2011 Fantasy Center Rankings

Center has become an extremely compartmentalized position.

If a player is a certain size and eight, possesses just one skill, there is a roster space available.

The two largest free agent deals this off season went to centers that haven’t went to an All-Star game or carry their franchise. One center signed a new deal paying him over $10 million a year even though he attempted just 12 shots out of the post last season.

Perhaps the biggest draft bust in league history signed a free agent deal paying him $7 million this season.

Only four players projected to start at center have ever appeared in an All-Star game, so finding consistent production will be a challenge for fantasy owners.

30. Hasheem Thabeet– Houston Rockets

Dealt from Memphis just 20 months after being the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Thabeet has yet to make an impact in a professional game. In 45 appearances last season, Thabeet failed to score in double figures, grab more than six rebounds and even with his 7-foot-3 frame, didn’t block more than two shots.

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29. DeSagana Diop– Charlotte Bobcats

Over the past two seasons, Diop only appeared in 43 games, but he managed just 52 points, 105 rebounds, 29 blocks and connected on just 6-of-20 free throw attempts. Diop, the eighth overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, has a career average of just 2.1 points per game.

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28. Joel Anthony– Miami Heat

A capable shot blocker, Anthony’s fantasy value is not only limited by his superstar teammates, but his inability to remain on the floor. Anthony averaged just 19.5 minutes per game and he exceeded 30 minutes just 11 times in 75 appearances.

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27. Spencer Hawes– Philadelphia 76ers

Last season Hawes snared the starting position away from Marreese Speights in training camp. Even though he has three-point range, Hawes shot just 53.4% from the foul line. Hawes averaged 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

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26. Jermaine O’Neal– Boston Celtics

Several knee injuries have limited his production to the point he considered retirement during the off-season. Limited to just 24 games last season, O’Neal averaged 5.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, the lowest totals since his rookie season, while limited to just 18 minutes per game.

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25. Kwame Brown– Golden State Warriors

Desperate for a defensive presence, Golden State inked Brown to a one-year deal. The former first overall pick has yet to average over 10 rebounds, block 1.5 shots or score 11 points per game in a season, but with so few available centers, Golden State is hoping he can produce a few games like the 23 point, 13 rebound performance he had against the Heat.

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24. Brendan Haywood– Dallas Mavericks

Slated to earn $7.6 million this season, Haywood was reduced to a reserve role for the first time since his debut season. Even though his playing time was limited to just 18.5 minutes per game, he remained an effective rebounder, averaging 5.2 per game and he grabbed 10 or more rebounds on nine occasions a year ago.

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23. Tiago Splitter– San Antonio Spurs

Finally making his debut after being selected 28th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, Splitter proved to be an efficient post player for San Antonio. His 18 point, five rebound, two block and two assist performance against Cleveland showcased his all-around abilities.

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22. Kendrick Perkins– Oklahoma City Thunder

Added to the Thunder roster at mid-season to solidify its front court, the presence of Perkins enabled Serge Ibaka to become the most ferocious shot blocker in the league. During his 17 games in Oklahoma City, Perkins averaged 5.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game.

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21. Darko Milicic– Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota was seeking a defensive presence in the middle and surprisingly, Milicic was able to deliver. The lone bust of the 2003 NBA Draft class, Milicic was able to tune out the criticism and average 2.03 blocks per game, the fifth highest average in the league.

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20. DeAndre Jordan– Los Angeles Clippers

After agreeing to a four-year deal with Golden State, Jordan, a restricted free agent, had his contract matched by the Clippers. The deal significantly bumped up his pay, and expectations this season. Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebound and 1.8 blocks, but now a starter, is expected to have a breakout season.

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19. Chris Kaman– New Orleans Hornets

New Orleans is hoping Kaman can return to his All-Star form, when he averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Injuries have taken their toll on the 7-foot Kaman, the latest being a left ankle injury that limited him to just 32 appearances last season, is now fully healed.

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18. Anderson Varejao– Cleveland Cavaleirs

The entire Cleveland roster was decimated by injuries last season and after losing Varejao for the season, its 19 win season seemed almost inevitable. A high-energy player, Varejao averaged 9.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and is expected to have a significant impact for the Cavaliers this year

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17. Marcus Camby– Portland Trail Blazers

While his scoring is almost non-existent, Camby was still able to secure significant playing time last season because of his 10.3 rebound average and his tremendous shot blocking ability. Against Boston, Camby was held scoreless, but still managed nine rebounds and four blocks in just 21 minutes.

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16. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons

Selected seventh overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, Monroe quickly proved to be a steal. Showcasing his ability late in the year, Monroe finished with seven consecutive double-figure scoring efforts and finished the season with 21 double-doubles.

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15. Marcin Gortat– Phoenix Suns

Finally receiving significant minutes after being a backup in Orlando for three and a half seasons, Gortat quickly proved he deserved a starting job. He finished the season with seven 20-point efforts, 24 double-doubles and closed the year with a 21 point, 13 rebound effort during a victory over San Antonio.

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14. Tyson Chandler– New York Knicks

Chandler wasn’t courted by the Knicks because of what he could do as a fantasy player. New York was in desperate need of someone to establish a defensive culture on the team and his rebounding ability, especially in the uptempo offense employed by the team, will be a welcome addition.

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13. Roy Hibbert– Indina Pacers

The Indiana center spent part of his time during the lockout training with Tim Duncan hoping to improve his post game. Coming off a career year that saw him average 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, the 7-foot-2 Hibbert is hoping to become a larger part of the offensive attack.

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12. Andrew Bynum– Los Angeles Lakers

Suspended for the first five games of the season because of his hit on Jose Barea during last year’s post season, Bynum has missed significant time each of the past four seasons. Effective when he is on the floor, the Lakers are just hoping he can keep up with the hectic pace of this year’s schedule.

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11. JaVale McGee– Washington Wizards

During the Slam Dunk contest, McGee was able to display his tremendous athleticism. A talented shot blocker, creative dunker and high energy player, McGee’s biggest set back is often himself. McGee averaged 10.1 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 27 minutes per game.

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10. Andrea Bargnani– Tornto Raptors

Only two centers averaged over 20 points per game last season and surprisingly, one played north of the border. Bargnani poured in 21.6 points per game, recorded nine games with at least 30 points, but manged just two double-doubles.

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9. Andrew Bogut– Milwaukee Bucks

Bogut was able to recover from his gruesome elbow injury to lead the league in blocks last season. His 11.1 rebounds per game were a career-high but he simply isn’t the same offensive player. Bogut shot 49.5% from the field, the lowest percentage of his career, but his injury is most evident at the foul line, where he connected on just 44.2% of his attempts.

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8. Nene– Denver Nuggets

Denver retained its starting center by agreeing to a five-year $67 million deal with Nene. He averaged 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, two assists and one block, shot a league-high 61.5% from the field. While each of these numbers are solid, it will be difficult for Nene to live up to the type of contract given to franchise players.

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7. Brook Lopez– New Jersey Nets

Last season it appeared as if Lopez was running away from rebounds. Averaging a career-low six rebounds per game, Lopez seemed content to let Kris Humphries chase down every loose ball. If he can once again become aggressive around the rim, Lopez has tremendous fantasy potential.

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6. Marc Gasol– Memphis Grizzlies

A strong performance in the post season turned Gasol into a commodity this off season. Heavily pursued by the Rockets, Memphis quickly matched his contract to keep him in its front court. Gasol averaged 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

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5. DeMarcus Cousins– Sacramento Kings

Cousins has the potential to become the most dominant center in the Western Conference. Logging 26 double-doubles during his rookie season, the Kings are hoping his 14.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 averages are just the beginning of a promising career.

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4. Joakim Noah– Chicago Bulls

The embodiment of a modern center, Noah has been able to dominate defensively, create his own shot opportunities simply by crashing the boards and doesn’t complain about his role in the offense. Noah averaged 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and one steal per game.

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3. Al Horford– Atlanta Hawks

Selected to consecutive All-Star games, Horford is among the most under-appreciated players in the league. The 24-year-old led Atlanta with 36 double-doubles as he averaged 15.3 points on 55.7% shooting from the field along with 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and one block per game.

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2. Al Jefferson– Utah Jazz

Jefferson quietly put together one of the most solid seasons in the league last year. Averaging 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, he was one of the few bright spots for the Jazz. Utah has plenty of front court depth and the additional talent will continue to push Jefferson.

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1. Dwight Howard– Orlando Magic

Uncertainty remains about where he will end the season, but there is no question about what Howard is capable of producing. The Defensive Player of the Year for the past three seasons averaged a career best 22.9 points per game to become the most unstoppable player around the rim.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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