Player Rankings: Centers (16-30)
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16. Primoz Brezec - Charlotte Bobcats
Primoz Brezec did not build on his breakout year in 2004-05. His scoring slipped only slightly (from 13.0 to 12.4), but his rebounding fell off considerably (7.4 to 5.6). Even more troubling for a fantasy center, Brezec blocked an anemic 32 shots in 79 games last year. Ouch. Brezec has the offensive skills and the size to be a better scorer and rebounder but lacks the aggression to make it happen. He settles for jumpers when he could be using his length inside. Still, he is a good enough shooter that he will have his share of 20 point nights. It will be interesting to see how the addition of a gunner like Adam Morrison affects Brezec. He could potentially stretch defenses, opening things up inside for Brezec. He just needs to take what is given to him inside.
Bottom Line: Solid but not spectacular, Brezec should be drafted in the mid-to-late rounds as a number two center in fantasy leagues.
17. Joel Przybilla - Portland Trail Blazers
Joel Przybilla was drafted last year by fantasy teams hoping to see a repeat of 2004-5's brilliant second half when he averaged 8.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks after the All-Star break. Last season did not deliver on that promise. He didn't get the minutes needed for a statistical breakthrough and despite re-upping with the Blazers and being named the starter, his minutes could once again suffer with the logjam of bigs on the team. Still, Przybilla should be good for 6.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, more than two blocks and above 50 percent shooting from the field. His free throw shooting is miserable (a career average of 49.2 percent) but he doesn't attempt enough free throws to really hurt you. If he can carve out 25-30 minutes for himself, his value could really take off.
Bottom Line: Consider him a less expensive, less-talented version of Samuel Dalembert: a solid number two center who really helps in blocked shots and rebounding and won't hurt you anywhere except for his low scoring.
18. Eddy Curry - New York Knicks
You look at Eddy Curry and think he should be a top five center in the NBA. He has the size and ability to score at will in the post. Just look at last year's 56.3 percent shooting from the field. However, too often his willpower seems lacking - witness last year's 6.0 rebounds per game. There is no way a guy this size should average less than eight rebounds a game. Yet, he will most likely fail to reach that number again this year. Isaiah says that getting the most out of Curry is a priority this season. At the very least, Curry should see an increase in playing time this year. Curry averaged 25.9 minutes last year, his lowest in three seasons. This year it should be closer to 30 per game, and Curry will score more with more PT. The downside is that this will mean even more turnovers and that's saying something. His rebounding and shot-blocking have always been poor, so don't look for significant improvement there.
Bottom Line: Curry wonít get you prototypical big man statistics, but he does enough in points scored and the percentages to be a solid number two fantasy center. If Isiah can motivate Eddy, he could be a nice draft day value.
19. Darko Milicic - Orlando Magic
After years of being called the human victory cigaróbecause he only entered Pistons games after the outcome was inevitableóMilicic finally got a chance to tear the bust label from his jersey. After joining the Magic for over 30 games last spring, Darko put up 7.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks on 50.8 percent shooting from the field and 59.5 percent from the line in 20.9 minutes per game. It is unclear at this time if Darko will be starting at power forward (most likely) or center, but either way, he will be starting. Darko will need some time to develop offensively, but he can take the ball outside and let his height allow him to shoot over the top of most defenders. He also showed some decent passing skills last spring. Still, it is his blocks that will be his greatest fantasy asset. With 30 minutes a game, Darko could be near the top of the league in the category. With Dwight Howard inhaling everything near the rim, Darko's rebounding numbers probably won't wow you. Don't let the smell of cigars put you off, Darko will be a good value this year.
Bottom Line: Milicic will probably be available late except in more savvy leagues. Donít let the premature bust label put you off. Darko will block shots, and his scoring could approach the low teens if he develops.
20. Nazr Mohammed - Detroit Pistons
Nazr Mohammed has some big shoes (and big hair) to fill now that he is the starting center in Detroit. He will bring more offense to the center position in Detroit but is a shadow of Ben Wallace defensively. Last year Mohammed split time in San Antonio with Rasho Nesterovic, averaging just 17.4 minutes per game, which clearly hurt his value. But he showed what he was capable of on March 17 when he went off for 30 points against the Suns. This year Mohammed should see more consistent minutes and his numbers could approach those of two years ago when he started the season with the Knicks. Mohammed shoots decent percentages, averaging 50.4 percent from the field and 78.5 from the line last year. Expect a regression in his free throw shooting as his career average is 66.1 percent. Mohammed had always been a disappointment in the shot-blocking department but if given close to 30 minutes per night, he should get about one per game.
Bottom Line: Mohammed will be had cheaply because of last year's poor numbers. He will have plenty of opportunities to score close to the rim as the opponents focus on Detroit's more prominent scoring threats. With consistent minutes, he will have his share of double-doubles this year.
21. Jamaal Magloire - Portland Trail Blazers
With his trade to the Trailblazers, Jamaal will play back-up to Joel Przybilla in Portland. His numbers will take a tumble as result. The one positive is that his high turnovers will drop. Jamaal will average about 8 points and 7 rebounds and shoot around 47 percent from the field. However, he has never been a strong shot-blocker (his career average is 1.1 per game), and his free throw shooting is in a steep three-year decline (75.1 percent in 2003-4, 60.2 percent in 2004-05, and 53.5 last year). His owners will need to address these areas with help from other players.
Bottom Line: Magloire has been overrated in fantasy circles for a few years, and this year he should be moved down your draft list. He will still be a solid source of rebounds, but his free throw shooting and lack of blocks will be irritating to his owners.
22. Kendrick Perkins - Boston Celtics
Perkins could be very nice addition for teams with two centers. His season numbers won't wow you (5.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks), but he only started 37 games at center last year due to a shoulder injury. As a starter, he averaged 7.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 53 percent field goal shooting and 65.9 percent from the line. Perkins is young and developing. He won't score much but eight rebounds and almost two blocks a game are nothing to sniff at. The question in Boston is how much playing time Kendrick will have to share with the newly acquired Theo Ratliff.
Bottom Line: Perkins should be completely recovered from shoulder surgery and if he can take the lion's share of minutes away from Ratliff, he will be a nice sleeper candidate available late in your drafts.
23. Raef LaFrentz - Portland Trail Blazers
Although largely inconsistent on a night-to-night basis, Raef LaFrentzhas maintained some fantasy value. It has diminished from years past, but Raef still possesses the rare ability to hit threes and block shots. Last season, LaFrentz averaged 7.8 points, 5.0 boards, 1.4 threes and 0.9 blocks. Since he can spread the floor and create match-up problems for opposing defenses, LaFrentz will see modest minutes in Portland backing up Joel Przybilla and Zach Randolph. His percentages fell last season and if they do not improve this year, Raef can be considered strictly second center material.
Bottom Line: Heís not a great rebounder, but itís not often that you can get three pointers out of the center spot, so LaFrentz does add value.
24. Robert Swift - Seattle Supersonics
Robert Swift stepped into the starting role at center for the Sonics in January last year and turned some heads. What jumped out for fantasy players was his penchant for blocked shots (1.7 as a starter). He showed good footwork in the post and aggression on defense. He is the likely starter among the three 20-year-old centers on the Sonics because he has the most developed offensive game. That isn't saying much, however, he averaged just 6.4 points (7.8 as a starter). Still, his length, springiness and potential make him worth a look late in drafts. He has the ability to put up good numbers this season and is a nice sleeper candidate.
Bottom Line: Swift displayed some of his upside last year and should see more minutes this season. If you are in need of blocks and boards late in your draft, Swift will be a good option.
25. Alonzo Mourning - Miami Heat
Mourning provided surprising value for a backup center in last year's championship season for the Heat. When Shaq was injured to start the season, Zo stepped in with a vengeance, blocking everything but the Sun. This year the minutes will be limitedóexpect Zo to log about 15 per game as he did the last three months of last yearóbut the blocks will still be there. He never blocked less than 1.9 shots per game in any month last season. And if Shaq is slowed by injury at some point this yearóa good betóMourning will flourish as a temporary starter. In 20 games as a starter last year, he averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and an astounding 3.8 blocks.
Bottom Line: Despite being a backup, Zo retains value as a blocked shot specialist who can help in other categories as well, especially when he is called on to start for Shaq. Pick him up late in your draft if you need the blocks or as a handcuff to Shaq.
26. Stromile Swift - Memphis Grizzlies
Every year Stromile Swift's name appears on sleeper lists, and this year won't be any different. He is back in Memphis after a lost season with the Rockets. It is unclear if he will be starting in the frontcourt at center alongside Pau Gasol or if he will be backing up Jake Tsakalidis and Gasol. Either way his game is unchanged. Swift will block shots and score well in the open court but struggle to find his role in half-court sets. If his minutes move from 20.4 per game back to the mid- or upper-20s, Swift could approach his career best numbers of 2001-02. But temper your expectations, Stromile has disappointed more fantasy owners than he has pleasantly surprised.
Bottom Line: Don't take Stromile until the later rounds in your draft no matter what the sleeper lists suggest. He is athletic as they come, but he has never developed solid skills and his stats this season will once again reflect this.
Update: Pau Gasolís injury means a few additional minutes for the Stro Show, but donít forget the advice given in the bottom line. It still stands. Swift has a definite ceiling, and that hasnít changed.
27. Mark Blount - Minnesota Timberwolves
Mark Blount is an interesting center. He gets you points and good percentages from the line. He is quite smooth on the offensive end, hitting baseline jumpers and converting free throws. But somehow, despite standing seven feet tall, he seems constitutionally incapable of rebounding. He averaged 11.3 points on 50.6 percent shooting from the line and 74.7 percent from the line but grabbed just 4.8 boards a game. His blocks are modest at one per game. If you select Blount, know what you are getting: a soft-shooting big man who shies from banging inside.
Bottom Line: He'll average double-digit points and about a block a game with good percentages, but if you draft Blount, be sure you have your rebounding in order from other positions.
28. Chris Mihm - Los Angeles Lakers
Mihm's shoulder injury cost him the end of the season last year and the starting center job with the Lakers this season. Mihm can still help fantasy teams with his scoring, rebounds, and blocked shots. Last year as a starter, he averaged 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He has a solid offensive game and is willing to hit the glass. In the end though, his minutes will be limited by Kwame Brown's effectiveness. If Kwame fails to seize the moment, Mihm has the skills to reclaim his minutes and his modest fantasy value.
Bottom Line: Mihm doesnít have the upside to put up huge numbers, but you could do much worse than taking Mihm in the later rounds for help in boards and blocks.
29. Jake Tsakalidis - Memphis Grizzlies
In some cases, less is more. While Tsakalidis has had a mostly disappointing NBA career, last year he started turning things around. Jake is a huge man and with the league tending toward smaller more athletic centers, one would've though he would enjoy an advantage in the post. It wasn't until last year, however, when he dropped some weight and improved his agility, that he started taking advantage. Written off in most leagues, Jake shocked the opposition (and the fantasy world) when he erupted for 17 points and 15 rebounds on March 8. He followed this with a run of good games, and it seems possible that this improvement could carry over this season. Jake will shoot a very good percentage (60.6 percent last year) and if he gets the minutes, he could get his owners decent points and rebounds as well.
Bottom Line: If you are in a two center league, take Jake at the end of your draft as a solid sleeper candidate.
30. Lorenzen Wright - Atlanta Hawks
Lorenzen Wright may be a bit undersized at center but can still contribute. He has solid offensive skills, including a nice baseline jumper and hook shot. On defense, he can get muscled out of position by bigger centers but still manages to grab his share of rebounds. Backing up Zaza Pachulia, he will get about 20 minutes per night. Expect him to average about seven points, six boards and close to a block a game. His percentages will be modest at 46 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line.
Bottom Line: Now playing in his tenth season, Wright doesn't have any surprise seasons left in him. He is a backup fantasy center who should only be taken near the end of your draft.
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