2023-24 Fantasy Basketball: 3 sleeper picks at center to target in drafts

Zach Collins of the San Antonio Spurs could be a valuable late-round option for fantasy managers looking to wait at center. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

Last week, I wrote about all the players I'm fading (guards, forwards and centers) in fantasy basketball drafts ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season. This week, I'm digging deeper into the bag to find the sleepers — players outside the top 100 in average draft position who will help your fantasy team. I covered my favorite guards and forwards, so today, I'll be D.I.T.C. (Diggin' in the Crates) for the underrated centers you'll want to scoop in the back ends of drafts.

Jusuf Nurkic – C, Phoenix Suns (ADP: 104.6)

The Suns landed Nurkic after shipping Deandre Ayton to Portland. There's no other way to put this other than Nurkic's ADP is remarkably low. Nurkic finished outside the top 130 last season (and outside the top 100 for the past three seasons) and missed a ton of games due to injury in the process. I get the hesitancy in wanting to draft him in category leagues — his high turnover rate and below-average free-throw percentage hurt his value for a center. However, he's joining a juggernaut of a starting lineup where he's tasked to grab boards and protect the interior. That's not asking much, and he's proven capable of doing so.

He's an underrated mid-to-late-round pick in points leagues, but even turnovers and free-throw percentage aside, the man has averaged 13.5 points. 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.5 threes and 1.8 stocks with 52/34/66 shooting splits over his previous three seasons; that's a very serviceable double-double you're getting outside the top 100 picks. If you decide to wait on centers, look for Nurkic to crack the top 75 for the second time in his nine-year career.

Zach Collins – PF/C, San Antonio Spurs (ADP: 112.0)

Only a handful of starting centers are available after pick 100, and Collins tops the list. The six-year veteran earned the starting gig for the Spurs after a solid finish to the 2022-23 season, averaging 16.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 threes and 2.5 stocks with 48/40/81 shooting splits in 28.3 minutes per game across 15 games after the All-Star break. He was 43rd in per-game value over that span — thanks to his combination of efficiency and production on both sides of the ball.

The Spurs ran the second-fastest pace in the NBA last year (103.5), which is always good for fantasy purposes. It's a minimal sample size, but, with Jeremy Sochan running point, the Spurs posted a pace of 112.5 in their last preseason game (which won't hold) but is still very encouraging, especially with Collins slated to play over 30 minutes per night for the first time in his career.

Collins continued to display his fantasy appeal in the two preseason games, posting averages of 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 threes and 1.4 stocks across 22.3 minutes. Also, Collins can play power forward, too, so he can stagger minutes with Victor Wembanyama. The signs are trending up for the 26-year-old big man, and he's on track to outkick his ADP this season.

Paul Reed - PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers (ADP: 145)

Reed hasn't seen much playing time throughout his three-year career (thanks, Glenn Rivers). He's averaged a mere 9.8 minutes per game thus far, but that will change now that the Sixers have moved on from Rivers and brought in former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he re-signed with Philadelphia on a three-year, $23.5M deal this offseason.

Nurse has spoken highly of Reed this offseason, and Reed's role has already grown significantly in the preseason, averaging a healthy 21.9 minutes per game. BBall Paul has always been a per-36 beast, and while he's likely to come off the bench behind reigning MVP Joel Embiid, Nurse acknowledged that he'll still play plenty of minutes with Embiid on the floor. He has a high motor and a knack for extending plays on the offensive glass, ranking in the top 10 in offensive rebound percentage last season. Those types of hustle plays are what Nurse appreciates and earn players consistent minutes in his typically tight eight or nine-man rotation. He's a plus-rebounder, an efficient shooter, and offers some defensive upside for his ability to guard multiple positions with his length and athleticism.

I'm projecting Reed to play at least 24 minutes per night, and in the 12 career games where he has, he's averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and a ridiculous 3.3 stocks per game. It wouldn't surprise me if Reed gets sporadic starts at power forward, depending on the matchups. He's similar to Onyeka Okongwu (less the shooting range) and is a low-risk, late-round flier in the final rounds of fantasy basketball drafts. He has yet to finish inside the top 200 in fantasy, and at the cost of 145th overall, he's headed for easily a top-120 finish, which would live up to his sleeper appeal.