NBC Sports EDGE Draft Evaluation


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The NBC Sports Edge Expert draft was held on Wednesday evening, and if you missed it, you can watch it here. These fantasy basketball experts all took part in a 12-team draft for a 9-category, head-to-head league with the following positions and categories:

Roster Positions: PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, C, Util, Util, BN, BN, IL+

Players Stat Categories: Field Goal Percentage (FG%), Free Throw Percentage (FT%), 3-point Shots Made (3PTM), Points Scored (PTS), Total Rebounds (REB), Assists (AST), Steals (ST), Blocked Shots (BLK), Turnovers (TO)

Below, I’ll take a look at each manager’s team and give my thoughts on picks, overall team makeup, and a letter grade to cap it off.

Team 1: Steve Alexander – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B

1. (1) Luka Doncic (DAL – PG,SG)

2. (24) LaMelo Ball (CHA – PG,SG)

3. (25) Michael Porter Jr. (DEN – SF,PF)

4. (48) Myles Turner (IND – PF,C)

5. (49) Jarrett Allen (CLE – C)

6. (72) Kyle Lowry (MIA – PG)

7. (73) Nickeil Alexander-Walker (NOP – SG,SF)

8. (96) Kelly Olynyk (DET – PF,C)

9. (97) Tyrese Maxey (PHI – PG,SG)

10. (120) Keldon Johnson (SAS – SF,PF)

11. (121) Al Horford (BOS – PF,C)

12. (144) Khem Birch (TOR – PF,C)

Not seeing Nikola Jokic go first overall is always a little surprising, but given Doctor A’s love for Luka, this makes a lot of sense. The LaMelo Ball + Michael Porter Jr. picks at the turns of round two and three are phenomenal, as both guys are poised for big years and don’t have ceilings in place quite yet. Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen are not bad picks by any means, but a Jokic + Ball + Porter Jr. combo would have secured an elite and durable big man early on. Kyle Lowry could have some slight value being picked this late, but Miami has a ton of talent that could eat away at his usage. NAW popped off in his first preseason game with 22 points and looked great in his second one with 19 points and five triples, and he’s going to play a lot of minutes for the Lonzo Ball-less Pelicans and shouldn’t be taken much later than this. Kelly Olynyk somehow had top-30 value in his last 30 games played in Houston and should play plenty in Detroit, and while he likely won’t be as good as he was with the Rockets, this is a good grab. Tyrese Maxey will be another very popular sleeper pick given the Ben Simmons saga, and Keldon Johnson doesn’t have the highest ceiling that we know of but should get ample opportunity without DeMar. Al Horford is old but should still get enough minutes to be rostered, and Khem Birch should be drafted at least for as long as Chris Boucher (finger) is out (which is at least nine games). I’d like to see better bigs, but all in all, this is a good looking team with untapped potential throughout.

Team 2: Renee Miller – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B-

1. (2) Nikola Jokic (DEN – PF,C)

2. (23) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC – PG,SG)

3. (26) Julius Randle (NYK – PF,C)

4. (47) Dejounte Murray (SAS – PG,SG)

5. (50) Isaiah Stewart (DET – PF,C)

6. (71) Kyle Anderson (MEM – SF,PF)

7. (74) PJ Washington (CHA – PF,C)

8. (95) Reggie Jackson (LAC – PG,SG)

9. (98) Gary Trent Jr. (TOR – SG,SF)

10. (119) Evan Fournier (NYK – SG,SF)

11. (122) Larry Nance Jr. (POR – PF,C)

12. (143) Tyler Herro (MIA – PG)

No need to cover Jokic here because we know he’s amazing and fun to own. A point guard at this turn was probably a necessity, and while some people are worried about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s season getting cut short due to the tank, I’m personally not too worried about it and am targeting him pretty aggressively myself. Taking Julius Randle here raises some concern only because both he and Jokic aren’t known for getting an abundance of defensive stats, but Dejounte Murray should help this – Murray is going to feast and could arguably be taken even earlier than this. Isaiah Stewart has an incredible motor and it’s just a matter of him staying composed and out of foul trouble as opposed to his talent, because the stats will be there when he’s healthy and playing. Anderson, Washington and Jackson are nothing too exciting but should still be solid, and Gary Trent Jr. is already a Toronto favorite and should hit a lot of triples at the very least. Fournier will score in New York but may hurt percentages, but I love Larry Nance Jr. this late, as he should be part of the Portland rotation and only needs minutes in the 20s to be worth rostering. Tyler Herro popped off in his preseason debut with 26 points (16 in the first quarter), but he’s mostly good for scoring and it’s worth noting that Jimmy Butler didn’t play in the game. The overall ceiling of this team is pretty low, but there are overall some solid guys that should get the job done.

Team 3: Josh Lloyd – Basketball Monster

Grade: B-

1. (3) Stephen Curry (GSW – PG,SG)

2. (22) Zach LaVine (CHI – SG,SF)

3. (27) LeBron James (LAL – PG,SG,SF)

4. (46) Richaun Holmes (SAC – PF,C)

5. (51) Jusuf Nurkic (POR – C)

6. (70) D’Angelo Russell (MIN – PG,SG)

7. (75) Collin Sexton (CLE – PG,SG)

8. (94) Caris LeVert (IND – SG,SF)

9. (99) Mason Plumlee (CHA – PF,C)

10. (118) Miles Bridges (CHA – SF,PF)

11. (123) Josh Giddey (OKC – PG,SG)

12. (142) Isaiah Roby (OKC – C)

Three-pointers galore with Josh’s first two picks here. Steph should be phenomenal and I’m not worried about Klay’s eventual return hurting his value at all, and Zach LaVine may see a dip in usage but should still be taken around here regardless. LeBron is such a wild card and is going much earlier in a lot of drafts I’ve seen, but he’s just so old and may either rest a lot or be fighting injuries here and there (he could very well prove me wrong because, well, it’s LeBron). Securing some bigs with picks four and five was the right move, and Richaun Holmes isn’t a sexy name but was a top-35 player in less than 30 minutes per contest last season, so I love him here. Nurkic is an across-the-board contributor but can’t seem to stay healthy, and he’s played in just 45 regular season games over the last two seasons (29.2%). I love D’Angelo this year as he’s finally locked in as the starting point guard in Minnesota, and it helps that he and KAT both looked great in their preseason debut. LeVert is another injury-prone guy but is a stud when playing, Mason Plumlee is about as boring as it gets but should be rostered given that he’s pencilled in to start for the Hornets, and Miles Bridges is a pretty fun pick this late (top-100 guy last year and fantastic finish to the season). Josh Giddey will likely be taken earlier than this going forward given his 18/7/3 preseason debut, so this looks like this could be a steal, and Isaiah Roby is shaky but should carve out a role big enough be rostered. This team looks great on paper, but the injury bug could very well catch on to a handful of its players.

Team 4: Jared Johnson – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B+

1. (4) James Harden (BKN – PG,SG)

2. (21) Rudy Gobert (UTA – C)

3. (28) Jaylen Brown (BOS – SG,SF)

4. (45) Clint Capela (ATL – C)

5. (52) OG Anunoby (TOR – SF,PF)

6. (69) Gordon Hayward (CHA – SG,SF)

7. (76) Jalen Green (HOU – SG)

8. (93) Marcus Smart (BOS – PG,SG)

9. (100) Jonathan Isaac (ORL – SF,PF)

10. (117) De’Andre Hunter (ATL – SF,PF)

11. (124) Evan Mobley (CLE – C)

12. (141) Devin Vassell (SAS – SG)

James Harden could be the No. 1 guy in fantasy if Kyrie continues to refuse the vaccine and miss half his games, so he makes sense at fourth overall. You know what you’re getting with Rudy Gobert, and drafting Capela too ensures Jared won’t win his free throws most weeks (but maybe Harden could offset this at least a bit). Jaylen Brown had 25 points in his preseason opener and his wrist is obviously fine, and OG Anunoby was an ultra-sneaky top-35 player last year behind solid averages everywhere with elite steals and triples numbers. I’m not aboard the Hayward train myself as he can’t seem to stay healthy, but I hope he proves me wrong. Jalen Green has the light to match his last name in Houston and should contribute immediately, but there are bound to be some duds in there given that he’s just 19 years of age – he’s mostly going to be a lot of fun, though. Marcus Smart should see an uptick in usage without Kemba in town, and taking him here almost identically matches his rank last season. Jonathan Isaac will be placed in Jared’s IL+ slot for the start of the season, and while his lack of timetable scares me, he has to be drafted given his top-20 value on a per game basis in the 2019-2020 season. Hunter should be fully healthy to start the season, but the amount of offense in Atlanta has me a little less high on him than others. Evan Mobley is in that tricky center situation in Cleveland and they have a plethora of bigs to try and get minutes, so his outlook is a bit dim, but Cleveland has no reason to not play him – he’s averaging 9.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in two preseason contests. I have no idea what Devin Vassell is capable of but he’s sure worth a shot here for someone who could start sans DeMar DeRozan.

Team 5: Aaron Robinson – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B+

1. (5) Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL – PF,C)

2. (20) Domantas Sabonis (IND – PF,C)

3. (29) Donovan Mitchell (UTA – PG,SG)

4. (44) John Collins (ATL – PF,C)

5. (53) Cade Cunningham (DET – PG,SG)

6. (68) Jerami Grant (DET – SF,PF)

7. (77) Chris Boucher (TOR – PF,C)

8. (92) Spencer Dinwiddie (WAS – PG,SG)

9. (101) Nerlens Noel (NYK – PF,C)

10. (116) Dillon Brooks (MEM – SG,SF)

11. (125) Matisse Thybulle (PHI – SG,SF)

12. (140) Joe Harris (BKN – SG,SF)

The Giannis/Sabonis combo here could be deadly, especially if they can both hit a few more triples. It’s worth noting that Giannis’ knee has been bothering him, but this shouldn’t affect his draft stock more than a few picks in the first round at worst. Sabonis won’t give you a ton on defense, but Giannis sure will, so these first two picks give Aaron a little bit of everything off the bat. And in case these big men struggle with triples, enter Donovan Mitchell, a score-first guard who hit 3.4 triples per game last season. This may be my favorite trio of first picks in this whole draft, and adding John Collins in round four could be good value for someone who has been top-50 for the last three seasons and could build off of his impressive playoff stint last season. Cade at 53 is ambitious, but I don’t mind it – like Jalen Green, he’ll contribute right away and looks as NBA-ready as any rookie, and if teammate Jerami Grant improves his shooting a bit, he could have some value here too. Spencer Dinwiddie will tank your field goal percentage (that may be an area of struggle some weeks with this particular squad), but he’ll start in Washington and let’s hope he stays relatively healthy. Mitchell Robinson is still without a timetable to return, so Nerlens probably should have gone earlier than this, but good for Aaron. Dillon Brooks is another guy that will hurt your percentages but should still be rostered, and Thybulle’s insane defensive ability could make up for drafting a stock-scarce big like Sabonis early on. Joe Harris was awful in the playoffs, and he may or may not start, but you have nothing to lose if you pick him here. Overall, incredibly solid squad here.

Team 6: Dan Besbris – Hoop-Ball

Grade: A-

1. (6) Damian Lillard (POR – PG)

2. (19) Nikola Vucevic (CHI – C)

3. (30) Brandon Ingram (NOP – SF,PF)

4. (43) Jrue Holiday (MIL – PG,SG)

5. (54) Jonas Valanciunas (NOP – C)

6. (67) Derrick White (SAS – PG,SG)

7. (78) Norman Powell (POR – SG,SF)

8. (91) Andrew Wiggins (GSW – SG,SF)

9. (102) Kemba Walker (NYK – PG)

10. (115) T.J. McConnell (IND – PG,SG)

11. (126) Saddiq Bey (DET – SF)

12. (139) Lauri Markkanen (CLE – PF,C)

If Aaron’s team doesn’t have my favorite first three picks, then Dan’s definitely does. There is no stat (besides maybe blocks) that you don’t get with this deadly Lillard/Vucevic combo, and the fact that Vuc fell to 19 and Jrue Holiday fell to 43 is beyond my comprehension. Vuc did have a relatively low usage rate in his preseason debut, but I’m really not too worried about him. Jonas Valanciunas is a great second big to grab in the 50s and should have no problem beating this marks with the Pelicans, and Derrick White is another Spur that should feast without DeMar. Normall Powell played out of his mind in Toronto but came back to life when traded to Portland, but he won’t hurt you anywhere and he should be good for some threes and steals at worst. Now that Andrew Wiggins has decided to get the vaccine, he’s officially worth drafting, but he often comes at a price that doesn’t end up paying off. I have no issue with Kemba this late but we shouldn’t expect the top-20 Charlotte Kemba we saw play 82 games in the 2018-2019 season. T.J. McConnell won’t score much and somehow always has value because he steals with such ease, but given that this team is pretty set on scoring, I like him here. Saddiq Bey didn’t shoot the lights out in his rookie year and didn’t help much on defense, but there’s no harm taking him at 126 to see if he can improve. Lauri Markkanen, as mentioned, is in that Cavalier big-man situation, and at least one of them is bound to provide value; I just don’t know who. This is my favorite team of this draft – congrats Dan.

Team 7: Raphielle Johnson – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: C+

1. (7) Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN – C)

2. (18) Jimmy Butler (MIA – SF,PF)

3. (31) De’Aaron Fox (SAC – PG)

4. (42) Devin Booker (PHX – SG,SF)

5. (55) CJ McCollum (POR – PG,SG)

6. (66) Mikal Bridges (PHX – SG,SF)

7. (79) Mike Conley (UTA – PG)

8. (90) Bojan Bogdanovic (UTA – SF,PF)

9. (103) Jalen Suggs (ORL – PG,SG)

10. (114) Brook Lopez (MIL – C)

11. (127) Duncan Robinson (MIA – SG,SF)

12. (138) Aaron Gordon (DEN – SF,PF)

If I can get KAT anywhere past fifth overall in my drafts, I’ll be a happy camper. He has number one overall upside and was incredibly durable in his first four seasons, so hopefully he can return to this form as a slimmed-down Towns. Jimmy Butler only needs to stay healthy because he’ll contribute no matter what, and he’s actually been a top-15 player in his last seven seasons on a per game basis. Drafting a point guard with at least one of your first three picks is a smart strategy, so the I love this Fox pick too, but hopefully his free throw percentage (71.9% on 7.2 attempts per game last season) can improve to warrant being taken in the 30s. Devin Booker mostly just scores, but he’s pretty efficient for someone taking such tough shots every night, but there’s nothing wrong with taking him in the 40s. CJ McCollum is another score-dependent guy, so some more contributions across the board wouldn’t have been a bad idea either, but Mikal Bridges could help with this a bit. Bridges is solid and he’s fine to be taken here, but he has to be one of the more boring mid-round guys I’ve ever seen (but that doesn’t mean he can’t get the job done). Mike Conley is old and always hurt but was still a top-60 guy last year, Bojan is yet another score-only guy, and it should be the Jalen Suggs show from opening night in Boston since Markelle Fultz is still without at timetable. Brook Lopez is another semi-boring guy with a rather low ceiling but he’ll keep blocking shots and hit out-of-position triples. Duncan Robinson is another pure scorer, and I refuse to touch Aaron Gordon but have no problem with someone taking him here. This team will likely lead most weeks in the points and triples categories, but is lacking big men and all-around contributions from a lot of score-mostly guys.

Team 8: Jonathan Wasserman – Bleacher Report

Grade: B-

1. (8) Kevin Durant (BKN – SF,PF)

2. (17) Bam Adebayo (MIA – PF,C)

3. (32) Russell Westbrook (LAL – PG)

4. (41) Khris Middleton (MIL – SF,PF)

5. (56) Tyrese Haliburton (SAC – PG,SG)

6. (65) Kevin Porter Jr. (HOU – SG,SF)

7. (80) Jakob Poeltl (SAS – C)

8. (89) Mitchell Robinson (NYK – C)

9. (104) Devonte’ Graham (NOP – PG,SG)

10. (113) Scottie Barnes (TOR – SF)

11. (128) Alperen Sengun (HOU – C)

12. (137) Killian Hayes (DET – PG,SG)

Durant has been mostly durable with the exception of last year, and this along with the fact that the Nets are so stacked makes him one of the riskier first-round guys. But, he’s Kevin Durant, so there’s nothing wrong taking him eighth. Bam is so solid and still gets overlooked at times, and with word that he’s been working on his shooting, he may be a first-rounder if he can somehow hit one triple per game. Westbrook will be Westbrook no matter what team he’s on, so no need to go into much on him except for (hopefully) some increased percentages with more open looks. Middleton has been in the 30-40 rank in the last two seasons and he’s not all that exciting, but he won’t really hurt you anywhere. Tyrese Haliburton had a fantastic rookie campaign and has a lot of eyes on him in drafts this year because of it, and he’ll likely start over sharpshooter Buddy Hield to help his case. KPJ could kill your percentages and is better suited for points leagues, but the sky is the limit for him and already has a 50-burger with his name on it in his young career. Poeltl was quietly top-100 last season, Robinson scares me even this late because he lives with the injury bug and has no timetable, and Devonte’ Graham should start for the Pelicans in an otherwise short-handed offensive attack but may kill your percentages. Scottie Barnes stock is sure to rise after his stat-stuffing 13/9/6/2/2 preseason opener, and he’s another rookie ready to contribute at least until Pascal Siakam is back in action. Alperen Sengun should not fall this late for any reason, and it’s a good thing Jonathan got him because he’s pretty short on bigs otherwise. Hayes was not very good last year and Detroit will be the Cade show, but this late in drafts, it’s pretty fair game. Like I said, with the exception of Bam, this squad is lacking elite bigs and field goal percentage could be an issue, but there were some quality picks throughout.

Team 9: Dalton Del Don – Yahoo Sports

Grade: B

1. (9) Jayson Tatum (BOS – SF,PF)

2. (16) Fred VanVleet (TOR – PG,SG)

3. (33) Christian Wood (HOU – PF,C)

4. (40) Chris Paul (PHX – PG)

5. (57) Kristaps Porzingis (DAL – PF,C)

6. (64) Draymond Green (GSW – PF,C)

7. (81) Robert Covington (POR – PF,C)

8. (88) Buddy Hield (SAC – SG,SF)

9. (105) Bogdan Bogdanovic (ATL – SF,PF)

10. (112) Harrison Barnes (SAC – SF,PF)

11. (129) Jae’Sean Tate (HOU – SF,PF)

12. (136) Derrick Favors (OKC – C)

Jayson Tatum could seriously continue to get better in the next couple of years, which is scary because he’s already so good, so he should be taken in the first round. I absolutely love this Fred VanVleet pick, and I couldn’t be higher on him. It’s his show to run in Toronto without Kyle Lowry, and he managed top-20 value last season while shooting 38.9% from the floor, so take that for what it’s worth. Christian Wood’s potential is through the roof and he’s going to play some more power forward, so I like this for his upside in shooting along with the traditional big man stats that he gets so consistently. I love Chris Paul but will be staying away from him just because he’s old, and someone like Jrue Holiday (pick 43) would have been a bit better here in my opinion to complete a pretty scary first four. Dalton went on a nice roll of high-upside but oft injured guys in Porzingis, Green and Covington, but Draymond was actually top-60 last year and mostly healthy, so he’s a safe round sixer. I want to love Porzingis because he’s so unique, but he can’t stay healthy. As for Covington, he’ll miss a lot of shots but gets you a bit of everything to make up for it, and even finished just outside of the top-50 last season while averaging 8.5 points on 40.1% shooting. Buddy Hield may not start as mentioned, but honestly this isn’t the worst thing, as he’ll be the main man in the second unit and could make 4.0 triples per game again. Bogdan is the better Bogdanovic to draft and will get you a ton of three-pointers with some other goodies here and there, proven by his top-50 finish on a per game basis last season. Harrison Barnes is a points and rebounds guy and is boring but usable, Jae’Sean Tate may or may not start but has low-end across-the-board numbers to warrant owning and Derrick Favors is an old man on a young team that doesn’t do much for me, but there are few wrong answers this late. This team should win the three-pointers category almost every week, but may struggle with some counting stats and staying healthy.

Team 10: Ryan Knaus – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B+

1. (10) Paul George (LAC – SF,PF)

2. (15) Kyrie Irving (BKN – PG,SG)

3. (34) Deandre Ayton (PHX – C)

4. (39) Tobias Harris (PHI – SF,PF)

5. (58) Robert Williams (BOS – C)

6. (63) Terry Rozier (CHA – PG,SG)

7. (82) Daniel Gafford (WAS – C)

8. (87) Pascal Siakam (TOR – PF,C)

9. (106) Mo Bamba (ORL – C)

10. (111) Jordan Clarkson (UTA – PG,SG)

11. (130) Tim Hardaway Jr. (DAL – SG,SF)

12. (135) Seth Curry (PHI – PG,SG)

Paul George is a no-brainer late-first/early-second rounder without Kawhi as proven by his excellent playoff run last year. I cannot get behind this Kyrie pick as he’s currently set to miss at least half of his games, but maybe Ryan knows something we don’t (or, there were technical difficulties and it auto-drafted for him… who knows). Deandre Ayton has some of the most hype coming into this season and he’s fine to be taken here, but any earlier I’m not sure I’ll be touching him. However, apparently he’s angry, so maybe he’ll take it out on his opponents this year. I’ve always been a big Tobias Harris fan (top-30 last season) and am an even bigger one now given the inevitable departure of Ben Simmons, so he’s a fourth-round steal in my book. Time Lord’s block rate is incomprehensible and should finally get a shot at minutes, and while he was pretty bad in his first preseason contest, I still love him here. Gafford is a similar pick with a bit less opportunity in front of him, but he could be top-10 in shot blocking if given enough floor time. Smack in the middle of these two bigs is Terry Rozier, who is score-first but hits triples at a great rate and doesn’t turn the ball over much from the point guard position. Pascal Siakam could be in the IL+ spot for at least a few games, but the “down” year he had last season was still good for top-50 value, so I’m all over Siakam if he falls to me this late. Mo Bamba, the third big on this roster who should finally have some opportunity, may be picked earlier now that he went off in the preseason (13/10 with four blocks in 22 minutes), and Jordan Clarkson looks like he’s playing hot potato at times but is plenty good for some inefficient scoring and three-pointers this late. Ryan rounded out his draft with some great shooters in THJ and Seth Curry, and overall, there’s a lot to like about the overall opportunity the guys on this roster have.

Team 11: Jonas Nader – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: B-

1. (11) Bradley Beal (WAS – SG,SF)

2. (14) Anthony Davis (LAL – PF,C)

3. (35) Jaren Jackson Jr. (MEM – PF,C)

4. (38) Anthony Edwards (MIN – SG,SF)

5. (59) Lonzo Ball (CHI – PG,SG)

6. (62) Darius Garland (CLE – PG)

7. (83) De’Anthony Melton (MEM – PG,SG)

8. (86) Ben Simmons (PHI – PG)

9. (107) Jaden McDaniels (MIN – PF)

10. (110) Aleksej Pokusevski (OKC – SF)

11. (131) Malik Beasley (MIN – PG,SG)

12. (134) Jordan Poole (GSW – PG,SG)

Bradley Beal without Westbrook and a more center-focused Anthony Davis could be the most dangerous first-two duo here, but Davis really just needs to stay on the floor for this to be the case. No one is a bigger JJJ fan than Jonas, and he reached for him a bit given his 53.9 ADP, but this makes sense given he’d inevitably be gone by the time his fifth pick came. Ant-Man was also a reach (ADP of 53.6), but he’s going to be incredible and backed up saying he wanted to get better defensively with a 10/3/3/2/2 line in his preseason debut. Edwards was top-40 in his final 15 games played last year, so if he keeps it up and continues to add defensive stats, this pick will be well worth it. Jonas needed a point guard after missing out (likely on purpose) and went for new-Bull Lonzo Ball, who also finished last season very strongly and should have no issues replicating his stats on a fast-paced Chicago team. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Ricky Rubio being in Cleveland actually scares me a bit given that he’s set to play a ton of minutes as the secondary ball-handler, so this is a little early to take Darius Garland for my liking. A Jonas team wouldn’t be a Jonas team without De’Anthony Melton, and while he was another (very far) reach, he had a 14/4/3/3/1 preseason opener line (with four triples, all in 19 minutes) and is without a doubt worth rostering. Mr. Wild Card aka Ben Simmons is as boom or bust as they come, but I think he has a better chance at a boom as a deal is likely to work out in the weeks to come. However, if Simmons can’t find a landing spot, he’s sure not suiting up for the Sixers, so there may be some DNPs to start the year (but probably not). Poku shot an impressively bad 34.1% from the field last season, so I can’t get behind him, but he should still have a decent-sized role with the rebuilding Thunder. Malik Beasley’s minutes may drop a bit but he was quietly a top-100 guy and is a steal this late, and Jordan Poole is another guy whose draft stock is sure to rise after his 30-point preseason opener, so I love him here. Lots of reaching and lots of risk here, but this could be a championship team if all of the pieces fall in place (which, since it’s fantasy basketball, they probably won’t).

Team 12: Vaughn Dalzell – NBC Sports EDGE

Grade: C+

1. (12) Joel Embiid (PHI – PF,C)

2. (13) Trae Young (ATL – PG)

3. (36) Zion Williamson (NOP – PF)

4. (37) Ja Morant (MEM – PG)

5. (60) Malcolm Brogdon (IND – PG,SG)

6. (61) DeMar DeRozan (CHI – SF,PF)

7. (84) RJ Barrett (NYK – SG,SF)

8. (85) Wendell Carter Jr. (ORL – C)

9. (108) Klay Thompson (GSW – SG,SF)

10. (109) Montrezl Harrell (WAS – PF,C)

11. (132) Luguentz Dort (OKC – SG,SF)

12. (133) Jonathan Kuminga (GSW – SF,PF)

Joel Embiid will likely go earlier in a lot of drafts because of just how good he is when he plays, but that’s the kicker here – he’s played in just 66.2% of his games in his last two seasons, and just 65.0% of games in his whole career. He was still top-15 in total value last season, so he shouldn’t be taken much later than this, but picking Andre Drummond late as a handcuff seems like a must when drafting Embiid. Trae Young averaged four fewer points per game this past season than he did in 2019-2020, so this stacked Hawks squad had an effect on him. Plus, he turns it over a lot and doesn’t steal the ball much, but there’s no reason he should fall past the second round. I’m no longer a Zion fan at the moment given his fairly new injury, and who knows when he’ll be back and, when he is, how healthy he can stay. The man is 285 pounds, jumps about 40 feet in the air every time he leaves the floor, and he’s coming off of foot surgery – sorry, but don’t sign me up. Ja Morant was simply not good last year, and Jared will yell at me if he reads this, but I don’t think I could take him this early. He doesn’t hit threes, doesn’t steal the ball, and his efficiency isn’t all that. Ja Morant wasn’t even inside the top-200 last year because there are so many holes in his game. If he falls to me later, I’ll take him, but I probably won’t have a lot of King Ja shares in my leagues this year. Brogdon’s dimes were down last season but basically everything else was up, so I love him here, and the DeRozan + Young pairing (afraid of threes vs. shoots a ton of threes) is a great strategy. RJ Barrett did improve last year but so far fails to help you in more than a couple of categories. I prefer Mo Bamba to WCJ personally despite a much higher ADP for Carter Jr., but he has some upside and there’s nothing wrong with him in the eighth. Klay will likely return in January so will get comfortable on Vaughn’s IL+ spot, Montrezl will do what Montrezl does every season, Lu Dort has the chance to showcase his newly-improved offense now that he’s not planning OKC’s vacation itinerary, and Kuminga is raw but may be a decent second-half guy if the Warriors decide he’s worth playing.