Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers are off to a 11-16 start to the season. Despite high expectations coming into the 2021-22 campaign, their sub-.500 record and lack of chemistry on the floor have led to reports that the team is looking to rebuild and trade Caris LeVert and Myles Turner or Sabonis.
It’s impossible to anticipate exactly what the Pacers will do with Sabonis, but let’s take a deep dive into his stats this season to see what’s going on.
While Domantas Sabonis hasn’t played a whole lot worse this season than last, new head coach Rick Carlisle significantly changed their offense, which has led to less ball movement and fewer assists all around.
The biggest drop-offs for Sabonis this season are his points and assists. Last season, he averaged 20.3 points and 6.7 assists. This season, he’s at 18 and 4.1.
His shot attempts are down nearly three per game, but he’s improved his FG% from 53.5% to 58%. His eFT% is up to 61.3% from 58.2% last year.
Further, he’s shooting slightly worse from three-point range at 30% vs 32.1% last year on the same amount of attempts.
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball: Domantas Sabonis
What’s changed for Sabonis and the Pacers?
The arrival of highly-successful head coach Rick Carlisle and a professional scorer in rookie Chris Duarte is giving the Pacers a new identity on both ends of the floor.
While Domantas Sabonis is still heavily involved in the offense, it’s not revolving around him as much as it used to, which is leading to lower numbers across the board.
The team now runs their offense primarily through Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and Chris Duarte; in that order. They lead the team in shot attempts per game.
As a team, the Pacers are averaging about four fewer assists per game this season than they did last season. This season’s 23.8 assists per game mark is the franchise’s lowest since Sabonis’s first season with the team in 2017-18.
Despite all these factors, however, he's still been able to put up some impressive numbers. Top-60 value isn't what owners bargained for, it's looking like his floor.
Domantas Sabonis last night:
✅ 21 PTS
✅ 11 REB
✅ 5 AST
✅ 7-8 FG
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) December 9, 2021
Will the Pacers shake things up?
Given that they’re five games below .500 and have a fanbase that’s not used to watching bad regular season basketball, it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments the Carlisle and the Pacers make down the stretch.
It’s hard to imagine Sabonis reaching the heights that he did last season, especially his run at the end of the season that ranked him as the top Fantasy Basketball player of the final month of the 2020-21 campaign.
If you’re in a league that still sees Domantas Sabonis as a top-30 player, it might be time to pull the trigger on a deal. But if not, know that these first few weeks of play could just be growing pains for a new squad. Sabonis (and the rest of the team) should be getting used to a new style of play, it just might take another month or three.
Check out more of our Fantasy Basketball content and know that we’re providing strong advice. My articles on Gary Trent Jr., Jaren Jackson Jr., and Terry Rozier are looking particularly clairvoyant these days.