Player Rankings: Centers (31-45)
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31. Jeff Foster - Indiana Pacers
Jeff Foster does one thing well: rebound the basketball. Last year, despite coming back from a strained achilles tendon in his left foot, he averaged career-best 9.1 boards per game. His offensive game is limited to put backs and, unsurprisingly, his field goal shooting was an excellent 55.2 percent. But when you only average four shots a game, there's only so much help you provide a fantasy team in this category. Still, he’ll be valuable for his boards and the occasional steal.
Bottom Line: Foster is a one trick pony, but he does that one trick well enough that he can be considered a decent option as a backup center in fantasy leagues.
32. Brendan Haywood - Washington Wizards
Brendan Haywood has shown us what he has as a center in the NBA. That is he will average about 7.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks on 51 percent shooting from the field and 60 percent from the line. These are decent number for a backup fantasy center. Haywood is big. He can block shots and clean the glass, but his offensive game is limited by his hands. He often has a hard time holding onto the ball and catching passes. That's OK on a team like the Wizards who have plenty of scoring options
Bottom Line: Haywood probably shouldn't be drafted except in deeper leagues, but he is worth watching and could be worthy of a pickup if you find your team struggling for blocks or rebounds.
33. Erick Dampier - Dallas Mavericks
With inconsistent effort and numbers, Dampier lost his starting job last season to DeSagana Diop. Don't read too much into that however. His minutes played stayed about the same (23.5 per game) after his demotion. In deeper leagues, Damp still has value as he will get you decent rebounds (7.8 last year) and a little better than a block per game. His numbers have declined the past two seasons and barring an injury to Diop or a sudden burst of renewed effort, this trend is likely to continue.
Bottom Line: Strictly free agent material in medium-sized leagues at this point, Dampier will have some decent games with double-digit boards and a handful of blocks but also disappear for long stretches during the season.
34. Rasho Nesterovic - Toronto Raptors
Rasho surprised many in 2003-04 with an 8.7 point, 7.7 rebound, 2.0 block season but struggled badly in the two seasons since. Last year he split time with Nazr Mohammed, negatively affecting both players' fantasy value. Rasho actually improved his percentages from previous seasons but with just 18.9 minutes and 4.2 attempts per game, it really didn't matter to fantasy owners. This year he will start for the Raptors and should average minutes in the mid-20s. His blocks should once again get closer to two per game, and he should grab between six and seven boards a game. Great? No. But far better than last year.
Bottom Line: Nesterovic is end of the draft material at best but if you are hurting for blocks, he could be serviceable.
35. David Harrison - Indiana Pacers
David Harrison has the size to make an impact in the NBA. However, in his two seasons in the league, he hasn't gotten the minutes to make it happen (averaged just 15.4 minutes last year). Part of the problem is his penchant for the quick foul. Another issue is his conditioning. If Harrison wants to get more minutes, he will have to improve his wind. He’ll be the backup to Jeff Foster, but it is possible that he could play himself into a starter's role if he impresses.
Bottom Line: Harrison has a good amount of upside and should be monitored during the preseason and into the regular season. If he looks like he’ll be getting minutes, he should be taken as a flier in the later rounds of fantasy drafts or picked up off the waiver wire.
36. Steven Hunter - Philadelphia 76ers
Hunter got some attention at the start of last season when he stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Samuel Dalembert. He showed that he could use his great hops and quickness to block shots. His rebounding was poor and the scoring—as it is for a Philadelphia center—was spotty. He reclaimed the starting gig in late February and put up even better numbers. In March, he averaged 7.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 68.5 percent shooting from the field and in April put up 10.1 points, 5.3 boards, 1.0 blocks on 67.8 percent shooting. His free throw shooting is abysmal: 51.5 percent for the season. If he can take the starting job from Dalembert, he could have some value.
Bottom Line: Hunter shoots a great percentage—it helps when most of your shots are dunks—and is a decent shot blocker. Keep an eye on Maurice Cheeks in the preseason and beyond to see which big man he favors in the middle and be ready to pick up Hunter if he wins out.
37. Tony Battie - Orlando Magic
A solid role player, Tony Battie played well starting all 82 games at center last year for the Magic. He averaged 7.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks with 50.7 percent shooting from the field and 66.4 percent from the line. This year, he will move back to the bench and back up Darko Milicic and Dwight Howard. His minutes will drop from 27 per game to the low 20s, and his production will decline accordingly.
Bottom Line: Battie will once again come off the bench in 2006-07. In deep leagues, he might have some value as a pickup later in the year if there are any injuries to Howard or Milicic.
38. DeSagana Diop - Dallas Mavericks
After struggling through injuries for most of his career in Cleveland, Diop finally broke through with Dallas last season. He took advantage of the inconsistent play of Erick Dampier and took the starting job in mid-January. Despite being a starter, his fantasy value is limited to blocked shots. Diop averaged only slightly fewer blocks (1.8) last year than points (2.3). He doesn't play enough minutes to be much help on the glass either, pulling in just 4.6 boards in 18.6 minutes per contest.
Bottom Line: Draft Diop if you are in a deep league and in a deep hole for blocked shots. He is unlikely to help meaningfully in any other categories
39. Adonal Foyle - Golden State Warriors
Adonal is another one category specialist—blocked shots—who deserves a look only in the deepest of leagues. Last year, he lost time to Ike Diogu and Andris Biedrins. This year will continue that trend. While Adonal has not lost any of his shot-blocking ability, he hasn’t added any kind of offense to his game. Hands of stone are great for swatting balls, not so much for catching or shooting them. He averaged 4.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 50.7 percent shooting from the field and 61.2 percent from the line. His offensive deficiencies may catch up with Foyle this season and keep him off the floor more than in the past two seasons.
Bottom Line: The Warriors are unlikely to go younger this year and not give Adonal much time on the floor this season. So, unless you are desperate for blocks, neither should you.
40. Theo Ratliff - Boston Celtics
Theo moves from one time share in Portland to another in Boston. Where he fought for (and lost) minutes with Joel Przybilla last year, he contends with the younger Kendrick Perkins in Boston. It is a good bet that the Cs will go with Kendrick as the starter and use Theo as a shot-blocking, defensive backup. Theo could make a stronger case for more minutes if his rebounding was stronger. He pulled just over five per game in 23.7 minutes last year. His blocks fell also. Where Ratliff used to be a mortal lock for over two blocks a game, last year he swatted just 1.6. Teams in deeper leagues may need to pursue Ratliff, but others should leave him on the wire and see how his role develops in Boston.
Bottom Line: Ratliff, like many centers around him on this list, has value in one category: shot-blocking. He is draft-worthy only in deeper leagues.
41. Francisco Elson - San Antonio Spurs
Francisco Elson finally got some playing time last year. With Nene missing most of the season with a torn ACL, Elson was the backup to Marcus Camby—always a good spot to get some minutes. Elson didn't wow people but he showed he could run the floor and block a few shots. As a starting center, Elson averaged 5.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks on 47.6 percent shooting from the field and 63.3 from the line in 30 games. That's a big enough sample size to give us an indication of his potential. Leave him on the wire except in the deepest of leagues.
Bottom Line: Elson isn't really draft-worthy but he can do a few things to help teams in deep leagues. Keep an eye on him to see how he is used this season.
42. Andris Biedrins - Golden State Warriors
A project the past two seasons, this is the year the Warriors would like to see some return on their investment in Biedrins. He is a hard worker and an excellent athlete. He possesses great hands, catching and dunking crisp passes very quickly. He is also a decent shot blocker who is unafraid to mix it up down low for rebounds. The knocks on him are the lack of any offensive game outside of ten from the bucket and an appalling percentage from the line. He shot just 30.6 percent last year and drew cheers for every rare made free throw in Oakland. Given the Warriors limited options at center, he will see minutes.
Bottom Line: He is not worth drafting but in deep leagues he could add value at some point this year if he develops his offense. He is still very young and his potential is mostly untapped.
43. Hilton Armstrong - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Hilton is an athletic, young center with excellent quickness and shot-blocking instincts. He has very long arms, quick feet and great timing, especially on the weak side of the basket. The opposition will not get a much of break on blocked shots when he comes in to spell Tyson Chandler. Surprisingly, Armstrong has decent range (16-18 feet) on his jumper. His low post moves and overall strength need development, but there is reason to believe he could have a nice offensive game in a few years.
Bottom Line: Hilton has a lot of upside. He's quick, long and has the raw tools to become a solid center in the NBA. It probably won't happen this year, but keep an eye on this kid. If Chandler struggles or has injury issues, Hilton has the ability to help fantasy teams this season.
44. Patrick O'Bryant - Golden State Warriors
O'Bryant is big now and is only going to get bigger. Standing seven feet tall, he has an albatross-like wingspan at 7'5" and standing reach of 9'4". Um, that's ridiculous. Needless to say, this kid is going to block some shots in the league. The pluses for O'Bryant are his freakish length, his deceptive athleticism, his drive—he was barely recruited out of high school—and the relative lack of competition at center on the Warriors. The minuses are his lack of a polished offensive game and the fact that he could find himself buried at the end of the bench with a project label stuck to his jersey.
Bottom Line: Watch O'Bryant throughout the year. He may not get a lot of time but if the Warriors fall out of the playoff hunt, he could see minutes at the end of the season. Keeper league players may want to stash him if he delivers on his great potential.
45. Etan Thomas - Washington Wizards
If a social consciousness and a tireless work ethic were rewarded with fantasy value, Etan Thomas would be near the top of this list—along with Adonal Foyle. However, that is not the case. Thomas' offensive game is too limited to be recommended for your fantasy team. However, the former Syracuse standout will always find minutes because of his great defensive abilities. He should average about 15 minutes a game backing up Brendan Haywood at the center spot.
Bottom Line:Thomas is a guy that should be kept under watch due to his ability to rebound and block shots. He’ll likely to be worthy of a pickup at some point during the season.
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