Free Samples from our 2019-20 Draft Kit

Below I’ll be handing out samples of some of the content included in this year’s draft guide, in tasty and digestible bites.

Here is what I’m serving up:
1) The Beard
2) Forwards to Avoid
3) Bounce Back Ballers
4) What’s Your Definition of a Sleeper?
5) Learn to Draft Like RotoEvil

1) The Beard

Let’s start with last year’s fantasy MVP, James Harden. He’s going to be a Top 3 pick in the vast majority of leagues this season, and for good reason.

I previewed our Cornerstone Combos article with this image of Harden alongside Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam and 4 other potential teammates. Now here is the write-up for those three guys, plus I’ll reveal one more guy from Harden’s cornerstone combo.

James Harden

A 7-time All-Star who has made the playoffs every season since joining the league, and clearly in the prime of his career. Coming off a historical season, the first player since Kobe in 2005-06 and Jordan in 1987-88 to average 35+ points per game. Missed just four games and made and attempted more field goals, 3-pointers and free throws than any player in the league last year. Is nearly impossible to defend thanks to his size and strength, ball-handling skills, shooting touch and bag of tricks. Loves to create contact and force referees into making a call. Lives at the foul line, where he shot 88% FT last year on 11 attempts per game. Made 4.8 treys per game on nearly 37% 3P, and may launch even more threes this season.

A great playmaker who sets up teammates for open looks, with 7.5+ dimes in four straight seasons. Quick hands on D, with 2 steals per game last year (2nd to Paul George). Also pulled down 6.6 boards per game last year, trailing only Russell Westbrook and Ben Simmons among guards. A strong post defender too, who uses his smarts to block .7 shots per game the past two years. Has shown an ability to improve and adapt from year to year, keeping opponents guessing. Will be able to conserve more energy on offense thanks to the addition of Westbrook, which should improve his scoring efficiency. Will be super hungry and motivated after feeling he was snubbed for last season’s MVP award.

A good outside shooter but not an elite one, making over 37% of his threes just once since joining the Rockets. Also converted just 60% of his shots from 0-3 feet last year (by comparison, Curry was 65%), which dropped his overall FG% to just 44.2% (under 45% FG for five straight seasons). His assists took a hit when he played alongside Chris Paul, and he may have the ball in his hands even less with Westbrook around (to be determined). Highly unlikely to take as many shots as he did last year, and fewer drives to the hoop would also result in fewer free throw attempts. Led the league in turnovers last year with 5 per game, hurting his value somewhat in 9-cat leagues. His rebounds will surely fall with Westbrook now in town, potentially by quite a bit. Rockets should also be able to give him more rest this season to keep him fresh, which would lower his overall production.

H2H Strategy:
Since there’s a good chance that Harden leads the league in turnovers yet again, you’ll want to simply forget about that category in H2H leagues, going after more high usage players who rack up stats. The trickier decision is whether or not you should actively punt FG%. Since I project James to shoot over 45% FG finally, I think it makes sense to try and improve this category, so you can at least be competitive depending on the matchup. Shooting big men are useful for teaming up with Harden, since you’ll want to stay strong in threes and FT%. And take a point guard you can trust in the early rounds to further boost your steals and assists.

Roto Strategy:
I suggest taking a stud big man right away in Roto, to immediately start balancing out your stats. It will be important to focus on strong FG% guys, to ensure that you don’t finish in the bottom half of your league in that category. Since Harden will be right around 5 treys per game again but he’s no longer elite in assists, it makes sense to focus on drafting more point guards rather than shooting guards. In 8-cat leagues, he should be the clear-cut #1 pick.

2nd/3rd rounds: Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam
If Ben Simmons is available, show your league that you mean business by forming this high usage tandem. The downside is that Simmons is going to cough the ball over a lot and his sub-60% FT shooting is going to sting, with very few threes as well (unless he’s ready to surprise us). But the good more than makes up for it, as Ben’s strong 56% FG or better will give James a big boost in that category, while stuffing the stat sheet just as well as James does in terms of REB-AST-STL-BLK. Combined, you’re looking at 50+ points, 14-15 rebounds, 16+ assists, 3.5+ steals and 1.5+ blocked shots per game!

Siakam is also a great complement to Harden. Pascal is unlikely to match last year’s 55% FG mark, but he’ll still be over 50% from the field, which helps balance out that major weakness of James. He’s also an improving shooter from both the free throw line and behind the arc, and his assists are sure to climb now that he’s Toronto’s #1 option on offense. Siakam’s defensive stats are pretty solid too, so you’ll become competitive in boards and blocks once you draft a center.

4th/5th rounds: Clint Capela
Capela is another logical choice alongside James. As Harden’s big man in the middle and preferred pick and roll partner, these two have existing synergy and will stuff the stat sheet for you on a nightly basis. Of course you’ll be watching lots of Rockets games if you pair up this duo, which unfortunately means listening to their awful announcing team.

2) Forwards to Avoid

Here are some forwards that you’ll want to ignore at the end of your drafts, so you’re not simply wasting late round picks.

Veteran Forwards With Limited Upside
Nicolas Batum (Hornets), Marvin Williams (Hornets)
2019-20 is clearly a rebuilding season for Charlotte, meaning it’s tough to see how the 30 year old Batum and the 33 year old Williams fit into their puzzle. And both guys played major roles last year (75 starts each), with Nicolas getting 31.4 minutes and Marvin getting 28.4 minutes per contest. Williams has likely already lost his starting job to the emerging Miles Bridges, and he’s a strong trade or buyout candidate this season, as he’ll be a free agent next summer.

Batum’s contract will be much harder to move (a player option for $27 million in 2020-21), so the Hornets may have to keep playing him. But even if Nic is producing well at the start of the season, Charlotte will likely reduce his role later on, in favor of their rookies PJ Washington and Cody Martin. Save yourself the headache and go after a younger guy with more upside.

Harrison Barnes (Kings), Trevor Ariza (Kings)
The Kings were pretty generous with their spending money over the summer, with Barnes getting $85 million over 4 years and Ariza getting $25 million over 2 years, among other contracts. Harrison played nearly 34 mpg after being traded to Sacramento last season, while Trevor also got 34 mpg as a member of both the Suns and Wizards. But playing time won’t come as easy this year, as the Kings are the deepest they’ve been in years.

And it’s not just Barnes and Ariza who are battling each other for small forward minutes, but swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic as well. Bogdan will be the Kings’ 6th man this season, but don’t be surprised if he’s often closing out games over the more experienced Barnes/Ariza duo. But even besides that, Barnes has never been much of a per minute stat stuffer and Ariza is now 34 years old, so the days of him playing 30+ minutes are likely long gone.

3) Bounce Back Ballers

In this article we focus on players that are poised to bounce back, while also suggesting when it’s “safe” to select them.

Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
Love was an All-Star in 2016-17 and 2017-18, but he had no chance of being one last year. The 11 year vet missed a huge chunk of the season after having surgery on his left big toe, and he was in and out of the lineup after he returned (just 22 games played). Kevin was still good for 17 points, 11 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 threes per contest, but he shot a terrible 41% on 2-pointers, compared to nearly 48% 2P for his career. Now he’s in the middle of a Cleveland rebuild, with youngsters like Collin Sexton and Darius Garland looking up to him for guidance on and off the court.

The Cavs definitely need a healthy and efficient Love if they want to compete, and after sitting out 105 games over the past three seasons, one gets the feeling that better injury luck is coming Kevin’s way. There’s too much risk involved to use a Top 50 pick on Love, but snagging him in the #55-65 range could pay off nicely.

Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
It was a rough season for Hayward and anyone who drafted him, as his 11.5 points and 25.9 minutes per game were his lowest averages since his rookie season. He also shot just 33% on threes, well below his 40% 3P mark from 2016-17 (when he was an All-Star for Utah). Gordon did try to adapt, as he took fewer threes and posted up more after the All-Star break, en route to a more efficient 12.2 ppg on 55% FG. And even in a down year, Hayward helped out fantasy teams with 3.4 dimes per game and 83% FT shooting on 2.6 FTA.

The difference between this time last year and now is that Hayward was still rehabbing from his leg injury and trying to re-gain confidence a year ago, whereas this summer he could actually work on his game and should be much more confident at the start of the season. And even if he doesn’t return to his All-Star level, Boston needs Gordon to step up this season, to help replace the losses of Marcus Morris (his reliable 3-point shooting especially) and Al Horford (his passing and playmaking especially). Targeting Hayward after pick #80 is ideal, but there’s reason to believe he can be a Top 75 fantasy player again.

4) What’s Your Definition of a Sleeper?

Other fantasy sites love to use the word “sleeper” as much as possible, but here at RotoEvil, we like to dig much deeper.

Houston Rockets: Austin Rivers, Danuel House
Everyone’s going to be so focused on Harden and Westbrook that Rivers will once again be the forgotten man. But the Rockets will rely on Austin heavily off the bench, thanks to his ability to guard multiple positions. So while he won’t be reliable on a nightly basis, he’s going to have nice games every now and then, especially when either James, Russell or Eric Gordon is forced to sit out.

As for House, he drained 1.9 threes on 42% 3P last season, and those numbers went up to 2.2 treys on 48% 3P in the 13 games that he started. He’s slated to come off the bench with Eric Gordon starting at the three, but don’t be surprised if House gets some spot starts since he has better size than EG, not to mention Gordon has had trouble staying healthy. Now that his contract situation has been resolved (House signed a three year deal over the summer for $11 million), look for Danuel to put together a solid and complete season for the Rockets.

Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday, Goga Bitadze
The youngest Holiday brother should be very excited, because he’s going to start the season in the Pacers’ rotation, thanks to Victor Oladipo being out. It will essentially be a two or three month audition for Aaron to prove that he deserves to stick in the rotation even after Oladipo returns. Not only is it hard to see him failing based on the successes of Jrue, but he’ll be playing alongside his oldest brother Justin for long stretches as well, only adding to his comfort level.

5) Learn to Draft Like RotoEvil

Another popular article is where I detail one of my 25 round, 300 player deep drafts. Besides telling you the players that I picked each round and my thought process behind each decision, I also provide analysis on guys that I passed on, plus picks that I liked and disliked from each round. Here are the first two rounds…

1st Round (#5): Giannis Antetokounmpo (F)
Other Good Picks: James Harden (3), Damian Lillard (10)
Bad or Risky Picks: Joel Embiid (8), Paul George (9)

Having the #5 pick is a pretty sweet deal this year, and I was happy to take Giannis when he fell to me. His strengths and weaknesses are pretty obvious, so you know how to build around him. What shocked me was Harden falling to 3rd, with Curry and Towns going 1-2. You obviously can’t call Curry or KAT bad picks, but Harden at #3 is superb value in 8-cat Roto.

And I won’t call Embiid at #8 and George at #9 bad picks either, but taking them before Lillard was pretty risky, considering Dame’s track record of staying on the court (just 25 games missed over seven seasons), compared to the 18 games that Embiid missed last year, or the 10+ games that George is likely to miss this season as he recovers from shoulder surgeries and then gets some games off. This draft is already off to an interesting start!

2nd Round (#20): Kemba Walker (G)
Other Good Picks: Kawhi Leonard (14), Russell Westbrook (23)
Bad or Risky Picks: Zion Williamson (24)

Picking at #20, the guys taken before me (starting at #15) were Jrue Holiday, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Nikola Vucevic and Rudy Gobert. I made a safe play in taking Kemba, and I like how he gives Giannis a big FT% boost, with lots of threes and assists. Kawhi falling to #14 is a great value play, as was Westbrook near the end of the 2nd. Russell is a tough player for me to figure out this year, but any time after pick #20 seems worth it.

As for Zion, he’s definitely talented enough to return Top 24 value in the near future, but will it happen his rookie season? There’s probably little room for error when targeting Williamson this early, but teams will be hungry to take him.

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