We are less than a month away from the start of the NBA season. As we continue to prepare you for your fantasy basketball drafts, let's dig into the tiers for the center position.
Jokic is not only the top center, but he is the top overall player in fantasy basketball. While his scoring average declined last season with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter both healthy, the two-time MVP still produced 24.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting from the field and 82.2 percent from the free-throw line. That's in addition to his stellar averages of 11.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
With his averages of 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 made three-pointers per game, Embiid won his first MVP award last season. He was also efficient, shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. The only negative with Embiid is that he has never played in more than 68 games in a single season.
Adebayo remains extremely reliable. Last season, he provided 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. That marked the third straight season in which he averaged at least 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals. For his career, he has shot 55.4 percent from the field and 75.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Sabonis isn't at the level of Jokic, but he has the same ability to contribute in multiple areas. In his first full campaign with the Kings, Sabonis put up 19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. He also shot a career-best 61.5 percent from the field while appearing in 79 contests. While he doesn't provide much in terms of three-pointers or defensive stats, he's still worth selecting toward the end of the first round or the beginning of the second round.
Based on production, Davis should be in the first tier. However, his health remains a concern. He played in only 56 games last season and has not appeared in more than 62 games since the 2017-18 season. With the Lakers focused on winning another title, expect them to take a cautious approach with Davis if he were to suffer any type of injury.
Like Davis, Turner has health concerns. He has not played in more than 62 games since the 2018-19 season. Unlike Davis, Turner is not a great rebounder and has never averaged more than 7.5 rebounds per game in a season during his career. However, Turner has provided at least 2.3 blocks and 1.5 made three-pointers in each of the last three campaigns. While it might be difficult for him to average 18.0 points per game again like he did last season, his unique ability to provide blocks and three-pointers at a high rate makes him a very appealing option.
Vucevic signed a contract extension with the Bulls in the offseason, returning him to a reliable role alongside Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. In both of his full seasons with the Bulls, Vucevic averaged exactly 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Kessler might find himself in the second tier heading into next season. He started 40 games during his rookie campaign, averaging 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. For the season, he shot a robust 72.0 percent from the field. The Jazz did bring in John Collins over the summer, but he should play mostly power forward while Kessler remains the go-to guy at center.
Sengun probably fits better somewhere between tiers three and four. His upside is off the charts when you factor in his passing ability. Last season, he averaged 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game while increasing his field-goal percentage to 55.3 percent. The problem is, the Rockets limited him to 29 minutes per game. They were also pursuing veteran centers during the offseason, so they might not view him as a player who they want to log more than 30 minutes a night. Sengun could also have fewer opportunities for assists with Fred VanVleet taking over at point guard.
Don't let Allen's poor performance in the playoffs cloud his fantasy value. He averaged 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks per game last year while shooting 64.4 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the charity stripe. The Cavaliers might be better off eventually moving Evan Mobley to center, but that's not going to happen with Allen still on the roster.
Karl-Anthony Towns was not included in any of the center tiers because he is firmly entrenched at power forward alongside Gobert. The problem is, this pairing hurts both players in fantasy. Gobert averaged 11.6 rebounds last season, which was his lowest total since 2017-18. His 1.4 blocks per game broke his streak of eight straight seasons with at least 2.0 blocks per game. Gobert doesn't have the fantasy upside he did when he was with the Jazz.
One of the reasons why the Bulls dealt away Carter was that he had problems staying healthy. That has remained an issue for him in Orlando, as he's played 62 and 57 games the last two seasons, respectively. The positive is that he has averaged at least 15.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 made three-pointers in both of his two full seasons with the Magic.
Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets
With little talent around him at center, Claxton had a breakout campaign last season with 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He also shot 70.5 percent from the field. The same lack of depth at center presents itself this season, leaving Claxton in a great spot for fantasy. The main downside with him is that he has shot 54.0 percent from the free-throw line in his career.
After being dealt to the Raptors, Poeltl averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks over 26 games. There is nothing flashy about Poeltl, but with a secure starting role in hand, he is a great option for those who decide to not use early draft capital on a center.
The Suns are going to look very different. This will be their first full season with Kevin Durant and they also traded for Bradley Beal this summer. They did a good job of filling out their bench, including adding Drew Eubanks as a backup for Ayton. While Ayton might not get a ton of shot attempts playing alongside Durant, Beal and Devin Booker, he can still average a double-double and shoot a high percentage from the field.
Speaking of averaging a double-double. Capela has done just that in each of the last six seasons. Onyeka Okongwu is one of the more talented backup centers in the league and should eventually take over. However, as long as Capela is still in the fold, the veteran should continue to start and play significant minutes.
Holmgren missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury. With plenty of time to heal, he is primed to be the starting center for a Thunder team that had a massive hole at the position last season. The team will likely be cautious with his playing time out of the gate, but his talent leaves him with a tremendously high ceiling.
Gafford is primed to be the Wizards' starting center with Kristaps Porzingis now on the Celtics. Over 47 starts last season, Gafford averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. A breakout season could be coming with a larger role on tap.
Last season, Valanciunas provided 14.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and 82.6 percent from the free-throw line. So, why isn't he up with Capela in Tier 4? The concern for Valanciunas is that a healthy Zion Williamson could impact his playing time and production. Still, Valanciunas is a viable late-round target.
Green is barely involved in the Warriors' offense. Last season, he had a 13.2 percent usage rate and averaged just 8.2 points per game. While he can provide value in rebounds and assists, the veteran's lack of scoring caps his upside.
The Hornets traded Mason Plumlee to the Clippers at the deadline last season which opened up a starting job at center for Williams. Over 17 games in that role, Williams averaged 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Expect him to enter this season as the starter, with Nick Richards and Kai Jones serving as underwhelming backups.
Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Clippers
Talk about reliability. Zubac has played in at least 72 games in each of the last four seasons. He has even appeared in exactly 76 games in both of the last two campaigns. After averaging 10.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game last season, he is another appealing late-round target with limited upside.
Injuries to Khris Middleton forced Lopez to take on an expanded role last season. At 34 years old, he averaged 30 minutes over 78 games played. That helped him finish with averages of 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.7 made three-pointers per game. Don't expect that type of production again, given that he hadn't averaged more than 12.5 points or 5.0 rebounds in each of the previous four seasons.
Duren has all the potential to be a great fantasy option. However, the Pistons have a ton of center options. In addition to Duren, they also have James Wiseman, Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Stewart on the roster. While Duren might be the most talented of the group, their presence should put a damper on his playing time.
Best of the Rest
Robert Williams, Boston Celtics
Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
James Wiseman, Detroit Pistons