The 2015-2016 NBA season ended on June 19th and the start of the 2016-2017 NBA regular season is a decent ways away on October 25th. Since the end of the NBA season rookies have been drafted, newcomers squared off and competed for roster spots in the NBA Summer League, and there was a mad dash to sign valuable free agents by every single team in the league.
So here we stand, looking at the beginning of a new Fantasy Basketball season on the distant horizon, wondering what to make of all the roster changes and power shifts.
To make sure that none of us are caught off guard and unprepared because of distractions in the sports world like the NFL and the World Series, let's rank the top 20 players for Fantasy Basketball by all five positions and break down the top 20 by tiers of value.
Today, we focus on our 2016-17 tiered fantasy basketball rankings for NBA centers.
First Tier Centers - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
2. Hassan Whiteside, MIA
3. Al Horford, BOS
4. DeMarcus Cousins, SAC
It isn't easy to earn the "first tier" classification as a center. You know it is a competitive; top-heavy field when DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, and Andre Drummond don't merit a single digit ranking despite all of the boards they grab and the shots they block. To be a top tier center like Towns, Whiteside, Horford, and Cousins you have to do it all. Towns was amazing as a rookie, Whiteside has emerged to be one of the top elite defenders in the game, Horford looks to have put his injury prone nature in the past as he moves forward with the Celtics, and Cousins has eye-popping production every year while improving his shooting range steadily .
Second Tier Centers - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
5. Brook Lopez, BKN
6. Marc Gasol, MEM
7. Nikola Vucevic, ORL
If another person was to rank Lopez, Gasol, and/or Vucevic in their top three, it would be very hard to argue. These three are only a little less spectacular than the three big men ahead of them, and a Fantasy Basketball Manager should be happy if he ends up with either of these three at center.
Third Tier Centers - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
8. Nikola Jokic, DEN
9. Rudy Gobert, UTA
10. DeAndre Jordan, LAC
11. Dwight Howard, ATL
12. Andre Drummond, DET
In the third tier we start to find players who can produce really well in a few select categories. While the seven centers in front of them are very well-rounded, it is in this 8-12 range where we start to see elite production in a few areas, and less than satisfactory results in others. Drummond, Howard, and Jordan all grab a ton of rebounds and block plenty of shots. Rody Gobert is the newly emergent monster shot blocker from Utah. Jokic provides slightly more versatile skills like assists and actually produces more steals than blocks, but at 21.7 minutes per game, he needs to see expanded opportunity.
For this tier, your personal rankings may look significantly different as your draft proceeds. Whatever you need, the guys in this range can provide plenty of it at center.
Fourth Tier Centers - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
13. Gorgui Dieng, MIN
14. Jonas Valanciunas, TOR
15. Jusuf Nurkic, DEN
16. Marcin Gortat, WSH
The fourth tier is just a scaled down version of the third tier. Here we find players who don't necessarily produce at an elite level in their specialized categories, but they certainly stand out with their production. They are all pretty safe rebounders and at least are near double digit scorers. While Gortat, Nurkic, and Valanciunas all swat more than a shot per game, it is Gorgui Dieng who sticks out.
At 26 years old for the rebuilding Timberwolves he was able to play in all 82 games last year and unfortunately regressed in playing time from 30 minutes to 27 minutes per game. He shot a career high 20 three pointers and was accurate 30% of the time, and for the last two seasons averaged 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game which is equivalent to 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes.
Fifth Tier Centers - Fantasy Basketball Rankings
17. Jahlil Okafor, PHI
18. Al Jefferson, IND
19. Enes Kanter, OKC
20. Tyson Chandler, PHO
In the fifth tier we find much more one-dimensional production. In the cases of Okafor and Kanter, we see two centers who are gifted when it comes to offensive moves in the paint, but lack the dominant ability to shut down the paint through rebounding and defense. Okafor may average a nice clip for rebounds or blocks, but for the most part he isn't any better at that than the players ranked above him and if you have Okafor, you are banking on him scoring a lot night in and night out.
At least Enes Kanter will have a bigger opportunity for minutes, points, and rebounds now that KD and Serge Ibaka are out of OKC. Al Jefferson looks like he is 45 years old, but at 31, he is just a year older than Al Horford. Though he battled health issues and didn't get to play much last year, per 36 minutes his level of production was right in the ballpark with his career trends of great scoring, solid rebounding, and serviceable shot blocking.
33-year old Tyson Chandler is the wildcard. The former Defensive Player of the Year has been an intimidating presence in the paint since 2001 and has always hauled in mass rebounds. Last season in just 24.5 minutes per game he was still grabbing 8.7 boards per game. If he is feeling spry enough to take the floor for enough time, he could be a big contributor for blocks and rebounds.