Though maybe not the first center you would build an NBA franchise around, the boogie man is an absolute monster when it comes to fantasy. Does he have attitude problems? Yes. Does he make boneheaded plays? Sometimes. But when you’re looking at 23 and 12 on 50% shooting with 1/1 defense (1.3blk,1.5stl), it just doesn’t get any better than that. And the best news is you get all that production without any of the antics, Boogie epitomizes the beauty of pretending to be a basketball general manager.
2. Al Jefferson
Jefferson has been a top 3 offensive bigman in the league for a long time now and he’s never garnered the respect he deserves because he’s always played in small markets and has missed out on the playoffs for the most part. But he’s just as good as Cousins offensively, posting 22 and 11 on 51% shooting, and does just a bit less on the defensive end, coming in at 1.1blks and 0.9stls. Feel good about spending a second round pick on him.
3. Andre Drummond
Remember when Stan Van Gundy took a team built around Dwight Howard to the Finals, with an offense that fed an unpolished but freakishly athletic center the ball? Well, now that’s going to be Andre Drummond’s role and the results will be fantastic. Like Howard, Drummond is a hoss on the glass (13.2 rbd) and, also like Howard it’s taken Drummond a few years to really learn how to score. For most centers it takes 3 years, just look at Dwight’s offensive numbers from early in his career:
Howard: ’04: 12.0, ’05: 15.8, ’06: 17.8
Drummond: ’12: 7.9, ’13: 13.5, ’14:….
This is the season Andre is going to make a leap offensively, and suddenly he’ll be posting 17 and 13 with 1/1 defense (1.6blk, 1.2stl) and 62% shooting. Yep, Drummond shot 62.3% last season; he’s going to be terror in the paint this season.
4. Chris Bosh
2013-14 saw Bosh inexplicably increase his production from downtown by 300%. While nobody’s really sure why he suddenly tried to out-shoot Ray Allen last season, I’m hopeful that this was just phase for Bosh and that he plans on returning to a lifestyle of dominating the paint and stroking mid-range jumpers. With LeBron gone, Bosh could realistically approach 20 points per game and shoot better than 50% from the field. Yet, Bosh’s ultimate value depends squarely on his rebounding and defensive production improving — 6.6 rbd/game is, frankly, not good enough for a max contract bigman. But in his last season in Toronto, Bosh posted 24 and 11, and it’s feasible think that Bosh will return to stat lines like this without LeBron.
5. Dwight Howard
It’s tempting to get carried away with Howard’s inability to knock down free throws (54.7ft%), but I just couldn’t reasonably say Dwight isn’t a top-tier center with a straight face. It’s honestly ridiculous to ignore everything else he does and proclaim Dwight to be a team killer from the line (ahem, Rotoworld who has Howard ranked #11 at center due to his free throws, and then who inexplicably ranks Deandre Jordan #6 at center when Jordan shoots freaking 42% from the line!) Look, Dwight posted 18 and 12 on 59% shooting with 1.8blks and 0.8stls last season; if he’s there halfway through round 2, don’t be an idiot, take him and just punt ft%.
6. Al Horford
Despite missing a lot of games over the past 3 seasons, Horford’s offensive skill set is too undeniable to let that scare you away from him. He’s one of the few centers who can make a real difference for you on the offensive (18.6pts on 56.7% shooting) and defensive (1.5blk, 0.9stl) ends of the court. Plus he adds a respectable 8.4 boards per game; there simply aren’t enough centers who can do that to allow injuries to scare you away from Big Al.
7. Marc Gasol
Still somehow one of the NBA’s most underrated players, Gasol can do it all. 15 and 7 on 47% shooting with 1/1 defense (1.3blk, 1.0stl) can help just about any team. Additionally, Gasol is possibly the best passing bigman not named Kevin Love (3.6ast). If you’re looking for a well-rounded center who won’t force you to punt anything in the 3rd round, you can’t go wrong with Marc.
8. Joakim Noah
The second Gator to make the cut, Joakim might be the hardest worker in the NBA. His shot has always been ugly (12.6ppg) but his rebounding (11.3rbds) and defense (1.5blk, 1.2stl) are phenomenal. Remember that you can always find scoring elsewhere, but that isn’t the case for the categories Noah produces in.
9. Nikola Vucevic
Vuc is an absolute monster on the glass, last season he broke Dwight Howard’s franchise record with 29 boards in one game. He played 57 games last year, missing some time with injuries, buts still posted 36 double doubles — that’s a 63% double-double rate. He’s the clear starter and has nobody behind him on the depth chart to challenge his minutes or production. As long as he stays healthy he’ll return solid early-mid round level production. Owners will love his scoring efficiency and glass eating, Vucevic is the type of player you want to stockpile on draft day. Reasonable gains in scoring and blocks could elevate Nik to stardom this season — he’s just oozing with upside.
10. Deandre Jordan
As stated previously, Jordan is probably the worst free throw shooter in the NBA (if not NBA history, I mean honestly, I could make 4 out of 10 free throws), but the rest of DJ’s numbers are absolutely gaudy 13.6 boards, 2.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, and 67.6fg%. Of course, you have to consider the fact that the utility of his fg% is capped by the fact that he only scores 10 points per game; but like Noah, Deandre is the kind of player who does things most players just cannot do.
11. Brook Lopez
If not for injuries Brook might crack the top 5, and certainly the top 10, but he’s just never shown the ability to stay healthy. If for some reason you think this is the season he doesn’t roll an ankle or break a foot, here’s what he did in 17 games last year: 20.7ppg, 56fg%, 6.0rbd, 1.8blk, 0.5stl. It’s sad to see one of the most gifted offensive players in the league struggles with his health so often, but it is what it is.
12. Derrick Favors
13. Martin Gortat
14. Roy Hibbert
15. Larry Sanders
16. Nikola Pekovic
17. Jonas Valanciunas
18. Robin Lopez
19. Tyson Chandler
If he can boost his scoring figures, up from 13.3ppg, Derrick Favors could be ready for a true breakout and to become a double-double machine. Martin “The Polish Hammer” Gortat is already a double-double machine, but he’s on a stacked roster and will be a secondary or tertiary option at best in Washington. Roy Hibbert would be a ranked a lot higher if he didn’t completely melt down last season and show that he’s a bonafide head case. Larry Sanders has raw skill but burned a lot of owners last season. Nik Pekovic is great offensively (17.4 and 8.7) but doesn’t play good defense and missed some games last season. Jonas Valanciunas is a good rebounder and great talent, but still has some work to do on the offensive end. Robin Lopez blocks a lot of shots and pulls down a lot of boards, but has never been able to score. Same goes for Tyson Chandler, who is coming off an injury but should play good defense again in Dallas this season.
20. Nerlens Noel
21. Kelly Olynyk
22. Andrew Bogut
23. Omer Asik
24. Jordan Hill
25. Anderson Varejao
26. Spencer Hawes
27. Enes Kanter
28. Mason Plumlee
29. Miles Plumlee
30. Sam Dalembert
31. Tiago Spliter
32. Gorgui Dieng
Nerlens Noel was thought very highly of before his injury last season, I don’t see why anything should’ve changed since then; like most centers though, he will have some growing pains on offense. Kelly Olynyk has a nice offensive game and lacks competition in the paint, he could break out just as easily as Sullinger. Andrew Bogut is a difference maker if he’s healthy, and nowadays that’s a big if. Omer Asik is a talented player and should revive his career now that he’s escaped Dwight Howard’s shadow (remember when the Polish Hammer did that). Jordan Hill showed that he was a good rebounder last season. Varejao was great with LeBron in the past and will be good if he stays healthy somehow. Spencer Hawes was someone I absolutely loved last year, and is a very good player, it’s a shame he’s buried on the NBA’s deepest team. Enes Kanter posted an impressive 12 and 7 last year but doesn’t play good defense really. The Plumlee brothers are both young and raw but could show some nice improvement this year. Sam Dalembert and Dieng are defensive specialists. Tiago Spliter is a better NBA player than a fantasy player.