By Tom Lorenzo and Jeff Andriesse
The center position is on one hand the most important position in fantasy basketball, but on the other hand the most boring. You can understand why we would get excited about anyone who offers anything other than the standard PTS-REB-BLK-FG% stat line and nothing else. Like Andrea Bargnani, or Mehmet Okur, or Sidney Crosby. I don’t necessarily buy that the center position is thin, because most leagues allow for hybrids like Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson and even Al Harrington to be eligible at center. You can get decent centers in the middle rounds, as long as you secure at least one stud early on. Tom and I like Dwight Howard, but then again we are confident in our ability to draft a good team around him. If you lack that confidence, go ahead and pass on Superman (like how I just challenged you there?). Howard is probably the fourth overall pick in head-to-head leagues, and could be taken anywhere after eighth in roto leagues. As always, check your league’s positional eligibility list before making your own cheat sheets. For this exercise, format is based on standard eight-category rotisserie style (FG%, FT%, PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, 3FG).
2009-10 Center Rankings
|Tom’s Top 25||Jeff’s Top 25|
|1. Dwight Howard||1. Dwight Howard|
|2. Amar’e Stoudemire||2. Amar’e Stoudemire|
|3. Pau Gasol||3. Al Jefferson|
|4. Al Jefferson||4. Pau Gasol|
|5. Brook Lopez||5. Tim Duncan|
|6. David Lee||6. Brook Lopez|
|7. Tim Duncan||7. David Lee|
|8. Andris Biedrins||8. Al Horford|
|9. Al Horford||9. Andris Biedrins|
|10. Andrea Bargnani||10. Mehmet Okur|
|11. Emeka Okafor||11. Nene|
|12. Nene||12. Marcus Camby|
|13. Mehmet Okur||13. Emeka Okafor|
|14. Luis Scola||14. Spencer Hawes|
|15. Andrew Bynum||15. Andrew Bogut|
|16. Marcus Camby||16. Andrea Bargnani|
|17. Spencer Hawes||17. Luis Scola|
|18. Andrew Bogut||18. Joakim Noah|
|19. Marc Gasol||19. Chris Andersen|
|20. Joakim Noah||20. Andrew Bynum|
|21. Greg Oden||21. Sam Dalembert|
|22. Kendrick Perkins||22. Kendrick Perkins|
|23. Chris Andersen||23. Marc Gasol|
|24. Tyson Chandler||24. Jermaine O’Neal|
|25. Brad Miller||25. Brad Miller|
BREAKING DOWN THE CENTER POSITION
Three Questions for Tom
Jeff: Going by your rankings, you are liking Andrea Bargnani this year. Is he taking that next step?
Tom: I like the step he took last season. The best think about Bargnani is that as a center he has the ability this year to block 1.5 shots and knock down 1.5 threes per game. He’s not the best scorer or rebounder on his team, but with that combo of blocks and threes you can live with 15 and 6. The other thing I like from Bargnani is that he is an efficient shooter. Last season he shot 45 percent from the floor and 83.1 percent from the free throw line. It’s tough to find an 80+ percent free throw shooter at the center position anymore! I look at him as the Troy Murphy of 2009-10, in terms of value this season.
Jeff: We both rank Dwight Howard first, which might make veteran fantasy players cringe. Are we just really confident in our abilities to draft a solid team around him (more likely!) or are the worry-warts right about his free throw percentage being too much of a cross to bear?
Tom: I just don’t see how owners in H2H leagues can be afraid of drafting a big time shot blocker and rebounder like Howard in the first round. He not only dominates in both of those categories, but he’ll finish in the top 20 in scoring and the top 10 in field goal shooting. That’s a nice foundation to build off of. I think too many owners forget that you don’t have to win the week 8-0 in order to dominate. No one is going to win 8-0 each week. If you anchor your team with Howard you are well on your way to winning four categories. That’s a nice start. You can add the steals, assists, and threes later. In roto, it’s more of a challenge. But when you’re talking about H2H there is not better center in the game than Howard.
Jeff: I look at Greg Oden‘s name and visions of games where he has more fouls than points or boards still dance in my head. Are you buying Oden as a fantasy player this season?
Tom: I am buying on Oden this season. The price is at an all-time low, which makes him that easier to buy. He’s got the chops to add big numbers on the boards and in blocked shots. He also can put the ball in the basket. He won’t be a 20 and 10 guy, but I’ll buy at a full season of 10 and 10 with 1.5 blocks and a 55 percent showing from the field. The key really is where you buy him. I have no problem taking a flier on him as my third center in the 11th or 12th round. The upside is worth it to me. I mean, would you rather draft the upside of Oden or the low ceiling of Ronny Turiaf as your third center?
Three Questions for Jeff
Tom: Seeing that you have Tim Duncan ranked fifth, just ahead of David Lee and Brook Lopez, are you not worried that the Spurs are going to cut back his minutes a bit in order to keep his legs fresh come playoff time?
Jeff: I’m looking at Duncan’s career stats and the last five years have been nearly identical. Between 33 and 35 minutes, 19-20 points, 11 boards, three assists and around 50 percent from the field. His blocks dipped last year from his usual two to 1.7, but there’s no reason to worry that Duncan won’t continue to be Tim Duncan. Duncan is a master of body control and certainly knows his limits, and 34 minutes per game during the regular season should be perfect for him if the Spurs are looking to make a postseason run. If, at worst, Duncan averages an 18 and 10 with 1.5 blocks, you’re still doing pretty well. All of that said, I don’t suggest taking him until late in the second round, but he remains a No. 1 center.
Tom: Are we crazy? What makes Joakim Noah a better selection than Brad Miller?
Jeff: There are much crazier calls out there than this. Noah averaged just 24 minutes a game last year yet still finished ahead of Miller in Yahoo’s player rankings. If Noah gets close to 30 minutes per game – and why not? – he could come close to 9 and 10 with close to two blocks and hardly any turnovers. He shot better than 55 percent from the floor last year, and his 67.6 FT% is not enough to hurt you since he doesn’t get to the line that often. Miller is Miller, a solid fantasy guy but also 33 years old with gradually dwindling statistics. If Noah and Tyrus Thomas blossom this year, Miller will move even more into the background in Chicago, and Noah will be the better fantasy C when all is said and done.
Tom: With Marc Gasol at No. 23 and Sam Dalembert at No. 21, are you more worried about Zach Randolph taking stats away from Gasol than you are about Elton Brand stealing boards and blocks from Sammy D?
Jeff: I like a little bounce-back year for Sammy. I think Brand’s presence can only help him, as he was dreadful without Brand in there last year. I’m thinking 8 PTS, 9-10 REB and 2 BLK for Dalembert this year, more along the lines of his career norms. Those two blocks move him up my list, as that’s more than Gasol, Tyson Chandler or the aforementioned Miller provide. In terms of why I have Gasol that low, I’m down on all the Grizzlies this year after they imported the double-edged poisonous sword of Randolph and Allen Iverson. Marc is not going to like playing with Randolph down low, nor is Mr. Iverson going to be too keen on dropping the ball down low to either of them. And when OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay realize they aren’t getting their’s, well… I suppose somebody has to suffer the consequences of this debacle, and I’m knocking Gasol down a few pegs in a case of collateral damage.
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