Centers of Attention: Filling the Ayton Void

Centers of Attention: Filling the Ayton Void

Welcome to the first regular season edition of the Centers of Attention column.

For those of you who are new to the program, this is where no guards or forwards are allowed. I'll be discussing only players who are eligible at center in fantasy.

Let's take a look ahead at Weeks 3 and 4, and discuss some players who are still available in the majority of Yahoo leagues that might be worth adding off the waiver wire.

Bobby Portis, New York Knicks (57 percent available): Heading into this season, the Knicks looked like they were once again going to be a fantasy headache. They made a ton of moves up front, adding Portis, Julius Randle and Taj Gibson to go along with Mitchell Robinson. Not exactly known for his consistency or clarity, having David Fizdale as their coach wasn't going to make things any easier.

Through five games, Portis has at least worked his way into a significant role off the bench. He's played at least 27 minutes four times and is coming off of back-to-back double-doubles. He even has six three-pointers across those two contests. He should at least be a threat to approach a double-double on a nightly basis, leaving him a viable target off waivers with the Knicks playing three games in each of the next two weeks.

Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns (63 percent available): The Suns already have their center of the future in Deandre Ayton, but his 25-game suspension has left them with a significant hole to fill in the middle. Baynes has been tasked with taking over as the starter after never averaging more than 18 minutes a game during any season of his career. The early returns have certainly been encouraging with him averaging 16.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 blocks over four games.

In terms of the overall schedule, things aren't exactly stellar for the Suns. They play three times in Week 3, which means Baynes is likely worth starting in a lot of leagues. The Suns will certainly need his size with those games coming against the Sixers, Heat and Nets.

However, it might be difficult to start him with only two games in Week 4. Not only that, but one of those games will come against the Lakers, who could provide a nightmare matchup for him if they play Anthony Davis a lot at center. After that, the Suns play a Hawks team that is already trending towards deploying smaller lineups.

Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns (60 percent available): Baynes isn't the only player on the Suns who has been thrust into a more prominent role with Ayton out. While he hasn't started, Kaminsky has averaged 28 minutes a night across their last four games. He's been nearly as productive as Baynes, averaging 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, three assists and 1.3 three-pointers. He'll run into the same schedule issue for Week 4, but he's at least worth a look for the Suns three-game set in Week 3.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards (49 percent available): Yes, Bertans technically misses the threshold of being available in the majority of leagues by a couple of percentage points. However, he's close enough and warrants discussing. Also, while he might mostly play forward, he's center-eligible on Yahoo, so that makes him fit that portion of the criteria for the column.

The Wizards don't have much depth to speak of up front, especially behind starting center Thomas Bryant. That has enabled Bertans to average 29 minutes a night despite coming off of the bench. Although his first game of the season was nothing to write home about, he's averaged 19 points, 2.7 rebounds and a whopping 4.7 three-pointers over his last three games. The Wizards play three times each the next two weeks, so don't hesitate to add Bertans if you need a jolt of offense.

Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards (97 percent available): For those of you in deep leagues, let's stay on the Wizards for our next option. Wagner has also benefited from the Wizards' lack of talent up front, averaging 11 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 three-pointers out of the gate. In fact, his 28.6 percent usage rate is third-highest on the team behind Bradley Beal (32.6 percent) and Isaiah Thomas (30.8 percent). It's unlikely that he keeps up that rate throughout the duration of the season, but that doesn't mean he can't provide value for at least the next couple of weeks.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Mike also won the 2022-23 FSGA NBA Experts Champions league. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.
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