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Wednesday August 19, 2009 3:10 pm

One Man Mock Draft, Fantasy NBA 2009: Round 1, Pick 5




Posted by Alvin Lai Categories: Fantasy, NBA,

KD

Oh, Portland. Will destiny link the names of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden together for all time? As the old saying goes, you cannot teach height. You also cannot teach sheer awesome scoring prowess. Heading into his third year in the league, this guy has lapped Oden in career achievement thus far several times over. As a hoops fan, hopefully Oden can overcome his injuries and show the world what he can do. In the meantime, though? Tell mommy to throw the food guide out the window because this season it will be KD for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Round 1, Pick 5: Kevin Durant, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder

Here are his numbers and league ranks from last season in the nine major statistical categories.

Field Goal Percentage: 0.476 (45th)
Free Throw Percentage: 0.863 (24th)
Three-pointers made: 97 (1.3 per game) (65th)
Points: 25.3 (6th)
Rebounds: 6.5 (39th)
Assists: 2.8 (60th)
Steals: 1.3 (18th)
Blocks: 0.72 (47th)
Turnovers: 3.04 (8th)

How many players in history could average better than 25 points per game as a sophomore in the league? As points of reference, consider these players. LeBron James averaged 27.2 ppg in year two. Michael Jordan averaged 22.7 while playing in only 18 games played, but in his second full season, he ripped the league up to the tune of 37.1 ppg. The Lakers brought along Kobe Bryant pretty slowly, and he averaged 15.4 points a game as a follow-up to his rookie season. Dominique Wilkins averaged 21.6, Allen Iverson averaged 22.0 and Larry Bird averaged 21.2 points during their second seasons. Despite still being an NBA infant, Durant has a very good chance of joining the pantheon of elite scorers in league history.

Drafting Durant gives you options. If you like the blunt force trauma aspect of big ball, not many guards play bigger. To me, it looks like he could still be a bigger force on the defensive end i.e. he will grow as a shot-blocker. Compared to his rookie year, he improved his shooting from the floor by almost five percentage points, all while becoming a more dangerous threat from beyond the arc. Yes, the turnovers rack up pretty quickly, but every superstar handles the ball a lot during the game, and turnovers are a necessary evil. Address this by filling out your utility and bench spots with low-turnover players, and your team will work out just fine.

Who else could you pick here? Danny Granger delivers similar fantasy goodness, but carries more injury risk than Durant does. Plus, Durant’s role is firmly established in Oklahoma, while Granger must have gained at least a little bit of extra stats last year because Mike Dunleavy was injured. Dwight Howard provides “A” to “A-plus” production in four categories (FG%, points, rebs and blocks) while hurting you in free-throw percentage and turnovers. Even a slightly improved shot from the line would raise his scoring up two to three points per game. I love Howard for a head-to-head league and almost won the title with him headlining my friends and family league last year. Yet for this upcoming season I think I love Durant more. Dirk Nowitzki falls into the Kobe-Peyton Manning type of fantasy pick, but not being eligible at center has slowly dropped his average draft position over the last few years.

Fantasy sports boils down to minimizing risk and maximizing potential. Out of the five players drafted thus far, Durant has the best chance to surpass the numbers he put up last year. Not much else in playing fantasy sports beats making a pick that puts you ahead of the curve. Your draft this year will truly begin when Durant gets picked; it will dictate what happens over the rest of the first round, and it will likely affect the order players are taken in the second and third rounds as well. As mentioned in the previous posts, if you want him, go get him; some might even make a strong statement early by drafting him as high as second or third overall. If that happens, the five hole in your draft is a nice place to land as you can just pick up whichever player drops down to you as a result of Durant leaving the board early!

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