I love a good big man. That works in both a gay disco and a basketball court, which is basically on par for the amount of sweaty men grunting in close proximity to each other. As we continue our 2012-2013 fantasy basketball rankings, I am happy to hit the tallest of the tall. I grew up watching the New York Knicks of the early 90s, a team built around the towering frame of Patrick Ewing. That era was a great time for dominating centers, from the hated (to me) Hakeem Olajuwon to the smooth David Robinson to everyone’s beloved Shaq Attack. It’s been written that if you forget the past you are doomed to repeat it, but even though we didn’t forget that period, we are getting a new generation of centers emerging in the paint, so that was probably a poor reference but it’s already written and we need to move on. You don’t necessarily need a center in the first round, but because the position is deep, you want to make sure you have a top quality center. I wouldn’t leave the first three rounds without one.
2. Al Jefferson – See top 10 for 2012 fantasy basketball for Al Jefferson’s projections.
4. Andrew Bynum – See top 20 for 2012 fantasy basketball for Andrew Bynum’s projections. This ends our first tier, which I call “Any one of these guys can and will finish as the top overall center.”
7. Greg Monroe – Monroe is the first center that didn’t make my top twenty, but I wouldn’t sweat that. People get a little too hung up on rounds. What’s the difference between a 19th pick or a 21st pick? Part of having a good draft is flexibility. If everyone in your league starts pouncing on a certain position, you may have to grab that earlier than you wanted, even if the guy you take is ranked lower “overall” than some other dudes in other positions. That’s life. Speaking of life, Monroe is living the good kind. His numbers are trending handsomely upward, and it looks like that should continue, both in terms of minutes and production. Projections: .535 fg/.742 ft/0.0 3pt/16.7 pts/11.2 rbd/2.1 ast/1.2 stl/0.9 blk/3.1 tov
8. Brook Lopez – I wouldn’t say Lopez is overlooked, but he has been on the Nets, and who really notices them? Anyway, Lopez starts the new tier, dubbed “Last call for attractive centers.” It runs to Kevin Garnett. So, Lopez, what do we like about him? He averaged the second most PPG among centers behind Dwight Howard. He doesn’t rebound as much as he should, but his assists and blocks are respectable. He will have more scorers on his team this season, which could hurt his overall points and which would therefore hurt his overall value. Projections: .491 fg/.779 ft/0.0 3pt/19.4 pts/7.1 rbd/1.8 ast/0.5 stl/1.6 blk/2.1 tov
9. Roy Hibbert – Some people rank Dr. Hibbert higher, and I can’t blame them. He offers generous rebounds, assists and blocks, although he isn’t much of a scorer. If he plays 35 minutes per game, we might see him average PPG creep up above 15.0, which would make him very attractive. I’m not sure how likely that is, but I am optimistic he can build off of his career highs in blocks and rebounds. Projections: .499 fg/.748 ft/0.0 3pt/13.2 pts/9.3 rbd/2.1 ast/0.4 stl/2.1 blk/2.5 tov
10. Marcin Gortat – Here’s the deal with Gortat. If last year was a sign of things to come, Gortat is going to finish ranked around 7th. If last year was his peak, then he fits in around here, maybe even lower. Well, not too much lower, considering what falls after him. If he actually is available as the 10th overall center, I have no problem grabbing him, and not in the sexual way. Projections: .565 fg/.680 ft/0.0 3pt/14.9 pts/9.6 rbd/1.1 ast/0.6 stl/1.4 blk/1.7 tov
11. Kevin Garnett – He’s listed on ESPN, Yahoo! and CBS as a center, so I don’t care where he actually plays, he’s a center for our purposes. This will be Garnett’s 18th season, which means it is now legal to have sex with his career. You know exactly what you’re getting with him. Dependable, but not exciting. Projections: .498 fg/.861 ft/0.0 3pt/14.8 pts/7.9 rbd/2.7 ast/0.8 stl/0.9 blk/3.2 tov
12. Joakim Noah – This tier goes from Noah to Bogut. It’s called “Ankles.” Noah suffered an ankle injury during the Bulls devastating playoff disaster and missed the Olympics because of it. He’ll probably be fine, but he was also disappointing last season, too. Like the Riddler, he’s covered in question marks, but he can still carry an episode of Batman. Projections: .520 fg/.749 ft/0.0 3pt/11.0 pts/10.8 rbd/2.2 ast/0.7 stl/1.5 blk/2.0 tov
13. Andrew Bogut – I could have swapped Noah with Bogut. Bogut has better counting stats but worse ratios. Bogut also is recovering from ankle problems. If you are in a friendly office league, someone may accidentally draft Andrew Bogut thinking it is Andrew Bynum. Okay, probably not. Projections: .475 fg/.613 ft/0.0 3pt/12.3 pts/10.2 rbd/2.3 ast/0.8 stl/2.2 blk/2.2 tov
14. Tyson Chandler – This tier is named “Beards” and includes Chandler and Chris Kaman. It’s called “Beards” because they both have beards, and also because beards mask some fact – that you’re gay (wife = beard), that you have a double chin (beard = mask), that your center position isn’t as great as you’d like (beard = basketball player). I wouldn’t be sad if I wound up with Chandler. He has a ridiculously high FG% with decent rebounds and blocks, but he’s not overwhelming and you never know what the hell the Knicks are doing with starting rosters. The Knicks have reclaimed Marcus Camby, but the most he can do is steal minutes from Chandler, which could hurt Chandler’s overall counting stats, which weren’t that impressive to begin with. Projections: .670 fg/.725 ft/0.0 3pt/13.0 pts/10.2 rbd/0.9 ast/0.7 stl/1.5 blk/1.6 tov
15. Chris Kaman – With the starting job, Kaman has the ability to put up some of the best numbers of his career, but while that may boost his PPG, I wonder if he will be able to crack 10 boards per game. If he could produce 16/12, he could sniff the top ten. Why, he may be worthy of sleeper status, or he may just put you to sleep. Projections: .470 fg/.753 ft/0.0 3pt/14.1 pts/7.5 rbd/1.9 ast/0.5 stl/1.5 blk/2.9 tov
16. Anderson Varejao – This is our second to last tier. This tier is called “Every team is contractually required to have a center.” Varejao is, you know, a big guy that can score a few points, rebound, maybe block a little here and there. Like all good centers, he can’t score free throws, but I can overlook that. He’s never started more than 42 games, he is prone to injury, and he has an ugly jheri curl. Projections: .530 fg/.667 ft/0.0 3pt/10.2 pts/11.8 rbd/1.6 ast/1.2 stl/1.0 blk/2.0 tov
17. Nikola Pekovic – He has a starting gig and has good ratios. He don’t offer inspiring counting stats, but if he gives you 14.5/8.4 like I’m projecting, that’s actually pretty good considering where he is ranked. He will probably bounce around the waiver wire like Dick Grayson’s parents. Projections: .570 fg/.753 ft/0.0 3pt/14.5 pts/8.4 rbd/0.8 ast/0.7 stl/1.0 blk/2.3 tov
18. JaVale McGee – He’s a great source for blocks, and if he could average double-doubles, he is not a bad pick in the last couple of rounds. He can’t score free throws and he doesn’t offer much in terms of ancillary stats. This is probably a make or break season for him. If he does poorly, is he at risk to lose the starting job? This is a deep position, who has time to waste on a guy wasting his talent? Projections: .544 fg/.512 ft/0.0 3pt/11.4 pts/8.2 rbd/0.5 ast/0.5 stl/2.2 blk/1.9 tov
19. DeAndre Jordan – There is a lot of upside here, by which I mean you can always tell people you had Jordan on your fantasy team. I wanna be like Mike! DeAndre is not like Mike. Not even baseball Michael Jordan. You can pretty much copy and paste what I typed for McGee, or just lift your eyeballs half an inch. Projections: 648 fg/.538 ft/0.0 3pt/7.9 pts/9.0 rbd/0.4 ast/0.4 stl/2.3 blk/1.3 tov
20. Omer Asik – If you are in your final round and looking to grab someone with potential upside, Asik is your man. He has a starting gig in Houston and has the ability to deliver filling amounts of rebounds and blocks. As your last pick, you could do much worse. Projections: .509 fg/.522 ft/0.0 3pt/7.1 pts/9.5 rbd/0.9 ast/0.8 stl/2.1 blk/2.2 tov
After the top twenty, there’s one name I want to point out if for no other reason than I don’t want his mom thinking I forgot him.
Samuel Dalembert – He could have cracked the list but I would rather have the potential upside. The Dalembert Report is the usual, projections: .498 fg/.735 ft/0.0 3pt/8.2 pts/8.3 rbd/0.6 ast/0.5 stl/1.6 blk/1.6 tov