Hopefully you guys have seen the 2012-13 season premier of NBA.com Fantasy Insider. If not, be sure to catch one of the re-airs on NBA TV — or watch the video clips right here on NBA.com.
With that promotional announcement out of the way, let’s get into my top 10 fantasy centers. But first, here’s a word or two about some of the centers who did not make the cut.
Andrew Bogut’s double-double, assist-block combo platter makes him a top 10 center when healthy … when healthy … when healthy …
The Nuggets showed Javale McGee the money in the offseason, but George Karl doesn’t seem ready to show him the floor. McGee is in a timeshare with Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov, if you can believe it.
The center position is very deep this year. I remain bullish on Kevin Garnett, Marcin Gortat, Roy Hibbert, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Nikola Pekovic and Omer Asik, but there wasn’t room for them in my top 10 because I like these centers just a little bit better …
1. Dwight Howard, Lakers: 19-12-4 in his Lakers’ debut. Any questions?
2. Al Jefferson, Jazz: Big Al was the second-ranked fantasy center across 8-cats a season ago and I see no reason to rank his near 20-10-2 line any differently.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, Kings: Cousins was the sixth-ranked 8-cat center last year. However, I see him vaulting over Marc Gasol and K.G. based on the fact that D.C. averaged nearly 20 and 11 after the All-Star break.
4. Andrew Bynum, 76ers: If Bynum were racking up double-doubles for the Sixers this preseason, instead of nursing a bone bruise, I would rank him as center 1a behind Dwight. But given the fact we’re still putting the words “Bynum” and “knee” in the same sentence causes me to drop him beneath Jefferson and Cousins.
5. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: Gasol contributes in every category except threes, and he’s tough as nails, willing himself to double-doubles despite injuries that would keep Chris Kaman out for weeks.
6. Chris Bosh, Heat: Bosh is embracing the center role with which he and the Heat won the ring last year. I don’t know if he gets all the way back to 20-10, but it’ll be close.
7. Al Horford, Hawks: Very tough call between Horford and Greg Monroe, who project around 15-10-3 with nice percentages and decent D. But Horford has more upside both on the offensive end (more shots with Joe Johnson in Brooklyn?) and defensive end (Horford is 1.1 career bpg; Monroe is 0.6).
8. Greg Monroe, Pistons: Monroe IS the 2012-13 Detroit Pistons, so look for more continued improvement across the board. I wish he blocked more shots, but bigs like Chris Bosh and David West have had terrific value for years despite that shortcoming.
9. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: D.J. has been my biggest preseason riser because he doesn’t look good … or even great … he looks AWESOME! He lulled me sound-to-sleep with his sluggish finish to last season. But his weight is down, his involvement is up and the activity is better than ever. This new-and-improved D.J. will contend for the blocks title and provide consistent double-doubles all year.
10. Brook Lopez, Nets: The 19-and-9 thing in the preseason is a throwback to Lopez before the foot problems, when he was a fantasy force. To me, there’s just more upside with Lopez than there is with guys like Garnett, Gortat, Hibbert, Chandler and Noah.
Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.
HANG TIME, Texas – It was a good summer for Big Ben, the iconic symbol of London, still ringing loudly 153 years after its construction along the banks of the Thames.
The question is how much more ticking is left in iconic Big Ben Wallace of DEE-troit BAS-KET-ball! and whether it makes sense to bring the soon-to-be 38-year-old back at a time when the Pistons are striding toward the future.
On one hand, he averaged just 1.3 rebounds and 1.4 points and 15.8 minutes in 37 games last season. On the other, he could step in an right away become the best big man and inside force behind Greg Monroe.
In his PistonPowered blog at the Detroit Free Press, Patrick Hayes acknowledges that newcomers Andre Drummond and Slava Kravstov will need time to develop. He presents the pros and cons of the decision facing general manager Joe Dumars and comes down on the side of a 17th NBA season for Wallace:
I’m not big on the symbolic, mentor type narrative, though. I think Wallace is a positive influence in that regard, but I think his presence on the roster offers something more important. Namely, I don’t think it’s the right move to hand rotation spots to untested players. I think teams that are the best at player development are the teams that make young players earn their spot by beating out an incumbent for minutes. (more…)
The time for waiver watching is over, but we’re back to wrap up this season’s blog with my All-Waiver team — plus, my picks for the reality awards.
C – Nikola Pekovic: Pek proved he’s a legit NBA center, averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.9 minutes, while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the line.
PF – Ryan Anderson: The NBA leader in threes by a mile over second-place Jason Terry, Anderson was the Pickup of the Year.
SF – Ersan Ilyasova: Andrew Bogut’s broken ankle and eventual trade opened up 27.4 minutes per game for Ilyasova, who averaged 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds with a shade under 1.0 in blocks, steals, and threes.
SG – Nicolas Batum: Speaking of fantasy gold, Batum was one of two players in the NBA this season to average at least 1.0 in blocks (1.0), steals (1.0), and threes (1.8). The other wears #35 for OKC.
PG – Jeremy Lin: Lin’s meteoric rise might go down as the top story of the 2011-12 regular season, and had he not gotten hurt, he might have passed Anderson for Pickup of the Year.
MVP - LeBron James: I’m going with LeBron over Durant for two reasons: the Heat are 14-1 without Dwyane Wade (as of Sunday) and LeBron shot a career-high 53 percent from the field.
ROY – Kyrie Irving: The moment Ricky Rubio went down, this was Irving’s trophy, thanks in large part to sharp shooting from the field (.468), line (.872), and three-point line (.398).
MIP – Greg Monroe: I looked hard at Anderson, Roy Hibbert and DeMarcus Cousins, but settled on Monroe for upgrading in virtually every category, including scoring (9.4 to 15.5), rebounding (7.5 to 9.7), and free-throw shooting (62 to 74 percent), despite a meager minutes increase of 27.8 to 31.6.
DPOY – Serge Ibaka: Ibaka dominates the league at 3.7 blocks per game, while #2 is Javale McGee at 2.2. C’mon…the dude had a triple-double with blocks!
Sixth Man – James Harden: Duh…
COY – Lionel Hollins: I thought the Grizzlies were done when Zach Randolph went down in the first week, but thanks to Hollins’ leadership the Grizz have challenged for home-court advantage in the West all season.
Thanks for the eyes, basketball fans. See ya on the air and on the road during the playoffs, what a wild ride it’s gonna be…
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Two years ago we adopted the Memphis (Hang Time) Grizzlies and have watched them blossom into one of the league’s most exciting and promising outfits.
Now that they are all grown up, we’re on the hunt for a new team to adopt here at the hideout, another team that might be on the verge of big things in the near future.
With several candidates on each side of the conference divide, our first look is at the Detroit Pistons. They are promising young bunch, led by Lawrence Frank and his staff in their first year in the Motor City.
They’re already out of the playoff mix this year, which means they’ll have a chance to add yet another quality young piece in the June Draft this year to go along with a young cast that includes a potential future All-Star in Greg Monroe as well Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko, and Rodney Stuckey (they also have two HT faves in veterans Tayshaun Prince and Damien Wilkins).
They could be close to a breakthrough season, and depending on where they land in the lottery, that could breakthrough could come sooner rather than later for a young crew that’s working hard at it …
Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Which snubbed All-Star has the best case for going to the All-Star Game next weekend?
Steve Aschburner: Let’s see, Ryan Anderson might be in town so … look, what with the GOP debates, the price of gasoline and some of those outfits at the Grammys, my outrage needle is on “E” by the time I get to All-Star (ahem) snubs. But Atlanta’s Josh Smith has had a nice season and could be a helpful replacement pick if the East needs one. From the West, Golden State’s Monta Ellis seems like a perfect All-Star Game player – and he could justify a trip to Orlando as a way to bend Dwight Howard’s ear a little about the merits of playing in a different O-town.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Nobody. While there were several deserving candidates who did not get invitations to Orlando – Josh Smith, Rudy Gay, Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, Monta Ellis, Kyle Lowry – there are no glaring oversights this season. No snubs. Just close calls who did not make it.
Shaun Powell: Has someone come up with an injury yet? Because there can’t be an All-Star addition without a subtraction. That said, Josh Smith (if he didn’t kill his chances with his “kiss enough butt” comment) is likely in the East, while Rudy Gay is on deck in the West. Seeing how injuries are the story of this lockout season, somebody will pull a muscle in 3 … 2… 1 …
John Schuhmann:Other than Jeremy Lin? If stats are what you’re looking for, Greg Monroe is the biggest snub. He’s got better raw numbers than any other center (East or West) not named Dwight Howard. The problem is that his team stinks and he hasn’t yet learned how to be a defensive anchor at 6-foot-11. So I’ll go with Kyle Lowry, who’s the engine for a team that is overachieving in the Western Conference. His shooting numbers aren’t pretty, but the Rockets are so much better when he’s on the floor than when he’s not.
Sekou Smith: First and foremost, there are always going to be guys who feel like they were snubbed during this process because there is no set criteria for All-Star selections when it comes to the reserves. The coaches have their own set of values they use to decide, values that I have already questioned openly. For my money, Hawks forward Josh Smith was the most egregious omission from the list followed closely by Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry, Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, Jazz forward Paul Millsap and Warriors guard Monta Ellis.
HANG TIME, TEXAS – The Bulls won more games than any other team in the league a year ago. The Bulls have the second-best record in the NBA this season. The Bulls have the President of the United States talking about welcoming them to the White House next year to celebrate a championship. The Bulls have the reigning MVP Derrick Rose playing like he’s ready to go back-to-back.
So are there really any questions about the Bulls?
Well, as our good friend Sam Smith of Bulls.com points out, maybe just one:
But it would be nice, also, if someone could score some points.
Yes, Derrick Rose, despite increasing defensive pressure, had 22 points and eight assists. And Carlos Boozer had one of his best games as a Bull with 23 points on nine of 13 shooting and eight rebounds, including a dive on the floor for a loose ball and aggressive fronting the post on Greg Monroe, which we don’t often see from Boozer.
That sort of play enabled the Bulls not only never to trail in beating the Pistons for the 13th straight time, but with an 18-3 run to start the fourth quarter with mostly reserves playing the Bulls broke open a game they controlled but primarily with leads around 10 points.
The Bulls Monday started their lone three in three nights set and are about halfway through playing nine games in 12 nights with nine of the first 13 of the season on the road. Though everyone has scheduling like that to play through this season.
So it doesn’t fully answer whether this Bulls team can score enough to truly be taken seriously.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Nothing warms the cockles of a Piston fan’s heart more than the memory of an Isiah Thomas jump-shot dagger or a Bill Laimbeer cheap-shot forearm to the back of a head.
Perhaps nothing would rekindle interest in the team and put fans back into the seats at The Palace than a return to the Bad Boys’ attitude as new owner Tom Gores plans to make the first significant hire of his regime. But how long would the Bad Boys II really go to resurrecting the once-proud franchise?
It’s an interesting debate that’s currently taking place in the Motor City and it has a pair of long-time, well-respected columnists from The Detroit News on opposite sides of the fence.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Things have gone from bad to worse for the Detroit Pistons after Thursday’s trade deadline.
Several Pistons missed this morning’s shootaround practice in Philadelphia in some sort of “player protest” against coach John Kuester, per the Detroit Free Press.
Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox all missed the shootaround. But that’s just the start. More from the Vince Ellis of the Free Press:
Team spokesman Cletus Lewis said Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye missed the team bus as well, but they did arrive toward the end of the media session.
Lewis said McGrady had a headache, Prince had an upset stomach and Hamilton and Wilcox missed the bus from the team hotel.
Ben Wallace also missed the shootaround. Lewis said Wallace was dealing with a family matter. Wallace has missed games and practices over the past month because of the issue.
Only Greg Monroe, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell and DaJuan Summers were full participants in the morning shootaround.
Sources indicated that the discontent is directed at Pistons coach John Kuester, who has clashed with players repeatedly this season. The organization downplayed the absences, insisting Prince and McGrady were ill.
One source, who asked not to be identified, said he didn’t know what the next step would be, and didn’t say who organized the absences. But he said it was an organized protest, with some players deciding it was best to show up anyway.
Has it come to this for the Pistons?
Have things really gotten this bad for this Kuester, who said he will go with whoever is available for tonight’s game against the Sixers?
Maybe the players thought there was going to be some mass exodus at the trade deadline. And when that didn’t happen, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Either way, this is a disastrous start to the stretch run of the season for a Pistons team that certainly didn’t need any more distractions.
LAS VEGAS — Pistons rookie Greg Monroe saved his best for last.
After a slow start to his Summer League, Monroe left on a high.
“I just became more comfortable, settled in and got in the groove,” said Monroe, who had 27 points and 14 rebounds as the Pistons fell 92-80 to the Raptors in their finale. “The main thing is I got better. … I got more aggressive. I need to work on my rebounding and defensively I need to get better. But I think I’m leaving better than when I came in.”
Monroe, a 6-foot-11 center out of Georgetown known for his slick passing ability, fell to the Pistons at No. 7 in June’s Draft. Detroit’s Summer League coach, Pat Sullivan left smiling over Monroe’s improvement in the five-game period.
“I was just really impressed with the way he got better as the week progressed,” Sullivan said. “I think early on he was just trying to be a passer but as the week went on he was more aggressive trying to score the ball. Today, I thought you saw a variety of ways he can score. He was pushing the ball coast-to-coast, he was facing up and making jumpshots, he hit 15-footers, he got to the line, got to the basket. He did so many nice things scoring the ball. I think everyone knows what a good passer he is, I was just really impressed with the way he got stronger as the week went on. Usually it’s the other way around.”
Monroe started his time in Vegas slowly, scoring in double digits once in the Pistons’ first three games. In the final two, though, Monroe was more aggressive, tallying 20 points and six rebounds Wednesday followed by Friday’s impressive 27-point, 14-rebound finale.
“Every game I’m trying to be aggressive,” Monroe said. “It was just about me becoming comfortable and knowing how to pick my spots and make my plays.”
Teammate Jonas Jerebko, now in his second year, made a splash with the Pistons last season, earning second-team All-Rookie Team honors thanks in large part to his work ethic and aggressiveness.
“Greg’s a great pick for us,” Jerebko said. “Greg is a great passer and when you throw it in there, he’s gonna find you when you’re open and that’s something we really need. He’s definitely going to contribute.”
So what does Sullivan see for Monroe in his rookie season?
“Greg’s obviously a very, very skilled player,” Sullivan said. “Does he have a chance to be great? Absolutely.”