2019 NYC National Tournament Fantasy Draft
What would happen if the New York City National Tournament switched formats and became a draft tournament? This is a concept I came up with before the Las Vegas National Tournament this year, and I wanted to do the same thing for New York.
The only thing you need to be eligible is to currently be on a roster for the upcoming tournament (you can look through current rosters here). That means I’ve included some players that I’ve never seen play before, although I understandably favored players that I’ve seen play in-person.
The draft order was decided by tournament success, so RTG gets the first pick as Syosset has one of the two New York national titles (won by Thundercats, but I let the host team take credit). DMV Ballers are up next as the defending champs. X Over gets the third pick, as they are the defending Las Vegas champs. That left my remaining options slim, but I gave the final spot to Boston, as they’ve been consistent attendees since this tournament started. Team Classic gets the nod as they have at least won a game in the tournament before.
Let’s get started.
1. RTG (NY) – Tevin Kelly (AZ)
He was the best player in the Las Vegas National Tournament this year, meaning he’s the best player in this tournament. He’s everything you want out of a number-one overall pick, as he can be a go-to scorer, a facilitator and someone who will do the dirty work. He’s most known for the shot heard round UH, but some of the biggest plays he had against Ball So Hard were hustle plays. He dives on the floor for loose balls and is active on the glass despite being under 6’0” tall. He had a team-high 10 rebounds in that game, including four offensive boards. There’s no other player in this tournament you’d rather build a team around.
2. DMV Ballers – Travis Gabbidon (AZ)
The only argument you can make to not taking Kelly first is that Gabbidon could be a better choice. While I would take Kelly for all the reasons listed above, you could argue that Gabbidon is the better offensive threat, especially considering size comes at a premium in UH. While Kelly had his best game against Ball So Hard in the semifinals, Gabbidon had his best game in the championship against Never Off Work, where he put up 27/9/6 to secure the title for X Over. Neither is a bad option, and the DMV Ballers are glad to get a similar player to Byron Mouton to build around.
3. X Over – Byron Mouton (MD)
It’s not often that you would see a reigning Tournament MVP drop to third, but that’s what happens when you have two of the best players in Ultimate Hoops available. X Over ends up getting a similar player to Gabbidon, as Mouton is a big that can score anywhere on the floor. They both had similar legend-making moments in championship games in the past two tournaments. I mentioned Gabbidon’s numbers from this year’s Vegas championship above, and a lot of those came late in the game, when X Over kept feeding him possession-after-possession. He would either get a bucket or get to the line, where he made 12-12 free throws. Mouton did something similar against Bulls in last year’s New York championship, as he was the go-to scorer in overtime to win DMV Ballers the title. He scored 26 points on 9-13 shooting, with a lot of those buckets coming in the final minutes.
4. Team Classic – Tunde Ogunleye (NY)
Ogunleye doesn’t have the championship pedigree of the first three players taken, but you could win a championship with him as your best player. If you read my team preview for FMB, or my story about Ogunleye’s debut in Westchester this season, you know that he has been in the top 10 in PPR in both New York tournaments, including being the PPR leader by over six points last year. He puts up numbers consistently on the offensive end, and he is a great defender as well. He’s arguably the best two-way player in the tournament and a great way to start any team.
5. Team Classic – Tony Eackles Jr. (NV)
The combination of Eackles Jr. and Ogunleye gives this team a significant athletic advantage over the rest of the field. There is elite athleticism all around this draft, but Team Classic are making their intentions clear here by taking arguably the two best athletes in the tournament: get the ball in transition as much as possible. These two combine for an elite offensive backcourt that would cause nightmares for opposing defenders. A team might have one perimeter defender good enough to contain one of them, but no team would likely have two to be able to handle both of these freaks. Eackles Jr. is also someone that always plays well at Sky, as he led the tournament in PPR in 2017, and he had the fourth-highest in 2018.
6. X Over – Shane Coleman (MA)
X Over was a potent offensive team in Vegas, scoring an average of 83.8 games in that tournament, and they’re trying to score a bunch again, as they take Coleman to pair with Mouton. Coleman had a phenomenal national debut in Vegas this year, scoring 26 points per game in the toughest pool in the tournament. This came with Coleman as the main scorer on Boston Ballers. If you could pair him up with an elite offensive talent like Mouton, there’s no telling how easy it would be for him to score. He could run pick-and-rolls/pops with Mouton to set up completely unfair matchups all game.
7. DMV Ballers – Spencer Smith (NY)
Smith has been consistent at every level he’s played in. He’s averaged 23 points in the Westchester Draft League, 23.5 points in their open league and 21.5 points in national tournaments. He was an absolute monster in the 2017 New York tournament, averaging 21.5 points with shooting splits of 59/62/94. Much like Coleman pairing up with Mouton, Smith pairs up with Gabbidon to start an elite offensive duo.
8. RTG – Chris Hendershot (NJ)
Kelly and Hendershot are a more traditional offensive duo, as it pairs a point guard with big, not a wing with a big. Kelly would have fun with Hendershot, as his combination of passing and vision would lead to easy assists on rolls to the basket. Hendershot would also give Kelly an open lane to drive in to, as he’s shot 40% from deep in five national tournament games.
9. RTG – Brandon Allen (MD)
To help space the floor even more, RTG adds Allen, who shot 39% from deep in last year’s tournament, only one percent lower than his career average. Allen is streaky, like most shooters, but when he’s on, he can take over a game. The best example was his performance in the semifinals in last year’s tournament. He shot 6-11 from deep against the Thundercats, including a run where he made three straight 3s on three straight possessions, with the last one being a turn-around that was the ultimate heat check. He can be Kelly’s new version of Fred Dudley, an overqualified third option that can drain from outside and provide instant offense.
10. DMV Ballers – Mychal Parker (MA)
Parker is the first person selected that I have never seen play, but his career average of 26.3 points and 12.6 rebounds makes me confident he’s pretty good. My two favorite averages of his are the 56% shooting and the 5.3 offensive rebounds per game. Another aspect to this pick is that Parker went to the University of Maryland, as did Mouton. Granted, Mouton was there almost 10 years before Parker, but the DMV Ballers snipe X Over to deny the reunion of Terrapins.
11. X Over – Tom Kokosinski (NJ)
The offensive selections continue, as this team is trying to put up over 100 points per game. They also pair Mouton with Kokosinski to give them the best frontcourt in this draft. You have two guys that are 6’6” or taller that can bully defenders down low, but can also stretch the floor occasionally with the 3-ball. Much like Team Classic pairing Ogunleye with Eackles to stifle perimeter defenders, there would be no team who would have two bigs that could guard Mouton and Kokosinski.
12. Team Classic – Dewayne Pettus (AZ)
Athletes, athletes, athletes. I mentioned after they took Eackles Jr. that playing in transition would be the goal, and Pettus is more than willing to do that. Throughout the Vegas tournament this year, there were numerous times where Pettus leaked out in transition after a miss or a turnover and threw down a vicious dunk. The average vertical of this team would be over 40 inches, and if they didn’t end up being the best team, there’s no doubt that they would be the most fun to watch.
13. Team Classic – Josh McCarver (NV)
Let’s keep the ball rolling. McCarver adds some much-needed size to a team constructed of strictly guards and wings. He’s definitely athletic enough to run with this team, and he becomes their version of DeAndre Jordan during the prime Lob City years for the Clippers. McCarver is also one of, if not the best, defensive bigs in the tournament, which helps improve what was already the best defense in this field.
14. X Over – Garfield Johns (NY)
At this point in the draft, you have to add to the identity that you’ve built in the top end of the draft. X Over is trying to score as much as possible, so they add Johns, who has the ability to score at a high rate. The dynamic frontcourt they have gets complemented by two wings that both average 30-plus points in their UH careers. There might be some difficulty sharing the ball, but whoever has the ball will certainly be able to score it.
15. DMV Ballers (MD) – Chase Skinkis
A team that has multiple scoring options gets a pass-first, second and third point guard that can bring some balance to this offense. Skinkis wouldn’t care if he scored zero points each game with this team, which could be helpful when he plays with three players that combine to average 18.63 shots per game. Skinkis would also provide a much-needed defensive boost to a team that is mostly focused on scoring, as Skinkis has the ability to guard the perimeter and the post.
16. RTG – Sari Papazian (GA)
Papazian was a lethal scorer in last year’s tournament, scoring 18 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 47% from deep. His 3-point shooting is his strength, and he uses that strength to lure defenders tight to him and get by them to get open mid-range jumpers or a layup. All four players on this team have the ability to hit 3s, and some of them can straight drain from the outside. That gives Kelly a lot of space to operate, which is what you want.
17. RTG – Delonn Stevenson (AZ)
Much like DMV Ballers adding Skinkis, Stevenson immediately becomes the best defender on this team, and he adds immense amount of grit. As a star player, Kelly is willing to work hard and hustle, but Stevenson amplifies that to an 11/10. Stevenson is no slouch on offense either, averaging 22.7 points on 57% shooting from the field and 40% from deep in 47 career games.
18. DMV Ballers – Tommy Hubbard (MA)
Another player I’ve never seen play before gets added to the DMV Ballers. Hubbard gets paired up with Parker, who Jay Resto trusts can play together for Team Classic, so I’ll trust that they can work together here. Hubbard has put up 29/9.3 in 65 career games, so the Ballers round out their starting five with another lethal scorer.
19. X Over – JJ Epps (MD)
Alright, this team is trying to score 120 points per game. Epps is one of the most electrifying players to watch in the tournament, as he’s fearless to fly into the paint for buckets despite his 5’7” frame. He’s got quick, twitchy handles that make it easy for him to cross defenders or create space for a jumper. He’s also the point guard this team needs, as they are full of bigs and wings.
20. Team Classic – Martrez Marshall (MD)
Marshall is one of my favorite players in all of Ultimate Hoops, as he’s an extremely versatile defender who dominates the offensive glass. He averages more rebounds than he does points (12.9 points, 14.7 rebounds) and six of those rebounds come on the offensive end. Six offensive rebounds per game! That’s insane! He averages over a steal and a block per game and has the ability to guard anyone on the floor. This team now has the ability to switch everything and never be in a defensive mismatch. Team Classic rounds out their roster with a role player who was vital to the DMV Ballers’ run to the title last year.