One the fun quirks of fantasy basketball: Half the players used at the center position don’t actually play center. So while guys like Pau Gasol, Amar’e Stoudemire and David Lee are likely to be manning the C on the typically fantasy team, we at GMTR are talking about centers in the strictest sense of the word. One Pau Gasol is plenty; we don’t need to see his ugly mug on multiple lists.
As was the case with the other tiers, these center rankings are based on the average of GMTR’s three authors. There is probably more disagreement among the three of us with the center position than all of the other positions combined. Of course, that means you will probably disagree with us as well.
Tier 1: What a Difference a Free Throw Makes
1. Brook Lopez (NJN) – 16.3
2. Dwight Howard (ORL) – 22
Lopez is one of the best free throw shooting centers in the league. Howard’s free throw shooting makes small children cry. Given the choice, I’d much rather go with Lopez and avoid the added degree of difficulty of trying to build a team around Howard while tanking at least one category. If you want to get all technical on our asses, then you can throw Pau Gasol into this tier (or maybe create a tier above this) since he will likely being playing center while Andrew Bynum is out of the lineup.
Tier 2: Al Most as Good as Tier 1
3. Al Horford (ATL) – 27
4. Al Jefferson (UTA) – 27.3
5. Marc Gasol (MEM) – 34.6
He may be a power forward disguised as a center, but Horford’s disguise is so good he could be a bad guy on an episode of Scooby Doo. Jefferson is now over a year and a half removed from an injury that takes over a year to fully heal. Expect him to get back to his 20 point, 10 board ways.
Tier 3: I Have No Clue What the Guys in This Tier Have in Common
6. Marcus Camby (POR) – 40
7. Andrea Bargnani (TOR) – 41
8. Andrew Bogut (MIL) – 42.3
9. Nene Hilario (DEN) – 42.3
10. Joakim Noah (CHI) – 57.3
With Greg Oden likely playing limited minutes this season, the Blazers are going to have to rely heavily on Camby again. In his short stint with the team last season, Camby averaged 11.1 boards and 2 blocks a game. But (surprise!) he is already injured with a strained groin in camp. With Chris Bosh taking his talents to South Beach, Andrea Bargnani becomes the man in Toronto. He should be in for a big year stats wise and is the first center to grab if you’re looking for threes. Bogut may be ready to play for the start of the season, although it looks like he’ll be wearing a giant, shot altering brace all year to protect his elbow. He may also have to tone down his aggressiveness in order to stay healthy. Thanks to a Carlos Boozer injury, I’m bumping up Noah into this tier. I mean, he’s better than Carmelo Anthony, right?
Tier Bynum: In Some Alternate Universe, He’s a Perennial All-Star
11. Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 46.6 TBD
According to the LA Times, Bynum may now be out until December with a knee injury. This is after originally saying he’d be back by mid-November. If we do the NBA math… it means we can probably expect Bynum back in January when all is said and done. They say you can’t teach height, but unfortunately for Bynum you can’t really teach health either.
Tier 4: Different Strokes for Different Folks
12. Chris Kaman (LAC) – 83
13. Mehmet Okur (UTA) – 83
14. Samuel Dalembert (SAC) – 88.3
15. Channing Frye (PHO) – 89
16. Greg Oden (POR) – 89.3
17. Anderson Varejao (CLE) – 95.3
Here is where the GMTR authors start to vehemently disagree. Well, other than Kaman, who we all like towards the top of this tier as an injury prone guy with some upside. I hate Okur this year due to the fact that he’s going to miss the start of the season. This will allow Jefferson and Millsap to develop some chemistry together and leaves Okur as the odd man out. Erik and Nels are a little less worried. Nels also loves Channing Frye to repeat his 2009-10 performance. The emergence of Robin Lopez at the end of last year complicates things for Frye, but he definitely will hit his threes this year. I thought I liked Dalembert, but Erik really likes him. Dalembert is as good a bet as any player in the league to play in all 82 games.
And I guess we have to talk about Greg Oden. His games and minutes are going to be limited this year by the Blazers. Team officials are shooting for 60-65 games from Oden, a number which is not exactly going to give fantasy owners a warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside. I’m avoiding him this year, but if everything breaks right for the guy (and it won’t), he could end the year as a top 10 center.
Tier 5: One Yao to Rule Them All
18. Roy Hibbert (IND) – 107.6
19. Brendan Haywood (DAL) – 107.6
20. Yao Ming (HOU) – 111.6
21. Andris Biedrins (GSW) – 119.6
The elephant in this tier is Yao, of course. We all know that he’s going to be limited to 24 minutes a game by the Rockets in an attempt to keep him healthy. If we take Yao’s 2008-09 numbers and prorate them based on 24 minutes a game, it looks something like this: 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game. Those numbers are actually pretty good and would put him in the 60-70 range of our player rater. But that is Yao’s ceiling. There is no guarantee that he gets exactly 24 minutes a game or the limited minutes will be enough to keep him healthy for the whole season.
If Hibbert can control his fouls a little more this year, he could easily average over 8 boards and 2 blocks a game. If he can’t, he is looking at another year of 25 minutes of burn a game. Andris Biedrins is probably the one Warrior who actually benefits from Don Nelson’s departure seeing as there is no love lost between the two. I personally think Biedrins is in for a big bounce back season.
Tier 6: Maybe They’ll Show Us Something
22. Anthony Tolliver (MIN) – 127.6
23. Robin Lopez (PHO) – 131.3
24. Emeka Okafor (NOH) – 132
25. Jason Thompson (SAC) – 143.3
Tolliver left Golden State for the… Minnesota Timberwolves? On the plus side, he’s competing for time with Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic. Either you’re a Robin Lopez guy, or a Channing Frye guy (it’s the boxers vs. briefs question for the 21st century). I’m the former, Nels is the latter. Okafor has name recognition, but unfortunately he’s the fifth option on offense for the Hornets.
Other names to keep an eye on: Spencer Hawes will be the starter for the Sixers; JaVale McGee has uber potential, he’s just not impressing Flip Saunders right now; Greg Monroe has the offensive skills to pay the bills; and Tiago Splitter could be the starter for the Spurs.
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