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2020-21 Fantasy Basketball Draft Rankings: Centers

Karl-Anthony Towns - NBA DFS Lineup Picks, Daily Fantasy Basketball

The fantasy basketball season is just around the corner, which means you're likely doing -- or soon will be doing -- fantasy drafts. And to do a draft, you need some solid rankings to use in your drafting!

That's why we here at RotoBaller put out our 2020-21 fantasy basketball draft rankings last week. But what are rankings without analysis? So, in a three-part series, I'll be looking at how each position shaped up in the rankings. Players who we have listed at multiple positions will appear in multiple articles, though players who are listed at both power forward and center will only appear in the center article.

We end this series with centers. Let's see what insights we can reveal about the position by analyzing our ranks.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including NBA Writer of the Year, Best NFL Series, MLB Series, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Fantasy Basketball Center Rankings

Note: These rankings are based off of our staff's H2H 9-cat rankings.

Overall Rank Player Team Positions
2 Karl-Anthony Towns MIN C
4 Anthony Davis LAL PF,C
6 Nikola Jokic DEN PF,C
15 Joel Embiid PHI PF,C
17 Deandre Ayton PHO C,PF
18 Bam Adebayo MIA PF,C
24 John Collins ATL PF,C
27 Nikola Vucevic ORL PF,C
30 Rudy Gobert UTH C
39 Andre Drummond CLE PF,C
41 Jusuf Nurkic POR C
43 Domantas Sabonis IND PF,C
45 Mitchell Robinson NYK C
49 Jonas Valanciunas MEM C
50 LaMarcus Aldridge SAS PF,C
53 Clint Capela ATL PF,C
55 Hassan Whiteside SAC C
56 Myles Turner IND PF,C
60 Kristaps Porzingis DAL PF,C
61 Kevin Love CLE PF,C
65 Draymond Green GSW PF,C
72 Thomas Bryant WAS C
76 Wendell Carter Jr. CHI C
79 Richaun Holmes SAC C,PF
81 Davis Bertans WAS PF,C
82 Julius Randle NYK PF,C
83 Blake Griffin DET PF,C
84 Brook Lopez MIL C
85 Al Horford OKC PF,C
87 Steven Adams NOP C
96 Jarrett Allen BKN PF,C
97 Serge Ibaka LAC PF,C
98 James Wiseman GSW C
102 Montrezl Harrell LAL PF,C
114 Larry Nance Jr. CLE PF,C
116 Ivica Zubac LAC C
124 DeAndre Jordan BKN C
125 Chris Boucher TOR PF,C
126 Derrick Favors UTH PF,C
128 Daniel Theis BOS C
139 Aron Baynes TOR PF,C
144 Jakob Poeltl SAS C,PF
147 DeMarcus Cousins HOU PF,C
148 Nerlens Noel NYK PF,C
151 Zach Collins POR PF, C
161 Jaxson Hayes NOP C
162 Tristan Thompson BOS PF,C
171 Mason Plumlee DET PF,C
177 Paul Millsap DEN PF,C
184 Marc Gasol LAL C
191 Dewayne Dedmon N/A C
201 Dwight Powell DAL PF,C
203 Enes Kanter POR C
205 Cody Zeller CHA PF,C
208 Mohamed Bamba ORL C
214 JaVale McGee CLE C
216 Willie Cauley-Stein N/A PF,C
218 Dwight Howard PHI PF,C
219 Bobby Portis MIL PF,C
223 Gorgui Dieng MEM PF,C
226 JaMychal Green DEN PF,C


The Case For KAT at No. 1 Overall

Karl-Anthony Towns comes in second in our rankings, behind only James Harden. One of our rankers, Kev Mahserejian, had KAT ranked first overall, so I'm going to try to make the argument that I think Kev would make for KAT. Apologies to him if actually I make a completely different pro-Towns argument!

First, let's start with the reasons why we should be wary of Harden at No. 1. While he has officially reported to Houston, his trade demand hangs over everything, and as he continues to expand the list of teams he's willing to be dealt to, the chances that he winds up somewhere else to tip off the season keeps growing.

That uncertainty can be frustrating for fantasy managers, who probably want to use the top pick on someone they're sure will be a stud from the get. Harden's like 99 percent sure to still be that, but maybe he winds up sitting out some games until a trade happens, or maybe he winds up in Brooklyn where his usage rate drops.

With KAT, there are no questions. He should be fully recovered from the wrist injury that limited him to 35 games last year and should be ready for his fifth consecutive season averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, with the point total likely coming in at at least 25 per game. He averaged 4.4 assists per game last year, giving you someone who can provide strong assist numbers from the center position, something you don't always find. He'll block between 1.2 and 1.6 shots per game, plus doesn't kill you in free throw percentage like other centers and has shot over 40 percent from three in three consecutive seasons, including an absurd number for a big man last year: 41.2 percent on 7.9 attempts per game.

Towns has the upside to finish as the top player in fantasy basketball. He has a strong case to be the 1.01 pick.


Deciphering The Top Players

There are only two other players who qualify at center who are ranked in our top 10: Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic. So, which one should fantasy managers prefer?

Two of our rankers had Jokic ranked fifth, while another had him sixth. Davis was sixth for two of us, while the other had him second. This feels like an accurate portrayal of where opinion on the two is at, because Anthony Davis pretty clearly has the higher ceiling of the two, but Jokic and his health feels like a much safer bet to make.

If you do take the risk on Anthony Davis, you get a guy who averaged 26.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game last year on a 50.3/33.0/84.6 shooting split. Davis is an elite player who won't hurt fantasy managers in any categories except turnovers, where he averaged 2.5 per contest.

Davis only missed 10 regular season games last year, so maybe concerns about his durability are a little overblown? Especially on a Lakers team where LeBron James is the one who'll likely see more of the DNP-Rest decisions this year, since his age is more of a concern than Davis's health.

But if you are worried about AD, there's another option: Nikola Jokic! He doesn't have the scoring highs that Davis does, but the Joker averaged 19.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks on 52.8/31.4/81.7 shooting. He doesn't give you the blocks you want from a starting center, but if you go with a punt-block build, his tremendous passing can get you ahead of the curve on the assist category right out of the gate.


Top 100 Guys With The Most Downside

So, which guys that we ranked in our collective top 100 have the most downside? (In other words, who am I lower on than our other two rankers.)

Hassan Whiteside - Sacramento Kings
RB ranking: 55, Justin ranking: 61

Hassan Whiteside's ability to put up solid raw numbers makes him a nice fantasy piece. Last year, he averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.9 blocks per game, all while shooting 62.1 percent from the floor.

Those numbers came via him averaging his most minutes per game since 2016-17 though, and he now joins a Kings team where there's no guarantee Whiteside starts over Richaun Holmes. Marvin Bagley III is also likely to see some time at the five, as will Frank Kaminsky. Whiteside's path to 30 minutes per game is cloudy. If he gets there, solid pick. If he doesn't, a drop in his numbers makes him a little risky to take in the top 50 like one of our rankers had him ranked.

Thomas Bryant - Washington Wizards
RB ranking: 72, Justin ranking: 86

Thomas Bryant is a solid big man, but the Wizards also spent a good bit of money to bring in Robin Lopez this year, which is going to cut into Bryant's development because neither guy should be playing anything but the five with the way this team is constructed. Bryant averaged 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and making 0.8 threes per game, but with RoLo in D.C., it's hard to see much room for improving on those numbers this year. You're drafting him very close to his ceiling right now, which is never something I love doing.


Who Are Some Sleepers?

Who are guys outside of our top 150 that have the best chance of breaking in? (And which deep guys did I rank above our collective ranking?)

Paul Millsap - Denver Nuggets
RB ranking: 177, Justin ranking: 136

I understand that Millsap is getting older and the Nuggets are going to give plenty of run to Michael Porter Jr. and JaMychal Green at the four, but we're still talking about a guy who played 24.2 minutes per game in the playoffs, and while those numbers -- 8.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game on 39.8 percent shooting -- weren't great, he still averaged 11.6 and 5.7 in the regular season on 48.2 percent shooting. I was probably too high on him in my rankings, but I'd feel comfortable taking him around 150th as a solid floor guy.

Enes Kanter - Portland Trail Blazers
RB ranking: 204, Justin ranking: 189

Hassan Whiteside ate up the starting center role in Portland last year (see above), and I expect Jusuf Nurkic to do the same this year. But Nurkic missed all but eight regular season games last year with a broken leg, and if the Trail Blazers want to keep him healthy, we might see Enes Kanter play around 20 minutes per night, either beside Nurkic or backing him up. In that role, Kanter's scoring ability and efficiency can come in handy.

Gorgui Dieng - Memphis Grizzlies
RB ranking: 223, Justin ranking: 195

It looks like Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out to start the season for Memphis, which means we could see a decent bit of Dieng in the early going. He averaged 18.7 minutes per game for the Grizzlies last year in 17 games, with 7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks per contest. His value takes a hit when JJJ is back, but if you need a deep-league streamer to open the season, I like Dieng a good bit.

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