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Position Primer: Power Forward/Center

Justin Phan
Yahoo Sports

Position Primers: PG | SG | SF | FC

This year’s crop of big men is noticeably deeper than it’s ever been, with upwards of 25 power forwards and centers primed to come off the board by the end of the fourth round. The norm has shifted, and instead of reaching for a center early due to positional scarcity and the requisite Y! roster requirements, you’ll now find yourself passing up a few so you don’t end up with a roster full of them. To avoid redundancy, what you’ll find below are tiered rankings of any and all notable players with eligibility at power forward, center, or both.

By way of Basketball Monster, here’s a projection of the value distribution for the top 30 power forwards and centers this season:

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Position averages, top 25 power forwards in year-end Yahoo! rank
10-11 - 50% FG, 79% FT, 0.5 3PM, 17.2 PTS, 8.5 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.9 TO, 1.0 STL, 1.1 BLK
09-10 - 50% FG, 78% FT, 0.5 3PM, 17.4 PTS, 8.7 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.9 TO, 1.0 STL, 1.0 BLK

Position averages, top 25 centers in year-end Yahoo! rank
10-11 - 51% FG,74% FT, 0.2 3PT, 15.6 PTS, 9.2 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.7 TO, 0.8 STL, 1.3 BLK
09-10 - 52% FG, 74% FT, 0.3 3PT, 16.3 PTS, 9.5 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.9 TO, 0.8 STL, 1.2 BLK

The rankings below are for nine-category roto leagues. “ADP” numbers are as of 12/19 and “10-11” denotes a player’s year-end rank from the 2010-11 season

Tier 1 10-11 ADP NOTES
LeBron James 4 2.2 Will miss out on elite PGs at the 1-2 turn; LBJ's 7 APG becomes crucial
Tier 2 10-11 ADP NOTES
Pau Gasol 3 9.5 Lakers' anchor this year with Kobe hurt, Bynum suspended + injury-prone
Dwight Howard 54 6.7 Value comes down to settings; near impossible to account for his FT%
Kevin Love 5 5.1 Will only improve under Adelman; majority of his value invested in REB
Dirk Nowitzki 7 10.1 Only player to post top-10 total value in each of the past eight seasons
Carmelo Anthony 21 16.1 Is 42% 3PT sustainable? Added threes catapult him into first round
Tier 3 10-11 ADP NOTES
Al Jefferson 9 13.7 Iso-heavy ways discouraged under Sloan; 22/11/3 after coaching change
LaMarcus Aldridge 10 19.9 Developed post game, proved he could be THE guy; on cusp of stardom
Al Horford 18 18.5 Can do it all; post-break decline a concern - move to PF would be ideal
Amar'e Stoudemire 11 15.7 Jumped to 4th among PF's in block rate, but will lose REB to Chandler
Al Horford 18 18.5 Can do it all; post-break decline a concern - move to PF would be ideal
Gerald Wallace 53 26.0 Dramatic improvement in Portland; will thrive in new up-tempo system
Blake Griffin 85 16.3 Still a big question mark defensively, but so many possibilites with CP3
Josh Smith 27 21.9 Dominant defensive force; shot selection only thing holding him back
Rudy Gay 61 23.7 One of two to average one steal/block/three; top-10 value before injury
Tier 4 10-11 ADP NOTES
David Lee 52 29.4 Just about everything went wrong last season; due for bounce-back
Danny Granger 26 24.5 Loses even more looks with additions of West, Hill; efficiency drag
Brook Lopez 46 34.4 Suffered effects of mono for good portion of season; Deron only helps
Serge Ibaka 28 33.2 Undeniable talent level; mid-range game there, expect him to add more
Tier 5 10-11 ADP NOTES
Chris Bosh 36 39.5 Big drops in scoring/rebound rate; 19/8, plus- efficiency plenty valuable
Nene Hilario 42 39.2 Efficient scorer who's perhaps too unselfish; 30.5 mpg just inexplicable
Zach Randolph 33 31.8 Made a few major improvements in rebound rate, efficiency, assist rate
Greg Monroe 86 49.6 Still has a ways to go, but a great passer for his size; better suited at PF
Paul Millsap 25 33.2 Hesitant to buy into career year; not thrilled about potential move to SF
Joakim Noah 122 43.2 62 missed games over last two seasons; still improving offensively
Tier 6 10-11 ADP NOTES
Channing Frye 29 53.2 Had an off-year by his standards but still avg'd 2.2 3PM, top-40 value
Marcin Gortat 64 52.4 Can do more than finish PNRs; 44% beyond 10 ft could open up game
Andrew Bogut 108 59.1 Value, mid-range game all hinge on that surgically-repared right elbow
JaVale McGee 59 65.4 Near identical per-36 averages as Ibaka; difference is focus, attitude
Marc Gasol 32 54.2 Defers a bit too much; entering prime but capped ceiling w/ Z-Bo, Gay
Elton Brand 20 52.0 Not buying the resurgence at 32; hit a fluky 49% of shots from 10-15 ft
Tier 7 10-11 ADP NOTES
Kevin Garnett 24 49.8 Will be on a minutes watch; can his knees hold up w/ condensed sked?
Andrew Bynum 126 70.1 Already suspended five games; Lakers will lean on him more than usual
Tim Duncan 35 60.9 Declining and on minutes watch, but could be great value at a bargain
David West 47 48.1 Loses his bread and butter pick-and- pop w/ CP3; coming off torn ACL
Andray Blatche 101 69.8 Great buy-low candidate; usually dramatically better after All-Star break
Lamar Odom 34 65.9 Career-highs in FG%, 3PT% will regress; versatility will be huge for DAL
Carlos Boozer 151 63.4 Less than 60 GP in 4 of last 7 years; has to rediscover mid-range game
Boris Diaw 66 97.4 Led all PF's in pure point ratio; will get all the minutes he can handle
Tier 8 10-11 ADP NOTES
Andrea Bargnani 102 68.9 Combo forward miscast as a center; shooting %%'s should normalize
Luis Scola 70 75.8 Dalembert will hurt efforts on glass, but perenial threat to crack top-75
Anderson Varejao 229 110.4 Criminally underrated big man; developing offensive game, mid-range J
Ryan Anderson 105 130.9 Three-point gunner also solid on offensive glass; rank inflated by TO's
Thaddeus Young 68 126.2 Only 23 and still plenty of room for growth; avg'd 11.6 pts per 40 at rim
Hedo Turkoglu 71 84.2 Still deadly off the catch from deep; 2nd amongst SF's in pure point rating
DeAndre Jordan 135 113.9 Lob City stand up; will likely lead the league in FG% with CP3 on board
Roy Hibbert 96 79.0 Cut foul rate but asthma limits minutes; takes way too many long twos
Kris Humphries 93 97.7 Re-upped for a year in NJ; still remains one of league's best rebounders
Tier 9 10-11 ADP NOTES
Antawn Jamison 132 79.1 Want no part of him, but dearth of scorers in CLE keeps him relevant
Corey Maggette 231 120.3 See: Jamison, Antawn
Tyson Chandler 67 87.6 76 missed games in the last 3 yrs; career-high %%'s will surely regress
Emeka Okafor 117 97.6 Posted career-high TS%; no CP3 means more looks, but less quality
Samuel Dalembert 115 128.8 Lands in HOU where he'll fit in just fine; elite rebounder, shot blocker
DeMarcus Cousins 186 87.7 Talent level is undeniable, but maturity level and inefficiency still issues
Tier 9 10-11 ADP NOTES
Tyrus Thomas 217 131.9 Will finally get his shot to start after being inexplicably buried on bench
Andrei Kirilenko 87 116.4 Worth speculating on in case he ends up in NJ; plenty of AST/REB/BLK
Ed Davis 153 137.7 Needs to be far more assertive in Year 2 to make the leap (12.1% usage)
Derrick Williams N/A 123.5 Inability to guard opposing SF's limits him to PF, where Love resides
Amir Johnson 65 139.2 Still needs to cut foul rate, but efficient scorer who draws a lot of fouls
Kendrick Perkins 338 132.0 Looking svelte these days; shed about 30 pounds over the off-season
Brendan Haywood 326 140.1 Steps into hole left by Chandler's departure; poor FT% main drawback
Brandon Bass 128 138.0 Should see plenty of minutes as part of woefully thin Boston frontcourt
Shawn Marion, Grant Hill, Austin Daye, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, Chris Kaman, Rashard Lewis, DeJuan Blair, Patrick Patterson, Charlie Villanueva, Al Harrington, J.J. Hickson, Josh McRoberts, Ersan Ilyasova, Jonas Jerebko, Drew Gooden
Marcus Camby, Darko Milicic, Carl Landry, Glen Davis, Derrick Favors, Robin Lopez, Kenneth Faried, Tristan Thompson, James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, Tiago Splitter, Shawne Williams, Matt Bonner, Ekpe Udoh
Players to Target

JaVale McGee - Though Ibaka is clearly the superior player of the two, we’re only concerned with numbers here and, well, their per-36 minute averages are strikingly similar. The only real difference is that McGee was markedly worse from the free-throw line at 59 percent. Is that alone worth the near-three round difference in their ADP? It’s not, and even though McGee looks totally disengaged on the court at times and makes mistakes so egregious that it makes you wonder if he even knows the rules, he’s a dominant shot blocker and those 2.5 blocks per game alone are enough to carry his value.

Greg Monroe - While his lack of athleticism will limit his long-term upside, all Monroe will really need to do to outperform his draft position is to continue playing like he did during the final three months of the season. Monroe put up top-30 value during that span, highlighted by 9.0 rpg, 1.4 spg, and plus-efficiency (66% FG, 1.0 TO's).

Players to Avoid

Elton Brand - Just not buying that Brand is having some sort of resurgence at the age of 32, especially when it was largely fueled by a career-high (and largely fluky) 49 percent from 10-15 feet. An expected regression to the mean there combined with a deteriorating post game and middling rebound rate are plenty reason to be pessimistic about his outlook this season.

Danny Granger - In years past he’s been able to get away with a workload usually reserved for superstars (~20 shots a game, ~30 percent of total possessions), but now that the Pacers have actually added legitimate talent around him (West, Collison, Hill, Hibbert), those days are long gone. Granger is still the team’s de facto first option, but the upgrade from Josh McRoberts to David West at power forward alone will cost Granger a few looks. For a player more reliant on volume than he would leave you to believe, and one who managed a -2.6 pure point rating as a catch-and-shoot option, none of this bodes well for his value.

David West - He’s been one of the more consistent players over the past six years, posting a player efficiency rating no lower than 18.99 during that span. West is simply masterful from mid-range, hitting 47 percent of his long twos and 44 percent of his attempts from 10-15 feet. All of that fails to address his current situation though. Not only is he coming off a torn ACL injury, but he’s also leaving Chris Paul behind as well. That pick-and-pop game with CP3 that was his bread and butter for years? Gone. There’s a huge difference in the distributing skills of Paul and Darren Collison, and that’s a big deal when 86 percent of his looks from 10-15 feet – which make up a third of his total volume – are assisted. There’s just far too much uncertainty here and I’m nowhere near confident enough in him regaining form to justify his current ADP (48.1).

Upside Picks

Ryan Anderson - His rank tends to be inflated by his miniscule turnover rate, but he’s an extremely effective and underrated scorer (19.4 points per 40 minutes) who takes about 65 percent of his attempts from three-point range and converts at a high clip (39.4 percent). Anderson is also proficient on the offensive glass (18th among PF's), which leads to even more high-percentage looks in the form of layups and free throws. Don’t sleep too long on him in the mid-to-late rounds.

DeAndre Jordan - The addition of Chris Paul alone is enough to expect significant improvement from him this season. For a big man who lacks any ability to create his own offense, a quality passer makes all the difference, and there simply isn’t a better distributor out there than Paul.

Tyrus Thomas - It’s still baffling to me how Thomas, in the midst of the best season of his career, was left out of the starting lineup – in favor of Boris Diaw and Kwame Brown, mind you – and held to just 21 minutes a game, his lowest in four seasons. Just inexplicable. He’s well-known for his shot blocking ability (second among PF’s in block rate), but he’s also developed a nice mid-range game (44% on long twos) over the last two years and converted his athleticism into an ability to finish around the basket. A scoring rate of 19.5 points per 40 minutes is nothing to scoff at, and that, combined with his steal and rebound rates, make him a potential gold mine.

Deep-League Flyer

Josh McRoberts - The Lakers are completely decimated right now, and between Kobe’s wrist injury, Bynum’s suspension, and the Odom salary dump, they’re a three-man team that’s dangerously short on depth. Signing McRoberts at the veteran’s minimum was a huge and severely understated move for them because as it stands, he’d be their fourth best player. No seriously, name a player on that roster outside of Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum who’s clearly better. That’s not to overstate McRoberts’ abilities, because he has clear limitations, but what he does do well is score efficiently (5th among PF’s in TS%), and find the open man (4th among PF’s in assist rate). He proved plenty useful for stretches last year in Indiana, and should get consistent minutes on a team who could use all the help they can get from their bench.


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