The last part of the higher and lower series will focus on the Center position where there seems to be more depth than usual years. There are plenty of centers this year who are great to draft for specific categories for example Points (Brook Lopez, BRK), Rebounds (Omar Asik, HOU), and Blocks (Samuel Dalembert, MIL). There are a lot of up and coming superstars including DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento and Greg Monroe from Detroit. Now that I have rambled enough, let’s dive deep into some rankings on who I like better than ESPN and who I like less.
Dwight Howard – C – Los Angeles Lakers – (Me 1, ESPN 6)- Dwight Howard got traded to Los Angeles in the off-season’s biggest blockbuster. He goes from a supporting cast of Jameer Nelson, Hedo Tukoglu, and Glen Davis to Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol. Dwight was often isolated using a variety of post moves last year and he struggled at some points handling a full offensive load. I am expecting Dwight to be super efficient this year with Nash feeding him easy looks around the basket instead of Dwight spinning and throwing up hook shots. Howard has the potential this year to shoot 65% from the floor with a lot of field goal attempts running the pick and roll. His elite career averages in rebounds (13/Game) and blocks (2.3/Game) are here to stay. If you’re scared off because of his FT% then you have a legitimate argument to leave him off your top 20, but I would rather draft the best Center in the league and build my FT% through the rest of the draft. I play in head to head leagues compared to roto leagues so the FT% provides a less extensive hit. I also expect Dwight’s turnovers to decrease this year with limited offensive responsibility. The last two years Dwight has also averaged 1.4 and 1.5 steals a game which is fantasy gold for the Center position. Plus the Lakers will be on national TV plenty so at least you will get to see your stud play!
Omer Asik – C – Houston Rockets – (Me 17, ESPN 23) – Asik has always been limited by playing time while in Chicago. Now that he has a big contract with the Rockets playing time should no longer hold him back. His per 40 minute averages in Chicago the last two years has seen Asik average 9 PPG, 13.7 RPG, and 2.5 BPG. Asik has seemingly had double digit rebound numbers in the preseason almost every game in 25 minutes per. Asik does not shoot free throws extremely well, but I don’t see Asik shooting that many to severely affect your team percentage. I see Asik finishing the season in the top 5 for Center’s in RPG and BPG. And to think you can grab him late in drafts! He should have a good FG% with Lin passing him the ball instead of Kirk Heinrich. I am seeing numbers consisting of 10 PPG, 14 RPG, and 2.5 BPG. Draft late and enjoy his consistent double digit rebounding numbers and huge block numbers.
Marc Gasol – C – Memphis Grizzlies – (Me 8, ESPN 4) – Marc Gasol is a very good player, but no one stat stands out that makes me really want to target this guy at his current ADP. I do not see him finishing as a top 5 Center this year as Zach Randolph is back to steal away touches and boards. How is he going in the 3rd round when his career highs are 14.6 PPG and 9.3 RPG? Gasol will no doubt put up decent numbers, but not worthy of being ranked the 4th Center. If you are completely risk averse then you can take him, but to win a league you have to take some risks and go after potential Gasol did not even shoot over 50% from the field last year. He adds decent numbers in blocks (1.9/Game) and FT% for a big man at 75%, but I believe Gasol has already maxed out his talent. Avoid at his current ADP.
Tyson Chandler – C – New York Knicks – (Me 18, ESPN 11) – I do not really like to draft players who get no offensive touches as part of their offensive systems. Chandler fits that profile as he only scores when he cleans up Melo’s and Amare’s misses. Chandler is the perfect case of a Center who is a lot better in real life than he is in fantasy. Chandler is the classic player that gets over drafted because of the team he is on, his name, and the prestige that comes for playing for Team USA. His averages last year in his first year with the Knicks included 1.4 BPG, 11.3 PPG, and 9.9 RPG, which are all average numbers for a Center. Chandler is an average fantasy option so should be drafted as one. Upside players such as Joakim Noah, JaVele McGee, Nikola Pevolic, and Roy Hibbert should all be drafted ahead of him.
Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone in their last minute drafts. Tuesday night can’t come soon enough! Look for my weekly column in the upcoming weeks where I will go over the best free agent addition, best player drop, best buy low candidate, and best sell high candidate! Follow me on Twitter at acook313!