NBA Early Season Watchlist 2022–23 Potential Sleepers

Oct 20, 2022

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SACRAMENTO, California – Who among the Spurs can flourish despite the tank? In their respective third and second seasons, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson improved significantly last year. Johnson will not try to sneak up on anyone; he averages 17 points per game and shot 39.8% from three last season.

Vassell will be under increased pressure because of losing offensive guru Dejounte Murray. 80% of Vassell’s buckets from the previous season required assistance, demonstrating his dependence. Tre Jones, fortunately, is prepared to assist.

Jones had a 4.86 AST/TO ratio and clocked more than 1,100 minutes in the previous campaign. Vassell will be free to move without the ball and develop into a triple-threat option without being focused on thanks to Murray, who lacks the gravitational power that Murray possesses.

An expert catch-and-shoot weapon like Johnson is more susceptible to being impacted by the lack of Murray’s gravity. For Johnson, it’s reasonable to anticipate that his output from 2021–22 will repeat itself.

When it came to overall midrange shot attempts, Vassell was among the top 20 percent in the league. He made 43% of his efforts and connected, placing him in the 72nd percentile (per CleaningTheGlass). The midrange is a refined part of Vassell’s game, and he will continue to create and convert opportunities from there as an aggressive player off the ball.

See the stats in the box above. With a significant increase in volume, Vassell’s three-point shooting saw respectable growth. At the rim, he also does an ascent finish. Vassell has the physical attributes to develop into a three-level scorer. He has good body control, ambidextrous skills, and the knowledge to seek/finish through contact.

Ziaire Williams: An essential component of Memphis’ quest for a championship? In Memphis, there are combo-forward minutes available. Ziaire Williams may benefit from more playing time now that Jaren Jackson won’t be back until at least December.

Steven Adams continues to hold the center position. The direct positional replacements for Jackson are Brandon Clarke and Santi Aldama, however Clarke and Adams have a constrained amount of space between them. Although Aldama has good spacing skills, his lack of agility hinders him, and explosiveness takes advantage of him. Given his quickness, offensive potential, and stature, Williams is the best fit for Memphis in an era where position in basketball is no longer a factor. The 21-year-old has a bright future playing alongside JJJ because to his superb 6-foot-9 height.

Williams excels in the middle of the court, making 45% of his midrange tries last season. Last season’s performance is not a good representation of his style. Williams shot just 29.4% of his threes in his one-and-done season at Stanford but tried 56 percent of his threes as a rookie. He will become less of a system player as he gains comfort and moves up the Memphis hierarchy.

Williams should play a more specific role in the game plan now that Kyle Anderson has moved to Minnesota and Jackson is ailing. Williams might profit from Adams’ screening in the same way that Ja Morant did (by creating driving leverage) (separation for midrange looks — handoffs, off-screen movement, some PnR too).

Throughout his rookie season, Grimes displayed glimpses of his deep bag and proved that he is more than just a catch-and-shoot/3&D player. Although Grimes isn’t big enough to be a strong wing defender, the Knicks last year assessed him as a competent defender since he’s a physical and cocky stereotype. He will effectively stoop down and begin his tasks.

Grimes has a foot ailment and is still recovering, so Evan Fournier has the advantage in starting minutes; nonetheless, the 22-year-old has untapped potential that could result in a workload like that of a starter. If spacing becomes a problem, the fact that Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Jalen Brunson are all left-handed players may force New York to change up their lineup.

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