RotoWire NBA Vegas League Draft 2023-24 - Full Results + Reaction

RotoWire NBA Vegas League Draft 2023-24 - Full Results + Reaction

Each year in mid-July, the RotoWire NBA staff packs into a cabana at an undisclosed pool in Las Vegas for the annual RotoWire Vegas NBA League Draft. It's the first fantasy basketball draft that most of our staff takes part in, and it sets a good baseline for how we feel about players early in draft season.

The scoring is as follows:

  • Points: 0.25 per point
  • Rebounds: 0.33 per rebound
  • Assists: 0.5 per assist
  • Steals: 0.66 per steal
  • Blocks: 0.66 per block

As you can see, there is no implicit bonus for three-pointers and no turnover penalty, while shooting percentages are not factored in.

Each roster is comprised of 10 players: Six starters and four reserves with one IR spot. Teams must start one Center, two Forwards, two Guards and one Utility.

Here is how the draft played out:

Make the case for your first-round draft pick. Why is he a better option than the several players that went after him?

Alex Barutha: I selected Luka Doncic with the fourth overall pick. It's a points league, so his sketchy free-throw percentage doesn't hurt me. As one of the highest-usage players in the NBA and an MVP candidate, Doncic is a safe option.

Nick Whalen: Even in a points league, I was thrilled to get Haliburton at the seventh pick. I think he'll lead the league in assists and should only continue to improve as a scorer and three-point shooter. He's also a bankable source of elite steals (1.6 SPG last season) and could conceivably play 2-to-3 more minutes per game after seeing "only" 33.6 MPG a year ago.

Jason Shebilske: I view the top 3 picks in recent fantasy basketball drafts as teams simply selecting their favorite out of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. At pick No. 3, that choice was made for me, but I was completely satisfied with adding Embiid to my roster. He's been a dominant presence in the league for several years and finally has an MVP to show for his efforts. Picking up one of the league's premier centers in the first round also allowed me to focus on other positions in subsequent rounds while other managers had to do some reaching for big men.

Ken Crites: I was pleased to see Trae Young available at 12th.  For this points league structure, I had him ranked 5th.  This format doesn't punish managers for Young's 4+ TO's nor his 43% FG shooting.  I'll happily take his 26 points, 10 dimes and 1+ steals per game.  My formula ranked Lillard (taken 11th) at 18 and Steph Curry (taken 9th) at 24.  Curry's game count scares me.

Jeff Edgerton: I waffled between Curry, Dame and Sabonis but ultimately went with Curry due to Lillard's uncertainty in Portland and a deeper-than-usual pool at center. Curry's solid and dependable, and you could certainly do a lot worse.

Steve Bulanda: Frankly, Jokic probably should be the #1 pick in any format. However, with free throw shooting and 3-pointers being non-factors for this scoring format, I think the gap between Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Doncic and Embiid is small enough that I was comfortable following my heart and taking my favorite player on my favorite NBA team.

Brandon Kravitz: Donovan Mitchell is a player that has shown the ability to score 70 points in an NBA game -- that list is pretty short. He's still the focal point of his offense and should have plenty of nights where he scores between 30 and 40 points. A little too much uncertainty with the guys drafted after him for my liking. Are KD and Booker going to lose touches to Bradley Beal? Where will James Harden end up? I want to avoid those sort of concerns in round 1.

Juan Pablo Aravena (JP): Harden is clearly not the player he once was, but there's no question he remains an elite talent on the offensive side of the ball -- which is all we need for fantasy purposes. He led the league in assists in 2022-23 with 10.7 per game, and staying in Philly is probably the worst-case scenario for him when it comes to scoring, but he still averaged a solid 21.0 points per game while also having established chemistry with Embiid. That's first-round value across the board.

Dan Bruno: Shai averaged 31.4 points on 51.0 percent shooting last season. His ability to make an impact across the stat sheet, in addition to his status as the first option on the Thunder's offense, made him a fantasy machine. The team will continue to improve, but it will be based around Shai. If he loses some shots to Chet or J-Dubb, he will likely rack up some extra assists. However, he had the second-most points in the paint and the most points by drive last season, which is a highly reliable method of scoring, and one that he will likely continue to use to shred opposing defenses. Not to mention 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. 

D.J. Trainor: Nikola Jokic at 1.02: A case can be made for Doncic and Embiid in a points league like this, especially since Denver and Co. will likely take their foot off the gas pedal next regular season, but it would have still felt wrong to go with anyone but Jokic here.

Kevin O'Brien: My co-manager, James Anderson, and I had our eyes set on a few players. Well, with the 11th pick, of course, our top targets were gone. We had Lillard rated higher on the board than anyone else available, particularly aging/oft-injured veterans like Durant and Davis. Lillard has the ball in his hands a lot, and he will wherever he plays. We thought hard about Miles Bridges but preferred Lillard's track record.

When did you take your first real capital-R Risk in the draft?

Alex Barutha: Anfernee Simons in the fifth round might be early. But I'm assuming Lillard is gone, and Simons averaged 32 fantasy points per game last season. With some usage opening up, only good things can come.

Nick Whalen: LeBron James (Round 2) is a risk at this point, but he's yet to show much regression as a per-game producer. Beyond that, my selection of Tyus Jones in Round 6 felt risky, but I love his upside as long as he remains in Washington for the full season. In a 16-team league, I was fine with the value.

Jason Shebilske: Looking back, Tyler Herro was a pretty risky pick on my part. After taking back-to-back point guards, I felt as though I could use a shooting guard and am banking on Herro's past production to keep going, even if the Heat ultimately acquire Damian Lillard. Herro has played well as a sixth man in the past, so I'm not too concerned about that, but if we were doing an online draft where I could see available players, I may have shifted toward a player like CJ McCollum with my fifth-round pick.

Ken Crites: After snagging four very dependable vets, I reached a bit for Scoot Henderson. But he's looked great in Vegas, and I expect Lillard to be traded.  That leaves A LOT of shots for the hot rookie.  With a 16-team field, the fifth round felt like the time to gamble.

Jeff Edgerton: I think I panicked a bit with Saddiq Bey, and it was probably my worst pick overall.  I had a big decision brewing in the simultaneously-drafted NFL Superflex league and didn't take enough time here.  Bey may be an early drop.

Steve Bulanda: I don't feel like I took any big swings on "risky" players. I may have drafted Deandre Ayton too high at the top of the 5th round though. I considered taking Jordan Poole or Anfernee Simons – young guys who will probably fill up the box score for bad teams – in that spot, but I felt the need to fill the center position, which was quickly drying up. I also considered Brook Lopez here but ultimately settled on Ayton because I think he'll play more games/minutes.

Brandon Kravitz: Round 6 was a little rich for Shaedon Sharpe, but I was targeting upside with that pick. Sharp only started 15 games last season, so I'm really banking on the fact that Damian Lillard gets traded and Sharpe gets thrust into the starting lineup and flourishes statistically because of it. It's a lot of "ifs", but it could pay off in a big way with his talent profile.

Juan Pablo Aravena (JP): Khris Middleton. His knees are a risk, and he didn't look fully healthy during last season, though his playoff performances offered a glimpse of hope. If he's healthy, then he'd be a steal, but health is always an issue for him.

Dan Bruno: I feel like I took a bit of a slight risk with Randle in the second round (could have gone with Brown, Fox, Jackson or Markkanen) but I wanted to secure a strong center or forward that would contribute specifically in scoring and rebounding - Randle seemed like the best option, after he averaged 25 and 10 last season. No major risks though - I typically stay away from rookies, as I view them the biggest risk. 

D.J. Trainor: I didn't take any big risks in this draft. Case in point, I passed on Kyrie Irving twice at the 2-3 turn and instead went with Fred VanVleet and DeMar DeRozan.

Kevin O'Brien: Pretty clearly Round 3, as no one is more of an enigma in fantasy basketball than Zion Williamson. But second place is the first loser and we're going for the title, so why not roll the dice in a league drafted in Las Vegas?

What is the best value pick you made? Someone you could easily imagine returning value multiple rounds higher than you selected him.

Alex Barutha: Multiple rounds might be a stretch, but I liked getting Daniel Gafford in the eighth round. Washington's center rotation is thin, especially with Kristaps Porzingis gone. I'm hoping this is finally the year Gafford sees 30 minutes regularly. He averaged just about one fantasy point per minute in 2022-23.

Nick Whalen: Jerami Grant (Round 5) has a ceiling, but there's a world in which he's the co-No. 1 option for the Blazers this season. I also felt great about landing two high-volume rebounders in Round 7 (Clint Capela) and Round 10 (Steven Adams). In this league, it's all about racking up those counting stats, while FT% doesn't matter.

Jason Shebilske: I'm really satisfied with the value I got from picking Jrue Holiday late in the fourth round. I was wary of taking another point guard after selecting Kyrie Irving in the previous round, but Holiday is a stellar two-way guard who should be able to outperform his draft slot. The 33-year-old has been pretty durable over the past few seasons, and he should be able to provide some solid production for my team as part of a Bucks lineup that should look relatively similar to the 2022-23 campaign.

Ken Crites: Terry Rozier in the 8th round (pick #117) sure seemed like big value.  My formula had him ranked 56th.  I don't see Miller eating into too many of Rozier's shots, plus you know LaMelo Ball will miss games.

Jeff Edgerton: Bojan Bogdanovic dropped much lower than expected, so I grabbed him while I could.  His perimeter game will be a valuable asset for my bench.

Steve Bulanda: I love Russell Westbrook as the #97 overall pick in a points league like this. In 21 starts for the Clippers last season, he averaged 15.8 points, 7.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals, and he got better as the season went on. While other older players are load managing, Russ is still playing 70+ games and going full speed for 30+ minutes per game.

Brandon Kravitz: Derrick White, easy. That felt like stealing by the time we got to round 7. White was one of the more fantasy-relevant Celtics last season, and only improved his play into the NBA Playoffs. Now, he assumes the role of starting PG for one of the most efficient offenses in the league.

Juan Pablo Aravena (JP): Despite being a second-round pick, I'd say Devin Booker. I imagined him going in the first round, so I was quite surprised I was able to select him in the second round with the 18th overall pick. There's only one ball to go around between Durant, Booker and Beal, but he should be just fine.

Dan Bruno: I think I got pretty lucky to get De'Andre Hunter with my FINAL pick of the draft. He averaged 15.4 points and 4.2 rebounds last season and delivered multiple 20-plus scoring efforts, while also contributing across the stat sheet. He should continue to see a significant role for the Hawks, especially with the departure of John Collins.

D.J. Trainor: Jordan Poole at 5.02. Given the points format, we all slept on him. I should have considered him at 3.15.  

Kevin O'Brien: He's going to have to prove it in actual NBA games, but all Chet Holmgren has done since being drafted is rack up numbers, and we are banking on him adding center eligibility and being one of the top players at that position.

Aside from your own team, whose final three picks have the most upside?

Alex Barutha: This is difficult, but I'm leaning toward Ken's trio of Terry Rozier, Ivica Zubac and Tre Jones -- all guys who have clearly defined roles and can be counted on for 25-35 fantasy points under the right conditions.

Nick Whalen: Peter Schoenke grabbing Onyeka Okongwu in Round 8 could be one of the steals of the draft. He may need a Clint Capela injury to truly take off, but getting John Collins out of the way is a step in the right direction. I also liked Jason Shebilske landing both of the Thompson twins. In a points league, some of the typical rookie pitfalls aren't nearly as concerning. Both players should be solid counting-stat producers right away.

Jason Shebilske: I really like the value that Nick got out of his final three rounds. Starting with Chris Paul, whose results have declined slightly over the past few seasons, but I think he has an opportunity to have a slight resurgence in his age-38 season while playing alongside some of Golden State's stars. I don't think he'll have to absorb as much of the spotlight, and he should have an opportunity to deliver solid fantasy production, especially considering his draft position. Norman Powell hasn't been the most consistent player in previous seasons, but he's shown plenty of glimpses of production, which is basically all you can ask for out of a ninth-round pick. Steven Adams' health is a slight question mark ahead of training camp, but if he's healthy for the start of the 2023-24 campaign, he's been dominant on the boards in recent years and is a stellar pick late in the draft.

Ken Crites: I like Alex's three picks of Daniel Gafford, Gary Trent and Jaime Jacquez.  I particularly like Gafford and Jacquez.  Gafford should get crazy minutes in Washington. And there are suddenly plenty of shots available for Jacquez, who looked great in Las Vegas.

Jeff Edgerton: A lot of people finished well, but I really like the JoVal/Clarkson/G Williams picks.  The best pick in the late rounds had to be Christian Wood.

Steve Bulanda: I like what Ken "K-Train" Crites did with his final 3 picks. It wouldn't have been a shock to me if Terry Rozier had gone 2 full rounds earlier. Zubac is a double-double machine, who will play nearly every game. And Tre Jones could lead the league in assists next year. In hindsight, I wish I picked Jones a round earlier over Jordan Clarkson.

Brandon Kravitz: I'd go with D.J.'s. He rounded out his team with three guys who can become absolute microwaves on offense. Talen Horton-Tucker's stats from last season won't wow you, but if you look at the way he finished the season, something really started to click for him in Utah. Jeremy Sochan will have more room to operate with Wemby in town, and Kelly Oubre could end up in a more advantageous situation at any point this season.

Juan Pablo Aravena (JP): I'd say Gradey Dick, Bobby Portis and Ausar Thompson. Dick can be an elite shooter at the NBA level, Portis is a stat-filling machine regardless of his bench role, and Thompson has all the tools to be a solid all-around player despite being a rookie.

Dan Bruno: Looks like Whalen - with Chris Paul, Norman Powell and Steven Adams, and J.P. - with Mike Conley, Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels got the best value in the final three rounds. This is obviously other than myself - lol. 

D.J. Trainor: Peter at Team 16 with Okongwu, Whitmore and Dick. Three picks who will presumably start the season on their benches but could make their way into their starting fives over the back half of the season.

Kevin O'Brien: In terms of production I think Whalen's guys have the most upside. Paul could be rejuvenated and better rested, Adams was a major key when things were going right for Memphis last year and Powell seems to always benefit from an injury at some point.

What's one thing you learned from doing this draft?

Alex Barutha: Fantasy analysts harp on this every year -- don't wait too long on center. My C1 is Wendell Carter, and my C2 is Daniel Gafford. I'm fine with that, but it's a clear weak point. My advice is to go into your drafts identifying one center in particular that you view as the tipping point -- "when Center X goes off the board, I need to make sure I have one on my roster". Based on what I saw in this draft, I think reasonable examples would be Nic Claxton, Walker Kessler, Deandre Ayton or Brook Lopez.

Nick Whalen: For one, it was a reminder that the pool of elite-to-star players is extremely deep. Even in a 16-team league, I felt like drafters were still landing really strong players in Rounds 4 and 5. The league remains as loaded as it's been in recent memory. Beyond that, we learned that fantasy players are approaching risky players with –- in my mind -- the appropriate degree of risk. Paul George went 36th, Zion Williamson went 43rd, Kawhi Leonard went 52nd and Ja Morant went 54th. There's enough elite talent around the NBA that it's simply not worth burning an early pick on players who have a good chance to play fewer than 60 games.

Jason Shebilske: Through this draft and other drafts I've done in Vegas, I've really learned the value of challenging yourself in certain types of drafts. I'll get a lot of strange looks from my friends when I tell them that I'm doing fantasy basketball and football drafts in mid-July, but these drafts make me feel more prepared once draft season heats up. Doing a poolside offline draft in July may not be the best formula for high-stakes leagues, but it's a lot of fun and a great way to get a feel for the fantasy landscape months before the season tips off.

Ken Crites: In the ESPN game, forwards are scarce.  You can wait on guards, but you must reach early for forwards.  I got Spicy P in round two, but late had to throw Deni Avdija and Harrison Barnes at the problem of second forward.  Hopefully, I can flip Tre Jones into a forward early in the season.

Jeff Edgerton: Centers go fast. I had to settle on Gobert after waiting an extra round, and although he'll be fine, you can leave a lot of points on the table if you don't prioritize the position.

Steve Bulanda: Every fantasy player should participate in at least 1 in-person draft like this every year. The atmosphere when you're with your friends and colleagues is electric and enhances the drafting experience.

Brandon Kravitz: Impactful centers are hard to come by. Originally, I thought I might regret drafting Victor Wembanyama when I did, but when I went searching for a back up center a couple rounds later, I realized how bare the landscape truly was. Folks at the draft were sweating by round 4 if they didn't lock up a big yet, turns out reaching on Wembanyama wasn't such a bad idea, for now.

Juan Pablo Aravena (JP): That it's extremely tough to draft a 16-team league, and once you get past the first three rounds or so, you need to take into account roles, fits and value picks.

Dan Bruno: I learned mojitos are a great way to stay refreshed and hydrated through a 16-team draft in 110 degree heat.

D.J. Trainor: Your fellow drafters will always throw lots of darts on unproven commodities over known bench players.

Kevin O'Brien: Sleepers really don't last when you're doing a 16-team draft, and it's better to be a round early than a round late.

Peter Schoenke (autodrafted): It's July, so I like taking flyers on any 2023 first-round draft picks late in the draft. I took two as a result. Who knows how rotations will develop come the preseason.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Juan Pablo Aravena
34-year-old sports analyst and journalist. Fan of every single sport on this earth. Enjoys a good beer, some good food, and good company. NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and soccer fan.
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
Dan Bruno
Dan has been writing all things NBA for RotoWire since 2014. He is an active fantasy sports player, with a love for DFS. Dan is a certified Coach with the Ontario Basketball Association and is a recreation professional in his home city.
Ken
An early RotoWire contributor from the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Ken is a two-time FSWA award winner and a co-host on the RW NBA Podcast. Championships incude: 2016 RW Staff NBA Keeper, 2019 RW Staff NFL Ottoneu Keeper, 2022-23 SiriusXM NBA Experts, 2022-23 SiriusXM NBA Kamla Keeper and 2023-24 FSGA NBA Expert Champions. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
Kevin O'Brien
Kevin mans the Packers and Brewers beats and moonlights as RotoWire's Director of Operations.
Peter Schoenke
Peter Schoenke is the president and co-founder of RotoWire.com. He's been elected to the hall of fame for both the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and Fantasy Sports Writers Association and also won the Best Fantasy Baseball Article on the Internet in 2005 from the FSWA. He roots for for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and T-Wolves.
Jason Shebilske
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019. In 2023, he was named the FSWA Player Notes Writer of the Year. In addition to RotoWire, Jason writes for the Sports Broadcast Journal.
D.J. Trainor
Tennis Editor and Director of Media and Personnel at RotoWire. NCAA Student Radio Call of the Week Award way back in 2014, and more recently, winner of the 2017 FSWA Podcast of the Year.
Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A multi-time FSGA and FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM Fantasy alongside Jeff Erickson, as well as The RotoWire NBA Show on Sirius XM NBA with Alex Barutha. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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