The lack of true centers in the NBA has completely blurred the line among the front court positions. Because of this, nearly every player listed at the power forward position on team rosters is also eligible as a center in fantasy basketball. Therefore I am combining the Power Forward and Center positions for the Three P’s.
Rankings are based on Yahoo! 9-cat league scoring (per Basketballmonster.com).
Markieff Morris (48TH among PF and C)
Opportunity is everything in fantasy hoops. As our own Ryan Knaus pointed out, only nine of the top 100 players from last season were not starters for their respective teams. With Channing Frye out of the picture, Markieff Morris should slide perfectly in to the starting power forward spot in an up-tempo offense with excellent guard play. His durability is exceptional as he has missed only 1 game in the past two seasons. If he can come close to his per 36 minutes numbers of:
18.6 PTS, 8.1 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.9 BLK, 48.6 FG%, 79.2 FT%, 0.6 3-PTM
He should definitely leap into the top-25 among power forwards and centers in the West. An improved three-point shot could see him climb even higher.
Enes Kanter (92ND among PF and C)
I thought about putting Favors in this category as well, but I am still holding onto a sliver of hope that he will come into his own as a young and very talented big man. He is already entering his fifth season, but last year was his first as a full-time starter. Kanter is in somewhat of the same boat, relatively young and the clear choice for the starting center spot for next season. But the identity of this team will be drastically different next season, and Kanter will not see a significant leap in production. The Jazz will be a perimeter-centric team, focusing on the scoring and shot creation of their young nucleus of Dante Exum, Trey Burke, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and specifically their max-player Gordon Hayward. All four of these guys should see solid minutes after the team jettisoned veterans Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams. Hayward also added 10 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason, so it would not be the least bit surprising if he played small-ball power forward, sliding Favors to the center spot, in crunch time. A huge increase in minutes is not in the cards for Kanter (26.7 last season) and he will likely provide nothing more than solid rebounding numbers and a decent field goal percentage. A late-round flier on Kanter is understandable, but I’d shy away from drafting him in 9-cat leagues.
Ryan Anderson – (12th among PF and C **ONLY 22 GP)
Anderson only played in 22 games last season, but he was in the perfect situation in New Orleans. He was on a team devoid of frontcourt depth with a transcendent talent at center in Anthony Davis; add the multitude of drive-and-kick guards on the Pelicans (his 20 games coincide with the 34 Jrue Holiday played) and Anderson’s jump shooting was allowed to flourish. He took 123 shots from between the rim and 14 feet (83 of which were from five feet or less) and shot 45.5 percent. He took 231 shots from 15 feet and beyond and shot 42.8 percent. This disparity shows that he was almost exclusively a jump-shooter, but impressively he was nearly as efficient from 15+ feet with over 100 more attempts. The signing of Omer Asik will limit Anderson’s role significantly, as the Pelicans would like to limit the amount of center Anthony Davis will have to play. Anderson will likely continue to provide above-average production in three-pointers made, but his 19.8 points and 6.5 rebounds will definitely take a dive. He’s still worth a mid-round pick, but hoping he can replicate his blistering 2013-2014 pace is a pipe dream.
John Henson (53rd among PF/C)
Henson is another young, talented piece that the Milwaukee Bucks are trying to nurture into a solid NBA contributor. His playing time was sporadic last season, as he played in 70 games, but only started 23. There’s also a question of front court rotation in Milwaukee, as Larry Sanders, Khris Middleton and Henson may all be vying for time at the PF and C spots. But if Henson can lock down a starter-type role, he can return solid fantasy value next season. Of all the months during the regular season, Henson only averaged 30 minutes per game in December. In 12 games played in December Henson posted a line of:
33.8 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 53.9 FG%, 63.8 FT%, 10.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 2.1 TO
(It is worth noting that Henson and Larry Sanders only played in the same game once in December)
Those numbers are also similar to Henson’s per-36 minutes stats from last season and would have easily placed Henson into the top-30 among PF and C. Projecting this kind of production over the course of a full season is risky, however, if Henson can secure a starter-type role he will be a solid late-round addition for fantasy owners.
Greg Monroe (47TH among PF/C)
Greg Monroe is a very talented big man, but his fantasy value may be capped playing alongside Andre Drummond. If the Detroit Pistons stay as constituted, with Drummond and Josh Smith being Monroe’s front court mates, it is difficult to envision any significant statistical leap in Monroe’s game. Based off his last few seasons, it is a safe bet that Monroe will contribute about 15-17 PPG, 9-11 RPG, and shoot 48-52 percent from the field, all three of which are above-average production among fantasy PF and C. Again, position ambiguity amongst front court players has hurt traditional big men in category scoring fantasy formats. Because more teams are using traditional small forwards as stretch 4’s, a guy like Monroe is devalued now more than ever because he fails to contribute in three-pointers made and assists. If he does not find a way to fix his troubles at the free throw line (65.7% last season) it is difficult to see Monroe vaulting into the top-30 in players eligible as power forwards or centers.
Joakim Noah (13TH among PF/C)
This is not an indictment of Noah as a player and the word plummet may be a bit harsh regarding his fantasy value. He is easily one of the best centers in the NBA, with a unique blend of defensive mobility and offensive creativity. With that said, the injury to Derrick Rose and the trading of Luol Deng left Noah as the Bulls’ best offensive player last season. The influx of offensive talent and creativity (hopefully healthy Rose, Mirotic, McDermott and Gasol) will likely cut into his 10.0 shot attempts per game, as well as his 5.4 assists per game (third among ALL PF or C eligible players). The addition of Gasol and Mirotic will also expand the front court rotation, which may lighten the 35.3 minutes per game (10th among all PF and C) Noah averaged last season. The real number to watch for is Noah’s rebounding totals. His 11.3 rebounds per game were the biggest boost to his fantasy value at a +2.14 clip (via basketballmonster). If his productivity on the boards drops to below double digits, it will impact his value significantly. I do not expect Noah’s production to completely fall off a cliff; he is still relatively young, very talented, and has a proven track record of being a very good fantasy center. However, I do think it will be difficult for him to crack the top-15 among power forwards and centers next season.