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12-Team Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft: First Three Rounds (2020-21)

Dec 11, 2020

This year, we got the NBA staff at FantasyPros together and invited special guest Jovan Buha of the Athletic to join us for a 12-team, 12-round Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft.

The rules were very simple. This is a points league with 12 roster spots: PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F, PF/C and four bench spots.

For the sake of brevity, we decided to share only our first three rounds. Each drafter provided short analysis for his first three picks, and while the results were mostly what you would expect, there were some notable risers and fallers from last season.

Special thanks to Aaron Larson, Adam Koffler, Brad Camara, Zak Hanshew, Jovan Buha, Shaan Hoda, Dan Titus, Dave Kluge, Alex Burns, Jon Mathisen, Raju Byfield, and Brendan Tuma for their analysis.

Click here for current average draft position (ADP) information.

Let’s get to it!

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Round 1

1.01 Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL – F)
The first pick comes with some pressure, but I felt the obvious choice was Giannis Antetokounmpo. James Harden has finished No. 1 in fantasy scoring in back-to-back seasons, but the uncertainty regarding his future has rendered him a risk. Luka Doncic or Anthony Davis could pop as fantasy’s most valuable asset, but Antetokounmpo is the surer bet. The Greek Freak, the fantasy runner-up in 2018-19 and 2019-20 still has room to grow as a scorer, playmaker and defender. With a few extra minutes, he’d be a fantasy monster easily clearing the 60-point plateau.  –Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha)

1.02 Luka Doncic (DAL – G,F)
This decision came down to Doncic and James Harden, and I decided to go with the certainty of the former with Harden involved in several trade rumors. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2018-19, Doncic became a bona fide superstar last season, averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. That was good for sixth in the league in scoring, fourth in the league in assists. He also led all point guard-eligible players in rebounds per game (9.4), with Russell Westbrook coming in second with 7.9 rebounds per game. With Kristaps Porzingis (knee surgery) slated to miss the beginning of the 2020-21 season, Doncic will be asked to shoulder even more of the load for the Mavericks. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the third-year Slovenian star averaged a triple-double this season. –Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)

1.03 Anthony Davis (LAL – F,C)
It’s pretty insane how top-loaded the draft is this year. James Harden, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Trae Young were all pretty tempting options to take here. Anthony Davis is coming off the worst season as a rebounder since his 2012-2013 rookie campaign. His field goal percentage was also the second-worst of his career at just 50.3 percent. This seems like an opportunity to buy-low on a player that can easily finish as the top fantasy producer this season. Even in a “down year” Davis logged 26.1 points (10th in the league) and 9.3 rebounds (18th in the league). I expect the Lakers big man to develop further after his first full season with LeBron James and increase his scoring and rebounding. –Dave Kluge (@dkluge90)

1.04 James Harden (HOU – G)
It’s hard to pass the reigning three-time defending scoring champ. Harden has scored at least 30 points in each of his last three seasons, while posting at least 7.0 dimes, 5.0 boards, and 1.8 swipes in that span. Rumors are swirling that he won’t be back in Houston next season, and while that gave me a second of hesitation, it ultimately didn’t sway me to look elsewhere with the fourth pick. –Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

1.05 Trae Young (ATL – G)
I could have went in a dfferent direction wit this pick, but ultimately felt Trae Young was the best player left on the board. He has taken control of the Hawks’ offense and finished seventh in the NBA in scoring during the 2019-20 campaign. Young averaged 29.6 points, 9.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 3.4 triples over 60 games. Atlanta revamped their roster around their star PG, but expect more of the same from Young in 2020-21.Young is about safe as they come in the first round. -Brad Camara (@beerad30)

1.06 Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN – C)
With steals and blocked shots being worth three points apiece in our H2H scoring format,Towns made sense here. He’s averaged 1.5 blocks and 0.8 steals/per game over his career. He was also a double-double machine lat season, posting one in 24-of-35 games played while making 3.3 3Pt per contest and shootting 41-percent from beyond the arc. He’s still just 25-years old and is fully recovered from the fractured wrist that forced him to miss time last season. I’m betting on talent and believe Towns–who had been a model of durability prior to 2019-2020– will put up his best season to date with the addition of Ricky Rubio to Minnesota’s roster. –Jon Mathisen (@eazymath)

1.07 Stephen Curry (GSW – G)
I may be biased as a Warriors fan, but frankly, I chose to snag Steph at #7 in a heartbeat. He was already locked and loaded for a strong bounceback season after suffering a broken hand injury that essentially forced him out nearly all of last year. But with the unfortunate news of Klay’s torn Achilles, that only makes me extra bullish on Curry’s sky-high potential. I would expect his workload to go through the roof, where he should be capable of recording plenty of monster performances. And with Kelly Oubre Jr. and James Wiseman now in the mix, I’d anticipate the Warriors to be a solid bet to clinch a playoff spot, meaning less nights off for the starters. Oh, and just remember that he still averaged 27.3 points per game with KD and Klay on the court, only two years ago. Don’t be surprised if he finishes as a top three fantasy player this season. -Shaan Hoda (shaantheshark)

1.08 Jayson Tatum (BOS – F)
Anytime you’re gifted with the eighth pick in the draft, it’s not an ideal situation but I feel great landing Jayson Tatum. I probably would have drafted him as high as six overall – I’m that high on the Celtics fourth-year forward. He’ll be the first option on a team that ranked ninth in points per game last season and he’s only getting better. To say he went off after the all-star break is an understatement, posting 26.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 3.6 3PM,1.5 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. I expect him to rack up the stats across every category in a points league and has the upside to exceed his draft position with Kemba Walker being out early in the season. –Dan Titus (@itsdtitus)

1.09 Kevin Durant (BKN – F)
Kevin Durant is going to feast on the Eastern Conference. A long layoff and two devastating injuries later, Kevin Durant is still arguably the most talented player in the NBA. He has an efficient game which is key in points leagues and will be among the league’s leading scorers. I am not at all concerned about his fit with Kyrie Irving. Irving has matured since his time with LeBron and is a true point guard, unlike someone like Russell Westbrook. Durant could fall to the early second in some draft rooms but I was not willing to take the risk on someone who will push for top five numbers. Durant, a smooth shooting seven footer, is not overly reliant on explosion and should be able to produce first round value even if he will not be 100 percent until closer to the 2021 playoffs. –Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

1.10 Nikola Jokic (DEN – C)
With my first-round pick, I want a player that will reliably contribute in multiple categories all season long. That exactly what I got with Jokic and frankly, he feels like a steal at the ten spot. Joker nearly averages a double-double for his career and his 13 triple-doubles last season tied LeBron James for second-most in the NBA. He’s an ideal foundation for a fantasy roster.  –Aaron Larson (@aalarson)

1.11 Damian Lillard (POR – G)
After averaging a career-best 30.0 points and 8.0 assists per game during the regular season, Lillard took his game to another level in the bubble. He single-handedly carried his team to the playoffs and was named the first ever Bubble-MVP as a result. With that being said, selecting Lillard towards the back half of the first round was a no-brainer. The 30-year-old guard has averaged at least 25.1 points per game and drilled at least 214 three’s in each of the last five seasons. Even more remarkable, he has only missed 25 total games across his eight-career, cementing Lillard’s status as a strong first-round selection. -Alex Burns (@aburnshoops)

1.12 LeBron James (LAL – G,F)
LeBron James proved inside the bubble that he remains the best player in the world. What’s very up for debate is whether or not he still warrants a first-round pick in fantasy basketball leagues. My biggest concern with this early selection of the four-time NBA champ is whether or not he sits out the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign. Danny Green said on the Ringer NBA Show back in early-November that he thinks James and other players might sit out the first month or so should league play begin on December 22nd. That could’ve been a leveraging ploy, but it was certainly worth noting. Of course, I have zero concerns over James’ stats for the games in which he plays. Pairing him with Paul George made the upside worth the risk. –Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

Round 2

2.01 Paul George (LAC – G,F)
We all know that Paul George had some ugly games inside the bubble. He spoke openly about the mental challenges the bubble presented, however, and it’s not something I’ll hold against him moving forward. The 30-year-old wasn’t at his best in the 2019-20 season, as the entire Clippers team kept saying they’ll shake off the rust when it matters. Well, that didn’t happen. One would figure this team needs to come out with a chip on their shoulder by playing hard every night. George is a steady, well-rounded forward to pair with LeBron James as the building blocks of my team.
Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

2.02 Joel Embiid (PHI – C)
It was a frustrating season for the entire Sixers’ organization in 2019-20 and Embiid was certainly a product of the disfunction. He saw small drops in almost every major statistcal category and was forced to miss a handful of games due to various injuries. Still, the 26-year-old walking double-double went on to average 23.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game in what was largely viewed as a down year for the big-man. With Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey now helping run the show in Philly, they have already made tremendous strides to surround Embiid with shooters, such as Seth Curry and Danny Green, that will help space the floor and open up the paint for him to dominate. Health will always be a concern with Embiid but the upside on an improved roster is too hard to pass up. I’m fully expecting a bounce-back season for the big-man and for his numbers to return close to what they were in 2018-19. -Alex Burns (@aburnshoops)

2.03 Devin Booker (PHO – G)
Booker is the centerpiece on arguably the most exciting young team in the NBA. He was a top ten scorer last season with his 26.6 points/game and quietly added a solid 6.5 assists/game. For context, that was in the same range for assists as Fred VanVleet and Chris Paul, though Booker clearly brings more total upside given his ability to take over a game with his scoring. Pairing him with Jokic gives me a duo that will rack up plenty of fantasy points across multiple categories. —Aaron Larson (@aalarson)

2.04 Kawhi Leonard (LAC – G,F)
Kawhi has to be rueing his decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers. Last year showed us a team devoid of chemistry cannot overcome and succeed just on talent alone, but none of that matters for fantasy basketball. The Clippers issues in 2019-20 led to Kawhi seeing career highs in points per game, three pointers per game, and assists. Los Angeles only made minor additions this offseason, and while they should have more chemistry, Kawhi will still be leaned on to carry the load when he chooses to play. Load management, or if the Athletic is correct, ‘plays when he wants to’, is the reason a potential top five per game player is available at the start of the second round. He was too risky to take in the first, but has unrivaled value in the second. –Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

2.05 Ben Simmons (PHI – G,F)
In the second round, I was pleased to see one of another stat-stuffer available in Philly PG, PF Ben Simmons. In a points league, I think he’ll be the ideal fit alongside Jayson Tatum. He led the NBA in steals last season (2.1 SPG) and was recognized for his defensive prowess by being named First-team All-Defense, and finishing fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. He averaged 16.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 8.0 APG in his third NBA season, and there’s no reason he can’t improve those numbers with Doc Rivers at the helm and the Sixers adding shooters around him to space the floor. I’m all in on the fourth-year player and expect an uptick in the scoring department as well. -Dan Titus (@itsdtitus)

2.06 Andre Drummond (CLE – C)
I was tempted to go with another guard to complement Stephen Curry, but selecting Drummond seemed like the safe pick, and it never hurts to diversify. The former Piston should be well acclimated to his new role in Cleveland. He’s led the league in rebounding multiple seasons, and there’s no reason why he can’t do it again at 27-years-old. It certainly helps that Tristan Thompson is no longer in the picture too. Drummond averaged 17.7 points and 15.2 rebounds per game last season, and I’d expect him to improve on those numbers this year. -Shaan Hoda (shaantheshark)

2.07 Jimmy Butler (MIA – G,F)
There were plenty of proven scorers left on the board when I made this selection but Butler and his defensive prowess is a great fit for the team I’m trying to build. He offers well-rounded production (19.9 points, 6.7 rebouds, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game in 2019-2020) at a highly consistent level and also posesss dual elgibility (SG/SF) in Yahoo! He has triple-double upside on any given night and a safe floor with the ability to rack up points in every statistical category. –Jon Mathisen (@eazymath)

2.08 Bam Adebayo (MIA – F,C)
With having Trae Young on my roster already, I decided to go with a big-man with this pick and selected Heat C Bam Adebayo. He broke out last season, averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks over 72 games in 2019-20. Bam also recorded 40 double-doubles, good for ninth overall in the NBA. The 23-year-old center signed a five-year, $163 million contract extension this offseason. He emerged as an All-Star last year and his role in the Heat’s offense is cemented. Adebayo should build on his breakout campaign and once again be in top-5 among all centers in fantasy points in 2020-21. -Brad Camara (@beerad30)

2.09 Deandre Ayton (PHO – C)
With Harden already selected, I wanted to cement the foundation of my team with a quality center. The 2018 No.1 overall pick took another step forward in his second season, averaging 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.9 dimes in 2019-20, adding 1.5 blocks to his repertoire as he improved on the defensive end of the court. Phoenix traded scoring option Kelly Oubre and added floor general Chris Paul, which should be a boost for the big man. Ayton should see plenty of work in the pick-and-roll with Paul at point guard, and if he can continue to ascend as a defender, he’s oozing with top-20 upside thanks to his scoring, rebounding, and shooting percentages. –Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

2.10 Bradley Beal (WAS – G)
Bradley Beal quietly finished the season with 30.5 points per game, second-highest in the league and a personal career-best. In addition to his step forward as a scorer, Beal logged a career-high 6.1 assists per game. With Russell Westbrook joining the team, it can certainly cut into Beal’s production, but I expect Beal to lead the team in scoring as Westbrook plays second fiddle. At just 27-years-old Beal is still developing as a player and we can see him reach superstar status here in his ninth year as a pro. –Dave Kluge (@dkluge90)

2.11 John Collins (ATL – F,C)
You don’t hear a lot about Collins, which makes the rising star one of the most underrated assets in fantasy basketball this season. He’s gotten better every year, and last season Collins averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, a feat accomplished by only two other players (Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid). Some people might be gun-shy on Collins after Atlanta did yeoman’s work in the offseason by adding scorers such as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari, but don’t let that talk you off Collins. Gallinari is reportedly going to come off the bench, and Bogdanovic plays a completely different position. Also, the Hawks were in the top-5 in terms of pace of play last season. If anything, these moves will allow Collins to operate more freely on both ends of the floor, thus leading to the potential for even more fantasy value.  –Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)

2.12 Kyrie Irving (BKN – G)
Kyrie Irving only played in 20 games last season, but he finished 13th in fantasy scoring per game and remains one of the league’s best scorers and playmakers. He’s going to have to share the ball with three high-usage scorers in Durant, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie – or Harden – and it’s unclear how much that’ll affect his overall numbers (particularly his 6.4 assists per game). But as the final pick of the second round, he’s a solid gamble who could provide first-round upside. –Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha)

Round 3

3.01 Russell Westbrook (WAS – G)
At the time of this pick, Russell Westbrook was still a Rocket. I begrudgingly chose him because the value was too good to pass on. Had I known he was going to be traded to Washington, I’d have been excited. Westbrook could very well take a step back next season due to age regression or his new environment with Bradley Beal. But he’s still a walking triple-double threat whose steal numbers (1.6 per game) belie his actual defensive impact. Even with a theoretical dip, Westbrook is a top-25 fantasy scorer. –Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha)

3.02 Donovan Mitchell (UTH – G)
Mitchell’s incredible performance in the Bubble playoffs vs. the Nuggets is what led me to select him with the 2nd pick of the 3rd round. He and Jamal Murray went bucket for bucket in those games, and both guys showcased their potential as NBA superstars. In the 7-game series, Mitchell averaged a whopping 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 38 minutes per game. Fresh off a 5-year, $195M max contract extension, I expect Mitchell to show the world why he’s one of the top guards in the game this season. –Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)

3.03 Rudy Gobert (UTH – C)
Rudy Gobert finished his seventh season in Utah with a career-high 13.5 rebounds per game, good for fourth in league. He also had his sixth-consecutive season with at least 2.0 blocks per game and finished last year with the sixth-most in the league. Those stats are pesky to accumulate in fantasy basketball leagues and Gobert offers a solid floor for both categories. In addition, he’s coming off 15.1 points, the second-highest of his career and a solid total for someone labelled as a defender. –Dave Kluge (@dkluge90)

3.04 Ja Morant (MEM – G)
Morant dazzled in his first NBA season, winning Rookie of the Year honors while guiding Memphis to within a game of the playoffs. The Murray State product averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 dimes, and 3.9 rebounds while logging 15 double-doubles and two triple-doubles…but there’s still room to improve. Morant isn’t an adept three-point shooter, and he needs to improve on his free-throw shooting. Steps forward in those categories and a natural progression to his scoring and facilitating could propel him even further up the fantasy leaderboard in his second season. I was happy to grab him early in the third round. –Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

3.05 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC – G,F)
I was hoping Donovan Mitchell or Ja Morant would have fallen to me in the third round, but this wasn’t the case and settled for G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He had a terrific sophmore campaign, averaging 19.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 threes in 34.7 minutes. SGA will once again be the focal point of the Thunder’s offense and should be able to build on his breakout season. The Thunder have moved on from Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder this off-season. Gilgeous-Alexander will shift back to the point and is expected to see an expanded role and increase in usage.. SGA also qualifies at SF, giving him mult-elgiblity on some sites (Yahoo!). Everything is lined up for the the 22-year-old to top his breakout performance in 2019-20. -Brad Camara (@beerad30)

3.06 Jrue Holiday (MIL – G)
I’m typically wary of players on a new team but I made an exception in the case of Holiday who will still get plenty of usage in Milwaukee. He’s another dual-elgibile (PG/SG) guard who can contribute in every catergory and should see an uptick in points, assits, and steals playing alongside the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s averaged 6.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game over his career. Locking up Towns, Butler, and Holiday with my first three picks rounds out a solid all-catergory contributing nuclues that should give me a real advantage in steals and blocks. –Jon Mathisen (@eazymath)

3.07 Pascal Siakam (TOR – F)
Pascal Siakam had a tough experience in the bubble, averaging only 17.7 points on 39% shooting. But don’t let those postseason stats deter you from investing an early-round pick in him. He still registered career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game last season. After averaging 22.9 points and 7.3 rebounds on the year, I would expect those numbers to further increase especially with the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. -Shaan Hoda (shaantheshark)

3.08 Nikola Vucevic (ORL – C)
I selected Nikola Vucevic here because I needed to fill a void at the center position. There aren’t many centers in today’s game that offer 20 and 10 production and can actually stay on the floor for most of the season. Insert Vucevic. The 10-year veteran averaged 19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.8 blocks across 62 games last season after playing 80 games the season prior. The Magic will be missing one of their best defensive players this season with Johnathan Isaac being out, so I think Vucevic will have another dominant season for Orlando. He’s not the sexy pick but I just need him to do what he’s consistently done throughout his career; score points, rebound and block shots. -Dan Titus (@itsdtitus)

3.09 Jamal Murray (DEN – G)
Jamal Murray showed off his superstar upside during the 2019-20 NBA Playoffs. Murray is going to have a chance to shine once again in 2020-21, but will need to remain efficient from the field to truly build on his momentum from a fantasy perspective. He should be much better than the 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.9 three pointers per game he put up during the regular season, but he wont quite be at the elite 31.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 3.3 three pointers per game he managed in the seven game series against Utah. If he lands somewhere in between, and he should with his newfound confidence, Murray will return borderline first round value. Expect 22-24 ppg, five assists, five rebounds, and 2.5 threes per game from Murray, making him a potential steal in round three. –Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

3.10 Zion Williamson (NO – F)
The 24 games Zion played as a rookie can easily get lost in the shuffle between New Orleans holding him out so long into the season and the chaotic spring and summer that ended in the Orlando bubble. In those 24 games, however, he was outstanding. He averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, often in limited minutes. He logged a player efficiency rating (PER) of 24.1, landing him right between Nikola Jokic (24.9) and Trae Young (23.9). He should see a full allotment of minutes this season and is poised for a breakout season with the Pelicans. –Aaron Larson (@aalarson)

3.11 De’Aaron Fox (SAC – G)
After double tapping on some veterans in rounds one and two, I went with you to close out Round 3. 22-year-old De’Aaron Fox averaged a career-high 21.1 points per game last year, and he was rewarded with a five-year, $163 million max extension. Sacramento then added Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th overall pick in November’s amateur draft, who should pair nicely with Fox. A former lottery pick himself, Fox strikes me as having the ability to make another leap in the upcoming season. -Alex Burns (@aburnshoops)

3.12 D’Angelo Russell (MIN – G)
I wanted to take a guard after double-tapping at the forward position with my first two picks. Still just 24 years old, D’Angelo Russell was the type of young, upside selection I wanted to pair with my veteran forwards. I’m expecting Russell to benefit from the Minnesota return of Ricky Rubio, who proved to be huge for the developments of Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker. Sure, the T’Wolves’ backcourt is a bit crowded, but it would behoove the organization to see what they have in Russell, regardless of how this season plays out. –Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

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