Over the years, the NBA has shifted to a faster, smaller and guard-friendly game but more often than not, a ball game is still decided in the paint.
There only quite a few elites roaming in the pivots and if you’re wily enough to grab a hold of them in the earlier rounds, consider yourself fortunate. Here are five of the best centers in fantasy basketball today.
5. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
It’s easy to forget that Dwight Howard was once a top-5 player in reality and fantasy with the Orlando Magic. Judging from his current Average Draft Position (26), it’s unfair to label the eight-time All-Star as a third round value. My, how time have flown!
Not only will Howard carry your whole squad with his elite shooting percentages, blocks and rebounds, he is also an underrated source of points averaging over 18 for his career. Obviously however, the knock on the former top overall pick is his ghastly free throw shooting.
In six games so far, Howard connected on under 50% of his charity shots in almost 10 attempts. That is almost a deal-breaker right there but pairing him with high-volume FT shooters with top-notch percentages like Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook in the early rounds, or Kevin Martin and Ty Lawson in the middle, may be enough to hide those hideous numbers.
Or if you’re the ultimate optimist, pray that he could get all the way up to 60%. If he can actually do that (knock on wood), Dwight Howard is a heck of a steal in Round 3.
4. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Another player shown way too little love from us fantasyheads, Marc Gasol is a stat-sheet stuffer who won’t hurt you anywhere and is above average in at least two defensive categories.
Gasol has bursted out of the gates with 32, 20, and 22 points in his first three games but has leveled that production a little bit in the past three (14.0 PPG). Still, with the big Spaniard manning the middle, you can expect guard-like contributions in assists while holding his own at the FT line (75% for career).
Currently, Gasol’s line of 19.3-8-3 along with 3 combined STLS and BLKS is good for No. 10 in the Player Rater.
3. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
For someone drafted in the first round in almost all of the leagues, seeing Kevin Love barely cracking the top 40 in the Player Rater is almost too disappointing. A closer look at his numbers, though, could tell you he’s going to get out of his mini-slump sooner rather than later.
With two All-Star teammates owning the lion’s share of touches, his PPG are understandably down (from 26.1 to 18) but his RPG (11.2) and 3PM (2.0) are still top-notch. That said, expect Love’s awful FG% (.366) to improve as soon as the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers figure out how to move its chess pieces. Simple mathematics: More made field goals means more points.
I know you’re looking for some decent number of swats from that position, but if you’re watching the NBA long enough, you’d know it’s better not too look for those in Love’s direction. Pretty much everything else, however, is bound to climb. Give the former Bruin another 10 games and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
2. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Now, it’s about time. Fantasy owners have been drooling all over Boogie’s fantasy potential for so long that anything below a 20-10-3-1-1 stat line will be considered a disappointment.
Guess what? He’s better than those numbers if we take the first six games into account. (24-12-1.5-1-1 with .500 and .810 FG% and FT%, respectively. Are you kidding me?!)
Maybe it’s the maturity or the leadership role he took for Team USA last summer at the FIBA Worlds, but I’m just glad to see cookie monster develop into a Godzilla of some sorts. Number 8 in the Player Rater looked so right.
1. Anthony Davis
Who else it could be?
While Anthony Davis currently sits behind Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins and eight other ballers in the Rater, none of them is as dominant as the Unibrow on defense while being above average to elite on offense.
Aside from that mediocre game against the Memphis Grizzlies (everybody looks bad against them, ask Kevin Durant), Davis would have averaged 27-15-2-2-5 in three games! IF that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.
As the ex-Wildcat adjusts to his new alpha-male role, expect the shooting percentages to improve along with those uber-elite defensive numbers.
I still like them, but…
The two-time champion found a new home with the Chicago Bulls and the marriage is as smooth as a baby’s butt skin. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s the calm before the storm.
Gasol is averaging a crazy 36 minutes a night and with plethora of foot and knee injuries the past seasons, owners should be wary if he breaks down somewhere in the middle of a long season. If he does play, however, those across-the-board skills still make him one of the best centers in fantasy basketball.
Numbers show he ain’t done yet but minutes restrictions and sporadic DNP distributions is not my cup of tea. With the San Antonio Spurs’ focus fixating on an ever-elusive championship repeat, expect Gregg Popovich to rest Tim Duncan more in back-to-backs and meaningless road games.
Still a top-10 PF/C and has a deadly a mid-range game as there is, LaMarcus Aldridge is simply better in reality than in fantasy. His pedestrian rebounding numbers (6.2 RPG over 5 games) just sealed the deal.
Chris Bosh may very well return to a 20+ scorer like he was north of the border but his efficiency could suffer as a result. Never a great rebounder and shot-blocker.
Not as effective with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook around. With the two superstars in the shelf and the OKC Thunder needing more help at the offensive side of the ball, his topflight D is so far non-existent.
Never been a good FT shooter and defense (the numbers, at least) is suspect. Not much of a passer.