I’ve rolled out a mock draft in each of the previous two weeks and got into the real deal on Wednesday ahead of the 2022-23 season. Rotowire hosted a Fantasy draft including experts from ESPN, Fantasy Alarm, Yahoo Sports, DraftKings, NBC Sports, and Basketball Monster. I’ll represent CBS and match up against hoops enthusiasts from competing sites throughout the season in a 12-team Roto league. The nine-category league will factor in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, 3-point shots made, points scored, total rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots and turnovers.
I picked ninth overall in the Yahoo league’s snake draft and received 45 seconds to make a selection in each round. I did my best to construct a well-rounded team in this for-fun league and will evaluate my choices in the first 12 rounds below.
The first four players off the table were my preferred first-round picks, but I would’ve gladly taken the Atlanta Hawks‘ versatile Trae Young between sixth and eighth if given the option. The do-it-all guard cracked the top 10 in total points, assists, 3-pointers made and free throws attempted last season. He converted his shots from the charity stripe at a 90 percent clip, so he should be able to help lift the players I have who struggle in that area. Young might take a step back with Dejounte Murray alongside him in the backcourt, but few players can check as many boxes as Young toward the end of the first round.
I had a short turnaround before going with Paul George in the second round, and it wasn’t a difficult choice for me after rating him as the top Fantasy shooting guard in 2022-23 earlier this offseason. The lanky wing was hindered by an elbow injury last season but averaged more Fantasy points per game than Devin Booker and DeMar DeRozan in most formats. The Los Angeles Clippers added a true playmaker in John Wall to help George, one of the league’s elite catch-and-shoot players from distance, bounce back after a down year from beyond the arc. George has a chance to have a bounce-back year from long distance while pacing just about every other shooting guard in rebounds and steals.
Going with another injury risk in the third round could come back to bite me, but I couldn’t pass up Bradley Beal at 33rd overall. The Washington Wizards guard was a top 30 Fantasy player for five consecutive years before appearing in just 40 games in his latest campaign. He’s been a top-15 Fantasy asset in four of his last five seasons. Kristaps Porzingis shouldn’t slow him down too much, as Luka Doncic still had plenty of success with the stretch big during his short stint with the Dallas Mavericks. If you can get a player who’s averaged 30 points per game to go along with at least 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists twice in the third round, you probably should.
I focused on building out my frontcourt over the next three rounds. Rebounding and field goal percentage were weaknesses that I wanted to address, so I went with Zion Williamson before bringing in Jonas Valanciunas and Julius Randle. Williamson might seem injury-prone early on in his NBA career, but I don’t think any other player is capable of scoring 20 or more points per game while shooting 60 percent from the field. His solid career average of 7.0 boards per contest should fit in well with Valanciunas and Randle, who’ve both finished inside the top 10 in total rebounds over the past five seasons.
Five of the six aforementioned players I drafted are capable of scoring 25 or more points per game, so I focused on some defense in the back half of the draft. Hopefully Draymond Green’s discipline for his altercation with Jordan Poole doesn’t trickle into the regular season, as I think Mr. Triple Single’s career mark of 2.4 stocks (steals + blocks) per game could be helpful. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart has finished among the top 10 in total steals three times over his past four seasons, while Mitchell Robinson has comfortably finished as a top-six shot blocker three times in four seasons. Green and Smart provide significant assist support, but Robinson is more of a specialist who could step it up after the healthier year of his career.
Rounds 10 through 12 started off messy for me. I searched frantically for a backup plan after realizing that De’Angelo Russell was off the board. I rolled with Jordan Clarkson out of panic in the end, as he’ll undoubtedly enjoy a larger role with the Utah Jazz with Donovan Mitchell out of the way. He could very well be traded for draft capital at some point, so I won’t dwell on him for too long. Norman Powell was one of my favorite sleepers for this year, and I think he can thrive when Kawhi Leonard inevitably gets rest days after returning from a one-year layoff. The scoring specialist is a career 38.4 percent shooter from 3 and shot a ridiculous 54.2 percent from beyond the arc in five games with the Clippers last year. I expect him to get plenty of open shots alongside Leonard and George. Then there’s Caris LeVert, who’s been devalued by Donovan Mitchell’s move to Cleveland. He’ll get a shot to start at small forward this season, but a large chunk of his value comes from the fact that he’ll be an immediate benefactor of any Darius Garland or Mitchell injuries.