Click here for the original version of this mock draft
Editor’s note: Not all players will have accompanying analysis after their pick.
Without further ado, the first pick in the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball draft goes to …
No surprise here. Jokic is a fantasy basketball cheat code after posting a historic 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.3 threes and 2.4 stocks (steals plus blocks) per game with 58/34/81 shooting splits last season. He had the highest single-season Box Plus/Minus (BPM) in NBA history and is the unanimous first-overall pick here.
Coming off his best statistical season and playing a career-high 68 games, Embiid will be the focal point of a fantasy-friendly Sixers offense. As one of the most dominant big men in the league, he finished fourth in the NBA in double-doubles with 2.7 stocks on the defensive end. He should have no issues replicating a top-three performance on a per-game and totals basis if he can play at least 60 games this year.
Durant finished second on a per-game basis in 2021-22, and he’ll continue to see a 30 percent usage rate this season. I expect the Nets to finish top-10 in Pace and Offensive Rating, and KD will lead the way. He checks every box for fantasy basketball.
Giannis is the only player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block in multiple seasons, and he’s done it four years in a row. He finished 10th on a per-game basis last season, but an uptick in three-pointers made while shooting over 72% from the free-throw line will help justify drafting him here.
Luka Magic is in effect. Yeah, he’s known to turn the ball over at a high rate and miss a ton of free throws, but I’m buying his numbers after the Kristaps Porzingis trade. 31.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists with 3.9 threes and 1.0 steal. He’s ripe for an MVP-like season.
I moved Tatum up in my latest mock draft because I think he’ll be more valuable outside of scoring and threes than Stephen Curry. He’ll command a higher usage rate, shoots a higher percentage from the field, and can check every box, similar to Kevin Durant.
[Get in on the fun this fantasy hoops season: Create or join a league now!]
Original take: Still only 24 years old, Tatum put up career-highs in points, rebounds and assists last year with a 32% usage rate. DAWG.
The 2022 Finals MVP and four-time champion annually anchors the points, threes and free throw percentage categories in fantasy basketball. I project Curry’s minutes and usage will remain in the 30s as the centerpiece of one of the best teams in basketball.
Haliburton moves up because Harden looks passive on offense. While he’s still a first-round pick, I’m moving Harden lower (as you’ll see below) as he’s becoming more of a facilitator at this stage in his career.
Original take: If you don’t know, now you know. I’ve seen Haliburton selected in the top five in industry expert drafts, but I’m comfortable grabbing him in the top 10. I’m teetering between Haliburton and LaMelo Ball in this spot, but the former is a good bet to average the most assists per game this year and score over 20 points per night with solid peripherals. In 18 games without Malcolm Brogdon last season, Haliburton tallied 18.6 points, 10.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 threes and 1.8 steals with 50/46/89 shooting splits. Breakout!
Lillard was 13th on my draft board, but he gets a substantial boost after Harden falls, LaMelo Ball‘s ankle injury and Karl-Anthony Towns’ recovery from an illness. Lillard is healthy and has a better team, so fantasy managers should feel comfortable selecting Lillard as a top-10 pick.
Towns gets a slight boost here from pick 11 as he’s back on the court and played well in his only preseason appearance. Now, Rudy Gobert was in street clothes, but Towns looks back to form despite the reported weight loss due to his illness — nineteen points with six rebounds and six assists in his preseason debut.
Original take: The Timberwolves’ frontcourt suddenly got crowded after they traded for Utah Jazz All-Star center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert this offseason. Gobert’s presence should slide KAT to a true-stretch four, which has risks and benefits. He finished eighth on a per-game basis last year, but I’d expect his rebound numbers to drop slightly with a boost in made threes. KAT is accustomed to playing with an offensively limited frontcourt (Taj Gibson, Jarred Vanderbilt), so I’m not overly concerned about Gobert being in town. He should still be able to collect at least two stocks and be the best-shooting big man in the league. Forty-one percent from beyond the arc last year and 40% for this career, just sayin’.
My previous take had Harden “squarely in the top-10” conversation, but from what I’ve seen in the preseason, Harden is closer to last year’s version than the Harden of old. Still, he’s a first-round player for his cross-categorical contributions.
Original take: Harden’s decision to make less and return to Philly on a two-year deal shows he’s ready to ball. The hamstring injury that’s plagued him for two seasons is behind him, and he’s reportedly in great shape heading into this season. He was the only player in the NBA to post over 20+ points and 10+ assists per game in ’21-’22 and finished 15th on a per-game basis despite changing teams midseason and playing on a bum leg. A bounce-back should put him squarely in the top 10 in fantasy basketball.
A sprained ankle will cost the dynamic point guard the first couple of weeks of the regular season. He’s moving down a few spots merely because of the injury. He should still be in line for another standout, All-Star-level season.
Original take: LaMelo Ball enters his third NBA season looking to build off career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, threes made, and FT%. He’s also among the league leaders in steals. The loss of Miles Bridges might decrease his passing numbers after accounting for 23% of Ball’s assists in ’21-’22, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to see a 30% usage while filling up the box score alongside Terry Rozier.
The Suns seem like they’re going through it, but I don’t think it’ll have much bearing on Devin Booker’s production this season. He’s in his prime and an improved playmaker who’s also a walking bucket.
He’ll play more than 29 games this year, and the Nets new “big 3” looked great in Wednesday’s matchup versus the Bucks. Uncle Drew will get his, scoring-wise, but there’s still upside in him as a distributor and rebounder at the position. His high efficiency and sneaky steals make him an early second-round pick in my book.
My suspicions are trending in the right direction, as Trae Young’s assists were not what we’ve come to expect in exact years. Granted, it’s the preseason, but I think Dejounte Murray will continue to eat into his assists despite being one of the best scorers in the league.
[Try Yahoo Fantasy Plus for free to get premium basketball tools]
Original take: Trae Young has a new backcourt mate in All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, but he should still be one of the best fantasy guards this upcoming season. He’s a volume scorer who ranked fourth in usage rate last year at 34.4. I expect Hawks head coach Nate McMillan to stagger Young and Murray’s minutes at the point but also provide Young the chance to work more off-ball to create better looks on the perimeter. He should still boast substantial fantasy numbers without much offense around him and Murray.
While this may seem high for a player coming off of injury, Kawhi is one of the best two-way players in fantasy while sporting elite shooting percentages. Paul George admitted that Kawhi is the alpha for the Clippers, and despite being load managed at times, he’s one of the best on a per-game basis in fantasy basketball.
He might be better than Trae Young in fantasy this season. I’m here for another monster season, live from the A.
Will he play center or not? Not sure that it matters much for fantasy considering he just needs to STAY HEALTHY. Davis was a top-12 player on a per-game basis last season before getting injured so going back to the well. He’s too talented to go beyond the first 18 picks.
The run on perennial All-Stars continues. George is the second option of arguably the best roster in the Western Conference. He might take games off here and there, but PG, similar to Kawhi Leonard, is an exceptional two-way player. If he can cut down on his turnovers and Strengthen his shooting from the field, he could return to first-round value this year.
The King is back and ready to make yet another run for a title. It helps that his teammates are healthy, and while his scoring will likely take a dip, he’s one of a handful of players capable of a triple-double every night.
You’ll likely have to pay up for Ant-man, but he is undoubtedly in breakout territory. He’s well-positioned to make the jump into an All-Star this year. He’s a great source of points, steals, threes and his athleticism makes him a solid rebounder and blocker at his position.
Drafting a player from the Sacramento Kings this early may feel odd, but Sabonis is one of fantasy basketball’s most versatile big men. He won’t do a ton defensively, but he’ll be a reliable source of points, rebounds, assists and FG% as a second-round pick.
Minimal competition in the backcourt, plus he’ll likely be top five in minutes played. He’s a perfect selection when punting field-goal percentage (pair with Luka Doncic, perhaps?) but also will be among the league leaders in threes, steals and FT percentage.
His assists are down since Kyle Lowry arrived, but he’s attempting more threes in the preseason than he has in his career. He is a nice grab here for his defensive stats and double-double potential.
Mitchell finished in the top 30 in per-game value last season and top 50 the year prior. The Cavs are deep, but he’ll be the primary scorer on one of the most fantasy-friendly teams in the league. I’m expecting his points to dip, but he’ll still be one of the better guards of fantasy.
One of my breakouts, so grabbing him as an early third-round pick is the way to go.
Siakam is a stat stuffer who will finish in the top five in minutes played. He’s an ideal fit for any fantasy managers interested in punting blocks, rebounds, and FG%.
He’s got the sauce, plus he’s an exceptional passer and facilitator who can score at will. He and Donovan Mitchell can thrive together and should make for one heck of a dynamic duo in fantasy. I’m still expecting him to be one of the top distributors but provide points, threes, steals and an elite FT percentage in category leagues.
Zion tweaked his ankle in his last preseason game, but Pelicans HC Willie Green and Zion both said that “he’s doing fine.” I’m confident he is still worthy of being selected in the first three rounds.