brandon Jennings, PG, Pistons -- No. 68 overall

Who went before him: Deron Williams, Lance Stephenson, Michael Carter-Williams, DeAndre Jordan
Who I passed up: Nerlens Noel, Jonas Valanciunas, Andrew Wiggins, Giannis Antetokounmpo

This is probably where I went all-in on my high-usage, low-efficiency approach. It seemed I wasn't as tied to targeting specific guys as the rest of the owners were, so my strategy basically became seeing which volume stat guy fell into my lap. My Jennings pick exemplified this perfectly. It's not often that 15.5 points, 7.6 assists, 1.9 made threes and 1.3 steals per game remains an option in the sixth round, which is what Jennings put up on a nightly basis for 80 games last season. His horrendous 37.3 percent from the field is what probably saw him fall so far, but considering turnovers don't count against me here, it seemed like a small price to pay for volume stats. Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio shot just slightly better from the field, but are nonexistent in the 3-pointers category. If you can look past his inefficiency, Jennings is a steal here.

Round 7: Tim Duncan, PF/C, Spurs -- No. 77 overall

Who went before him: Markieff Morris, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Jose Calderon
Who I passed up: Dwyane Wade, Wesley Matthews, Marcin Gortat, Terrence Jones

Whenever I attempt to type Duncan's name into a story, I always write "Time Duncan" on first pass. This is the most appropriate misspelling of any athlete's name because, like time, Duncan is a constant -- an unchangeable law of basketball physics. An efficient double-double and two blocks per game in the seventh round? Sign me up. Sure, he's 900 years old and the Spurs are so hard to count on for Fantasy, but the best power forward of all time looked like he could do this for another 10 years the way he easily navigated 74 games last season. I seriously considered gambling on a Dwyane Wade renaissance or grabbing a three-point specialist in Matthews, but Duncan's impressive resume was too much to pass up here. Time Duncan is the exception to my "don't draft any Spurs" rule.

Round 8: Joe Johnson, SF/SG, Nets -- No. 92 overall

Who went before him: Jodie Meeks, Brandon Knight, Kyle Korver, Tyreke Evans
Who I passed up: Darren Collison, Zach Randolph, DeMarre Carroll, J.J. Redick

Sticking with my "pass on specialists" game plan, the next best value on the board by my estimation was Joe Johnson. He sank threes at the same clip as Jodie Meeks and J.J Redick last season, and this year there will be more to go around with Paul Pierce out of the picture. Plus, he'll be the sole beneficiary of any missed time by his injury-prone teammates Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. He's not especially great at anything other than scoring, but Johnson's a career 80 percent from the line and has the ability to go off on occasion. Plus, I like his job security in Brooklyn. Looking back, maybe Redick would have been a better pick here, but in the end the Nets will need Johnson much more than the Clippers need Redick. I stayed the course with my approach of taking reliable high-usage players.

Round 9: Arron Afflalo, SG/SF, Nuggets -- No. 101 overall

Who went before him: J.J. Redick, Trey Burke, Andrew Bogut, Jordan Hill
Who I passed up: Josh McRoberts, Jamal Crawford, Carlos Boozer, Elfrid Payton

I had been targeting McBob to start the draft, but at this point I was pretty comfortable with my assists. So the Afflalo pick is a lot like the Johnson pick -- just an OK all-around player at a good price. His role might change a bit in Denver, but the career-high 3.5 assists he averaged last season show that maybe he's becoming more well-rounded. Before Victor Oladipo started getting heavy developmental minutes, Afflalo averaged 20.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with 2.0 made threes a contest through his first 35 games. It's unlikely he gets back to that line in Denver, but the upside is there with minimal risk if you ask me.

Round 10: Channing Frye, PF, Magic -- No. 116 overall

Who went before him: John Henson, Jeremy Lin, CJ Miles, Julius Randle
Who I passed up: Taj Gibson, Gerald Green, Dion Waiters, Jared Sullinger

The Magic are overstocked with forwards, so this one does have some risk, but none of those middle men can shoot. In fact, nobody other than Ben Gordon or Luke Ridnour can shoot on their whole roster. Orlando gave Frye a boatload of money, so it seems to me they plan to play him pretty heavily with the hope that the spacing he provides will clear driving lanes for their young athletes. He appeared in all 82 games last season for Phoenix and more than two threes in 28 minutes per game. Plus, he's an 81.5 percent free throw shooter on his career and picks up a block per game. Tenth round seems like a good time to splurge on the very rare center-eligible shooting specialist.

Rounds 11-13: Andre Iguodala, Anderson Varejao and Nene

I'll lump these three together because they're all notorious injury risks at this point in their careers. Before his hamstring injury last season, Iguodala was exactly what you want in a Roto player: 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.8 made threes per game on 55 percent from the field. But that 13-game stretch became a distant memory. As the season was winding down, his numbers plummeted. Still, the talent is there, so I thought I was safe enough with the rest of my picks to start gambling.

Next roll of the dice was the guy LeBron James insisted remain on the Cavs roster. Anderson Varejao is an efficient rebounding specialist, with sneaky steal and assist potential -- when he's healthy. And that "when" has been "not very often." A 65-game campaign last season was his healthiest in three years, so hopefully he can stay on the court for a good portion of the coming year.

And my third infirmary regular, Nene, was a flier for his steals and fluctuating free throw rate. The Wizards got some help at power forward this season, but Nene's got to be better than Samuel Dalembert and Timofey Mozgov -- the other big men on the board at that point.

Rounds 14-15: Marcus Smart and Nik Stauskas

Since all the trendy young dudes went early, I decided it was my turn to finally draft some upside. I'll be honest, I was shocked to see these two sitting there in the final two rounds of the draft. Marcus Smart is one Rondo trade away from being a nightly stat stuffer, and Nik Stauskas has one of the easiest paths to playing time of any rookie in this year's draft.

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Player News
Hawks guard Jeff Teague scores 30 points in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Hawks guard Jeff Teague scored 30 points on 9 of 23 shooting from the field, including 3 of 8 from 3-point range, in Atlanta's 114-111 loss to the Cavaliers in overtime in Game 3.

Teague also dished out seven assists and pulled down six rebounds in the contest. His 30 points was a playoff career-high for Teague, who was a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line. He and the Hawks will look to stave off elimination on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.


Cavaliers' LeBron James posts highest triple-double in playoff history
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers forward LeBron James scored 37 points on 14 of 37 shooting from the field, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range in Cleveland's 114-111 win over the Hawks in overtime in Game 3.

James also pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out 13 assists, recording his first triple-double in the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season. James is also recorded the highest totals for a triple-double in NBA playoff history with his performance. It was his 12th career triple-double.

James, who was noticeably banged up throughout the game, said after there was no chance at all of him missing Game 4. He and the Cavaliers will look to advance to the NBA Finals in Game 4 on Tuesday. 


Hawks F Al Horford ejected after Flagrant 2 foul
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(5/24/2015) Hawks forward Al Horford was ejected in the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday after committing a Flagrant 2 foul against the Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova

Horford, who was leading the Hawks with 14 points and four rebounds, was entangled with Dellavedova when he delivered an elbow to the Cleveland guard's head with 34.3 seconds remaining in the half. 

After the officials reviewed the foul, with Cleveland fans chanting Dellavedova's name, they decided to assess a Flagrant 2 to Horford, which results in an automatic ejection, and a technical foul to Dellavedova. 

A Flagrant 2 foul also warrants a one-game suspension, which could be huge for a Hawks team on the ropes and without guard Kyle Korver. 


Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving officially out for Game 3
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will not play in Game 3 against the Hawks on Sunday, the team announced.

Irving was considered a game-time decision for the contest while battling a foot injury. He was able to go through a pregame warm up and was hoping to give it a go. Irving also missed Game 2 because of the injury and is averaging 18.9 points and 3.6 assists per game in the playoffs this season.

The Cavaliers are currently 9-point favorites against Atlanta on Sunday.


Report: Cavs G Kyrie Irving not expected to play in Game 3
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is unlikely to suit up for Sunday night's Game 3 matchup against the Hawks. 

According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, Irving has been working out prior to the game but is not expected to play. Irving has a knee injury that has sidelined him. 

With the Cavaliers up 2-0 over the Hawks, Irving could very well sit as a precaution. Matthew Delavedova has played well of late in Irving's absence, which gives the Cavs the option of being careful with their star point guard. 


Hawks F DeMarre Carroll: Basketball is 'bigger than money'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll is expected to play again in Game 3 against the Cavs despite having a severely sprained knee that isn't close to 100 percent. 

Carroll is hitting the free-agent market after this season and could be in line for a big contract. However, if he re-injures the knee, Carroll could see his pricetag drop this offseason. 

However, given that the Hawks are in the Eastern Conference finals, Carroll would rather fight the pain and go for a championship than worry about his contract championship. 

“I’ve been getting a million calls and emails about me, why am I there, this might be the biggest contract of my life," Carroll said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jeff Schultz. "But at the end of the day this game isn’t promised to you. So whenever you’ve got an opportunity to play basketball, a lot of people say it’s bigger than money and it feels like that to me. I cherish this game and I want to be out there fighting, and if I have to fight on one leg, I’m gonna fight on one leg. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by. Eastern Conference finals, playing against LeBron James. I don’t care if I have to do it on one leg, I’ll hobble out there.”

The Hawks trail the Cavs in the series 0-2. 


Warriors PF Marreese Speights (calf) out for Game 4
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/24/2015) Warriors power forward Marreese Speights will not play in Game 4 against the Rockets. 

Speights has been dealing with a moderate right calf strain, which has affected the rotation some. But it hasn't been too big of a deal because the Warriors lead the Rockets 3-0 in the series. 

Speights hasn't played since Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. 


Rockets center Dwight Howard doubles up Warriors in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Rockets center Dwight Howard scored 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and pulled down 14 rebounds in Houston's 115-80 loss to the Warriors on Saturday.

It was Howard's 11th double-double in the playoffs this season and fifth in his last six games. Howard is averaging 16.4 points and 14 rebounds per game in the postseason. He and the Rockets will look to stave off elimination on Monday in Houston.


Warriors point guard Stephen Curry scores 40 points in blowout win
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Warriors point guard Stephen Curry scored 40 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field, including a blistering 7 of 9 from 3-point range, in Golden State's 115-80 win over the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

It was the second time this postseason Curry has scored at least 40 points and is averaging 29.9 points per game. Curry also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds in the game. Curry and the Warriors will look to close out the series and advance to the NBA Finals on Monday in Houston.


Rockets C Dwight Howard (knee) starting in Game 3
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5/23/2015) Rockets forward Dwight Howard is listed as a starter for Saturday's Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Howard was able to play in Game 2 on Thursday, but was listed as probable due to a nagging knee injury heading into action on Saturday.


 
 
 
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