Fantasy Fiction: Center of Attention



Waiting for the Word | Flickr

This week, Ian Levy weaves his narrative into Kyle Soppe’s musings on the top-performing centers in the league. Enjoy! -Ed.

Having productive big men is important in the fantasy world if for no other reason than there simply aren’t many. Most fantasy rosters have a rebound oriented center, but why settle? Here are two centers who offered much more than your prototypical big over the past seven days.

Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

When you think of the Thunder, you think about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the team’s third scoring option is also fantasy gold.

The wind howled as Ibaka reached the crest of the hill. The tall grasses bent back under the wind’s onslaught, breaking under his massive footsteps. 

Ibaka, who earned you bonus points this week if you play in a league that rewards ejections, dominated the percentage categories (64% shooting from the field and 93% from the stripe) while producing elite traditional center counting statistics.

A slight depression and another rise lay before him, but at the summit he could see the trio of giants were already waiting for him. They stood motionless, marking off three of the four compass points and leaving an empty space that was his to fill.

He ended the week with back to back games of at least 35 PR (points + rebounds) to go along with at least three blocks.

He readjusted his pack, pulled his hood tighter and began the last bit of his journey. 

Ibaka can help your fantasy team across the board, something very few shot-blockers offer.

Unconstrained by time, and only briefly by space, he climbed the hill and took his place in the circle.

Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers

Hawes gripped his oaken staff tighter as the shape came over the hill.

The 76ers have come across tough times of late, but their center continues to play at a high level.

But as he recognized the silhouette of Ibaka his fingers loosened. Time had already released it’s grasp on them and he could not recall how long they had been standing in this place of power.

Hawes has produced seven straight games with ten-plus points (not bad for a player who averages 9.2 points for his career), notching a double double in the majority those contests.

The wind was buffeting him, sending his tattered cloak billowing out to the east. But his frame held firm and in the end the wind was able to grab nothing but the fabric that clothed him.

He has drained a three pointer in all 11 games this season (shooting 47.5% in the process) and ranks first among “true” centers in 3PM this season with 19. Some may argue that he lacks the upside that a superior athlete holds, but he quieted those doubters with a spectacular stat line against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (18 points, 3 3PM, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocked shots). Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams have had their moments in the spot light, but Hawes has been the most consistent fantasy option through three weeks and he should continue to produce top ten center numbers this season.

As Ibaka drew nearer and took his place in the circle, Hawes’ eyes dropped to the massive obsidian boulder which sat between him and his companions.

Ibaka and Hawes had great weeks, but that doesn’t help you now. Fantasy sports (especially daily/weekly gamers) are all about looking forward, so who has a good shot at making this list next week?

Jordan Hill (vs Golden State Warriors, vs Sacramento Kings)

The two game slate may not be ideal for head-to-head leagues, but Hill is simply playing at too high of a level right now to ignore. For the season, the Arizona product is averaging 10.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, numbers that are nearly double what he averaged for his career coming into this season.

Hill’s eyes were closed and he felt, rather than saw, Ibaka approach. The words of an ancient verse sprang to his mind, although he could not recall ever having learned them. 

Those numbers improved significantly this week as Hill produced three monster double doubles. In his best three games of the week, Hill totaled 63 points (62% shooting from the field and 94% from the line) and 43 rebounds (15 offensive), not bad for a player owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues.

When he was sure everyone was where they belonged, Hill pulled back his hood and let his braids fall about his shoulders. Their weight was considerable, more than strong enough to push the wind aside. 

He draws a run and gun Warriors team in a game that figures to have plenty of possessions and a Kings team that has the second worst rebounding differential in all of basketball. I’m buying Hill’s stock for the rest of this season in addition to his set of games this week.

He reached into a pocket of his robes and withdrew an oil-stained rag. He opened his eyes and began to wipe the air just above the obsidian boulder. The oil of the rag, imbued with the power of dreams and foresight, coated the window, revealing it’s shape to The Four.

Timofey Mozgov (@ Oklahoma City Thunder, vs Chicago Bulls, vs Dallas Mavericks)

Mozgov has become a symbol when it comes to getting posterized, but I’ve yet to see a fantasy league that subtracts points for such a play. He has carved a nice niche for himself in Denver, and with JaVale McGee (fractured tibia) out for the foreseeable future, his fantasy stick should only improve.

Of The Four, Mozgov was the youngest and the boldest. Calm was draped over the faces of his companions but his excitement could not be concealed.

He is averaging nearly 19 rebounds per 48 minutes over his past three games … and we aren’t talking about push over opponents. Those numbers were accumulated against Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard, and at 27 years of age, Mozgov has considerable upside.

He watched as the window was slowly revealed, straight on the sides with a perfect arch at both top and bottom. The surface of the window was opaque, not as dark as the obsidian on which it rested but just as solid. 

The Nuggets rank sixth in possessions per game, giving all of their players a higher statistical ceiling than 80% of the league.

As Hill replaced the rag in the inner pocket of his robes, Mozgov turned to watch Ibaka remover the knife from his pack. It was just as he’d imagined – as long as his forearm, with three blades pressed together, a triangular arrangement arriving at a single point.

Look for Mozgov’s height (7’1”) to be an issue for defenses this week and for his extended playing time in the short term to result in a spike in his fantasy value.

Ibaka took that point and carefully dragged it down the center of the window. The noise was horrific as the cover split along the finest of edges, opening the window at last.

Kyle Soppe