We’re now just 20 days away from the start of the NBA season, meaning it’s almost time to draft your fantasy basketball team for the upcoming season. To have a successful draft, the key is to figure out where you rank certain players and determine which of those players you find more or less valuable than the rest of your league. And when it comes to our center rankings, in particular, this can be extra challenging.
Strategies when drafting big men can greatly differ, with some centers offering typical big man stats such as rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage, while other more modern big men can help you out in threes, assists, and free throw percentage. Trying to determine which players or stats you should chase can be a daunting task, and that’s even before you start to see your roster develop in real-time. So to help you out, here are my 2021-22 preseason center rankings and insights as we approach the start of the season.
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Top Tier Players
In a similar fashion to my power forward rankings, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic take the top two spots on the board, for obvious reasons. As last year’s finals MVP and regular-season MVP, respectively, you could make a serious argument for these guys as the top two players overall, and not just at their positions.
Looking a bit past these two superstars, the following three players are all guys who carry the upside of top-5 overall players, but remaining healthy and staying on the court has proven to be a prevalent issue for each of them. As a result, I’m personally staying away from Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, and Anthony Davis, unless one of them falls into my lap at the tail-end of round one or the start of round two.
The top-tier in my mind ends after Clint Capela at 12, someone who I really like for his elite ability to compile typical “big man stats”. Along with Rudy Gobert, both of these talented centers will consistently produce efficient double-doubles with an absurd amount of blocks, and you almost certainly will be able to draft them after the first couple of rounds are over.
Players to Watch
Moving past the aforementioned top tier of my center rankings, there are still plenty of guys who offer tremendous value and upside as you progress deeper into the draft. Jarrett Allen is one such player, who has shown flashes of being an elite center in the NBA in shorter bursts, and will now have the opportunity to blossom in his first full season with the Cavaliers. Allen averaged 13.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on 61.2% from the floor in 43 starts at center last year, and should only build on those numbers this season in his first full year in the Cavs offense. Still just 23-years-old, Allen and potential rookie of the year Evan Mobley should make for a dynamic, fantasy-friendly frontcourt this season and for many years to come.
This brings me to another one of my favorite value picks this season, Evan Mobley. To compare him to Kevin Durant would be disrespectful to one of the greatest scorers of all time, but just the fact that I even thought of the comparison at all should say more than enough about Mobley’s talent. Taken third overall in this year’s NBA draft, Mobley impressed with averages of 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.9 blocks per game in his lone college season. He also sunk a three-pointer every other game just because he could. His quickness and agility is rare for a 7-footer, and his defensive prowess around the rim along with his ability to stretch the floor on offense should make him an immediate difference-maker both in the NBA and in fantasy hoops.
Another wildly intriguing option in the middle of drafts is Robert Williams III. A per-minute monster who has yet to be truly unleashed by the Celtics, his recent 54-million dollar extension leads me to believe that this is the year the soon-to-be 24-year-old explodes. Time Lord has insane career per-36 minute averages of 14.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 3.6 blocks on 72% shooting, so even minutes in the mid-20s this year would be more than enough for Williams to make a major impact. His floor is admittedly lower than many players being drafted around him, but his ceiling might be the highest. In this case, I think the potential reward is more than worth the gamble if you’re in need of a quality big man after the early part of the draft.
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Center Rankings
|21||Jaren Jackson Jr.||MEM|
|23||Robert Williams III||BOS|
|27||Wendell Carter Jr.||ORL|
For more great analysis, check out the 2021-22 Fantrax Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit!
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