Fantasy Basketball: Discussing Centers
I was a math major. I was also a statistic minor. I loved stats a lot. I also hated all those useful things you could do with stats. I now play fantasy sports. A lot. I’m going to tell you how to play your fantasy basketball team over the next couple months.
Let’s start with centers. Really there are three ways to draft centers.
1. Get the 15, 10, and 2 centers.
These are the guys that will consistently pull off 15 pts, 10 rebs, and 2 blks. These are good players. But they are a dime a dozen. The best of these players will get these numbers, whereas the worst will get 11 pts, 9 rebs, and 1.5 blks. The difference between these players is significant, but not significant enough to worry about drafting an Al Horford who is typically picked in the third round over an Emeka Okafor who is typically drafted in the 9th round. When you think about the value you are getting for your pick, the difference is negligible.
This list of players are nearly all interchangeable statistically: Greg Oden, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Andrew Bogut (he does get a lot of blocks), Emeka Okafor, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bynum, and JaVale McGee, and Yao Ming. You could even put Roy Hibbert, Ben Wallace, Andris Biedrins, Brendan Haywood, and JJ Hickson into that group.
The point is that if you don’t get an elite center, wait until the 9th or 10th round, because you will not be losing a lot of sleep.
Typically the point of a center is to up your rebounding totals and blocks totals, while hopefully helping out your FG%, not hurting your FT% and any other stats are just bonuses. Right now there are an excess of centers who don’t rebound that well. They might not be doing their job, but it offers you an interesting opportunity. In most head to head leagues you get a point for doing the best in each statistical category (pts, rebs, asts, stls, blks, tos, FG%, FT%, 3pm), so if you give up on rebounds in order to assure yourself a win in three pointers, field goal % and blocks, you might as well. It’s true that Carlos Boozer and Brook Lopez will each get you nearly 20 pts/10 rebs, but if instead of splurging for them in the second round you wait until the third or fourth to get your center, you will still have your pick of Andrea Bargnani, Channing Frye, Troy Murphy (PF), or Nene Hilario. My first choice is Bargnani because despite his 6 rpg, he will get you nearly 20 ppg, 2 3pm, and 1.5 blks. If you can pull off getting Troy Murphy and Nene Hilario in the third and fourth round then you will be getting 28 pts, 17 rebs, 2.5 stls, 1.5 blks, 2 3pm and you have Nene’s wildly outrageous near 60% shooting from the field. You can then also spend your second round pick on someone like Jason Kidd or Steve Nash to shore up the assists market, or Josh Smith or Andrei Iguodala to make sure your defensive stats can’t be beaten. Keep your eye out and get Al Harrington as your next center too and he’ll up your threes. Maybe grab Okur in the last round if he’s still there – injuries are annoying, but dude sinks the three.
He is that good. He will fuck you on FT%, but besides that he’s that good. Just draft him in the first round and then draft players like Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace, and Marc Gasol who have FT% as their only weakness too. You may have to throw away 3pointers too, but it’s worth it because you will get to root for D12. And nothing is more fun than rooting for a person who gets about 80% of their points come from dunks.
Here’s some other analysis:
Overrated: Al Horford. I like the Ford-Whore, but as a fantasy option he offers little more than Okafor or Joakim, and he’s definitely worse than Bogut and Blatche who are being picked three rounds later.
Underrated: Channing “I wish I were Tatum” Frye. He’s being picked on average in the 7th round. Frye averaged 2.4 threes a game in the games he started. He now has the Phoenix front court to himself and Nash is still passing him the ball. I predict 17 ppg, 7 rpg, a block and a steal and somewhere around those 2 and a half 3s a game. Getting that many 3s out of your center isn’t fair to other teams.
Runner Up: JaVale “I have four capital letters in my name” McGee. His April stats: 13.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 53% shooting, 0.8 spg, and 2.9 bpg. Getting 2 blks and over 50% shooting out of a 10th round pick is pretty sweet.
Players you should be willing to overpay for: These are players who are not underrated because people are already pretty high on them, but you should be comfortable reaching for them because they are just as good as the hype. Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, and Marc Gasol. If you can pull off an opening five rounds of D12, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, and Bogut, go onto autodraft because you just won. And this strategy is totally plausible. You might have to go to Monta Ellis instead of Rondo and Gerald Wallace instead of Josh Smith, but this powerhouse will crush your league. Bogut averaged 2.5 blks per game last season. Gasol got a block and a steal each game, and the three together had a FG% of 57% on 33 shots last season. You will automatically win FG%, rebounds, and the def stats as long as you get a G-Wall or J-Smith and then you can completely focus on assists.
Super Sleeper: These are players you might not even want to draft because nobody will draft them, but you should keep your eye on them. Ben Wallace and Serge Ibaka. Wallace quietly averaged 9 rebounds a game last season while getting 1.3 stls and 1.2 blks. He’s old, but he’ll help out if you need def stats. In Ibaka’s last 24 games he averaged 8ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 blks on 58% shooting in only 21 minutes. If he gets starters minutes expect all of that to get better.
Don’t Touch: Celtics or 76ers Centers. Rotating centers is the most frustrating thing to deal with in fantasy basketball especially when they are old or injury prone which all of these players are. The typical starting PF/C combo plays about 75 minutes, so Brand, Speights, and Hawes will not be getting more than 25 minutes each, and the two O’Neals will be switching games so that Shaq can spend more time on his twitter account.
Best New Face: Stoudemire is the obvious choice, but I’m going to be difficult and say Al “I ate Thomas” Jefferson. He has a point guard that should actually start in the NBA for the first time in his career and it’s Deron Williams who might be the best passing point guard in the league right now. Expect 24 pts and 11 rebs.
Now, as someone who loves to play with numbers more than a basketball, I want to end each of these first couple columns with last years top ten centers according to the actual stats. I have created a formula that measures the influence of each player on each statistic in terms of their ability to be better than the norm.
1. Marcus Camby
2. Dwight Howard
3. Tim Duncan
4. Nene Hilario
5. Andrew Bogut
6. Brook Loez
7. Channing Frye
8. Al Horford
9. Marc Gasol
10. Al Jefferson
If you don’t pay attention to Rebounds the top 5 changes to:
1. French Frye
2. Nana Hilarious
3. The Brook Lopez Show
5. No more Bosh Bargnani
Not what you expected, huh?
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