Fantasy Basketball: Centers draft tiers

Get ready for your fantasy basketball draft with a tiered look at the centers.

The 2022-23 NBA season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start getting ready for your fantasy basketball drafts. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Fantasy analyst Dan Titus is putting in the work on his draft rankings as well as his position-by-position tiers — he hits the centers below — to help you be prepared when you’re on the clock.

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Note: Not every player will have analysis when listed in the tiers below. Players with multi-position eligibility will only show up in the positional tier story they have the most minutes.

Tier 1: The Elite

Nikola Jokic

Tier 2: All-Star anchors

Joel Embiid

Karl-Anthony Towns

My in-depth takes on Jokic, Embiid and Towns this season can be found in my first mock draft here.

Tier 3: High-floor veterans with All-Star potential

Bam Adebayo

Domantas Sabonis

Myles Turner

How long will Myles Turner be in a Pacers uniform? For now, it’s not worth speculating. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that he’s healthy and in a favorable fantasy environment. It’s always nice to get affirmation from the starting point guard (Tyrese Haliburton) ahead of the season, too. And Haliburton’s right: Turner is one of the best shot blockers in the league (2.8 avg last season); plus, he should see a rebounding boost this year with Domantas Sabonis out of the way. He can also stretch the floor, knocking down 1.5 3-pointers per game the past two seasons. An argument could be made for drafting Turner ahead of Adebayo and Sabonis as he offered better per-game value than his peers (24 versus 39 and 40, respectively) last year. But, Adebayo and Sabonis are going in the second round of most drafts (ADP 22 and 23) compared to Turner in the fourth round. I think that’s excellent value, so take advantage of the discount.

Nikola Vucevic

Kristaps Porzingis

After years of searching for a big man, the Washington Wizards finally landed a unicorn — an oft-injured unicorn no less, but when Kristaps Porzingis steps on the court, he is a fantasy beast. In 17 games as a Wizard, the Latvian star delivered 22.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.2 stocks (steals + blocks) with 48/37/87 shooting splits. He and Bradley Beal didn’t play together last season, but early indications are optimistic that the duo can thrive together. Health will always be a concern for Porzingis, but he has the upside to finish as a top-20 player on a per-game basis again this season.

Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton is a player I’m avoiding relative to his ADP. He finished 43rd on a per-game basis last year, so his ADP is fair. But, as an early fourth-round selection at Pick 38 this year, I’m concerned about the internal turmoil and his lack of communication with Suns head coach Monty Williams — it’s an easy stay away for me.

Rudy Gobert

Tier 4: Mid-round bigs

Jarrett Allen

Jonas Valanciunas

The Pelicans starting lineup is stacked and, with Zion Williamson healthy, what does this mean for Jonas Valanciunas? Zion dominates the paint, so I think we’ll see Valanciunas’ numbers suffer a bit this season. The question is how much. There’s still a path to averaging a double-double, but I think his scoring opportunities will dwindle with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion all being better options on offense. Still, Valanciunas is an efficient shooter who will be among the league leaders in rebounding. His ADP is currently 51, but I’d be more interested if he falls beyond the fifth round.

Al Horford

Jakob Poeltl

Alperen Sengun

It’s officially time to unleash Rockets center Alperen Sengun. Sengun is turnover prone and you’ll likely have to punt the free-throw percentage, but he’s a stat stuffer. His per-36 numbers last season have me very optimistic about his fantasy outlook this season — 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.9 threes with 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks. Sengun’s ADP is 73.9, and he’s well worth a pick in the sixth round.

Wendell Carter Jr.

Tier 5: Veteran fallout

Jusuf Nurkic

Clint Capela

Mitchell Robinson

Christian Wood

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Robert Williams III

This tier consists of six players I likely won’t be drafting this season unless I need particular categories such as blocks, rebounds, or FG percentage. Mitchell Robinson might be looking over his shoulder this season, with the Knicks acquiring the underrated per-minute gem that is Isaiah Hartenstein. Christian Wood found a new home in Dallas, but after watching the Mavs practice on Friday, he’s still playing with the second unit, which lowers his value. His fifth-round ADP is too high if he’s headed for a reserve role to start the year. It’s a shame that Jaren Jackson Jr. and Robert Williams (two of the NBA’s best defensive players) will miss significant time due to knee injuries. If you have an IR spot in your league, they’re worth drafting but know that they’ll be eased in slowly, and each comes with a minutes restriction when they return to the court.

Tier 6: Veterans worthy of a late-round pick

Kelly Olynyk

The Utah Jazz recently traded for Kelly Olynyk, and even though they’re in the midst of a rebuild, he projects to be starting at center. Olynyk is a serviceable big who offers versatility across categories when given the opportunity. Just know he’s a threat to be shipped out by the trade deadline.

Nic Claxton

Ivica Zubac

Isaiah Stewart

The other end of the Olynyk trade brought sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic to the Pistons which further muddied the frontcourt in Detroit. Isaiah Stewart will earn most of his minutes at the center spot, but he will compete with rookie Jalen Duren and veteran Nerlens Noel. Stewart should be able to fend them off, and if he can, he’ll be a threat for a low-end double-double with at least one block per game. He’s worth a flier in the 10th round.

Brook Lopez

Onyeka Okongwu

Onyeka Okongwu is already showing signs of a breakout. However, Clint Capela is still present and fantasy managers must play the waiting game. It bodes well that Hawks head coach Nate McMillan is comparing Okongwu to All-Star Bam Adebayo, so it’s only a matter of time. His per-36 numbers also jumped off the page last year — 14.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.2 blocks while shooting 69% from the field. Okongwu is the guy you should be targeting in the 10th round.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Tier 7: Fringe starters and backups

Mo Bamba

The Orlando Magic, surprisingly or not so surprisingly, re-signed Mo Bamba to a 2-year, $20 million deal this offseason after the franchise drafted Paolo Banchero. Bamba will back up Wendell Carter Jr. but still holds value as a backup center who can provide blocks and threes. He finished 53rd on a per-game basis last season, so if Carter gets injured, Bamba will be an asset for fantasy. However, his ninth-round ADP is likely reflecting him being a starter, which he is not, so I’d wait to see if he falls later in drafts to grab him.

JaVale McGee

Steven Adams

Thomas Bryant

Mason Plumlee

Kevon Looney

Chris Boucher

Walker Kessler

I was buying into Walker Kessler’s upside with a rebuilding franchise, but that’s on hold with Utah acquiring Kelly Olynyk. Still, the rookie’s college tape lends itself to be a compelling fantasy player due to his size and defensive ability (he averaged 4.6 blocks at Auburn last year). He didn’t play in the Summer League, so we’ll have to use his progress at training camp to determine his viability of being rostered right now. With an ADP of 143, he’s a guy you will have to draft and stash.

Jaxson Hayes

Precious Achiuwa

Precious Achiuwa has a shot at earning the starting center spot for the Toronto Raptors if Nick Nurse decides to move Pascal Siakam to the power forward position. Achiuwa nearly averaged a double-double in 28 starts last season, but the knock on him was that he’s not an efficient scorer. He’s going in the 12th round, and if he ends up starting, that could be added bench depth for any team.

Isaiah Hartenstein

Daniel Gafford

Daniel Gafford is useful if you’re searching for blocks and rebounds late in your draft, but prepare to be frustrated all season long.

Tier 8: The bench mob that’s an injury away

Omer Yurtseven

Montrezl Harrell

James Wiseman

I know it’s the preseason but what got into James Wiseman in Japan? He and Steph Curry looked very comfortable running pick and roll, and if he stays healthy, there’s a good chance he could eat into Kevon Looney’s minutes and take over the starting center spot. It’s a big if, though. But from what I saw, Wiseman will be moving up draft boards, and with his pedigree, he could be a late-round steal in the 11th round.

Jalen Duren

Andre Drummond

Richaun Holmes

Damian Jones

Naz Reid

Bismack Biyombo

Chimezie Metu

Isaiah Roby

Mark Williams

Tier 9: Bottom of the barrel

Zach Collins

Dwight Powell

Nerlens Noel

DeAndre Jordan

Drew Eubanks

Moses Brown

Jericho Sims

Goga Bitadze

Jaylin Williams

Dewayne Dedmon