CENTER SLEEPERS: THE DIFFERENCE MAKERS

August 16, 2019 By Adam King
Adam King takes a look at a handful of center sleepers that could make a difference as you search for big-men stats late in your drafts.

Positionless basketball continues to evolve, meaning post-up big-men are few and far between. Centers who can spread the floor are highly sought after in both reality and fantasy. This evolution has also seen an increase in small-ball lineups, somewhat nullifying the impact of low-post players. Many teams will facilitate their offense through the high-post, therefore creating space for their guards to get to the rim. It is generally deemed beneficial to target a center early in drafts to ensure a solid base in rebounds and blocked shots. Chasing these numbers can be difficult, especially blocks, meaning identifying center sleepers can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Our rebound and blocks sleepers will provide you with a few names to target late in drafts. That is of course if you are simply chasing numbers in one particular category. Here I will look at a number of center sleepers who may be able to help across the board. They are likely to be available towards the backend of many drafts, both in standard and deeper formats. One thing to keep in mind is that certain leagues may have a center limit. It can be risky to try and chase big-man numbers if you have missed out in the early rounds.


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Center Sleepers for 2019

Dewayne Dedmon – Sacramento Kings

Dedmon was acquired by the Kings this offseason, replacing Willie Cauley-Stein who is headed to the Warriors. To many people’s surprise, Dedmon ended last season as the 48th ranked player on a per-game basis. This was despite playing just 25 minutes per game, a number he could potentially hit again this season. Dedmon was also one of only four players to finish with at least one block, one steal, and one three-pointer per game.

He is going to be battling Richaun Holmes and Harry Giles for center minutes, both of whom are far from established. Dedmon is typically one of the more reliable role players in the league, something the Kings certainly need. The Kings are coming off a much improved season where they fell just short of a playoff appearance. The Western Conference is going to be a nightmare to navigate again this season. Dedmon is going to provide a veteran presence on and off the floor, something they were lacking previously. They possess one of the more promising young cores in the league and Dedmon could prove to be a nice fit. He has been falling in many drafts, going undrafted in some leagues. Despite an element of risk, Dedmon is well worth considering if he is still available in the final rounds of your draft.

 

Alex Len – Atlanta Hawks

Len has flirted with standard league value consistently over the past few seasons. He has shifted from the bench to the starting lineup regularly, making him far too inconsistent to roster permanently. At this stage, Len appears likely to begin the season as the Hawks’ starting center. He is in a great position to make the role his own, bringing with it an intriguing fantasy outlook. Len expanded his offensive game last season, draining 1.9 triples per game after the All-Star break. Not only did he begin stepping out, but he also connected on 41 percent of his triple-tries. This number is unlikely to hold true but the fact he is confident enough to take the shots bodes well for his upside.

Len has never been one to play big minutes whether starting or coming off the bench. However, 25 minutes is certainly enough for him to move into top-120 consideration. His lack of efficiency from the charity stripe is a concern but at that position, you take what you can get. He is a decent enough shot-blocker and typically provides strong rebounding numbers whilst hitting the 50 percent mark from the field. He too could be available very late giving him a nice opportunity to return value on his ADP.

 

Cody Zeller – Charlotte Hornets

Much like Dedmon and Len, Zeller only needs 25 minutes to put up top-100 numbers. He ended the 2018-19 season as the 99th ranked player despite a number of injuries limiting him to just 49 games. The Hornets are looking for anyone to step up this season after losing their two best players. Zeller is not going to score a lot of points but generally does so with high efficiency. He is a consistent double-digit rebound threat with sneaky upside in out-of-position steals.

Zeller has had trouble staying healthy over the years and there is nothing to suggest that will change this season. However, given he is almost a certainty to be available with your final pick, the risk is worth the reward. Finding a big-man late who delivers high efficiency from both the field and the free-throw line is near on impossible. His competition for playing time is going to come from Willy Hernangomez and Bismack Biyombo. Zeller has to be seen as the preference meaning he should get a decent crack at securing the starting spot. The injury risk puts him behind both Dedmon and Len in the rebound sleepers pecking order. That being said, he has shown enough when healthy, to be able to contribute in most standard formats.

 

Christian Wood – Detroit Pistons

I’m going very deep on this one given Wood is unlikely to be an every night part of the rotation. After being waived by the Pelicans, the Pistons were quick to jump on Wood. He completes their roster and it appears as though he will battling for backup center minutes. Wood ended last season on fire, likely contributing to a number of winning fantasy teams. Over the last eight games of the season, Wood averaged 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 0.9 steals, shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 75.6 percent from the free-throw line. This production came on just 23.5 minutes per game, showing he can have value in limited playing time.

Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are the unquestioned starters for the Pistons. Thon Maker and Markieff Morris are likely penciled in as the primary backups to both players. Wood is going to have to be patient, as are managers in deeper fantasy leagues. He may need an injury or a trade to open up playing time but the NBA is certainly unpredictable if nothing else. If you are in a deep roto or best ball league, Wood could be worth taking a flier on.

 

Adam is your go-to man for anything fantasy basketball related. Follow him on twitter @adamking91 or hit us up @fantrax or @fantraxnba

Fantasy Basketball Sleepers by Category: Rebounds | Assists | Three-Pointers | Blocks | Points

Fantasy Basketball Sleepers by Position: Guards | Forwards | Centers

Also check out our fantasy basketball rankings to get you ready for opening tip-off: Head-to-Head Rankings | Points League Rankings | Roto League Rankings


Adam King joined FantraxHQ in 2018. He also currently writes for Rotowire and has previously written for Locked on Fantasy Basketball and Locked on Timberwolves. He has played sports his entire life with fantasy basketball becoming a passion over the past six years. By day, Adam is the service coordinator at the Autism Centre in Canberra, Australia. Adam was born and raised in Queanbeyan, Australia and currently resides in Bungendore, Australia with his wife and two children.


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Adam King :Adam King is the lead Fantasy Basketball analyst at FantraxHQ. He also contributes to Rotowire and has previously written for Locked on Fantasy Basketball and Locked on Timberwolves. He has played sports his entire life with fantasy basketball becoming a passion over the past seven years. By day, Adam is the service coordinator at the Autism Centre in Canberra, Australia. Adam was born and raised in Queanbeyan, Australia and currently resides in Bungendore, Australia with his wife and two children.