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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers (Part 3)

A key part of doing a fantasy draft is avoiding players who are overvalued while finding gems buried down the ADP leaderboard. The wrong pick can completely tank your season. The perfect steal can give you a magnificent advantage.

Today, let's talk about some players whose ADPs makes little sense given their projections--for the good and for the bad. For whatever reason -- be it talent, a lack/surplus of opportunity, or some combination of those and multiple other things -- these are players who I'm actively tracking in drafts to see how their ADP evolves as we get closer to the regular season.

Let's look at some centers who have sleeper/bust potential this year in fantasy basketball leagues.

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2022-23 Fantasy Basketball - Early ADP Analysis: Centers

Undervalued: Nikola Vucevic, C (CHI) - ADP: 36.9

Voooooch! You won't believe this, but other than in his 76ers days as a rookie, Vucevic has never finished outside of the top-17 among players with eligibility at the center position. So much so that he's cracked the top-12 at the position in eight of his 11 (10 if you don't count the infamous rookie year) pro seasons in the NBA!

That's fantastic, but of course, times have changed. Being a top-tier center these days is not the same as being one in the 1980s, is it? Well, for Vooch, that doesn't mean a thing. Not only is Vucevic one of the best centers out there, but he's also a perennial top-20 OVR player in fantasy basketball. That's been the case for four years in a row, two in full donning Orlando threads, another one split between ORL/CHI, and finally his first full season with the Bulls last year. In all of those campaigns, Vucevic averaged at least 40+ FPPG and 1.20 PF/min (league average at 0.90, mind you).

Vooch counts his seasons by double-doubles. Only two times (8.9 and 9.2 RPG) did he miss on it, and he's now posted per-game lines of at least 17-11-3 in four consecutive years. Seriously. Not only that, but he's coming off a 17-11-3-1-1 campaign with fewer than 2 TOPG for a top-18 OVR finish among all NBA players. Only Vucevic and Marcus Camby (in 2007 and 2008) have posted such a line this century, and only Horace Grant did before them all the way back in 1994!

Of course, it's hard to say that someone getting off draft boards at the 36th position is undervalued, but that's Vucevic for you. Even on Basketball-Reference.com projections (per 36 minutes), Vucevic would post a top-25 FPPG mark. Given he's rock solid and has barely missed games in the past four seasons (89% games played) while averaging 32+ MPG in those years, there is nothing stopping Vooch from earning another top-20 OVR finish in 2023.

Overvalued: Myles Turner, C (IND) - ADP: 50.8

There is one and only one question you need to ask yourself if you want to know if you should or should not draft Turner with a top-50 pick: how much are you willing to pay for a specialist? Because that's all Turner is these days, a shot-blocking machine but not much more. This, of course, merits a little deeper study.

There is a little problem with Turner's playing time and availability, but I'll touch on that later. For now, let's go with some simple per-game and per-36 averages. Since blocks entered the realm of NBA statistics, and among players with careers lasting at least 12,000+ MPG, Turner ranks 18th all-time in BLK/36MP. He's an even better 12th-best in BPG (2.3). Again, that's Turner for you: a freaking shot-blocking terminator... and only 26-years-old!

The problem is that Turner doesn't offer a lot outside of help in that blocks cat. Yes, he has always hit 10+ PPG because he's a big man and happens to shoot 4+ 3PA per game (he's done so in three straight years now), hitting them at a 33% clip. Turner's true shooting has also improved of late, finally reaching figures at 59.9% and 61.4% in the past two seasons. All of that is great! But sadly, there are two problems in his game.

For one, Turner can stay on the court for long periods of time. He's missed a lot of games recently. Turner has played 62, 47, and lastly 42 games in the past three seasons for availability rates of 86%, 57%, and a putrid 51% in those years. Not only that, but he's not even playing 30 MPG, so it's not that he's been put in exhausting positions to suffer injuries and whatnot.

Then, there's the fact that he's only grabbing around 7 RPG and dishing out 1 APG per contest. Of 3,067 center-eligible players with a season in which they averaged <8 RPG and <1.5 APG, only 43 times did they finish those years inside the top-50 OVR; and only 33 times inside the top-10 centers of the year.

The likes of Manute Bol (three seasons of 3.7+ BPG) made that list multiple times but never finished even as a top-20 C... In other words, blocking shots alone is not going to cut it for you unless your league puts a premium on winning single categories or weights blocks more than anything else. That said, and if that's is the case, then Turner might be an actual bargain for you considering he's one of five players looking like a lock to post 2+ BPG next year with all others either injured (JJJ, Robert Williams III) or way more expensive (Gobert, AD).

Undervalued: Jonas Valanciunas, C (NOP) - ADP: 50.2

This is definitely not a cheap ADP. Even then, though, I'd say that it still undervalues everything Valanciunas does on the court as a steady top-30 OVR player for the past three seasons, let alone a top-10 player at the center position. That's correct: since leaving Toronto in the middle of 2019 and starting in 2020 when he played his first full season outside of Canada, Valanciunas has logged top-six, top-eight, and lastly top-five finishes among players with C eligibility.

Valanciunas had a very limited upside in his first few years in the league with the Raptors. He only topped 26 MPG once, in 2014, and he was very bad on a per-minute basis with a below-league-average 0.88 FP/min. That has totally changed of late, though. It's been five seasons in a row in which JoVa has posted at least 1.21+ FP/min, including three seasons at 1.30+ from 2019 to 2021. He finished 2022 averaging 1.25 FP/min.

On a per-game basis, he's also benefited from larger doses of playing time (from 22 to 26, 28, and 30 MPG in the past four years) so he's been able to increase his FPPG marks for six years and running from 27 to an extraordinary 37.9 FPPG last season.

Valanciunas is now a walking double-double (15-11, 17-12, and 18-11 in his last three seasons) to go with reasonable assists (2.6 APG in his first year with the Pelicans) and blocks (career average of 1 BPG). While Zion Williamson is expected to be back this season and that might take some rebounds from Valanciunas' total tally, he's always been able to sustain a 20+ RBD% rate and he should also see a decrease (good) in turnovers compared to his figure from last year. Pencil in Jonas as a top-35 player with top-10 C potential easily. Definitely worth his current ADP.

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