2012 Fantasy Center Rankings

As fans tuned into the NBA Finals in record numbers, what really was on display was the minimization of the center.

For both Oklahoma City and Miami, production from the center position was irrelevant, as Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf, the only true centers on the Heat roster combined to play just five minutes. 

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins served a much more prominent role on his team, averaging 26.8 minutes per game during the regular season, but in five Finals contests, logged over 25 minutes just once.

To try and compete with the athleticism of both teams, Los Angeles turned itself into a contender by dealing for the most dominant center in the league, while New Orleans hopes it found a franchise center with the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

30. Omer Asik– Houston Rockets

The Rockets are hoping its gamble on Asik is worthwhile. Houston offered Asik a back loaded three-year $25.1 million deal, with $14.9 million coming in the final season, a ton of money for a player that logged over 30 minutes just three times in his two-year career. Asik served as a valuable defensive contributor off the bench, but with an offensive game that included just four shots from outside of the paint all season and 15.4 percent of his field goal attempts were blocked.

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29. Joel Anthony– Miami Heat

The search for a long term solution for the Heat continues. Miami has invited Mickell Gladness, Justin Hamilton and Josh Harrellson, bringing the total of players in training camp to 18. While Anthony’s offense is clearly limited, as he attempted just seven shots outside of the paint for the entire season, he did account for 48 percent of Miami’s blocks while he was on the floor.

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28. Brendan Haywood– Charlotte Bobcats

There is little Haywood offers fantasy owners, as he attempted just four field goals per game. Haywood signed with Charlotte this off-season and is expected to provide a defensive impact that is sorely needed, but the 7-footer averaged just one block per game. Offensively, there isn’t much for fantasy owners as 14.5 percent of his touches result in a turnover and he shot a dismal 46.9 percent from the foul line.

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27. Meyers Leonard– Portland Trail Blazers

The 20-year-old center is hoping to earn some recognition in Portland. Leonard was dropping off his moving truck, the attendant advised him he should play basketball and that other Trail Blazers had shopped there previously. Portland is in desperate need of production from the center position and Leonard is hoping to avoid the injury bug that has plagued so many first round picks before him.

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26. Gustavo Ayon– Orlando Magic

Apparently centers just don’t like suiting up for the Magic. Aside from the departures of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard to Los Angeles, Ayon may already be plotting an escape to Europe. Orlando has unsuccessfully tried to convince Fran Vazquez, the 11th overall pick from the 2005 NBA Draft, to play in the NBA. Ayon faces the difficult task of replacing Howard after averaging 5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks as a rookie in New Orleans.

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25. Kendrick Perkins– Oklahoma City Thunder

Twelve times Perkins grabbed 10 or more rebounds, but the 6-foot-10 Perkins logged just two double-doubles all season. Oklahoma City has lofty goals for the summer of 2013 and while Perkins intends to be the anchor in the middle, his style of play doesn’t translate well for fantasy owners as he posted 5.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

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24. Emeka Okafor– Washington Wizards

The athleticism in Okafor’s game seems to have complete evaporated. Injuries limited him to just 27 games, but prior to his season coming to an end in February, he averaged career lows in scoring (9.9 points per game), rebounds (7.9), blocks (1.0) and he connected on just 51.4 percent of his free throws. Washington is hoping the eight-year veteran can bring some much needed experience to its roster.

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23. Boris Diaw– San Antonio Spurs

Any productivity from 3-point range out of the center position is a bonus. Revitalized after leaving Charlotte for San Antonio, Diaw connected on 61.5 percent of his 3-point attempts during the regular season and then shot 9-for-18 from beyond the arc in the post season. Diaw’s precision shooting wasn’t limited to long range, as he shot 58.8 percent from the field after joining the Spurs.

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22. Chris Kaman– Dallas Mavericks

The center position certainly hasn’t been a strong point for Dallas during its franchise history. Kaman provides a strong post presence, something the team has been lacking for years. Last season, he posted 15 double-doubles, averaged 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. The Mavericks just need him to remain healthy, as Kaman has played over 75 percent of the season just once in five years.

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21. Anderson Varejao– Cleveland Cavaliers

Varejao has played just 56 games over the past two seasons, but proved to be one of the most prolific rebounders in the game a year ago. A torn ankle tendon prevented him from contending for the rebound crown, as he averaged 11.5 per game, 4.4 on the offensive end, grabbed over 15 rebounds on five occasions while posting 14 double-doubles in 25 appearances.

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20. Drew Gooden– Milwaukee Bucks

The well traveled veteran may have finally found a home in Milwaukee. In 10 seasons, Gooden has played for nine teams, but was able to display his versatility with the Bucks. Gooden recorded a 15 point, 13 assist, 10 rebound effort against Cleveland, the second triple-double of his career and grabbed over 10 rebounds 13 times last year.

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19. Jonas Valanciunas– Toronto Raptors

The wait for Valanciunas is over. Toronto selected the 6-foot-11 center with the fifth overall pick last season and he spent the year playing out his contract for Lietuvos Rytas. Valanciunas played for Lithuania during the summer Olympics, averaging 4.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and he blocked three shots in six games. The Raptors desperately need productive from the center position and will give their highly touted prospect every opportunity to succeed.

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18. Andrew Bogut– Golden State Warriors

Bogut is still awaiting his debut with Golden State. Dealt to the Warriors last February in exchange for Monta Ellis, as the team is looking for a defensive presence to anchor the paint. Bogut led the league in blocks, swatting away 2.6 per game two years ago, but has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, playing over 70 games just twice in seven years.

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17. JaVale McGee– Denver Nuggets

In his first post season appearance, McGee thrived, averaging 3.1 blocks per game and grabbing at least 14 rebounds three times during the seven game series. McGee is an elite shot blocker, ranking second in the league with 132 rejections. By joining a playoff caliber team, something he didn’t experience in Washington, McGee’s blunders should be less frequent.

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16. Nikola Pekovic– Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota waited 10 games to give Pekovic an opportunity to start, an opportunity he seized. The 6-foot-11 Pekovic averaged 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 56.4 percent from the field. The Timberwolves need him to develop a more effective offensive game, as he shot 29 percent on all field goal attempts outside of the restricted zone.

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15. Joakim Noah– Chicago Bulls

When Noah is crashing the boards, the Bulls are an elite team. Chicago went 29-6 in games when he posts 10 or more rebounds and when 10-0 in contests when he finished with at least 14. During a victory over Cleveland, he posted his first career triple-double, totaling 13, points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

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14. DeAndre Jordan– Los Angeles Clippers

The blocks came in bulk last season for Jordan. Twenty five times he blocked at least three shots, including eight rejections in 30 minutes against the Warriors. While Jordan is a dominant shot blocker, his offensive game needs to be refined, as only 32 field goal attempts came outside of the restricted area.

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13. Roy Hibbert– Indiana Pacers

The Pacers matched a four-year $58 million offer from Portland to retain their 7-foot-2 center. Hibbert thrived during the post season, averaging 11.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. During each of his four seasons in the NBA, Hibbert’s point and rebound averages have increased, but he still hasn’t dominated on a consistent basis.

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12. Anthony Davis– New Orleans Hornets

The first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft received a crash course this summer as the reserve center on the United States Olympic team. By playing against the  best players in the world, and practicing with 11 All-Star caliber players each day, Davis should be as prepared as any rookie to enter the league. New Orleans selected the most prolific shot blocker, after he averaged 4.7 rejections per game as a freshman at Kentucky, to enter the league in over a decade.

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11. Marcin Gortat– Phoenix Suns

In the midst of its rebuilding effort, Phoenix has just one player it can heavily rely on. Gortat averaged a double-double in his first full season as a starter and proved to be one of the most efficient scores in the league, averaging 15.4 points on just 11.7 shot attempts per game. Without their All-Star point guard, the Suns will feature Gortat more than ever this season.

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10. Brook Lopez– Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn needs Lopez to provide an impact on the defensive end. After signing him to a four-year $60 million deal, the Nets need him to drastically improve the worst shot blocking team in the league. A right foot injury limited him to five games and the team suffered greatly, averaging 3.9 blocks per game and allowing opponents to shoot 47.2 percent from the field.

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9. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons

A potential All-Star, Monroe was one of the few bright spots for the Pistons last season. The team leader in scoring (15.4 points) and rebounding (9.7), he finished with 30 double-doubles. Monroe has missed just two games in two seasons and Detroit’s best hope as it looks to snap a four-year playoff drought.

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8. Al Horford– Atlanta Hawks

A shoulder injury couldn’t keep Horford out for the entire season. The two-time All-Star made just 11 regular season appearances and after sitting out Atlanta’s first three playoff games, he returned and averaged 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

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7. DeMarcus Cousins– Sacramento Kings

All the tools are there for Cousins to become an All-Star. The 6-foot-11 former Kentucky star averaged 18.1 points, 11 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, all significant increases from his rookie season, he just needs to play more disciplined. Cousins led the league in total fouls for the second straight year, fouled out of seven contests and drew 12 technical fouls, the second highest in the league.

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6. Marc Gasol– Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis incorporated Gasol into a more prominent role in its offense and the result was a selection to the All-Star game. As one of the most complete players at his position, Gasol averaged 14.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. One of the few centers capable of shooting from anywhere on the floor, Gasol connected on 38 percent of his attempts from 16-23 feet away from the rim.

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5. Tyson Chandler– New York Knicks

In his first season with the Knicks, Chandler made up for a majority of New York’s lapses on defense and became one of the most efficient offensive players in the league. The Defensive Player of the Year averaged 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and led the league by connecting on 67.9 percent of his shot attempts.

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4. Kevin Garnett– Boston Celtics

At the age of 36, Garnett has transformed from one of the best power forwards ever to play the game into a dominant center. A lethal mid-range shooter, 57.8 percent of his total shots came from outside of the paint, and he connected on 46 percent of those shots. Garnett averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and one block per game a year ago.

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3. Al Jefferson– Utah Jazz

The Jazz have a center capable of dominating the game in every aspect, except as a one-on-one defender. Jefferson can take control of any contest, such as his 28 point, 26 rebound effort during a triple overtime victory over Dallas, but Utah may trade him a way to rebuild its roster. Jefferson logged 31 double-doubles in 61 appearances.

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2. Andrew Bynum– Philadlephia 76ers

Bynum returns home after spending the first seven years of his career in Los Angeles. The Lakers shipped Bynum, a New Jersey native, to Philadelphia to clear room for the most dominant center in the NBA. At times, Bynum could be labeled the same, as he career highs in scoring average (18.7) and rebounding (11.8) and he was rewarded with his first All-Star appearance.

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1. Dwight Howard– Los Angeles Lakers

Once again the Lakers brought in the most dominant center and is hoping to turn Howard’s tremendous promise into championship success. Back surgery forced him to miss the entire post season and could potentially prevent him from suiting up on opening day, but once he steps onto the floor, there is little question he is the best center of his generation.

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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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