The NBA is nearly back, which means final preparations need to be made for fantasy drafts that are getting in just under the wire before the start of the 2017-18 regular season on Tuesday.
Below, you will find a complete first-round mock draft for a 12-team league that uses an eight-category (points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers made, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage) scoring system.
We will also highlight a couple of the more noteworthy first-round players and preview what their ceilings could look like as the 2017-18 season gets ready to unfold.
Finally, we will offer a brief overview of a few fresh fantasy team names in case you are in need of some last-minute inspiration.
1st-Round Mock Draft
- 1. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
- 3. James Harden, G, Houston Rockets
- 4. Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors
- 5. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
- 6. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
- 7. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
- 8. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
- 9. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
- 10. Nikola Jokic, PF/C, Denver Nuggets
- 11. John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
- 12. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz
No. 2 Giannis Antetokounmpo and No. 3 James Harden
James Harden is the safe bet at No. 2 overall behind Russell Westbrook, and for good reason.
Not only did he join Oscar Robertson as one of the only players in league history to average at least 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds over the course of an entire season during the 2016-17 campaign, but he also plays in a Houston Rockets offense that played at the league's third-fastest pace last season.
So even with Chris Paul in the fold as his new running mate, Harden should still have plenty of opportunities to stuff stat sheets thanks to the natural flow of head coach Mike D'Antoni's scheme.
Yet Giannis Antetokounmpo begs to be considered at No. 2.
The NBA's reigning Most Improved Player was a revelation last season to the tune of 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. Plus, Antetokounmpo shot 52.1 percent from the field.
No wonder he's dreaming of an MVP prize:
Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks
The interview everyone was talking about yesterday: https://t.co/CqsydAFY0o2017-8-2 14:04:06
Harden's gaudy free-throw rate (.575) and superior three-point conversion rate (34.7 percent) will give prospective owners toying with the idea of adding Antetokounmpo pause.
But considering the Greek Freak is just starting to work his way up the superstar bell curve and already resides in rare statistical air, it's not inconceivable to think he could flirt with averages in the range of 25 points, 10 boards, two steals and two blocks a game this season.
No. 10 Nikola Jokic
Speaking of statistical marvels, it's time for owners drafting in the back half of Round 1 to familiarize themselves with Denver Nuggets wunderkind Nikola Jokic.
A 22-year-old high-post workhorse who burst on to the scene last season, Jokic has throttled into the first-round conversation thanks to a versatile skill set that allows him to check myriad boxes for fantasy scoring purposes.
In 73 games during the 2016-17 campaign, Jokic averaged 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists—making him one of three players, along with Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins—to reach those benchmarks last season.
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"He's one of those superstars," former Nuggets swingman Mike Miller told Altitude Sports in June (via NBA.com). "I think he's going to be a superstar. I think you'll see even more growth at the beginning of this next year, that everyone just wants to play with. He plays that style of basketball. I've compared him a lot to Marc and Pau Gasol, I think he's a lot like that."
And like Antetokounmpo, Jokic isn't yet close to reaching his ceiling.
Beyond the fact that he's due for natural statistical progression as a scorer, rebounder and passer, Jokic figures to see a slight uptick in volume and efficiency from beyond the arc.
Last season, Jokic attempted 1.9 three-point shots per game—up from a mark of 1.1 as a rookie. And while those shots only found the bottom of the net at a 32.4 percent clip, the extra space freed up thanks to Paul Millsap's arrival should allow him to fire away more freely in the months ahead.
Best Team Names
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- The Chronicles of (J.J.) Redick