October 20, 2021, 5:21 pm
As is tradition for just about everyone in the run up to the year, we decided to do a mock draft in the only way we know how: dynasty style. We gathered people from all over the fantasy basketball landscape, some of whom had never done a dynasty startup before, and jumped right in. The best part about this mock draft was that it covered almost all of the principles from my previous Draft Guide Dynasty piece, and I will be sure to outline them as we go along.
Not only that, but this was also discussed in detail on Punt Intended across two episodes! Check that out if you haven’t already, combining those podcasts with this will be a great way to better understand how to attack these dynasty startups, and our HoopBall Dynasty Rankings are a great way to see why we value some players the way we do. Without further ado…
Round 1 started how it usually does for the first five picks. While it is tough to complain when you get a top-4 pick, I was really bummed I didn’t get to try a different build after KAT went 3. I was tempted to take Tatum at 4 but stuck with the rankings and went back to the ol’ punt 3/FT, which is all but mandatory with Giannis. Zion and Beal going at their respective spots was a bit of a surprise, as the top-8 seems pretty concrete to me, but it allowed Travis and Will to get what I consider to be value picks in the first round. Harden falling to 12 was also a bit of a surprise, but his relative age and role in Brooklyn were factors there.
You’ll notice that there is a trend in the first two rounds: anyone that went young stayed pretty young, while those that took the more seasoned players stayed in that lane as well. Jackie did the right thing and doubled down on the win-now, taking Dame 13th. Matt Lawson stayed ultra young, but that is about where Cade goes in most drafts. Travis even passed on pairing Steph with Trae to take Fox and stay young and….I don’t hate it. Anthony Davis sliding to 16 may be a reflection of how far down people are on him after last year, but the timeline of the teams that passed on him played a role too.
Speaking of people being down on a player, I most certainly raised some eyebrows when I took Simmons at 21, but there is logic to it. I talk constantly about how crucial it is in a punt 3/FT to get high-FG% guards that can boost assists/steals. My primary target was gone in Fox, but Simmons does what I need to an elite degree while also bringing in great rebounds for a guard. Last and certainly not least, the guy that took Luka first is at the 24/25 turn and should absolutely be taking Simmons with one of those two picks to create a lethal start. At only 25 years old and hopefully on the way to a better situation, I’ll gladly go against my standard advice in most cases and risk a value loss for the perfect fit that still has upside.
Round 3 started off a little funky with PG-13 going much earlier than expected, especially passing on younger players like Ingram or Brown, but Shammdog had an explanation: At what point do we overrate young players that we hope can end up inside the top-25 at the expense of older guys that have been and should continue to be at that level for another couple years?
The answer to that isn’t ever going to be clear-cut, and my personal philosophy of “you can always get older” is a big part of how I draft early in these startups, but props to him for having his own plan and sticking to it. Having already drafted Jokic and LaVine, that’s a great start to a win-now team with some flexibility at the top if he decides to change directions either way.
This stretch of the draft was a little weird for me when trying to stay relatively young. Ja seemed early for me to take at 28 even though I knew he wouldn’t be there on the way back, while guys like FVV, Ingram or Edwards weren’t great fits with various drawbacks. I ended up with Ayton after Brown was sniped one pick before me, but I didn’t love it even though he is a good fit.
Full disclosure: I love Dejounte Murray, and am higher on him than most people out there. Especially because somehow I always end up building a punt 3/FT team, which he is great for, but this seemed a little early. There is the justification of Dejounte definitely not getting back to him, especially with “know your league” factored in because I was looming a couple picks later.
I thought I was going to have a tough choice between Gobert or Jimmy at 45, but that choice got made for me. Once again assists and steals with high FG% was a priority for me, especially because I wasn’t excited about any of the other players in this area relative to the value of getting a consistent top-15 player in Jimmy.
Timelord going on the turn makes sense, no chance he gets back. Travis had a value pick with Siakam which gives him a great fit at PF/C in his punt-FG, something that always matters. Jalen Green going 51 is actually later than what I’ve seen in most mocks, so keep that in mind if you want him in your draft.
Kevin Porter Jr. going 54 is the highest I’ve seen him go in 10-plus mock and real dynasty drafts, and I would strongly recommend against taking him in the 60s in a 12-team league, let alone the 50s. His fantasy game is still lacking, and there just isn’t value here when he typically goes 20 to 40 spots after this.
This is where my draft took a turn. I could (and probably should) have taken Capela and stayed relatively in the middle of the age bracket, but decided to get one of my favorite players in Jrue to solidify myself as a contending team immediately.
Draymond going 61 was earlier than most, but with a contending roster on the turn I thought it was a great pick. Matt taking Kawhi was a great value when he doesn’t care about being good and can easily flip him later when contending teams need a boost.
Sexton at 67 is not something I would have done, again because of a less-than-friendly fantasy game despite scoring a lot. His best fantasy finish came last year when he was 101st in 9-cat playing 35.3 minutes per game with a top-20 usage, and both of those are much higher than what we should expect moving forward.
I was ecstatic to get Richaun Holmes at 69, especially with my relative lack of big men compared to how this build usually goes. I’m not sure if this came after he came off the bench behind Tristan Thompson, but there’s no way a competent head coach would continue to… oh no.
This is the most interesting round of the draft. Stewart makes sense at this spot since he is projected to play a big role and already showed flashes of being a legit fantasy player, and Sengun has been really good in preseason, but Poku being drafted here is just far too early for me. On the other hand, I don’t mind Giddey and Williams in this range since I believe in them just a little bit more.
This was a pick I didn’t love at the time, but it’s sort of growing on me. CP3 still has a few years left of being elite, and I knew he was my last shot at a guard that could get assists, steals and FG% at his level. Another instance of taking a guard over a big like Allen that is elite in what this build typically calls for.
Robinson going at 87 was a bit of a surprise, but the injury may have played a part there. Casey bought into the NAW hype and took him as high as I’ve seen him go, but at this point in the draft it isn’t egregious. He should have a great deal of opportunity and it was no sure thing that he made it back around at 105.
Keldon Johnson at 91 was also too high, even though that is close to where he normally goes. There’s something about him that people seem to like, maybe his hot start last year, but he has a fantasy game that lines up much better with going 120 rather than 91.
This was the first pick that was a casualty of my earlier decisions regarding big men. Poeltl is a fine player, but not someone I have overwhelming confidence as the long-term answer in San Antonio. Not that it was a bad spot for him to go, just at this point where I was bummed to have passed on guys like Capela, Allen or Robinson because it made me feel like I *should* take a big here.
Melton going inside the top-100 isn’t something we see often, but this was after he had a VERY good preseason outing and could easily be worth it if he finally gets a bigger role. He’s a hot name right now and once again went on the turn that made it very unlikely he made it back to 120. DeMar going outside the top-100 is surprising, but he has flaws and is on a new team that has mouths to feed. Vassell and Okungwu going here are two picks that I really like for the direction of those two teams.
I could not believe JVal was still on the board, and I let him slide the last couple picks because he didn’t get enough blocks for what I was looking for. But 100 was far enough, and I got one of the better value picks in the draft even if there is some uncertainty with what his role will be moving forward. I maybe should have taken him last round and seen if Poeltl would make it back, those are two draft spots I would have felt better about.
This round is another example of what happens when you play in a league with people that listen to you talk about dynasty basketball and the guys you like. Will took Nerlens just like he did with Dejounte, knowing he wasn’t going to be there all the way back around with me behind him. I may or may not have yelled at my phone when the notification came through. (Bonus note: Will messaged me during the late stages of the draft saying he didn’t like how his team came together as it was split with vets and young guys without a great direction. That’s what happens when you take my guys Will!!!)
Wiggins and RoCo going this late was quite a surprise, though it was in the midst of Wiggins being unvaccinated so there was a lot of worry. Not from me though, I was more than happy to take him 35 spots behind where I have him ranked with the idea that it would end up working out. Even though this is normally the spot where I would take Fultz, I didn’t need his stat set as much and went for the value.
These rounds are when it starts to not matter as much where guys are ranked in whatever system you are looking at; it’s about who you like and what you think your team may need.
Buddy at 126 was a great value pick, but him coming off the bench does drop him down our rankings a bit. Jaxson Hayes going before Bamba is something I bet didn’t happen in any dynasty startup that was going on throughout the preseason, but we finished ours beforehand. Herro going at 132 is a great pick if his preseason can translate into what could be a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year campaign.
This is also as early as you will see McConnell go in a dynasty startup, but I wanted more assists and steals with no guarantee that he makes it all the way back to me at 141. He got paid by the Pacers to do what he does, and while I doubt that he repeats what he did last year, the Pacers seem to be cursed with injuries which could push TJM into a generous minutes load.
Olynyk will return value on this draft spot as long as he stays in Detroit where he’ll be used pretty heavily. Roby going 139 is a pick I did not like, simply because he’s replacement level for a team that will be looking to replace him as soon as there is a draft pick that plays the same position. Not crazy to take him here because he will have a big role this year, just a couple rounds ahead of where I would have even considered him.
Davion and Duarte went earlier than they have in most startup drafts, but this is about where I would project them to go after the preseason they both had. They provide their team with enough two-way play to warrant staying on the floor, which is more than what we can say for a lot of the players going in these last couple rounds.
I was planning on taking Warren at this spot as a flier in hopes that he comes back in this calendar year, but Wall was my second option. I may have been able to let him slide even further, but with the direction of my team I didn’t want to get cute with someone who can contribute that much as soon as he finds a new home.
Punt Intended listeners know that I love Drummond at 146. He may not start ever again, but Joel Embiid’s backup is a guy that I want if it doesn’t cost too much. At worst you’re getting 17-20 mpg of a per-minute monster, but then add the 20 games or more that Embiid has missed every year of his career and you’ll end up with a great fantasy option if you can handle his flaws.
With Drummond off the board I went with another big that is in a good spot, Larry Nance. Jusuf Nurkic has shown a tendency to get injured (even if they are somewhat random and not really compounding), and Nance can provide some out-of-position assists and steals that are always welcome in this build.
Hard to give any criticism about the last round, especially when it’s a mock draft that typically lends to drafting guys that normally wouldn’t go here like Butler or Landale. Poole was a great pick, White and Clarke seem to have fallen off a cliff but are still easily worth this spot, and Facu will have some early season value as Murray returns from injury. Oladipo and Oubre are two guys that could end up not working out due to decreased roles or injury, but they also have top-100 upside for a couple years if they do.
I was excited about my Bledsoe pick simply because I think everyone is way low on him after a poor showing in New Orleans. There is no denying he wasn’t good, but along the same lines as Wall, the production he can give for this draft slot is too much to pass on for a contending team. If it comes to the worst case scenario and I’m wrong, he’s an easy drop.
As you can see, my punt led to some extreme results while my contending status led to being the oldest team in the league. I strongly recommend against this strategy to almost anyone, so please don’t take this as a how-to guide. This was more of an experiment in seeing what I could do if I decided to go straight to win now since this is a build I have done for years, including multiple times this offseason through various mock drafts.
But my goodness that FG%. My team is the only one shooting over 50% from the field, and I’m crushing that mark. I may have actually gone overboard on FG% based on how far ahead of the rest of the league I am, but that allows me some flexibility in future trades and streaming because I almost don’t have to consider what a move will do to my FG% unless I’m moving one of those anchors.
As you can see, my team is set up to bludgeon just about everyone in big-man stats on a per-game basis. Not only that, but you can also see why I insist on stocking up on assists and steals throughout the draft in this build. Obviously punting threes and FT% this hard leads to a tough time competing in points because you are almost purposefully acquiring players who leave easy points on the board. You could bolster those points and target players like Sexton or Warren, but that comes down to preference and a willingness to sacrifice other categories.
There are two glaring issues with matchups though. Alan’s team barely beats me in blocks per game, ironically with my biggest draft regret in Capela on his team. (Basketball Monster actually shows me beating Alan in blocks by 45 on the season using the Standings Monster tool which assumes “owners are reasonably managing their teams” which is something I should be able to handle.)
I also barely lose to Travis and his typical punt FG/blocks build, which is always how our leagues shake out. I punt 3/FT, he punts FG/BLK, and it comes down to whoever can win at least two of assists, steals and turnovers. All three of those categories are so close that it will certainly come down to games played and streaming for whichever week we face off. (The aforementioned Standings Monster tool shows Travis’ and my season long totals being a difference of 163 assists, 62 steals and 39 turnovers. That’s about as close as it gets.)
Last thing about these projections is John Wall contributing absolutely nothing to my team. Technically he is contributing by not being a negative in both percentages and turnovers, but I believe he will get some serious points and assists with decent steals and blocks when he comes back. I have no idea if I can count on him being even available this year, let alone what kind of role he will play on whatever team he goes to. How he returns may be the difference in some of those top end matchups, but that’s a discussion for when (not if) he gets to his new team.
A couple important takeaways to all of this.
First is to never rely solely on projections to determine how your team will perform. It is a very helpful guide, and something that I absolutely use in every league, but using it as a rule book has a good chance of disappointing when things don’t go as you planned. Continue to monitor how your team stacks up as the year is going along, and don’t overreact to projections that aren’t an exact science.
Second is that my team actually loses to Shammdog, Jackie Daytona, Alan and Travis on a totals basis thanks to 71, 57, 19 and 38 fewer games played than those four teams respectively. Again this is based on a projection for games played which can go a million different ways, so I try to keep my per-game numbers as good as possible without taking unnecessary risk and hope that I don’t have injury troubles. That may sound funny coming from a Pacers fan, but we don’t need to talk about that.
Third, it was almost perfect how nicely the different strategies tied in with my Draft Guide Dynasty piece, where I mentioned there are certain ways to approach dynasty drafts. Teams like me and Jackie went for the win-now value, Matt Lawson and the Fail Blazers went for the long-term approach, while Travis and Alan stayed in the playoff race while keeping their teams quite young. No right or wrong way to go about it, just a matter of seeing how the draft pans out and adjusting accordingly.
Lastly, these mocks are not about exactly how to build your team. It’s about learning from the process and finding where you can get value, either with age or certain stats. Doing a bunch of mock drafts can give you a really good feel for not only your process, but also what may be going on in the minds of your opponents. Obviously you can’t predict everything, but certain players are usually tied to certain builds and making those connections can help you avoid missing out on someone you hoped would slide another round.
The most important takeaway though is to have fun with it! Dynasty is all about getting the guys that you believe in and want to root for, regardless of what anyone has to say. Three years ago I got a lot of flak in my main league for trading a nicked-up John Wall for Brook Lopez and Dejounte Murray coming off an ACL injury. Fast forward a couple months and Wall starts his two-year absence from basketball due to injury while Dejounte will retire on my team as one of my favorite players in the league.
Let me know on Twitter @rhett_bauer what you think about this mock, whether you have questions or disagree with anything. Go follow @PuntIntendedPod on Twitter and wherever you get your podcasts to make sure you are up to date on all the dynasty content @travis_fuller92 and I are putting out. And last but not least, make sure you are in the HoopBall discord so you have access to all of the premium tools that help you win your league!