Welcome to the 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Pacific Division Preview. This article was submitted by a friend of Fantasy Six Pack, Nathan Dankner.
The NBA’s Pacific Division doesn’t need a PR campaign. It is brimming with championship contenders of all stripes, from legendary franchises to modern dynasties along with the reigning conference champion and hungry franchises looking for their first ring. The top of the Pacific Division and the top of the Western Conference are likely to bear a striking resemblance to each other by the end of the season.
The Phoenix Suns will look to avenge their NBA Finals loss and prove they have legitimate staying power in a deep Western Conference. Chris Paul may not be as spry as he once was, but the team is awash with talented young players, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, who can shoulder the load after a quick turnaround to start the season.
The Los Angeles Lakers tossed Russell Westbrook into the stew and otherwise adjusted some seasonings around LeBron James and Anthony Davis after a disappointing first-round playoff exit. The talent and pedigree aren’t in doubt, but team chemistry and health are significant unknowns.
The Golden State Warriors are eager to press play after two lost years. Klay Thompson makes his long-awaited return to a squad that looks quite different from when he last stepped onto the court. Coach Steve Kerr has a tall order integrating the team’s recent draftees into a championship core.
The Los Angeles Clippers have big goals and bigger question marks but will have their confidence buoyed by their strong play deep in last year’s playoffs. Can Paul George keep the ship afloat long enough to get Kawhi Leonard back healthy from a torn ACL?
Jokes about the Sacramento Kings go here. And, yes, they can seem like a punchline following four of the top contending teams in the NBA. But California’s other team might be considered a sleeper in any other division with talented young guards and veterans in the frontcourt.
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Division Preview - Pacific
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New Faces in the Division
- Golden State Warriors – Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody
- Sacramento Kings – Davion Mitchell
- Los Angeles Clippers – Keon Johnson
The Warriors selected two wings in the lottery in Kuminga and Moody. Both are raw players who wouldn’t typically move the needle for a contending team, but the Warriors lack quality veteran depth.
Kuminga has the athleticism to be a plus defender but must improve his awareness on that end of the court. The G League Ignite alum won’t find a better mentor than Draymond Green, but he may need time before becoming a draftable asset.
Moody could bring shooting efficiency (37.9% from beyond the arc in his lone college campaign with free throw percentages to match).
The Kings selection of Mitchell raised some eyebrows across the league given the investment the team has made in D’Aaron Fox and 2020 lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton. The Summer League MVP has elite defensive potential and will pick up steals (3.3% steal percentage last season), but be wary of his recent three-point shooting given his consistently poor free throw percentages (66% for his college career).
Unlike the Warriors, the Clippers have a deep team and will likely bring their rookie along slowly. Don’t expect much Fantasy value from Johnson.
Impact Free Agents
The Pacific has recently seen the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard join the division via free agency, but its teams were remarkably quiet on that front this offseason. Melo and company will fall into limited roles in Los Angeles.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Russell Westbrook
- Los Angeles Clippers - Eric Bledsoe
- Phoenix Suns – Landry Shamet
Russell Westbrook is a finished product at this point in his career. You know the story – his efficiency numbers should have a NSFW tag, but his counting stats are irrepressible regardless of the roster around him. His recent whirlwind tour of the league has born that out. And while LeBron James and Anthony Davis will see some DNP’s for load management, Westbrook is an iron man who can run the show with aplomb while his co-stars rest.
The King and The Brow are indisputably better basketball players than their new running mate, but expect them to take a bigger statistical step back relative to their baselines than Russ does.
Across the arena, the Clippers added Eric Bledsoe late this offseason in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. Bledsoe had already been dealt this Summer by the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, back with the Clippers, Bledsoe will help PG13 lead the Clippers offense until Kawhi returns. Bledsoe is coming off a down year that saw him finish with his lowest usage rate since his rookie season. Eric Bledsoe is a candidate for bounceback player of the year this season.
Shamet will come off the bench in Phoenix, and while he is a willing and effective shooter (38.7% on 8.6 attempts per 36 min) his low expected volumes likely won’t warrant a roster spot.
Draft With Confidence
PG – Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, De’Aaron Fox, Chris Paul
SG – Devin Booker, Tyrese Haliburton, Eric Bledsoe
SF – LeBron James, Paul George
PF – Anthony Davis, Draymond Green
C – DeAndre Ayton, Richaun Holmes
Category Specific Players (last season stats)
True Shooting (TS%) - shooting efficiency including 2pt field goals, 3pt field goals and free throws
Effective Field Goal (eFG%) - adjust for the fact that a 3pt FG is worth more than a 2pt FG
|Player||Pts||FG%||3pt%||eFG%||TS%||Pts Per |
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