Steve Alexander

Offseason Beat

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The Top 25 Fantasy Centers

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


With the NBA filing a lawsuit against the players' association, and the owners seemingly in favor of losing the season in hopes of breaking the players, it's anyone's guess as to when we'll see NBA action again. My guess is the season will be lost entirely, although I'm certainly hoping that's not the case. Regardless, here's a look at the Top 25 centers entering the new fantasy season. And if you missed the PG, SG, SF and PF columns, they're easily accessible by clicking on the "Archives" link above.

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1. Dwight Howard Magic

We say the same thing about Dwight every year. If you don't want to wreck your free throw percentage and turnovers, he's not worth drafting early. However, if your league doesn't count TOs and uses free throws made, he's possibly the No. 1 pick in your draft. But you simply cannot ignore his rebounding and shot blocking, although his scoring generally leaves something to be desired. You know what you're getting with Howard, he doesn't get injured, and at some point Stan Van Gundy is going to have to make him the focal point of the offense. But where you want to draft him is a personal decision, based on your overall strategy. If you are good with punting free throw percentage, there's no reason to be afraid of him.

2. Al Jefferson Jazz

Jefferson will have to deal with rookie Enes Kanter at some point, but he should be a very solid fantasy center again. He didn't miss a game last year and returned third-round value in most leagues. And that's where you should target him.

3. Marcin Gortat Suns

Gortat was traded to the Suns last year and finally took over the starting job from Robin Lopez on March 27. And when he was a starter for them, he helped carry fantasy teams down the stretch by averaging a ton of minutes, as well as 15 points, 12 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his final 11 games. It's a small sample size, but we all know he can play and he looks like a great fit for the Suns. His free throw shooting improved in Phoenix (73 percent), but he only had five steals in those 11 games. Gortat should have a big year and be a very safe fantasy pick at center.

4. Al Horford Hawks

I listed Horford with the power forwards last time around, which was probably a mistake, as he is clearly the starting center for the Hawks. He plays through injuries, is getting better every day and won't hurt your free throw shooting. He's only going to block one shot per game, but if the Hawks ever deal Josh Smith and get a true center, Horford's stock will skyrocket. But even if things remain status quo in the ATL, Horford is as reliable as they come.

5. DeMarcus Cousins Kings

Samuel Dalembert is an unrestricted free agent, which should clear the way for Cousins to take over at center for the Kings. He played in all but one game and averaged close to 14 points, 9 boards, a steal and a block per game as a rookie. And his one game missed was due to disciplinary reasons by the Kings, and not an injury. He might be a bit of a head case, but the talent is there and he should be vastly improved this season.

6. Brook Lopez Nets

We made Lopez our personal whipping boy last season, as he routinely struggled to rebound the ball and generally struggled for an awful team. His rebounds fell from 8.7 to 6.0 per game, which is laughable, while he also posted 20 points and 1.5 blocks per game. He's simply not a guy who has a hunger for rebounding, and while he could bounce back this time around, I also wouldn't be surprised to see him continue struggling to rebound the ball. He never averaged more than 6.8 rebounds in any month of last season.

7. Marc Gasol Grizzlies RFA

Pau's brother had a fine year and only missed one game. He disappeared for stretches during the season, while Zach Randolph gobbled up many of his rebounds. As a result, his rebounding could be better (7 per game), but he's a decent free throw shooter, scored 12 points per game and averaged nearly two blocks per game. He's also young enough that he should become more consistent going forward.

8. Andrew Bynum Lakers

Bynum's injury history is obviously a big concern, while having to share the ball and paint with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol doesn't help matters. His games played over the last four seasons are reminiscent of Greg Oden, although not quite as dreadful – 35, 50, 65 and 54 games is all we've gotten from Bynum. The numbers are fine, but his knees are far from reliable, and he is a true risk vs. reward draft pick, as usual. But if he can ever squeeze 75 games out of a season, he could be the best fantasy center in the game.

9. Roy Hibbert Pacers

Hibbert's playing time was constantly screwed with by Jim O'Brien last year, but the good news is he has a new coach in Frank Vogel. He also displayed solid skills last season and has played in 81 games in each of his last two, averaging around 13 points, 7.5 boards and 2 blocks per game last year. He was much better in the first half of last season, before Obie tired of using him, but we expect Vogel to give him a fresh start. And really, the Pacers don't have many other options in the middle. Hibbert should be a very safe fantasy pick this season.

10. JaVale McGee Wizards

This dude might love planking (click this) more than playing NBA basketball, but when he gets it going, he's a freakish athlete for such a big guy. He had a laughable triple-double (with blocks) last season, when he was taking ridiculous shots, turning it over, and doing everything in his power to hit the mark, regardless of what his teammates were doing. But in fantasy circles, it was all good. And he still averaged 10 points, 8 boards and 2.4 blocks last season, and had nine games in which he blocked between 5 and 12 shots. I don't know that you can rely on him as your No. 1 center, but owning him should help you secure blocks on a weekly basis. And he's only going to get better.

11. Greg Monroe Pistons

Monroe is another guy I listed with the power forwards, but he's set to start at center for the Pistons this season. He quietly played in 80 games as a rookie, averaging 9.4 points, 7.5 boards, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks. It's also important to remember that his numbers nearly doubled after the All-Star break, as he got a boost in minutes and averaged 14 points, 10 boards, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks the rest of the way. He'll have a new coach in the form of Lawrence Frank, which should also work in his favor, and is a true sleeper at center this season.

12. Andrew Bogut Bucks

Bogut peaked in December of last year, averaging nearly 16 points, 12 boards, a steal and 3 blocks per in 12 games that month. He made it through just 65 games last season while recovering from arm injuries suffered in a fall just before the playoffs started the previous year, and then underwent right elbow surgery, ending his season in early April. He also has a historically bad back, and while visions of him consistently putting up numbers like he did last December are dreamy, the fact remains he's missed 76 games over the last three seasons.

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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2014-15 NBA season marks his 13th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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