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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft 1.0: Time yourself for a breakout

Fantasy basketball season is underway, and it’s time to start the draft! With only 26 days left in the season, it’s helpful to participate in mock drafts so you can get a feel for when players are selected. With that in mind, here’s a first look at how I think the first round will shake out for the league categories. And for additional insight, check out our latest Yahoo rankings of experts to help prepare for the draft.

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Without further ado, the first pick in the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball draft goes to…

No surprises there. Jokic is a fantastic basketball cheat after posting a historic 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.3 triples and 2.4 steals (steals plus blocks) on 58/34/81 shooting last season. He had the highest box plus/minus (BPM) in a single season in NBA history and is the unanimous first choice here.

Coming off his best statistical season and playing a career-high 68 games, Embiid will be the focal point of the Sixers’ fantasy-friendly offense. One of the most dominant big men in the league, he finished fourth in the NBA in double-doubles and added 2.7 defensive shares. He should have no problem replicating his top three performances on a per game and total basis if he can play at least 60 games this year.

Kevin Durant is a walking bucket that you can’t get past here. He finished second in per game in 2021-22, and will continue to see a 30 percent usage rate this season. I expect the Nets to finish in the top 10 in pace and offensive rating, with KD leading the way. Checks every box for fantastic basketball.

Giannis is the only player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in multiple seasons, and has done so four years in a row. He finished 10th per game last season, but increasing his three-pointers while shooting over 72% from the free throw line will help justify his drafting here.

Port Magic is in effect. Yes, he’s known to turn the ball over quickly 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 on 3.9 3-pointers and 1.0 steals. He is ripe for an MVP-like season.

Luka Dončić remains among the top five fantasy draft picks for the 2022-23 season. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The 2022 Finals MVP and four-time champion cements the categories of points, three-pointers and free throw percentage in fantasy basketball every year. I project Curry’s minutes and usage to remain in the 30s as the centerpiece of one of the best teams in basketball.

Still only 24 years old, Tatum posted career highs in points, rebounds and assists last year on a 32% shooting percentage. DAWG.

1.08 James Harden – G, Philadelphia 76ers

Harden’s decision to do less and return to Philly on a two-year deal shows he’s ready to play. The hamstring injury that plagued him for two seasons is behind him, and he is reportedly in excellent shape ahead of this season. He was the only player in the NBA to score over 20+ points and 10+ assists per game in ’21-’22 and finished 15th in bases per game despite switching teams midseason and playing on the butt. A comeback should put him in the top 10 in fantasy basketball.

1.09 Tyrese Haliburton – G, Indiana Pacers

If you don’t know, now you do.

I’ve seen Halliburton picked in the top five of industry experts’ drafts, but I’m comfortable taking him in the top 10. I’m torn between Halliburton and LaMelo Ball at this point, but first is a good bet to average the most assists per game this year and score over 20 points a night with a solid perimeter. In 18 games without Malcolm Brogdon last season, Haliburton averaged 18.6 points, 10.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.3 triples and 1.8 steals on 50/46/89 shooting. Breakout!

1.10 LaMelo Ball – G, Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball enters his third NBA season looking to build on career highs in points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers and FT%. He is also among the league leaders in steals. A loss Miles Bridges could lower his passing numbers after Bridges had 23% of Ball’s assists in ’21-’22, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to see 30% usage while filling out the scoring alongside Terry Rozier.

1.11 Karl-Anthony Towns – PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves’ frontcourt suddenly became 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 top four, which has risks and benefits. He finished 8th per game last year, but I would expect his rebounding to drop a bit with an increase in three-pointers. KAT is used to playing with an offensively limited frontcourt (Ty Gibson, Jarred Vanderbilt) so I’m not too worried about Gobert being in town. KAT should still be able to collect at least two shares and be the top scorer in the league; 41% from beyond the arc last year and 40% for this career — just saying.

1.12 Trae Young – G, Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young has a new backcourt mate in the All-Star G Dejounte Murray, but should still be one of the best guards in fantasy this upcoming season. He is a volume scorer who ranked fourth last year in usage rate at 34.4. I expect Hawks head coach Nate McMillan to stagger Young and Murray’s scoring minutes, but also give Young a chance to work more off the ball to create better looks on the perimeter. He should still boast significant fantasy numbers without much offense surrounding him and Murray.

Then I’ll dive into round 2! Stay with us.


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