Fantasy Doctor, NBA / Sep 21, 2010 / 10:00 am

Top 10 Fantasy Centers in 2010-11

Dwight Howard (photo. adidas)

Dwight Howard (photo. adidas)

During the past week we’ve looked at the projected top 10 fantasy point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. Now it’s time to complete the puzzle by examining the projected top 10 fantasy centers for the 2010-11 season. Solid centers are the rarest of breeds for fantasy basketball, but that doesn’t make it any easier to rank them. Share your reactions below, and remember that this is based on a nine-category perspective.

1. Brook Lopez: He’s the mini-Pau Gasol, which should tell you how solid the 22-year-old is. Lopez gives you everything you want from your No. 1 fantasy center, without all the drama of poor free-throw shooting and turnovers. The Nets have a few more three-point shooters on board this season, which means more room for Lopez to work around the basket. He also more than doubled his assists last season, and with a better roster there’s little reason to think he won’t continue to bulk up that column of the stat sheet.

2. Dwight Howard: If you want to put Howard a spot higher than this, who can blame you? He is, after all, the most dominant rebounder and shot-blocker in the NBA. That said, he’s also fatal for his fantasy team’s free-throw percentage, and doesn’t help matters with his frequent turnovers. Also, Howard’s points and rebounds have been falling, from 20.7/14.2, to 20.6/13.8, to 18.3/13.2 in the past three seasons, thanks to his increasing fouls per game and consequential decline in minutes during that stretch. The bottom line with Howard remains the same: if you’re willing to take your chances and build your fantasy team around his strengths and weaknesses, feel free to take him in the first round. If you’re looking for an all-around player who leaves you with more options in subsequent rounds and probably has a higher ceiling, let Howard be someone else’s burden.

3. Al Horford: All of his numbers have steadily improved in his three seasons in the NBA, and Horford is on the verge of scoring and rebounding into double-double territory. Add to this coach Larry Drew‘s plans to deploy Horford at his natural PF position more often this season (in a faster offense) and there’s a lot to like about the big man’s upside.

4. Al Jefferson: Jefferson suffered in Minnesota last season, where he saw limited minutes and had to contend with the rebounding prowess of Kevin Love. There will be no such nonsense this season, as he’ll be unquestioned starting center for the Jazz. Besides playing alongside Deron Williams, his only serious competition for minutes at the center position, Mehmet Okur, is expected to miss the first few months of the season with an Achilles injury. This will mean a return to the land of double-doubles and plenty of minutes for Jefferson. The downsides are his health and his free-throw shooting.

5. Nene: Though he took a step back in nearly every category last season, Nene remained a strong fantasy center, mostly thanks to his 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. With Kenyon Martin set to miss significant time as he recovers from knee surgery and Chris Andersen likely to miss the start of the season, there will be plenty of opportunities for Nene to bounce back in ’10-11. His health is always a concern, but it was encouraging to see him play all 82 games last year.

6. Andrea Bargnani: He’s the default go-to guy for a depleted Raptors squad, and that should translate into good things for the blossoming big man. Though he doesn’t rebound particularly well, Bargnani is a big man who can hit 1.5 threes and block 1.5 shots per game, which is hard to overlook.

7. Marcus Camby: A stud when getting enough minutes, he’s facing a timeshare at the center spot in Portland this season, thanks to the imminent return of Greg Oden, a delicate player who makes Camby look like an iron man. If Oden goes down with another significant injury, Camby’s value will surge. All Camby needs is around 30 minutes a night to notch 10+ rebounds, 1+ steals and 2+ blocks.

8. Marc Gasol: The other Gasol made his mark on the NBA last season, which was derailed due to a neck injury. If he takes a tiny step forward this season, averages of 16 points and 10 boards along with 1 steal and 2 blocks per game aren’t too much to expect.

9. Joakim Noah: He’s got some serious competition for rebounds in Carlos Boozer, but Noah should remain a very helpful fantasy center. After a summer of rest, his plantar fasciitis issues that popped the bubble of a huge season last year should be behind him. If he can continue shooting around 75 percent from the free-throw line, Noah’s fantasy value should remain mostly intact.

10. Chris Kaman: As many expected, Kaman had a solid ’09-10 campaign, averaging a career-high 18.5 points while grabbing 9.3 rebounds and blocking 1.2 shots. Blake Griffin‘s official NBA debut could make things more difficult for Kaman, but even if his averages settle to around 15/8 and around 1.5 blocks per game, along with his solid shooting percentages, he’ll be valuable. Some centers left out of the top 10 might very well outperform Kaman by season’s end, but many of them have health risks that are too great to ignore.

On the cusp: Andrew Bogut, Yao Ming, Robin Lopez, Elton Brand, Andrew Bynum

Throughout the season, be sure to leave your questions, comments, concerns, trade offers, roster problems and more in the comments below.

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  • JA

    An interesting question would be what round to take Yao in? Assuming he does only play 24 mins per, and lets say he plays … 70 games for the year.

  • JAY

    Bargnani @ #6??

    You know the true center is a dying breed when….

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @JA: I’m slotting him in around rounds 8-9 under those assumptions. There is also word that he may likely sit out or be very limited in the second of back-to-back games, which is a real bummer. I, for one, will steer clear of him this year.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @JAY: Yeah, he’s a natural PF, but on that paper-thin Raptors squad, he’s set to start at C. He’s the black sheep of this list, for sure.

  • TheBestPG

    Is Bogut supposed to be hurt this year?

    Bogut is better than 5-10 when healthy, period.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @TheBestPG: He’s healed up for the most part, but Bogut’s questionable for the start of the season and is set to deal with discomfort in his arm for the entire season. When healthy, yes, he’s very much a part of the top 10 discussion for centers. (http://www.nba.com/2010/news/features/david_aldridge/09/20/morning-tip/index.html?ls=iref:nbahpt1)

  • top_gun

    I had Bargnani in my team last year. Great shooting percentage and surprisingly, was getting blocks too. Brook Lopez was a beast starting out, then his numbers started to decrease as the season progressed.

  • Heckler

    Elton Brand?


  • JH

    If Brook Lopez is a Pau lite…where is Pau on your ranking sheet? #1? Last I checked, Pau qualifies as a C on most sites.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @JH: Check the PF list. When Andrew Bynum plays, Gasol is a PF, but yes, he qualifies as a C as well. I can’t please everyone with where I list those flex players.

  • Sleeper

    This might sound crazy, but Roy Hibbert will be one of the best fantasy basketball centers this year now that Troy Murphy is no longer there. When Murphy was injured last year, Hibbert came in and put up HUGE numbers. He will be a sleeper.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Sleeper: That doesn’t sound crazy at all. Hibbert was on the cusp of the cusp, and yes, he’s a great sleeper pick. If he can stay out of foul trouble, notch at least 30 minutes a night and rebound the ball better, he’ll offer great value.

  • spike

    i think jeffersons gonna have a monster season, defeintly above hoford..hes in second year of recovery plus hes playin with dwill=recipe for all star type season…that and i feel bogut dose belong in top ten despite injury risk…other then that i agree

  • http://dimemag.com John

    Just did my first ever fantasy draft.
    had pick 8 in a 10 team draft.
    1. Nowitzki
    2. Curry
    3. Horford
    4. Stephen Jackson
    5. Deng
    6. Camby
    7. Thorton
    8. Kevin Martin
    9. Reshard Lewis
    10. Conley
    11. Okafor
    12. Haywood
    13. Kirilenko

    My question is Jarret Jack is available and wondering if I should drop someone (maybe Haywood) to help with my assists

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @John: Congrats on finishing your first fantasy basketball draft. I hope you’ll have fun with it. A 10-team league is a nice way to break yourself in. Your first two picks are absolute steals, and getting AK-47 in the last round is downright criminal. Solid all-around team. You’re correct to be a bit concerned about your assists, and I’d like swapping Haywood for Jack, especially with word that Jack could start over Calderon this season. Haywood will be stuck in a timeshare with Tyson Chandler.

  • ????

    Hey Fantasy Doctor,

    I really think Kevin Love is gonna have an all-star season this year, i’m actually planning on taking him over joakim noah and tim duncan (#8 on ur PF List). Your thoughts?

    Also, I’m sure you’ve heard about the new AUCTION DRAFT over at Yahoo Sports. Just wondering if you have some tips on how to value players correctly for this kind of draft. Should i go and bid high on top-tier players with the risk of depleting my budget? or leave a big budget for role players and fantasy “specialists”? what do you think?

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @????: I don’t have a problem with that at all. If Love can get enough minutes, that should be an accurate valuation. My only concern is just that — his minutes. While he doesn’t have Al Jefferson to contend with anymore, he does have to deal with Michael Beasley. Plus, he’s still in Minny, where logical minute distributions don’t always happen.

    I’m actually something of an auction noob myself, since I’ve stuck almost exclusively with Yahoo for the duration of my fantasy “career.” For a better-educated take on auction drafts, see here: http://givemetherock.com/2010/08/29/auction-leagues-and-why-you-need-to-try-one/ (read the comments, too)

    My general impression is that you shouldn’t save too much money for the middle/late rounds. While it’s natural to try to be prudent (especially with our recession mentality these days), it sucks to have money leftover at the end of the draft. If you’re confident in your knowledge of players who are middle- to late-rounders, feel free to spend a bit aggressively in the beginning and count on your keen knowledge to bulk up your roster later on with savvy value picks. If not, then it might be wise to take a step back from the insane spending very early on and spread out your spending a bit.

    Again, there are other resources (including auction rankings) that are more well-informed than mine, so look around. Also, take part in the mock auction drafts Yahoo makes available. Not too many actual real owners participate in most of them, but even if it’s with a bunch of computers, you’ll learn.

  • ????

    @Fantasy Doctor: Thanks for the link and for the advice!! Will definitely take a look at those

    I’m actually playing on a 16-Team H2H auction league, and my strategy for this year is to build with BIGS, I’m hoping i could get Brook Lopez and DH12 as my top pick then supplement them with guys like Klove, Noah, Nene, then at a later round get a guy like Oden, Brand, or Hibbert.

    But im still not sure how high or low i should value Lopez and DH in comparison to guys like Lebron, Durant, or Nowitzki. Any thoughts? (auction budget $200 for a 16 team league)

  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @????: Use the average prices you see in your draft as a guideline. It would seem that Lopez and Howard will go for around half, or a bit less than half, of what KD and LeBron will go for.

  • Duck

    Hey Doc,
    You probably don’t remember me from last year, but I was really hoping you could post another article of a “mock draft” that you yourself participate in.


  • http://dimemag.com/author/the-fantasy-doctor/ The Fantasy Doctor

    @Duck: Of course I remember you. Thanks for the request (they’re helpful). I’ll certainly post about a mock draft I participate in. Keep your eyes peeled.

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