Fantasy Basketball

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Division Preview – Southwest

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As the NBA offseason comes to a close we have an opportunity to take a step back and preview the landscape of each division as it pertains to the fantasy basketball world. The 2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Southwest Division preview is headlined by some of the brightest young stars in the game. Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Not long ago, the Houston Rockets were a young and dangerous team too. Now after trading away their prolific scoring guard, James Harden, they are left rebuilding in Southeast Texas. The Rockets begin their rebuild with the #2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft – Jalen Green. John Wall will not play for the Rockets this season.

Luka and the Mavericks were on the brink of knocking off preseason title favorites, the Los Angeles Clippers in dramatic fashion before ultimately falling short in Game 7. Out is Rick Carlisle, and in is Jason Kidd. Another disappointing post-season left Mark Cuban no other choice but to part ways with long-time head coach Rick Carlisle. Kidd is no stranger to the spotlight and shouldn’t have any issues managing a superstar like Doncic. Without draft picks though and no splash free-agent signings, it will fall on Luka’s shoulders once again to lead this team back to the playoffs, in 2021.

Memphis was a pleasant surprise in 2020 finishing just four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers as the 8 seed.

New Orleans however fell short of expectations. Fans are left wondering just how good of a deal that Jrue Holiday trade was, after watching him hoist the NBA Championship trophy as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. The New Orleans Pelicans continue to be the conductors of every offseason hype train since drafting Zion Williamson. Zion and the Pelicans will be without their polarizing point guard, Lonzo Ball in 2021. Ball signed a 4-year $85 million contract to play in the Windy City of Chicago. New leadership is in town as well. We should expect a slow start to the season as Zion, Brandon Ingram, and company learn how to play for new head coach Willie Green. Most recently Green was part of the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. With the addition of Mike D’Antoni to Green’s staff, the Pelicans offense could be higher scoring in 2021 and hopefully begin shooting, and making, more 3-pointers. The new coaching staff will be tasked with improving on their 25th ranked 3-point shooting percentage from 2020.

As the NBA summer comes to a close, let us preview some of the notable Fantasy Basketball additions (and subtractions) from each team in the Southwest Division.

2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Division Preview – Southwest

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New Faces In The Division

NBA Draft

As the Rockets move on with life, without James Harden, they desperately needed to add an impact scorer. Entering the 2021 draft with the #2 overall pick, they found that in Jalen Green. The new face of the franchise is a day one Fantasy contributor and as he learns how to play at the NBA level, should develop into one of the game’s brightest stars. Houston added another potential rookie Fantasy producer in Alperen Sengun. He won the Turkish league MVP as an 18-year-old! He should fit in nicely on offense down low in the paint with Christian Wood spreading the floor.

The Memphis Grizzlies made a pre-draft splash trade, acquiring Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe from the New Orleans Pelicans, in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas. They also swapped draft picks and Memphis landed Ziaire Williams while the Pelicans drafted Trey Murphy. It appears both players will be buried on the depth charts but Murphy has the better chance to contribute this season.

Impactful Additions

  • New Orleans Pelicans – DeVonte’ Graham, Jonas Valanciunas
  • Memphis Grizzlies – Steven Adams, Jarret Culver
  • Houston Rockets – Daniel Theis

The loss of Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls will be forgotten if DeVonte’ Graham builds off of his sophomore breakout. New Orleans was able to sign Graham for half of what it would’ve cost to keep Ball. The former Jayhawk and Hornet averaged nearly 15 points and 5 assists per game while shooting 37% from deep. Nearly identical to what Lonzo Ball produced last year for the Pelicans. Unlike Ball, Graham is not a liability at the free-throw line, shooting nearly 30% higher than Ball’s career average of 56%.

Ultimately Valanciunas’ Fantasy output is likely to decline now that he is paired with Zion Williamson, but he will still be a safe pick at the limited center position.

Theis’ addition will likely fly under the radar after he was originally dealt to Chicago and then ultimately acquired by Houston in a sign-and-trade. The veteran Center has played in 259 NBA games after playing overseas to begin his professional career. A capable 3-point shooter, Theis is one of three players (Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Collins) to make over 100 3-pointers while shooting better than 55% from the field.

Similar to the Pelicans, the Grizzlies replaced a core piece to their 2020 roster when they traded Valanciunas and acquired a more defensive-minded center in Steven Adams. I do anticipate Adams to have plenty of easy opportunities at the rim via Ja Morant lobs. Jarrett Culver has been a massive disappointment since being drafted sixth overall in 2019. Personally, I’m not expecting much from Culver, a career 40% shooter, with a sub 29% shooting percentage from deep.

Draft With Confidence

PG – Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, DeVonte’ Graham, Dejounte Murray

SG – Jalen Green, Tim Hardaway Jr., Derrick White

SF – Brandon Ingram, Kevin Porter Jr., Keldon Johnson

PF – Zion Williamson, Christian Wood, Kristaps Porzingis, Jaren Jackson

C – Jonas Valanciunas, Steven Adams

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

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Scorers

PlayerPtsFG%3pt%eFG%TS%Pts Per
100 Poss
Dillon Brooks17.241.934.448.151.527.6
Kevin Porter Jr.16.642.531.149.352.824.4
Doug McDermott
(w/ Pacers)
13.653.238.861.663.526.2

3pt Shooters

Player3pt Att3pt%eFG%TS%
Eric Gordon7.832.952.757.7
Dorian Finney-Smith5.039.460.060.9
Bryn Forbes4.945.261.863.1
Reggie Bullock
(w/ Knicks)
6.141.058.760.6

Rebounds/Blocks

PlayerRebReb Per
100 Poss
Reb%Blk%
Jakob Poeltl7.914.415.85.7
Josh Hart8.013.415.20.8
Brandon Clarke5.611.112.33.2
Kyle Anderson5.710.011.12.7

Farewell Marc Gasol

Gasol has just been traded from the Lakers back to the Grizzlies. Memphis is allowing Gasol to remain in Spain and retire a Grizzly. One of the greats of this division and fan favorite in Memphis and around the league.


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