NBA Roundtable: Final Preseason Mock Draft Reactions
NBA Roundtable: Final Preseason Mock Draft Reactions

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

With a week to go before the start of the regular season, members of the RotoWire NBA staff got together with other experts from around the industry for one final preseason mock draft.

The 12-team league – drafted on CBS – won't be played out, but the hope is that it'll serve as a reference point for player trends heading into the final days of draft season.

We opted to mix things up a bit and go with a head-to-head points league, which entailed a unique scoring system: Only six categories were included – points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks and turnovers – with each statistic worth one point, with the exception of assists (2 points) and turnovers (-1 point).

As you'd expect, poor free throw shooters like Ben Simmons and Andre Drummond shot up the draft board, as did players with above-average assists contributions. Conversely, hyper-efficient shooters and scorers who do most of their damage inside the arc saw their stock decline accordingly.

Click here to view the full results of the 14-round draft.

Here's what the RotoWire contingent had to say about how things went down:

1. How did you account for the league's unique scoring settings?

Nick Whalen: Obviously, assists become a major priority, and the impact of poor free throw shooters like Simmons, Drummond, Jordan, etc. is minimized. Targeting players in the mid-to-late rounds who contribute even slightly above-average assists numbers can go a long way.

Alex Rikleen: The format heavily rewarded assists, so Jokic shot up my board. Not only does he provide a ton of assists, but he gets them as a PF/C. If this format boosts assists over other forms of production, then that means it rewards PGs over other positions. Jokic is one of very few PF/Cs who would not suffer due to the format. I think his production alone warrants a top-6 pick in this format, (I got him at 6), but on top of that is the added advantage that he's likely to significantly outperform most other PF/Cs.

This format also punishes high-turnover guys like Harden, Westbrook, and LeBron, since a turnover (-1) counted the same as a steal, block or rebound (+1). All three of those guys went in the top-4, but I would argue that is a big reach for all of them. In most points leagues, those three guys benefit, so I understand why they went that high, but I think that more careful consideration of the peculiarities of this league should have changed their value. The format should have pushed Westbrook to the end of the first and LeBron into the mid/late second.

Mike Barner: With this being two points for assists, I wanted to get one of the top point guards in the first round. I was more than happy to select John Wall at 10th overall. I also wanted to shoot for a center who provides assists, which I was able to acquire in Marc Gasol.

Jeff Edgerton: With assists worth two points. I looked at those projections right away. Barring another pick that was too good to pass up. I wanted to load up in that category.

Ken Crites: Those centers you usually avoid due to terrible free throw shooting, like DeAndre Jordan and Steve Adams, suddenly become pretty appealing. I wound up with both of those C's and feel pretty good about it.

Alex Barutha: With assists worth two points and everything else worth one (except -1 for turnovers), I tried to target players who have high assist upside. With defensive stats nearly taken out of the equation, the priority for big men became scoring and rebounding.

Juan Blanco: The value of assists served as the tie-breaker for me in the first round when trying to decide between Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. From that point, I also just tried to load up on point guards with the most scoring talent surrounding them and with good shooters overall.

2. Which pick was the best value in the opening rounds?

Whalen: Chris Paul at the top of Round 3 could end up looking like a steal in a league that rewards assists. I've mostly stayed away from Paul given that he's a virtual lock to miss a chunk of games, but if this is the year he finally stays healthy, that'll be the heist of the draft.

Rikleen: My honest answer is Jokic, but here are a few less-self-congratulatory options. Nick snagging Curry and Drummond at the first turn is fantastic. Drummond is a top-20 pick in standard formats where he single-handedly forces teams to lose 1/9 (11%) of categories, so he jumps a ton in any points format, and I would have put Curry in my top-6. Chris Paul is someone I had in my top-16 pre-draft, and as one of the likely-league-leaders in assists he gets an even bigger PG-boost in this format than the rest of PGs, so getting him at 3.1 (25th overall) is a steal. Durant, Embiid, Paul George and Kevin Love were all very good 2nd round values.

Barner: I loved Chris Paul with the first pick in the third round. Based on this league's scoring system, that's a steal value.

Edgerton: My pick of Kawhi. When I went for Lowry I immediately liked the idea of a Lowry/Leonard stack. I didn't think he would fall to me, though.

Crites: I'm happy getting Jimmy Butler at Round 3, Pick 3. I realize there is some ambiguity with his trade status. But any team (Miami?) willing to give up big assets to nab him will give him huge minutes and plenty of opportunities to lead the offense.

Barutha: I like Blake Griffin at pick 29. Injury concerns remain, but he feels like the kind of player to target in this scoring format. His low field-goal percentage and lack of defensive stats don't matter, and he can rack up assists.

Blanco: I have one belonging to another owner and then, at the risk of tooting my own horn, one of my own as a runner-up. To begin with, I liked Chris Towers' nab of Kevin Durant in the early second round. Should have been a first-rounder in my opinion, and I know exactly which player I'd swap him out with in that round, which I'll get into in the next question. The pick from my team that I was pleasantly surprised to get was Ayton in the late fourth round. I think he's going to enjoy an outstanding rookie season, can contribute across the stat sheet, and is going to see a ton of minutes.

3. Which pick(s) were the biggest reaches?

Whalen: Lowry at No. 8 was a bit too high for me. I'd much rather have any of the three point guards who went after him in Round 1.

Rikleen: I've gone on at length in previous roundtables about how much I don't understand drafting Dennis Smith at all in standard formats, so seeing him go in round 4 made me just sad. This format makes him draftable, maybe even a top-100 pick, but he's done nothing to suggest even considering him in the top-50. I already mentioned Westbrook and James above. I've also spilled much internet ink advocating team #NeverRookies, so I'm firmly opposed to Ayton and Doncic as fourth and fifth round picks. I thought Hassan Whiteside and D'Angelo Russell went a bit high, but both of them could easily outperform their draft position - they might have been able to wait another round to get them, but those picks are easy to defend.

Barner: I thought Lauri Markkanen in the sixth round was too early. I wasn't high on him this season even before he went down with the elbow injury. His offensive upside is limited playing with Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker.

Edgerton: I was going for Gobert but he got picked right before me. We were about to see a tier drop so i had to go with Whiteside, which might have been a reach but the draft flow dictated a move there.

Crites: I'm a big Kyle Lowry fan, but he's not a first round talent. I had him ranked 24th heading into the draft with this format. At 32, it's time to be a bit concerned about older age slowing him down a bit

Barutha: Lowry at 8. He gets much of his value from threes, free-throw percentage and his solid rebounding as a guard. Those things are all less impactful in this format.

Blanco: I did not agree with Kyle Lowry as the eighth overall pick in the draft. He saw a significant drop in scoring/shooting percentage last season and is of course now a year older. While I still think he's certainly an above-average player, I'd have swapped him out with Kevin Durant's slotting in the early second round at a minimum.

4. What are your overall thoughts on how your roster turned out? Would you have done anything differently, in hindsight?

Whalen: I was satisfied with how my draft turned out. With a few exceptions, I was able to grab players like Drummond, Ingles, and Green, who contribute solid, out-of-position assists. I was fine with getting Curry at No. 12, but his impact in a league that doesn't value three-pointers is obviously diminished.

Rikleen: I really like my team. I wish my second center was better than Brook Lopez - who I love in standard formats but suffers from this format - but that's if that's my biggest gripe I'm doing alright. I love getting DeMarcus Cousins in H2H leagues, since he'll probably be pretty close to 100% by the time the playoffs roll around - and he'll help with that underwhelming second center spot. In a league like this I should have put two PGs on my bench, but the guys I picked instead are high-upside players who I'd drop quickly for a PG as needed.

Barner: I was happy with my first four picks of Wall, Devin Booker, Gasol and Rudy Gobert. I was hoping to grab Draymond Green in the fifth, but he went two picks ahead of me. I would have liked to grab one more point guard, but I think this team can compete.

Edgerton: Overall very happy, especially with picking 8th. Doncic was on my wish list and I missed out on him, but ultimately I think that my team is very competitive.

Crites: I'm pleased. Eric Gordon, who's on my bench, is my only "low game total" concern. It's a two C league, which means you must own three. I'm happy with my three-headed monster of Jordan, Adams and Willie Cauley-Stein. I'd put money down on this squad. As usual, everyone valued the rookies more than I did.

Barutha: I probably don't need both D.J Augustin and Jerian Grant. I think I could have found more upside late. However, I like my team overall.

Blanco: I'm pretty satisfied overall when looking back on my team, I feel that I was able to avoid any real reaches and ended up with a group that all have pretty clearly defined roles on their respective teams heading into the season. The other thing is that I feel all my guys can score consistently to varying degrees, and that there's a fairly balanced mix of category production on my roster.

5. Which player who you drafted in the later rounds are you most optimistic about?

Whalen: I've been grabbing Bam Adebayo (156 overall) in as many leagues as I can this year. He's far from a guarantee to provide value, but if the Hassan Whiteside situation goes south, he'll be in a great position to benefit.

Rikleen: I am excited about four of my last five picks. I've always been a big Lyles optimist, and the talk out of Denver is that they're pleased with what they're seeing and looking to increase his workload. It's probably just a classic case of preseason-hype and I'll have to drop him in a week, but I'm happy to dream. Cedi Osman is starting to look like the starting SF for the Cavs, so lots of "decent player on a bad team" stats available. Terry Rozier is really good, and Kyrie is pretty much always injured, so I'm happy to see how he looks for the start of the season. And E'Twaun Moore is the only NBA-caliber SF on the Pelicans, so he should see infinite minutes.

Barner: I'm a big Kevin Knox guy this year, so I was happy to get him at pick 111. He's going to get plenty of opportunities to shine right away based on the Knicks limited offensive options.

Edgerton: Miles Bridges. He's looked great in preseason and should be a difference-maker in Charlotte.

Crites: I'm gonna cheat a little and say I'm pretty happy about Eric Gordon at 99. Sure, he'll get dinged up. But that's a very fast paced offense in Houston and he'll once again get north of 31 minutes per game. That said, his 3.2 made threes per game are a lot more helpful in other formats. My bench lacking upside is probably my only negative concern.

Barutha: I got Domantas Sabonis in the 10th round. He's been excellent in the preseason and I'm not worried about him sharing the frontcourt with Myles Turner and/or Thaddeus Young.

Blanco: It's a close call for me between T.J. Warren and Jordan Clarkson, players that I took in the 12th and 13th rounds, respectively. I know Warren appears out of a starting role for the moment with Ariza's arrival, but he's been excellent this preseason and I think will still find his way to plenty of minutes in that fast-paced attack. Meanwhile, I believe Clarkson will vault George Hill as the starting point guard at some point and can also see time at shooting guard, of course. Sexton is there to compete with for minutes, but I think Clarkson is underrated and should see a bump in minutes and usage this coming season.

6. Given what we know now, have Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton separated themselves as the consensus top two fantasy rookies?

Whalen: I think so, yeah. I'm still high on Jaren Jackson, Wendell Carter and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but in terms of combining production, talent and opportunity, Doncic and Ayton are on their own tier.

Rikleen: Those two are definitely looking like the most exciting two... Just don't get too far ahead of yourselves. Donovan Mitchell was still on waiver wires at the start of November last season. Ayton and Doncic are the most likely players to emerge as the best rookies right now, but they are far from shoe-ins, and I won't own them anywhere. I'd much rather draft someone reliable in the 4th and 5th and then take a flier on Mo Bamba in the final rounds.

Barner: Yes. Ayton is going to be a double-double machine with plenty of blocks and Doncic should provide valuable all around contributions.

Edgerton: On draft night, certainly, but I believe we'll see guys like Bagley, Carter and both Bridges give these guys a run for their money in the ROY race. I think Carter will win a starting job in Chicago and could be a top-three rookie.

Crites: Yes, especially Ayton. I have more confidence in Booker and Ayton playing well together than Smith-Barnes-and-Doncic. Don't get me wrong, Doncic will eventually be awesome. But that roster will take some time to gel.

Barutha: Yes. I had my doubts about Ayton, but at this point if he averages fewer than 15 points and eight rebounds I'd be shocked. Doncic doesn't look like he'll hurt you anywhere in fantasy, which can be as important as finding guys who are categorical specialists.

Blanco: I believe that Ayton definitely has, and that Doncic is pretty close behind him. However, I also have to give Marvin Bagley his props, as he's been very productive in his own right thus far. I put him on that same tier with Ayton and Doncic.

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Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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