The NBA season is on its way, which means that fantasy basketball season is on its way as well. Our friends at 10Ten Media who publish the annual Pro Basketball Preview & Fantasy Guide are helping with SLAM’s fantasy hoops coverage this fall, and here’s Part 4: a comprehensive look at anything and everything having to do with centers. Some big men you’ll need on your squad, others you’ll want to avoid at all costs. —Ed.
Philly’s Andrew Bynum and L.A.’s Dwight Howard lead the way as they head to new cities. An inconsistent Marc Gasol, aging Kevin Garnett and overlooked (even on his own team) Al Horford are all within shouting distance of the Big Two. And a new hope could be coming from Lithuania. His name is Jonas.
Five Burning Questions:
1. Do you buy Andrew Bynum as the No. 1 roto center?
Frank Woodworth, PBP&FG Writer: I’m not thrilled about the move to Philly; I was really looking forward to him teaming up with Steve Nash. But Bynum has always been an efficient player. With the Sixers leaning on him in the middle, he should have no problem taking the top spot.
Zachary Cohen, PBP&FG Writer: Bynum should definitely be No. 1. He’s as fundamentally sound as any center in the league and he’s a beast physically. He may have a screw loose upstairs, but his game is virtually flawless. He shoots a high percentage, is capable of putting up monster rebound numbers and, unlike Dwight Howard, he’s a decent shooter from the line.
Dave Schoenholt, PBP&FG Writer: I agree that Bynum is No. 1, but that’s an indictment of the field more than anything else. After him, it’s likely that a young center like Greg Monroe or DeMarcus Cousins jumps into the conversation later this season. Injury has a better chance of keeping Bynum out of the top spot than anything else.
2. Which rookies do you like?
Frank: Meyers Leonard is going to get a chance to put up big minutes in a depleted Portland frontcourt. As a rookie, that is sometimes all you need to stand out. And the athletic Andre Drummond will be a nice complement for the cerebral Greg Monroe in Detroit.
Zachary: There’s been a lot of hype around Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas. He should have the opportunity to play right away for Toronto—he is a good complement to Andrea Bargnani. Although he is an unfinished product, he adds toughness to the Raptors and is a good finisher at the rim.
Dave: His name is Jonas. If his MVP performance (averages of 21-13 and 3 blocks) in the U19 World Championships last summer was any indication, he won’t disappoint.
3. Does DeMarcus Cousins become a star this year?
Frank: Not if he is in Sacramento. What hurts Cousins is that he plays on a team where the wings and guards are gunners. He shoots below 45 percent as a post player who led the League in offensive rebounds (i.e. easy put-backs). If no one gets Cousins the ball in position to score he will only be an above average player, not a star.
Zachary: Toward the end of last season, Cousins was putting up ridiculous numbers for Sacramento. He was rebounding and finally starting to dominate in the paint, but saying Cousins will be a star is a bit too much. He’s still immature and his brand of basketball is highly inefficient.
Dave: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes, I think DeMarcus Cousins becomes a (fantasy) star this year. It seemed almost incomprehensible just a year ago. He’s wildly skilled on offense and contributes across the roto board. He only needs to become more efficient to challenge Bynum for the top spot.
4. How do you expect Andrew Bogut’s first year in Golden State to go?
Frank: It was destiny that the most fan-friendly player would end up on the team with arguably the most passionate fans. The positive energy that will generate from having the gregarious Aussie instead of the sulking Kwame Brown, and the fact that the deteriorating Andris Biedrins doesn’t pose a threat, should propel Bogut back to a top-10 center.
Zachary: If Bogut can stay healthy (that’s a big if), I expect an absurd year (in a good way). He’s a handful to guard in the paint, can knock down midrange jumpers and will be passing out of double teams to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for what should be easy assists. He’s a very efficient player and should thrive playing with other offensive-minded players.
Dave: Come on now. Bogut’s game is very fantasy-friendly. Bogut’s body, however, is approaching Zo Mourning-level fragility. Between playing in an offense with no identity, playing alongside a defensive sieve in David Lee and the obvious injury concerns, I’m not bullish on Bogut in the Bay Area.
5. Who’s more likely to duplicate his breakout year: Marc Gasol or Marcin Gortat?
Frank: Gasol. He is on essentially the same team. Gortat will be adjusting to a whole new cast and he’s no longer playing with Steve Nash, who makes everyone better. Gasol has played at essentially the same level for his four years in the league. His production varies only with his minutes.
Zachary: Gasol is much more likely to duplicate his breakout year. He’s a focal point of a good offense and he does a lot of things well, stuffing the stat sheet while shooting good percentages. Gortat is a very good player, but the loss of Steve Nash really lowers his stock. He’ll miss the open looks that Nash was able
to create for him.
Dave: I’m going Gortat. Common sense would be to say that with Nash gone he should suffer,but Phoenix seems to actively be searching for ways to feature Gortat even more this season. He has a motor that’s always going to keep his rebounding numbers elite, and his offensive efficiency doesn’t get enough credit.
Hit page 2 for keepers, sleepers and busts.