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How will the NBA Draft impact DraftKings fantasy games?

  • Jason Whitney

For NBA fans, the period following the NBA finals can be the most exciting time of the year. With the NBA draft lottery over and the NBA finals drawing to a close, pro basketball fans will turn their attention to the draft in late June, and begin speculation on who will be taken where and how effective those players will be.

The draft has serious implications on the success of the teams that pick in the draft lottery, the top 14 picks. Not only will they affect the actual NBA season, these teams will also affect fantasy seasons. The NBA draft is set up so that the teams with the worst records get the best chance for the top picks. There has been increasing conversation about “tanking” in professional basketball, which involves playing a young developing team on purpose to help develop prospects and improve odds for another top-pick.

However, as has been seen in recent years by teams with many top-picks, this strategy doesn’t always work; in fact, it rarely works, with many teams who subscribe to this strategy falling into a vicious circle of prospects that don’t pan out, and promising seasons not delivered on. The top three picks of this year’s draft will be Minnesota, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia. While conventional wisdom leads us to believe that high draft picks instantly improve the teams that draft them, this is shown to be untrue in certain situations. Here is an overview of the top-three picks and the fantasy impact we can expect from their draftees.

The Top-Three:

The first pick of this year’s draft belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who routinely pick in the lottery selections of the draft. This is a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since they jettisoned marquee star Kevin Garnett, to Boston. While Boston went on to enjoy success, Minnesota has seen one of their top picks develop into an All-star, and even that wasn’t enough to pull them out of the basement of the league. With the amount of 1st round picks on Minnesota’s roster, it will be difficult to see how an elite rookie will fit into their plans.

The Lakers are the second pick, and have a unique opportunity to draft a high level player that could help a very successful team. Los Angeles has been hampered by the multiple injuries of hall of famer, Kobe Bryant and lottery pick Julius Randle, leaving their roster depleted and uncompetitive. With the return of key players, and the prevalence of veterans on the roster any new draftee will be put into a situation where there are other high level players around them, and will be given the opportunity to fully develop. Whoever the Lakers pick could have a serious impact on their success.

In the third slot is another team that is used to picking in the lottery, the Philadelphia 76ers. In a situation that almost mirrors the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Sixers haven’t been really relevant since Allen Iverson roamed the floors with ferocity in Philly. While the city saw Andre Iguodala develop into a top-level player, even he couldn’t deliver a deep playoff run. Since, the Sixers have taken many players in the lottery, and none of them have really worked out; every year finding themselves contenders for the top pick again. These types of situations usually don’t spell success for rookie players.

Fantasy Impact:

The explosion of one-day fantasy leagues has helped fantasy participants expand their interests into other sports, including fantasy basketball. These leagues offer the ability to draft a new team every time you play, and doesn’t lock you into a lineup or a league for the entire 82 game season.

While these one-day leagues do require payment to participate, they also require immediate cash payouts for winning. Knowledge of team situations and strategies will help identify rookies to play that will keep you under the salary cap, and give you a better chance to win money. Additionally, offers the ability to earn more by matching deposits made by you. These types of deals are the main cause of the explosion of these sites, as well as the ability to make money by playing.

As far as the top three picks are concerned, it would be smart to stay away from rookies that end up in Minnesota or Philadelphia. As state before, these franchises are notorious for having high draft picks that don’t pan out. On the flip side, draftees by teams like L.A. and New York (4th pick, not covered) have the structure in place to facilitate rookie success, and could be good pick-ups for your one-day fantasy league, depending on match ups, injuries to teammates, and development over the course of a season.


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Jason Whitney

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