Draft Day Decisions – Player vs. Player
Often times decisions on Draft Day will work themselves out since you need to fill certain positions. Others like to use the 'best player available' mantra for the first few rounds. But how about situations when the Average Draft Position (ADP) is about the same, the position is the same and you are in a quandary trying to decide which player to draft? Situations often come up in which players' previous production is the same and the so-called experts are projecting basically the same production for the two, etc. So what do you do?
Well, we're here to help with those difficult decisions. Here are a few players that are in similar positions with similar projections and ADPs. We'll help you make the right decision on Draft Day so you never look back and head straight to the top.
Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City vs. James Harden, Houston
This is a tough one, as both players are obviously scoring machines and Fantasy must-starts. Either way here, really, you do not lose. However, if you're drafting with the first overall pick, Westbrook has ascended to the top position ahead of the likes of Golden State Warriors G Stephen Curry and his former teammate, now Warriors F Kevin Durant. Westbrook is more multi-dimensional than the others in this section, including Harden. Just look at the triple-doubles he posted (18) last season. Harden, on the other hand, had just three. While it can be argued that Westbrook will face a lot more defensive pressure and those triple-double numbers will be down now that Durant is plying his trade in Oakland, Westbrook is the No. 1 offensive threat in OKC, and no longer has to share the rock. He is going to be a beast again in 2016-17, and is worth your pick over Harden, ever so slightly.
[caption id="attachment_113194" align="alignright" width="300"] Giannis Antetokounmpo has emerged as a Fantasy stud. Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman/Icon Sportswire[/caption]
Giannis Antetokounmpo, G-F, Milwaukee vs. John Wall, G, Washington
In the middle of the early part of the second round in standard Fantasy leagues, owners are not without worry. The 'Greek Freak', or 'Alphabet', is expected to run the point in Cream City this season, so Giannis Antetokounmpo, a name Chicago Bulls broadcaster Stacey King LOVES to say, by the way, is going to be a very popular pick in Fantasy this season. Antetokounmpo is a big player with a varied skill set, posting five triple-doubles last season to Wall's four. But that's not the reason to take him, nor is it for the Scrabble points. Antetokounmpo is just 21 years old and coming off an 80-game season that saw him post 16.9 points per game (PPG), 7.7 rebounds per game (RPG) and 4.3 assists per game (APG) while posting 1.4 blocks per game (BPG) and 1.2 steals per game (SPG). He'll even contribute with the occasional three. He does a little bit of everything, and his perimeter shooting and assist numbers should improve playing the point. Wall will give you a few more assists and threes, but won't come close in the rebounds and blocked shots categories.
Al Horford, C, Boston vs. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit
Horford is settling into his new digs in Beantown, and Fantasy owners are expecting a big season for the big man. At the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3 you'll be looking at Horford and Drummond, who some argue are interchangeable as the third or fourth best centers on the Fantasy board. Each have been flying off the board with an ADP between 23 and 28. In recent seasons Horford's scoring has decreased in Atlanta, and his rebound totals have dropped, too. Toss in the fact that he is 30 years old, learning a new system and new teammates, and there are plenty of question marks. One never questions his blocked shot ability, though, as he can swat a handful on any given night.
Drummond, seven years younger than Horford, has been going slightly later. But why? He averaged 16.2 PPG, 14.8 RPG and 1.4 BPG in 81 games last season, and has missed a total of just two games in the past three seasons. Horford averaged 15.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 82 games last year. While the assist totals might be slightly better for Horford, this isn't even close, and Fantasy owners are overvaluing Horford based on his move to Boston. Drummond is a much better and steadier contributor.
Victor Oladipo, G, Oklahoma City vs. DeMar DeRozan, G-F, Toronto
Oladipo lands in OKC as the new sidekick for Westbrook, and they have developed a nice rapport during the preseason. Will Oladipo replace the Durantula, or even come close? Well, no. But there is room for Oladipo to improve his offensive production after averaging 15.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 4.0 APG with 1.6 SPG in his first three NBA seasons in Orlando. While that's all well and good, projections are fine, etc., we know what DeRozan can do. He has filled up the stat sheet with 22.2 PPG over the past three campaigns, posting 4.3 or more RPG and holding steady around 4.0 APG. That's basically the same production as Oladipo during the span, except with much greater point production. Sure, Oladipo can take a big step forward, but will he? We already know what DeRozan can do, and if you're worrying about which to take, this is a no-brainer.
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver vs. Marc Gasol, C Memphis
Jokic had a superb rookie season, posting 10.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 2.4 APG while posting 1.0 SPG with an occasional blocked shot. Gasol has essentially been posting that kind of production and then some in each of his eight NBA seasons, but he is coming back from a fractured foot and that always gives Fantasy owners pause. However, so far it has been clear sailing in the preseason for Gasol, who was on his way to another fine season at 16.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 3.8 APG before his injury. He also nearly doubled up Jokic in blocked shots. It takes a little bit of a leap of faith to draft Gasol after his foot issue, but he is far superior in points, assists and blocked shots. Do you want to play it safe and have Jokic with less production, or roll the dice on Gasol's foot staying intact? Choose the latter if you want to win.
Dwyane Wade, G, Miami vs. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas
OK, these two guys play much different positions, but they are two aging stars in the twilight of their careers going off the board in generally the same area of Fantasy drafts. About the middle of Round 5 to the early part of Round 7 is where D-Wade and Disco Dirk have been going, and you cannot lose with either really. Depending on what position you're looking to fill, both can be decent Fantasy contributors. However, Wade is back in his hometown of Chicago after 13 years in Miami, and he proved last season that his knee can take the pounding of a full season still, and he can be productive. Wade posted 19.0 PPG, 4.6 APG and 4.1 RPG with 1.1 SPG in 74 games, and while his 3-point shooting was way off, he helped Fantasy owners in a multitude of ways, especially in Rotisserie formats. The 38-year-old Nowitzki posted 18.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 1.8 APG in 75 games, and his assist and rebound totals have been on a steady decline for years. As a third or fourth forward, he is still a nice option in most formats, but if you are deciding between the two, Wade is the clear-cut choice, especially since he'll be one of the top scoring options in Chitown.
Jabari Parker, F, Milwaukee vs. Nerlens Noel, F-C, Philadelphia
These are two electrifying young players who have each dealt with major injuries in their early NBA careers. Parker has had foot and knee issues that limited him in his first two seasons, although he still pounded out 14.1 PPG with 5.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 0.9 SPG in 76 games last season. Noel came into the league with a major knee injury, missing the entire 2013-14 NBA season. He has slowly but surely grown into a major cog in the Philly offense, upping his production to 11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 1.8 APG with 1.5 BPG in 67 games last season. He just seems to be a lot more fragile than Parker after two NBA seasons, and the 76ers also have a glut of talent in the frontcourt, including rookie Ben Simmons who should be ready in January. Remember, Joel Embiid is set to debut, and that will heavily impact Noel's minutes, too, which the 76ers will gladly limit to preserve him for the long haul. Parker will have fewer restrictions and has a much higher Fantasy ceiling.
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