Despite being one of the youngest teams in the league, the Grizzlies put it all together last season, posting their best regular season record since 2012-13.  Thanks to Ja Morant’s bounceback season, Jaren Jackson Jr.’s good health (wait for the turn…), and a breakout sophomore performance from Desmond Bane, we saw the leading edge of what could be a long run of success for Memphis.  Yes, the young stars in Grind City go together like… peanut butter and bananas?

Sure, we’ll go with it.  The Grizzlies’ real-world prospects seem dimmer this year with resurgent threats in the West and the loss of two key positional players.  Nonetheless, we’re sure to see more highlights and fun fantasy lines out of Memphis.

  • Depth Chart
Center PF SF SG PG
Steven Adams Jake Laravia Dillon Brooks Desmond Bane Ja Morant
Xavier Tillman Brandon Clarke Ziaire Williams John Konchar Tyus Jones
Kenny Lofton Jr. Jaren Jackson Jr.* David Roddy Kennedy Chandler

*Injured

  • 2021-22 Record: 56-26
  • Key Additions: Jake Laravia, David Roddy
  • Low-Volume Game Days (days with five or fewer total games across the NBA): 10
  • Back to Back Sets: 10
  • Pace Ranking: 3rd

Key Players

  • Ja Morant: After a sophomore fantasy campaign marred by poor FT shooting, high turnovers, and limited three-point shooting, Ja notched his first top 50, nine-category finish last season.  This leap came courtesy of a huge uptick in points per game (27.4), threes, (1.5), steals (1.2), and shooting percentages (49/76).  On the downside, he continued a negative trend of games played with 57.  With the signing of reliable back up Tyus Jones (73 games played in 21-22), the Grizzlies are signaling that they will not hesitate to rest their superstar.  Jones will remain a popular threes, assists, and steals streamer in 12-team leagues.  Deep-league managers can draft Jones as a hedge against Ja’s rest days.
  • Desmond Bane: This guy helped a lot of fantasy managers win their leagues last season.  He was a top 30 player over the last two months of the season, averaging 19.7 points, 3.4 threes, and 1.4 steals.  There is reason to be skeptical heading into this season, however.  Assuming Dillon Brooks starts regularly at the three, there will probably be less usage for Bane.  The hope is that Taylor Jenkins can continue to prioritize Bane’s importance in the offense, but contract-year Dillon Brooks might have other ideas…
  • Dillon Brooks: In the games he actually played during 2021-22, Brooks was relatively efficient.  Through 32 games, he averaged 18.4 points on 43 percent shooting.  I said relatively efficient.  Considering Brooks shot 41, 40, and 40 percent in his previous three seasons, fantasy managers can live with last season’s result.  There’s a good chance you’ll be rewarded if your team build supports drafting him for points, threes and steals.  He’s going to look to leave his mark this season in pursuit of a big pay day.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.: Hello darkness my old friend.  This injury scenario is eerily similar to 2020-21, when he and the Grizzlies tortured Grizzlies fans and fantasy managers with cryptic injury updates enroute to JJJ playing just 11 games.  This year, he is slated to miss at least the first month of the season while recovering from stress fracture surgery.  It’s usually wise to expect teams to be cautious with foot injuries in big men, so proceed with caution when drafting.  If you get him at a bargain, you’ll be competitive in blocks, while benefitting from Jackson’s improved rebounds and FT shooting – two areas that he struggled with early in his career.
  • Steven Adams: Adams will get drafted in most 12-team leagues, but he has not finished in the top 150 of nine category formats since 2019-2020.  Last season’s sub-optimal fantasy performance was elevated by a career-high assists rate (3.4/game).  If that proves to be as unsustainable, as I think it is, then Adams may fall out of the top 200.
  • Jake Laravia: Unless Steven Adams or Brandon Clarke developed a three-point shot during the offseason, there’s a high likelihood we will see Clarke continue to come off the bench.  The Grizzlies will need a PF who can spread the floor for their star backcourt, and Laravia’s name is in vogue as an early starter until JJJ returns.  He shot 37% from three over three college seasons and excelled taking spot-up threes.  Those looks should be plentiful in this offense, so experimenting with him as a starter makes sense.  He has an all-around aspect to his game that makes him an intriguing final-round pick in 12-team leagues, if you can stomach the usual rookie turbulence.  In his final college season, he averaged 14.6 points on 56% shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and a block.
  • Brandon Clarke: Even if he doesn’t start in place of JJJ, Clarke should enjoy a boost in minutes to begin the season.  Though he’s been underwhelming since his top-100 rookie year finish, his blocks and FG% keep him relevant as a marginal 12-team league player.  I will be watching to see if he returns to 2019-20 form from downtown (0.5 threes/game).  If not, we’ll be seeing a lot more of those 11 point, 6 rebound, 1 block outings that don’t make or break anyone’s fantasy prospects.  If his minutes are in the mid-to-high twenties to begin the season, they’ll likely return to the low 20’s when (if?) JJJ returns.
  • Ziaire Williams: With the departures of two key rotational players, there is a lot of speculation surrounding which Grizzlies will see an increased role.  Williams received a lot of playmaking opportunities during Summer League, so there is a possibility that he’ll have the ball in his hands a lot more while playing with the Grizzlies’ second unit.  To be helpful in fantasy, he’ll have to show more of the scoring and playmaking abilities that he showcased in Vegas.
  • John Konchar: Aside from the occasional rebounding outburst, he’s best known as an efficient three-point shooter (41%) who didn’t shoot enough threes (1.8 attempts/game) last season.  To have fantasy value as a threes and rebounds streamer, he will need to cross the 20 minute per game threshold.
  • David Roddy: The most intriguing aspect of Rowdy Roddy’s game is his ability to draw fouls.  Trouble is, his FT% nosedived from 79% to 69% between his final two college seasons, so I’m not getting James Harden vibes by any means.  Scoring and rebounding were his hallmarks in college.

Hit me up in the comments with any questions or feedback!

 

 

6 Comments
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Jon
Jon
26 days ago

Just a FYI – Bane was a second year guy last year. Not a rookie. You said he gave the Griz a “standout rookie performance” in the first paragraph. May want to edit that or something and delete this comment.

Son
Editor
Son
25 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Good looking out. I missed that. Fixing now

Jon
Jon
25 days ago

You all just aren’t going to edit that line about Bane being a rookie last year, even though he was a second year player, are you?

Jon
Jon
24 days ago
Reply to  PB

No prob. Feel free to delete the comment, too. This was a good write up. Don’t want anyone digging it over the kind of silly mistake all writers make.