Here are the Top 10 centers of the 2012-13 NBA season. These rankings are applied for use in the head to head format. The standard nine categories of points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, three-point shots made, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers committed.
The numeric ratings next to each player are based on “Wins Above Replacement Player”, or WARP, a formula to gauge a player’s value if they were to replace the average player on a fantasy team.
1. Anderson Varejao, CLE (0.68) – WHAT?! Anderson Varejao? Sideshow Bob? Yes, that’s right. On a per-game basis, Anderson Varejao is the best center for the 2012-13 NBA season. Right off the bat, the big elephant in the room caveat needs to be mentioned:
If you haven’t been playing fantasy basketball very long, or paid much attention to Varejao’s game, you might not have noticed that he is one of the most injury prone players in the league. In fact, he has only played 60 games or more in 3 out of his 9 seasons. And he has only played 1 more game in the past 3 seasons combined than Marc Gasol has this season alone (81 vs. 80).
There, now that you have the bad news, here’s the good news. When he was on the court this year, Varejao was KILLING it. His averages: 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 47.8% FG%, 75.5% FT%, and 1.8 turnovers. He’s basically Kevin Love with no threes, and a few more assists. And his average draft position (ADP)? 88th in ESPN leagues, 80th in Yahoo leagues.
In other words, he’s the ultimate gamble. Don’t expect him to be available in the 8th round next year, but around the 4th to 5th round seems reasonable. Is the price worth the risk? It’s up to you to decide.
2. Marc Gasol, MEM (0.66) – With the perspective of the entire season, on a cumulative basis, Marc Gasol is the #1 center. Playing in all but 2 games of this season, he’s a much more reliable option than Varejao. Arguably the most well-rounded center in the league, Gasol does a bit of everything, with averages of 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks, 49.4% FG%, 84.8% FT%, and 2.0 turnovers. The only category he doesn’t contribute in is threes – but no one on this list does.
3. Joakim Noah, CHI (0.66) – Noah gives you a bit more of the traditional center stats than Gasol, with averages of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.1 blocks. He actually has the same WARP as Gasol, providing more value in blocks and rebounds than points and FT%. Noah is also more of an injury risk (64 games played this year) and has a chronic problem with plantar fasciitis which has clung on to him through the playoffs. Draft accordingly.
4. Al Horford, ATL (0.65) – With the departure of Iso-Joe, Horford took on a much larger scoring role this year. And he did it well – 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks, 64.4% FT%, 54.3% FG% (14.3 attempts). That last stat is the important one – Horford was the 3rd best player for FG% purposes last year (behind only Lebron and Dwight Howard). Drawing a parallel to Pokemon, if Marc Gasol is Bulbasaur (well rounded) and Joakim Noah is Squirtle (defense), then Al Horford is Charmander (offense). I sincerely hope that analogy made sense, or else I’m vastly underestimating the age of our audience. If that’s the case, my apologies.
5. Al Jefferson, UTA (0.63) – Utah shocked everyone in the league this past trade deadline, when they failed to trade both Jefferson and Paul Millsap, both who are impending free agents next season, while they already had their two big men for the future in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. This past year, his averages of 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.1 blocks on 49.4% FG% and 77% FT% were dependable. His stats are a lot like Al Horford’s, except trading some of Horford’s great FG% for better FT%. Nobody knows where he’s going next year, but his value will depend on where he lands.
6. Brook Lopez, BRK (0.52) – The 7-footer-too-lazy-to-rebound returned this year from a 5-game season last year (foot injury) to a new and revamped Brooklyn Nets team, sporting averages of 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 52.1% FG%, and 75.8% FT%. Lopez scores the most points of any (real) center in the league, and he does it well. He has the lowest steals average of those on this list (0.4) but he makes up for it with his blocks. Now he just has to revamp his rebounding.
7. Kevin Garnett, BOS (0.45) – This guy is still playing? I feel like KG, Pierce, Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker keep getting disrespected every year at the draft for being old, and then turn in a monster season and have everyone wondering when they’ll finally fall off. Well, that might actually happen according to Bill Simmons if KG decides to finally retire. He’s far from retirement-level in fantasy though, turning in 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks, 49.6% FG%, and 78.6% FT% this year.
8. Dwight Howard, LAL (0.38) – Superman took a pretty big hit this year in value despite a trade to a potential all-star team in the Lakers. Posting his lowest scoring average in 7 years (17.1 points) he rounded out his stat line with 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 57.8% FG%, and 49.2% FG%. That’s right, his free throw percentage was actually worse than his field goal percentage. That little number right there is the main factor holding down his value in both fantasy and real life, as teams force the Hack-A-Dwight strategy late in fourth quarters.
9. DeMarcus Cousins, SAC (0.38) – Boogie was expected to take a big leap this year in both maturity and stats, though he accomplished neither. In fact, he accumulated less points (17.1) and rebounds (9.9) than last year, and led the league in technical fouls (17). His FT% is not as bad as Dwight’s (73.8%) but his FG% is downright awful for a center (46.5%), who should be taking mostly close range shots near the rim. In fact, he has the lowest FG% on this list. He is only in his third year however, so the upside is still very much there.
10. Tyson Chandler, NYK (0.37) – The defensive anchor for the new-look Knicks, on the other hand, has the highest FG% on this list (63.8%) and in the league. Unfortunately, it only comes on 6.1 shots a game, so the effect is not large. His other stats include 10.4 points,10.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers. Chandler is a solid all-around role player that’s good at what he does, and that is to be a force on defense and efficient on offense.