Over the past few months, many people have given their opinion about the new look Grizzies’ roster. Many have speculated over different lineups and depth charts. Overall, the different opinions all had the same goal in mind: getting the Grizzles back to the playoffs. My focus for this series also has the playoffs in mind. However, instead of the Grizzlies, my focus is you.
Every NBA fan is excited with anticipation to see their team play. Many of those same fans will also be busy over the next few weeks partaking in fantasy NBA drafts. Whether casual or die hard, fantasy NBA players are beginning to really focus on how to have a successful season. The key to that success is knowledge.
That knowledge is not just on draft night. As any champion can confirm, players picked up during the season are just as important as those picked in the draft. A simple and effective way to know which players to draft or pick up is understanding each teams goals and rosters. A few teams, such as the Warriors and 76ers, have multiple top two round studs you should always target in the draft. Others, because of less certainty about their season and lineups, are good sources for value pickups during the season. The Grizzlies fall into the latter category.
There are few reasons why the Grizzlies will offer more value with waiver pickups during the season than the draft. It begins with the overall talent on the Grizzlies roster. For reference, using Yahoo and ESPN as the sources, Marc Gasol is the highest ranked Grizzly, at 38th and 37th respectively. There are 21 teams at Yahoo, and 22 at ESPN, who have a player ranked higher than Gasol. When combined with Mike Conley, more than 15 teams at ESPN and Yahoo have a combo of players ranked higher than Memphis.
Furthermore, the best talents on the Grizzlies’ roster do not have strengths that are generally fantasy friendly. There is not a dominant scorer, rebounder, or passer on the Grizzlies. Many of the starters and key reserves are better on defense than offense. As a result, the Grizzlies will offer more value in those leagues that feature defensive statistics. Furthermore, with a gameplan focused on defense, the coaching scheme will likely not add value to any Grizzly’s fantasy value like you see elsewhere.
The Grizzlies have focused on a few strategies to overcome their lack of talent. While these will be implemented to lead to wins on the court, they likely will not be condusive to fantasy success. One strategy concerns the pace of play. The Grizzlies want to slow teams down, mainly to outsmart and out execute them to win games. With fantasy being driven by stats, especially offensive numbers, slower pace means fewer plays. This means fewer chances for individuals to produce stats, and thus lowers their value on draft night.
Along with the slower pace of play is the roster makeup itself. The Grizzlies have added a slew of players they intend to play significant minutes, and finally have others that are healthy. This means that minutes will be spread out among a larger amount of players than most teams. As a result, less minutes for everyone on the roster will reduce the chance at producing significant counting stats.
While pace of play and spreading out the minutes are two potential negatives for fantasy owners, it could also represent positives. For one, less minutes will lower the risk of injuries. This means for those that invest in Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Kyle Anderson during the draft, they should contribute throughout the season. Furthermore, while their counting stats may be down, their efficiency could be a positive for your team. Fresh legs could mean more efficiency, which could help on percentage based stats, like field goal, 3 point, and free throw percentages.
Another key focus for the Grizzlies this year is giving younger players playing time. For the Grizzlies to be successful, they will need effective play from Dillon Brooks, Jackson Jr., and Wayne Selden Jr. Their athleticism and offensive ability will likely need to be featured at times against faster and more offensively minded opponents.
As a result, one or a few of these players could have a breakout season. Just last year, MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden helped many teams as good pickups when featured at theend of last year. More playing time and playing in critical moments can help these players expand their games and develop faster. This is an important reason to keep up with the Grizzlies for dynasty league players. For those that play year to year, they could be a key component to you making the playoffs this year.
The potential for a breakout fantasy contributor is higher with Memphis than a lot of other teams. While many players are expected to play, no player is guaranteed a lion’s share of minutes behind Mike and Marc. This breakout could come in a variety of ways.
One of the Brooks boys could expand their game to become a reliable scoring option. JaMychal Green or Chandler Parsons could give significant production across the board if reasonably healthy. Kyle Anderson or Jackson could make the future now by performing at an All-Star level. If any of these developments were to actually happen, the Grizzlies will gladly feature the unexpected asset in a heartbeat. As a result, that player or players could have significant fantasy value.
Many fantasy players will overlook Memphis because their style of play is not offensively focused. However, keeping up with the Grizzlies could lead to finding a player that could win that extra category each week that will add up at the end of the season. In the following installments of this series, I will delve into how each player can specifically impact a fantasy team.
For the Memphis Grizzlies to make the playoff this year, several players will need to play critical roles and play them well. It is very unlikely any fantasy owner will look back and say a Grizzly player carried them to a title. It is likely several fantasy owners will look back and see a Grizzly player they picked up in December helped them make the playoffs. Whether it be fantasy or reality, it is easy to see why Grizzlies and NBA fans have plenty of hope for good seasons from players up and down the roster.