Jul 14, 2012 Fantasy Draft Rankings
C Rankings Updated Oct. 15. Our 2012-2013 NBA Fantasy Basketball Center Draft Rankings will be updated throughout the offseason and training camp, so check back weekly for updated rankings.
The following rankings are based on the FBD scoring system, which you can find HERE.
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Dwight Howard (LAL, 41.0 FPS) – When it comes to the center position, there’s Dwight Howard and then everyone else. Now that the ‘Dwightmare’ scenario is over and he’s found a home in LA, he can get back to being the top center in head to head leagues. One bit of caution though is the back injury that ended his season. It’s the one thing that could alter his ranking as the season approaches. Another red flag on Howard is that his blocks have trended down the last four seasons to a low of 2.1 per game last year. It’s still good, but not what it used to be. Of course the free throw percentage is still horrible and was a career worst 49.1% last season, but that’s just the wart you have to deal with to have the best center in the game on your fantasy roster.
Oct. 15 – Howard is progressing well from his back surgery and should be ready to go sometime during the first month of the season. I’m not as high on Howard as I have been in past years. I can handle the poor FT% with a totally healthy Howard, but not with a post surgery Howard in a crowded offense.
Andrew Bynum (PHI, 34.2 FPS) – Bynum finally had his breakout season in 2012, putting up a career high in minutes with 35.2 per game in his 60 games played. He’s trying hard to shed the ‘injury prone’ label and another solid season would accomplish that. Probably the biggest benefit to Bynum this year will be the addition of Steve Nash to the Lakers. Bynum should get some prime feeds from Nash and could increase his scoring to break the 20 point barrier. He’s going to get you two blocks a game and has a career FT% of 68.7%. If Howard’s back becomes an issue, Bynum could take over the top spot in the center rankings.
Down – Oct. 15 – I’m really worried about Bynum’s knee. He should have been on the court soon, but instead he just underwent a procedure to inject lubricating fluid into his knee with the hope that it would get the joing working properly. This has bad news written all over it.
Al Jefferson (UTA, 35.0 FPS) – Jefferson put up a better FPS than Bynum last season, but I’m not sure that anyone really noticed him out in Utah. Jefferson was his usual consistent beast and turned in a line nearly equal to his 2010-2011 season. If you want the safety of dependable numbers without the flash, Jefferson is your guy. He’s really worked on his free throw shooting and has put up a 76.1 and a 77.4 FT% the last two seasons, so if you like to build your team around percentages, Jefferson might be a better play than Bynum and he’ll likely be cheaper on draft day.
UP – Oct. 15. – If you have a high pick and Bynum, Jefferson and Cousins are all on the board, I think you have to give serious consideration to grabbing either Jefferson or Cousins ahead of Bynum, especially in Roto leagues. I haven’t officially changed the ranking, but it could happen this week after I hear more about the latest medical procedure Bynum had done.
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC, 33.4 FPS) – Cousins was probably the biggest surprise at the center position last season and he should continue to hold a top 5 ranking in 2013. The one factor that puts Cousins so far up on the list is his potential for improvement. He only logged 30.5 minutes per game, but put up the fourth best FPS score for a fantasy center. He should take another step in his third season and if he can work his minutes to the 34-35 per game range, he’ll be an elite option at center. Cousins had good defensive stats of 1.2 blocks and 1.5 steals, as well as an acceptable 70.2 FT%. His FG% of 44.8 was a little low for a center, but that’s simply due to the nature of his offensive skills. The only red flag on Cousins is his immaturity at times, but this is his third season and with his enormous potential, it’s something that most fantasy owners can deal with.
UP – Oct. 15. – See Al Jefferson.
Al Horford (ATL, 30.2 FPS) – Horford caught a bad break last season suffering a torn pectoral muscle that forced him to miss nearly the entire season. He was able to return for the playoffs and looked just as good as before the injury. He should enter this season completely healthy and will anchor the Hawks interior. The Hawks have traded away their leading scorer in Joe Johnson, so they may lean on Horford a little more for scoring. He’s still going to get you 9-10 rebounds and a block every night with a solid career 53.7 FG% and 76.1 FT%.
Marc Gasol (MEM, 30.5 FPS) – Gasol had a down year in 2010-11, but bounced back strongly last season to average 36.5 minutes a night over 65 games played. Marc has a style very similar to his brother Pau, which was evidenced by the fact that he led all centers with 3.1 assists per game. He’s a sneaky source of assists if you like to work that fantasy angle. He should post 15 and 9 again this season and post something around his career 52.8 FG% and 72.2 FT%. On the defensive side, he’ll get you two blocks and steal per game.
Marcin Gortat (PHO, 29.3 FPS) – Gortat had a career year in 2012, but the departure of Steve Nash could work to the detriment of the big man. Gortat averaged a 15 and 10 double-double, with 1.5 blocks and .7 steals. He’s got a 67.4 career FT% and 55.5 FG%. The only problem with Gortat is that most fantasy drafters will have to pay up to get him, and there’s a good chance that last season’s numbers are his statistical ceiling. It’s a situation where you have to pay a fairly high price and hope for perfection, without the additional benefit of much surprise upside.
Roy Hibbert (IND, 26.3 FPS) – Hibbert was offered a $58 million contract by Portland, but the Pacers matched and Hibbert will be back in Indiana with a financially secure future. I was hoping that Hibbert would take a step forward last year with his offensive game, but it didn’t materialize and might not happen this season either. We could already be looking at his offensive ceiling of around 12-14 points per game. He did manage to increase his rebounding to a career high 8.8 per game mark, as well as a career high 2.0 blocks. I’d expect a similar FPS score from Hibbert again in 2013, which would put him right at the edge of the top 10 fantasy centers.
Brook Lopez (BN, 30.1 FPS) – Lopez is a very difficult player to rank this season. He missed nearly all of last season with a foot injury and this year he returns to a completely new team around him with plenty of other scoring options. Lopez is a scoring center who doesn’t rebound very well and with the Nets having plenty of other scorers on the team, there’s a chance that Brook’s biggest fantasy asset might not be needed as much as in prior years. If he isn’t scoring 20 a night, then his fantasy value takes a hit because he just doesn’t offer enough in the other categories. I would expect that his final ranking will fluctuate wildly depending on what happens with training camp.
UP – Oct. 15 – Lopez has looked very healthy in the first couple of preseason games and should return to his 18 and 6 level.
Tim Duncan (SAS, 29.4 FPS) – Duncan played a lot of power forward last year and the Spurs brought in Boris Diaw to play some PF this season, so I’m going to list Duncan in the center rankings. If the major fantasy sites move him to PF, I’ll do the same. Duncan just signed a three year extension to remain in San Antonio. While he put up a great FPS score last season, the red flag of decreasing minutes remains. He logged just 28.4 MPG in 2011 and 28.2 last year. If that declines anymore, his fantasy value gets close to falling out of the top 10 centers. He’s aging and it’s just a matter of time before his game declines, and you don’t want to get caught holding the bag when it does.
Oct. 15 – The same concern year in and year out with Duncan – how many minutes will he get and how many games will he be rested by Popovich?
Joakim Noah (CHI, 25.1 FPS) – I ranked Noah pretty high last season and he completely disappointed me, although some of it was due to injury. I’m not making that mistake again with him. He’s still battling a left ankle injury that he suffered in the first round of the playoffs, which is serious enough to cause him to miss the Olympics. The Bulls are also a mess this season with Derrick Rose out for a good portion with the ACL injury. Noah could still bounce back and put up a nightly 10 and 10 double-double, but the upside that was once there is shrinking quickly. He’s still good value, but he’s a recognizable name which somewhat inflates his fantasy price.
Down – Oct. 15 – Noah is dealing with a chronic foot injury which makes makes him a little undependable.
Andrea Bargnani (TOR, 27.0 FPS) – Bargnani is basically Brook Lopez Lite. He’s a scoring center with no rebounding or shotblocking ability. He’s also injury prone, missing a good portion of the last two seasons. His one redeeming quality though is the ability to shoot the three. He took 3.7 threes per game last year and has a career 36.5 3PT%. If you are looking to build your fantasy team around scoring and threes, then Bargnani will likely be higher on your center draft board.
UP – Oct. 15 – Bargnani is back on the court and working to get his conditioning in order. He’s a little soft and injury prone, but is a must draft if you are looking for scoring, threes and a good FT% out of your center.
Tyson Chandler (NYK, 25.1 FPS) – Chandler had another solid season in New York and should again be the starter at center. The only red flag is that the Knicks just brought in Marcus Camby, which might cut into Chandler’s minutes. Last season’s production was probably Chandler’s ceiling, so less minutes will definitely hurt his fantasy value. His final ranking will depend a lot on what type of rotation time evolves in training camp.
UP – Oct. 15. – Chandler has looked great working with Raymond Felton and should be in line for a solid year. Camby doesn’t seem to be any threat at all to Chandler’s minutes.
Chris Kaman (DAL, 24.1 FPS) – Kaman was recently traded to the Mavericks and could be a huge sleeper in 2013 if he can grab the starting job. The Mavs used their amnesty provision on Brendan Haywood, so all signs point to Kaman being the man. His ranking is sure to increase soon. Kaman could be a souce of offensive production at the center postion on a team that recently lost Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Kaman had an all-star season with the Clippers where he went for 19 and 9, so the ability is there. His final ranking will fluctuate depending on how the Mavs structure their offense this season.
UP – Oct. 15. – Kaman is dealing with some nagging injuries, but he should be good to go for the regular season. He becomes a valuable fantasy asset if Dirk Nowitzki is forced to miss time with his knee problem.
Nikola Pekovic (MIN, 22.7 FPS) – Pekovic was a huge surpise in Minnesota and he’s likely your starter now that the Wolves have amnestied Darko Milicic. He put up 14 and 7 in just 27 minutes of action per night. If he bumps to 33-35 minutes, his ranking will shoot up. He’s not going to be much of a shotblocker, but he can score and his career 54.7 FG% and 75.1 FT% are solid.
UP – Oct. 15. – Pekovic has backed on some muscle and he’s in great shape. He could be one of the better sleepers at center this season.
Andrew Bogut (GSW, 26.9 FPS) – I’ve probably got Bogut ranked too low this early, but he’s still in the process of recovering from an ankle injury. If he comes back 100% healthy, then he’ll move up. His 2010-11 stats should be achievable on a decent Warriors team. Expect Bogut to put up 14 and 10 with a couple of blocks per game. He’s just a career 57.4% free throw shooter, so be careful with that.
Down – Oct. 15 – He is behind on his injury rehab and hasn’t made it back on the court yet. I’m guessing he misses the first month of the season getting back into shape.
Nene (WAS, 25.0 FPS) – Nene was traded to the Wizards late last season and his stats didn’t change much from what he was putting up in Denver. The Wizards have rebuilt and will surround Nene with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. It should be a much more mature team, but will likely be a defense oriented team. Nene should be a force on the interior and once again be able to average 14 and 8, with a block and steal per game.
Down – Oct. 15. – Still out with plantar fasciitis and there is no timetable for his return. The Wizards will be out of the race quickly without John Wall and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency to get Nene back on the court before his condition is completely gone.
JaVale McGee (DEN, 23.8 FPS) – McGee has the talent, he just doesn’t seem to have the motivation and maturity to convert it into fantasy production. That isn’t the kind of player who will excel with George Karl as coach. McGee was having a decent season in Washington before a late season trade sent him to Denver. His stats in Denver were disappointing: 10.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and a 37.3 FT%. His biggest fantasy asset is his shotblocking ability, where he’s averaged 2.2 and 2.4 per game over the last two seasons. His weakness is the career 58.1 FT%. He’s still just 24 years old, but it’s time to grow up.
Down – Oct. 15. – George Karl has stated that McGee would probably play minutes somewhere in the “high 20′s”. Not what fantasy owners wanted to hear.
Omer Asik (HOU) – Asik has a deal in place with the Rockets and it doesn’t appear that Chicago is going to match it. Asik only got 14.7 minutes of run per game last season, but his Per 36 numbers were pretty impressive with 7.6 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. All he needs is a starting job.
Anderson Varejao (CLE, 22.7 FPS) – Varejao has only managed 66 games over the past two seasons, but he has the ability to be a nightly 10 and 10 double-double if healthy. His latest injury was a fractured right wrist and the Cavs decided to play it safe and shut him down for the remainder of the season. It’s an injury that should heal completely and Varejao should be ready for training camp. If he looks healthy at camp, then we’ll adjust his ranking.
DeAndre Jordan (LAC, 19.9 FPS) – At this point in the rankings we’re pretty much left with defensive minded centers without much offensive potential. Jordan makes his fantasy production with blocks and rebounds. He avereaged just 7.4 points in 2012, but he produced 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks a night. I’d expect more of the same this season.
Spencer Hawes (PHI, 21.4 FPS) – Hawes was one of the hottest waiver wire claims last season, but he just couldn’t keep it going for the whole year and was horribly inconsistent. He averaged 9.6 points and posted career highs in rebounds (7.3) and blocks (1.3). He’s still just 24 years old, so this is going to be an important season in his development. If he gets over the hump, he could be a guy who can get you 13 and 9 with nearly two blocks a night. If he can’t progress, he could find himself on the bench behind, Kwame Brown, Lavoy Allen or Nikola Vucevic.
UP – Oct. 15 – Hawes could gain some value if Bynum is forced to miss time with his knee problem.
J. J. Hickson (POR) – Hickson has won the starting center spot for the Blazers, but the question is for how long. The Blazers will probably be out of the race by January, at which time they’ll start working some of their young talent into the rotation, specifically Meyers Leonard at center. I see a fantasy killing timeshare somewhere down the road for these two.
Added October 15.
Samuel Dalembert (MIL, 18.3 FPS) - Dalembert was recently shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks where he’ll be asked to play his usual solid defense and protect the rim. Dalembert isn’t much of a scorer, averaging just 8.0 points a game over his career, but he has averaged 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
Marcus Camby (NYK, 19.1 FPS) – Camby has averaged just 4.7 and 4.9 points a game over his last two seasons, but he does have the ability to get you 9 rebounds and 2 blocks a night. His only problem is that he doesn’t have a starting spot as he’s playing behind Tyson Chandler. If he can somehow get 25 minutes a night, he might be draftable, but he’s probably going to be waiver wire material.
Bismack Biyombo (CHA, 14.5 FPS) – Biyombo got 23.1 minutes per game in his rookie season and could get a chance for a bump up in minutes this season. He’s got some shotblocking ability and has a 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes number. He could give you 10 and 8, with the blocks, but he’s also shot free throws at a 48.3% rate.
Others looking to break into the Top 25:
Kendrick Perkins (OKC)
Jason Maxiell (DET)
Brendan Haywood (FA)
Andre Drummond (DET)
Meyers Leonard (POR)
Jonas Valanciunas (TOR)