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Roundball Stew

30-Team NBA Fantasy Draft Breakdown

by Matt Stroup
Updated On: October 18, 2019, 1:00 pm ET

There’s only one league out there — at least only one in my life — where you pull Dwayne Bacon off the shelf at pick No. 153 and then celebrate like your life just drastically changed for the better.

Moments after the pick, I receive a message from a colleague, saying he had been hoping to get Bacon on his squad. I try to sound humble. Yeah, we’ll see how it works out. But the truth is, I’m excited.

That’s right, it’s a Dwayne Bacon victory lap.

Never mind that Bacon’s best stretch last season was not exciting (12.8 ppg, 1.8 3s and not much else during a 12-game run to close out the year). The fact is, Bacon is a locked and loaded starter for me, the sixth player to join my roster and a guy I can hardly afford to lose.

This is life in 30 Deep, the 30-team league I’ve been playing in with a bunch of Rotoworld colleagues and other fantasy analysts for the last decade or so. 

I enter this year as the reigning 30-Deep champion, which I pulled off picking from the No. 23 spot last year (I still need to send team T-shirts to Chris Paul, Buddy Hield and Clint Capela). 

This season, if I’m going to repeat, I’ll have to do it picking from an even less ideal position — 28th — in this 30-team snake draft. 

Yes, it’s a massive advantage to have an early pick. At the same time, it’s also a fun challenge to try to win a league when your best player is the equivalent of a third-rounder in another format. And no matter who your best player is, in a 30-team league, depth matters a ton. 

This ultra-slow draft is around its midway point as we speak, and today I’m here to recap picks 1-150. I’ll stop every 15 picks for some analysis. Let’s go…

Picks 1-15

1. Anthony Davis
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Karl-Anthony Towns (Tommy Beer, Rotoworld)
4. James Harden
5. Nikola Jokic
6. Stephen Curry
7. Joel Embiid
8. Bradley Beal
9. Damian Lillard
10. LeBron James
11. Jrue Holiday (Mike Gallagher, Rotoworld)
12. Russell Westbrook
13. Luka Doncic
14. Kawhi Leonard
15. Trae Young

Thoughts: I’ve consistently been pulling late first round picks in most of my drafts (or in the case of this draft, very late first round), but if I was picking at or near the top, I don’t know how I’d have the discipline to pass on Steph Curry. I realize there’s some risk for rest, but that’s true for just about everyone at this point, and the last time Steph played a season without Kevin Durant on his team (in 2015-16), he averaged 30.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 6.7 apg, 2.1 spg and 5.1 3s — and was the runaway No. 1 fantasy player. With that said, I can see the appeal of taking KAT first in the load management era. … This is a 9-category league, so you can count me out on Westbrook and Doncic, who are threats to put you into the negatives in all three of what I call the Sub-Zero categories — FG percentage, FT percentage and turnovers. Nevertheless, I could hear Dr. A scream clear across the state of Georgia when Luka was taken three picks ahead of him. … Trae Young has had some turnover issues this preseason, but he had none of them in an impressive showing against the Knicks on Wednesday (23 points, five boards, nine dimes), a game where he was getting into the paint at will. Over his final 40 games last season, TraeTV put up 22.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 8.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 2.4 3s, shooting 43.8 percent from the field (with 3.6 turnovers). I love taking a shot on him in the 15 range.

Editor's Note: If you're on the hunt for rankings, projections, strategy and advice on how to dominate your drafts, check out the all-new Rotoworld NBA Draft Guide. Now mobile-optimized with a new look and feel, it's never been easier to take our award-winning advice with you to your drafts for that extra competitive edge! Click here to learn more!

Picks 16-30

16. Zion Williamson (Steve Alexander, Rotoworld)
17. Kyrie Irving (Ryan Knaus, Rotoworld)
18. Rudy Gobert
19. Kemba Walker
20. Jimmy Butler
21. Andre Drummond
22. Devin Booker
23. Donovan Mitchell 
24. De’Aaron Fox
25. Nikola Vucevic
26. Paul George
27. Ben Simmons
28. Deandre Ayton (Matt Stroup, Rotoworld — me!)
29. LaMarcus Aldridge
30. Ja Morant

Comments: Here’s the good news on Zion: He’s averaging 23.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.5 spg — on 71.4 percent shooting — in the preseason. Here’s the bad news: Through four games, he has zero blocks, just one total 3-pointer and he’s 22-of-32 from the FT line (68.8 percent). Tommy Beer and Ryan Knaus both said on the podcast recently that they’re not worried about the blocks, but between shaky production in 3s and FTs, make sure you’re building your roster accordingly if you have Zion. (Fri. afternoon update: Zion is now set to miss a "period of weeks" to start the season, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Woj adds there's "no shortage of confidence" for a full recovery, but the durability questions with Zion aren't going anywhere soon.) … I’ve said it before — I think you are straight-up stealing from people if you get Nikola Vucevic anywhere around 25. He was the No. 11 player in 9-category leagues last season (20.8 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.1 3s), he is re-signed to a long-term deal in Orlando (four years, $100 million), and remains the undisputed centerpiece of the Magic. I’ll take him in the 13-15 range if I think I’m going to miss out on him otherwise. … I went with Ayton here because he already posted close to top-30 value last season, and whether he does anything in 3-pointers or not, I think 22 and 12 is potentially in there somewhere (he averaged 16.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.9 spg and 0.9 bpg as a 20-year-old rookie). … This is early for Morant, but when your next pick isn’t until around No. 90, there’s something to be said for getting the guy you want. Here's my full writeup on Morant from earlier in the summer after the Grizzlies traded away Mike Conley.

Follow me on Twitter – @MattStroup 

Picks 31-45

31. Julius Randle
32. Jaren Jackson Jr.
33. Pascal Siakam (me)
34. Blake Griffin
35. Kristaps Porzingis
36. Myles Turner
37. Zach LaVine
38. Jamal Murray
39. Draymond Green
40. Mike Conley
41. Mitchell Robinson
42. Bam Adebayo
43. Tobias Harris
44. John Collins (Ryan Knaus)
45. Caris LeVert (Steve Alexander)

Reactions: I was thrilled to get Siakam here, a player I would draft anywhere starting around No. 25. He was a top-40 player last season (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.0 3s), and is set for a major spike in volume with Kawhi Leonard no longer in Toronto. … I love Porzingis’ upside, but I’m too scared to invest in him in the 30 range with all the potential for rest. I do think he’s going to be a lot of fun when he’s actually out there though. … I’m also fading Blake Griffin, who was closer to 70th overall than 30th last season. … This is a steal on Mike Conley and John Collins, two players who could easily go in the 30 range. 

Picks 46-60

46. Clint Capela
47. D’Angelo Russell
48. C.J. McCollum
49. Buddy Hield
50. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Mike Gallagher)
51. Lauri Markkanen
52. Domantas Sabonis
53. DeMar DeRozan
54. Khris Middleton
55. Marvin Bagley
56. Kyle Lowry
57. Thomas Bryant
58. Otto Porter (Tommy Beer)
59. Lonzo Ball
60. Jayson Tatum

Meanderings: Capela was a borderline top-20 guy in 9-category leagues last season, and has been one of the best values I’ve seen this draft season. Him dropping to 46 is just insane, even if he has to concede a couple of rebounds here and there to Russell Westbrook. … I’m a huge fan of Hield, a high-volume ironman who played 82 last season while dropping 3.4 treys a game. … Among a bunch of safe/solid/boring names like McCollum, DeRozan and Middleton, one name that really stands out to me here is Bagley, who averaged 14.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.0 bpg as a 19-year-old rookie, hinting at a pretty monstrous ceiling in the near future. 

Picks 61-75

61. Jonathan Isaac
62. Jonas Valanciunas
63. Chris Paul (Tommy Beer)
64. Terry Rozier
65. Marc Gasol
66. Kevin Love
67. Eric Bledsoe
68. Malcolm Brogdon
69. Collin Sexton
70. Al Horford
71. Josh Richardson (Mike Gallagher)
72. Hassan Whiteside
73. Aaron Gordon
74. Danilo Gallinari
75. Ricky Rubio

Reflections: Getting Isaac around the 60 spot of any draft is a beautiful thing, which I'm sure is the same thing Tommy Beer is saying about landing Chris Paul. Remember, CP3 was a top-20 player when he was on the court last season, so this is a pretty safe spot to gamble even if we know he’s going to miss a bunch of games. … Rozier popped off for a 24-7-8 line with two steals and four treys on 9-of-15 shooting on Monday, and if he can somehow shoot somewhere in the 43-45 percent range, he’s going to be an absolute fantasy dynamo. … In a portion of the draft filled with intriguing old dudes, this was phenomenal value on Al Horford, a top-30 player in 9-category leagues on a per-game basis last season. 

Continue onward for thoughts on picks 76-150, and a look at my roster so far...