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Draft Guide Preview

Nickeil Alexander-Walker & Larry Nance Jr. among draft-day targets

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: September 15, 2021, 4:38 pm ET

NBA training camps and the preseason loom on the horizon, which means we're fast approaching fantasy hoops drafts! After all, the league's annual 'muscle-watch' season has already begun:


With each week that passes, some players' values rise (Anthony Edwards has reportedly grown a few inches since being drafted) while others fall (T.J. Warren's stress-fractured foot is healing slower than expected). Each step of the way, our 2021-22 Draft Guide is updated to reflect the latest information. 


No matter how you play fantasy, the NBC Sports EDGE+ Draft Guide has it covered:


  • Top-200 fantasy ranks for 8-cat, 9-cat, Points and Dynasty (including EDGE staff-aggregate ranks and customizable scoring settings)
  • 300+ in-depth player profiles with 2020-21 recaps, offseason updates and fantasy outlooks
  • Deep-dive statistical projections for every player and category
  • 150+ offseason transactions with notes and fantasy commentary
  • Full weekly, color-coded schedule grid
  • Average Draft Position (ADP) Trends Report
  • Expert mock drafts for every league and draft style (and new mocks to be posted through opening night!)
  • A slew of EDGE+ columns including: Busts, Sleepers, Punting Strategies, 2021-22 Schedule Breakdown, the ABCs of DFS, Players to Target, Risk vs. Reward, Rookies, Sophomores, Does Summer League Matter?, and more!



Today's preview offers a look at Raphielle Johnson's draft guide exclusive, "Ten Players Worth Reaching For."

[Editor's note: Raph swept the main Rotoworld/EDGE leagues last season, so his colleagues are more than happy for him to divulge his sneakier targets.]


"Larry Nance Jr. (Portland; PF, C): A change of scenery may do Nance some good, even though he was anything but a malcontent during his time with the Cavaliers. Rather than being trapped in a rebuilding project, where his playing was likely to decrease due to the arrival of Evan Mobley, Nance can be a contributor for a team that hopes to establish itself as a contender in the West. He's been a top-100 player in each of his last five seasons, which some may not assume when looking at Nance's statistical profile. But he's capable defender and rebounder, and is coming off of a season in which he made a career-best 1.2 3-pointers per game on 36% shooting. His usage won't be high in Portland due to the presence of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Norman Powell, but Nance doesn't the ball all that much to make an impact. In short, he'll be a better version the player that Portland thought it was getting when it signed Derrick Jones Jr. last summer. 


De'Anthony Melton (Memphis; PG, SG): Even with the Grizzlies acquiring Jarrett Culver this summer, the logjam behind Dillon Brooks has cleared up some due to Memphis sending Grayson Allen to Milwaukee. That leaves Melton and Desmond Bane as the options that Taylor Jenkins had at his disposal last season, and the former could benefit with regard to fantasy value. Melton's per-36 averages last season were 16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.1 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers per, and he finished with career-best percentages of 43.8% from the field and 80.4% from the foul line. Melton played 20.1 minutes per game in 2020-21, and an increase to 25 per would give him a shot at being a credible fantasy option. A top-150 player last season, taking a late-round roll of the dice on Melton wouldn't be all that risky. 


Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans; SG, SF): Alexander-Walker hasn't been a viable fantasy option entering either of his first two NBA seasons, but change may be on the horizon for Year 3. After the All-Star break, he averaged 15.4 points 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.7 blocks, 2.6 3-pointers and 2.1 turnovers in 28.5 minutes per game, shooting 42.9% from the field and 64.5% from the foul line. Alexander-Walker is a career 70.9% shooter from the charity stripe, so he shouldn't have too much trouble hitting that mark, if not exceeding it. The additions of Devonte' Graham and Trey Murphy mean that there will still be competition for minutes on the perimeter, but the former is a point guard rather than a wing. Given what Alexander-Walker showed at the end of last season, he should figure prominently in the Pelicans' plans this season. He's definitely worth grabbing in most leagues, even if he continues to come off the bench.



For as little as $3.99/month, you can check out the rest of Raph's players worth reaching for, plus all of the content listed above, access to Season Tools with our start/sit lineup advisor, and much more on EDGE+! Check out all of the plans right here -- whether you're a season-long hoops manager or prefer DFS and betting, EDGE+ has something for everyone.

Ryan Knaus

Despite residing in Brunswick, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for NBC Sports Edge since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanknaus.