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Fantasy Basketball Fallers at Center - 2021-22 Season Review

We're this close to the regular season, and while there is a ton of hype about the incoming rookies (check out all of our NBA Draft analysis here), we still need to reflect on the 2021-2022 season and what happened just a few months back in time. We're having the first proper NBA offseason in a couple of years as COVID fades away, and it's now time to do some evaluation on another unique season as we prepare for the 2023 campaign.

We have nearly a full season of data for most players to crunch now. It's time to reflect on the 2021-22 season to see who were our "risers" and "fallers" in the rankings. A lot of young players are naturally going to be on the rise, while some older hoopers will definitely be part of the season fallers.

In this article, I will feature some of the players labeled as Centers who took the biggest drops in their output so you can properly assess their value entering the 2022 draft season as we get closer to peak draft SZN.

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 Fallers - Centers

Bam Adebayo, C - Miami Heat

2021 - 16th-Best Overall
2022 - 60th

Hindsight is 20/20 and I don't want to sound like the most clever kid in town here, but it took me watching a couple of college games by Kentucky to put Bam at the top of his rookie class -- and look how things have gone for the big man. That said, and as promising and boundless as Bam's game looked a few years ago when he still was a raw player, we might have seen Bam reaching his ceiling already.

That is not bad! Adebayo was a top-60 fantasy player even in a letdown year if compared to his 2021 one. It was always going to be hard for Bam to replicate his top-10 from 2020 and a top-16 finish in 2021, but falling three times below that level definitely hurt his fantasy GMs.

The main concern when it comes to Adebayo might actually be his health and conditioning more than his production: he's gone from playing 82 games in 2019 to 72, 64, and lastly 56 in the last three seasons, respectively.

Adebayo might be turning into an extraordinary-not-legendary fantasy player, is what I'm saying. Perhaps, Adebayo is the new Joel Embiid, the new Kristaps Porzingis, the new DeMarcus Cousins, or the new Yao Ming. Again, that's not bad at all! But it is something you need to factor in when trying to come up with your draft strategy and who you want to make the face of your fantasy team.

Bam's numbers alone should not concern you. If you're more than the casual fantasy player, you would be looking beyond the simple drop at the final position and find out about that. Adebayo is coming off his actual-best season on a per-minute basis (1.23 FP/min) and posted a magnificent 19-10-3-1-1 line last year while topping a 60% true shooting for the second year in a row. His fantasy per-game average (39.9 FPPG) dropped a bit from his 2021 mark (41.2) but that's nothing as to have us very worried. His availability, though, is a yellow-turning-orange-maybe-red flag.

Clint Capela, C - Atlanta Hawks

2021 - 24th-Best Overall
2022 - 47th

Before Houston unearthed Christian Wood, the Rockets did the same with Captain Clint. Capela started his career in 2015 playing only 12 games. He started 35 the following season, and he later became a force of nature up to his final two-to-three seasons in Texas in which he either finished into the top-45 players in the fantasy realm or averaged 37+ FPPG.

His two years in Atlanta, though, have been very contrasting when put next to one another. He debuted in 2021 with a top-25 finish but he nearly fell outside of the top-50 last season even though he got to play 150+ minutes over the year while appearing in 11 more games and starting 10 more than he did in 2021.

Capela went from averaging a ridiculous 15-14 dub-dub two years ago (with two BPG on top of that) to a good-not-great 11-12 (with 1.3 BPG) last season, thus the fall in the ranks. Of course, nothing barring an unexpected injury will stop Capela from having a top-15 (if not top-10) season among exclusively center-eligible players next year and for a few more seasons.

Capela's peak, though, might already be past his current level. And that is without even mentioning the new backcourt pairing of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray eating big-time chances nightly next year, or the presence of John Collins on the frontcourt as the Hawks seem to be happy keeping him in the starting rotation.

Capela's drop has probably more to do with his environment than his actual talents, but you have to consider everything when building your fantasy team and Capela was definitely a faller from 2021 to 2022.

Deandre Ayton, C - Phoenix Suns

2021 - 42nd-Best Overall
2022 - 83rd

First things first, we need to grab the bull by the horns here. Ayton reportedly wanted nothing to do with Phoenix, and the same went the other way around as the Suns would have reportedly liked to part ways with the former no. 1 pick instead of inking him to a max-money deal. Of course, the minute the Indiana Pacers extended an offer sheet to Ayton, that changed and Ayton is now (as always) a Phoenix Sun at least until we get to the 2023 calendar year.

Ayton is coming off a top-16 C season and top-83rd overall campaign in 2022. He started all games (58) he appeared in, averaged 29+ MPG and 34.1 FPPG, and also posted a rather-high efficiency mark of 1.15 FP/min last year. Ayton's health is not historically great (he's played 71, 38, 69, and 58 games as a pro) but he's always performed to the expectations, if not higher. He's always finished with 32+ FPPG averages and 1.06+ FP/min marks.

That doesn't mean that Ayton's numbers dropped last year. Yes, he's and will always be a double-double average because he's so dominant on the court, but I'm not entirely sure he's a true 1A/1B guy to build a fantasy team around. For one, he misses a lot of games and has played only 236 in the past four seasons combined (of a possible total of 308). He's topped at 69 games (2021) in the past three seasons while only appearing in 38 and 58 sandwiching that 2021 career year.

Ayton's true shooting is always going to be supremely high because he's one built to operate in the paint almost exclusively (0.3 3PA per game last year) so that's good if you need easy points and a high FG%. What Ayton is not, though, is a contemporary big man. Ayton fits the profile of the old-times center. He can score and he can rebound, yes, but that's pretty much all he can do. In fact, even his blocking is suspicious after he averaged 1.5 (in the Bubble) and 1.2 (in 2021) BPG but then flopped to an average of 0.7 BPG last season.

Chris Boucher, PF/C - Toronto Raptors

2021 - 81st-Best Overall
2022 - 120th

Before we get this party started, let me make something clear: if Chris Boucher is going to be a top-125 player yearly for the remainder of his career, I won't complain just one bit. That said, the drop of nearly 40 positions down the fantasy leaderboard was hardly unnoticeable.

I was making that first statement clear because Boucher, who has yet to play more than 24 MPG in a single season and debuted at 25 years of age in the NBA, is a super-sub in the Association. Believe me: there are only 24 player-season combinations in the history of the NBA in which a player logged fewer than 1700 MP and fewer than 15 starts over a full season while getting 1650+ total fantasy points. Boucher has two of those seasons; only Nikola Mirotic and Montrezl Harrell have done it twice along with Bouch. Just saying.

Boucher has played 62 (in the Bubble shortened season), 60, and 80 games in the past three years so he's rock solid and available yearly. He had a career year in 2021 and he finished as a top-15 C in that season. That, sadly, now looks more like a fluke than anything else.

The per-game 29 FPPG average went down to a measly 20.8 FPPG last year. The per-minute efficiency vanished from 1.20 (superb) to just 0.98 FP/min (barely above league average; 0.90). The stat lines went from reading 13-6-1 (with nearly 2 BPG) to just 9-6 (with not even one block per game).

Boucher was bad on all fronts (compared to his prior bests), and even his true shooting fell (56.9% in 2022) to the figure he posted as a second-year man back in 2019. The impressive arrival of rookie Scottie Barnes last season could have marked the end of Boucher's days as a viable fantasy player, even one widely known to be no more than a nice off-the-pine asset.

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