Last season, a group of Today’s Fastbreak contributors got together to conduct a Franchise Player Draft, which involved picking 30 NBA players based on who’d be best to start a franchise with. The Today’s Fastbreak Franchise Player Draft is returning for 2016, but this time, it’s expanding to an entire starting five of players and is in a snake draft format.
Again, these players are being selected based on both current play AND their long-term potential. Furthermore, current NBA contracts aren’t relevant for this exercise.
71. Evan Fournier — Bryan Toporek
After taking “The Greek Freak” and Myles Turner with my first two picks, I needed a backcourt sharpshooter to complement my frontcourt pair. Evan Fournier, who drilled 40 percent of his three-point tries last year, fit the bill. “Never Google’s” versatility was what drew me to him, as he’s able to play either the 2 or the 3, which gives me flexibility to round out my starting five. He isn’t a defensive stopper by any means, but seeing as he’s only turning 24 in October, I have reason to hope he can develop into an average asset on that side of the court. Even if he doesn’t, his long-range shooting ability outweighs the defensive negatives he brings, particularly given Giannis’ limitations as a three-point sniper.
First-round pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Second-round pick: Myles Turner
Follow Bryan on Twitter @btoporek
72. Thon Maker — Eli Horowitz
With Ben Simmons and Zach LaVine drafted, my attention turned to the frontcourt. This is a Franchise Player Draft, and Thon Maker is a 19-year-old prospect who could be the perfect big to play alongside Simmons. Thon Maker clearly has years of development ahead of him, but has the potential to be a “stretch 5,” a rare classification. He’s 7-foot-1 and has three-point range, and if he blossoms, would be someone who can run the floor, play fast and cause all types of problems at the rim on both ends. My team is not built to win now, but in Simmons/LaVine/Maker you have a championship-level core from a future perspective.
First-round pick: Ben Simmons
Second-round pick: Thon Maker
Follow Eli on Twitter @CoachHorowitz13
73. Jahlil Okafor — Ryan Davis
With Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal already on my squad and knocking it down from deep, I felt a quality, young big man would be the best route for my third pick. With Jahlil Okafor left on the board, I pretty much had no choice. He’s far from perfect, as we saw in his rookie year, but there’s tons of talent waiting to be unleashed. What we know is that he can score relatively efficiently, averaging 17.5 points in 30 minutes and with 50.8 percent shooting on field goals. The rebounding and defense? They’re a work in progress. But the guy is just 20 years old, so we’ll give him a chance to improve while playing with some real offensive talent in Lillard and Beal.
First-round pick: Damian Lillard
Second-round: Bradley Beal
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanDavisBP
74. Stanley Johnson — Jonathan Asaad
Stanley Johnson will be my athletic wing defender for the next 15+ years. At just 19 years old, he proved to be an effective defender against one of the league’s strongest players in LeBron James during the playoffs. Johnson’s defensive versatility is immensely valuable in the modern era. He’s quick enough to stay in front of smaller guards and strong enough to battle with power forwards in the post. Not only that, but he’s shown potential offensively to become a viable three-point shooter and finisher. Johnson could very well end up being one of the better rookies from a deep 2015 draft class.
First-round pick: Chris Paul
Second-round pick: Al Horford
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JohnnyAsada
75. Danilo Gallinari — Taylor Smith
Gallo is the next addition to a huge front line that already includes DeMarcus Cousins and Serge Ibaka. He gives me a legit three-point threat that is also fully capable of taking over an entire game offensively by himself. He was never the most athletic or gifted defensively at his position even before the ACL injury, but Boogie and Ibaka are there to help cover his tracks on that end of the floor. Gallo just turned 28, too, so he’s still got several years of his prime left.
First-round pick: DeMarcus Cousins
Second-round pick: Serge Ibaka
Follow Taylor on Twitter @TaylorBojangles
76. Paul Millsap — Sean Kennedy
At 31 years of age, the fact that Paul Millsap is surely entering the decline phase of his career is the only thing that gave me any hesitancy in selecting him (and also why he fell this far). Still, given the fact that my first two selections, Paul George and Nic Batum, are right smack in the middle of their primes, this is a squad that can compete now. So it makes sense to draft a player, who, at the moment, you can make a credible case is a top-20 player in the league.
Boosted by outstanding defensive numbers, Millsap was 10th in the league in Box Plus-Minus last season. He has averaged at least 1.7 steals per game each of his three seasons in Atlanta, remarkable for a big man. But rather than being a pure gambler, Millsap uses sound defensive principles and lightning-quick hands to turbo-charge the number of transition opportunities for the Hawks. Plus, behind LeBron James and Draymond Green, there’s probably no player in the league with a better chance of guarding every position on the court. My defensive versatility with Batum, George and Millsap would be off the charts.
Offensively, Millsap is no slouch either, averaging over 17 points and three assists during his Atlanta tenure. He has improved enough in his outside shot (34.4 percent from three as a Hawk) that defenses can’t sag off him. His ball handling combined with his willingness and instincts as a passer make him the perfect version of what talent evaluators are now calling a “playmaking 4.” The fact that his game isn’t predicated on elite athleticism lends me to believe he will age well and make this a no-brainer selection in the third round.
First-round pick: Paul George
Second-round pick: Nicolas Batum
Follow Sean on Twitter @PhillyFastBreak
77. Dario Saric — Joseph Nardone
Dario Saric is a god. End thought process. No. No. I am kidding. Here is the dilly with the selection of Super Dario: We want the University of Broken Dreams (aka Club State Pool Cleaners) to be really lengthy. Dario can play the 3 and 4 for us, which provides versatility. Plus, I am a Sam Hinkie truther and want #TheProcess to live on in even the fictional world of the Today’s Fastbreak Franchise Player Draft. Finally, I do honestly think he is a good player. I envision him being — at his peak — a 15 points, six boards and six assists type of guy.
First-round pick: Joel Embiid
Second-round pick: Emmanuel Mudiay
Follow Joseph on Twitter @JosephNardone
78. Dennis Schroder — Michael Erler
Seeing as I’ve already picked a 4 and a 5, I’m in desperate need of perimeter personnel. Most of the good wings and point guards have been taken, so I’m left with either Goran Dragic or Dennis Schroder. I’m going with the latter, as he’ll finally be given the car keys in Atlanta and he’s a fair bit younger. Schroder can get to the cup at will and the rest of his game is coming around, slowly but surely. German Rondo it is.
First-round pick: Kristaps Porzingis
Second-round: Nikola Jokic
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelErlerSBN
79. Jonas Valanciunas — Daniel O’Brien
With a wing and a guard already in tow, targeting a big man made sense in the third round. Valanciunas offers youth, skill, strength and blue-collar hustle. Few centers can effectively guard the Lithuanian tower in single coverage, and when opponents clog the middle, he hits 10-15 foot jumpers at a 49 percent rate. Valanciunas’ strong playing style helps wear down foes throughout the game. He’s not a quick, talented defender, but he competes, contests shots and absolutely gobbles up rebounds on both ends (12.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in 2015-16).
First-round pick: Andrew Wiggins
Second-round pick: Eric Bledsoe
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanO_Bball
80. Tristan Thompson — Court Zierk
I already have two players on my team who can flat out score the rock in Kyrie and Hayward. I needed someone who could protect the paint and do the dirty work on the boards, and there aren’t many better in the league than TT. At 25, he continues my theme of young players who have impressive experience in clutch situations and who have proven themselves to be valuable members of really good teams. Thompson’s value doesn’t always show up in the score sheet, but there is no doubting his contribution.
First-round pick: Kyrie Irving
Second-round pick: Gordon Hayward
Follow Court on Twitter @CourtZierk