When building your roster in a Rotisserie or categories league for Fantasy Basketball, it's all about sacrifices. And, based on where you pick in the draft, sometimes those sacrifices are made for you. That's what happened when I picked fourth in our most recent mock draft before the start of the 2019-20 season.
With Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis off the board with the first three picks in our Roto draft, I knew I would have to sacrifice something. If I took Karl-Anthony Towns, I knew I could get huge efficiency, decent defense and rebounding, and even some 3-pointers from the center spot, but I would have to sacrifice assists; if I went with Nikola Jokic, I could get elite rebounding and assists, but I would be locking in a center who doesn't block shots, meaning I would need to use a flex spot on a specialist, more than likely.
So, I decided to sacrifice shooting by snagging Giannis Antetokounmpo with the fourth overall pick. Last season, Antetokounmpo was an elite scorer and rebounder, who contributed 5.9 assists and 2.8 combined blocks and steals per game and shot 57.8% from the field. He was a six-category stud, but you had to live with the fewest 3-pointers per game of any top-15 finisher as well as a mediocre rate at the free-throw line. There's no such thing as a perfect player, but Giannis is such a dominant force in the counting stats department — and has never missed more than 10 games in a season — that it's worth the tradeoff.
But I didn't make a priority out of making up for his deficiencies immediately; instead, I decided to steer into the curve with this one. With my next pick, I took Ben Simmons, the 76ers do-it-all-except-shoot point forward. Simmons was a bit of a disappointment — and maybe a bit of a reach in this format — last season, averaging 17.8-8.8-8.7 with 2.4 combined blocks and steals but serving as a huge detriment in free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting.
I followed that up with Rudy Gobert, who probably goes a bit underrated at this point in Fantasy, but who certainly doesn't help my free-throw shooting woes. I was in a huge hole in free-throw percentage and 3-pointers made, however I had also built a core that could immediately compete in both assists and blocks — a rare combination — with elite field-goal percentage, giving me more leeway to target shooters, even one-dimensional ones, a bit later.
I went about going after shooting with my next three picks, ending up with Buddy Hield (45th overall), Kevin Love (52nd), and Joe Ingles (69th), and while I was thrilled with the first two, the Ingles pick wasn't my favorite. I almost certainly could have waited to take him and targeted either Brook Lopez (a sneaky top-40 player last season who would have helped my shooting immensely while adding even more blocks) or a younger, higher-upside play like Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Barrett, or Marvin Bagley III. Ingles could be looking at a reduced role with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, though I remain attracted by his durability (82 games in three straight seasons), shooting (2.3 3-pointers per game) and playmaking (5.7 assists).
From that point on, you're trying to balance upside with filling team needs, and my next two picks certainly leaned in the former direction, as I targeted Lonzo Ball and Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland. Ball needs to stay healthy, but the move to New Orleans could be huge for his value; the Pelicans are playing at an incredibly high pace, and Ball should thrive playing quarterback in the transition game. His shooting efficiency remains a big question, but he could be looking at a breakout season for the rebuilt Pelicans.
Garland is a huge wild card but is one of my favorites to target in the middle rounds. He played just five games at Vanderbilt before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but should see immediate action in Cleveland's backcourt, and could be an ideal point guard for the modern NBA. The fit next to last year's No. 8 overall pick Collin Sexton could be a bit awkward — they haven't played much in the preseason together — but I think Garland is the better player and prospect and could be the future of the franchise. That this isn't a league where you are penalized for turnovers only makes him more attractive.
Ultimately, I was able to take some risks in the middle rounds because I had locked in a well-balanced lineup early, though I could be heavily dependent on Kevin Love staying healthy, given how important his shooting could be. Still, there's upside here, and if Antetokounmpo or Simmons add even a little bit to their game behind the arc, this could be a scary squad.
This was an eight-category Rotisserie mock, with points, assists, total rebounds, blocks, steals, free-throw percentage, 3-pointers made, and field-goal percentage. Rosters were PG-SG-SF-PF-C-F-G-FLEX-FLEX-FLEX with four bench spots, and 12 teams participated.
Here is who I was drafting with:
- Joe Polito, CBS Sports
- Aaron Bruski, Hoop-Ball.com
- Mike Catron, Watching The Boxes Podcast
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy
- Alex Barutha, RotoWire
- Chris Welsh, In This League Podcast
- Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
- Greg Ehrenberg, Basketball Monster
- Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld
- Steve Alexander, Rotoworld
- Nick Whalen, RotoWire
- Stan Son, Razzball