Last week, a reader posted a question about some up-and-coming fantasy centers, asking if I'd prefer to have Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Serge Ibaka or Andray Blatche. The short answer is, "yes." All of those guys are worth owning in just about any fantasy format - but they'll help you in different ways.
Lopez has been very inconsistent thus far - he posted 18-and-14 against the Lakers on October 29, but followed that up with a 12-minute appearance against the Spurs. With consistent playing time, he should develop into a poor man's version of his twin brother - and Brook Lopez appeared at the top of a lot of preseason fantasy rankings for centers.
Frye has been similarly inconsistent thus far - his value comes from the three-pointer, and through his first four games, they just haven't been falling for him (.286 from three this season - after shooting .439 from deep last year). I believe he'll get that sorted out - but I'm less confident about his playing time. The Suns still have to sort out their Amar'e Stoudemire-less frontcourt; both Frye and Lopez could get jerked around a bit until Alvin Gentry settles on a rotation.
Blatche has tremendous potential, and has put up very good numbers in two of the Wizards' three games this season. (The third game you can throw out, as it involved going up against Orlando's defense.) I do worry about his maturity, though - bouts of knuckle-headed behavior have derailed his progress several times in the past.
Ibaka is probably the best all-around player in the bunch right now, but he's on the deepest team and could play the least. Still, he's averaging 11 points, just under eight boards and two blocks in 26 minutes per game.
To answer the reader's specific question, I wouldn't drop Frye for Lopez unless I needed traditional center numbers (boards, blocks) a lot more than I needed the outside shooting. I certainly wouldn't drop Blatche or Ibaka for Lopez; Blatche and Ibaka will get much more consistent minutes for now.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Richard Jefferson (51% owned) - Gregg Popovic's much-publicized summer program to get Jefferson back on track seems to be working - he's been a much bigger part of the Spurs' offense and is averaging 20 points with dazzling percentages (over 50% from three and 65% from the field) through four games.
Francisco Garcia (50% owned) -Garcia has scored 17 or more three times and been held to four points twice - inconsistency is a fact of life when you're a bench player. He'll be a better investment if he starts getting 25-plus minutes on a consistent basis, or if Tyreke Evans is sidelined for any length of time.
James Jones (41% owned) - Since I wrote about Jones last week, his "percent owned" in Yahoo! leagues has jumped 37 points. His production hasn't been nearly that impressive, but he has been hitting threes at a torrid 52.9 percent clip through five games, and he'll get plenty of open looks. He's primarily a one-cat wonder, but he did manage to grab six boards in Miami's win over the T-Wolves on Tuesday.
Arron Afflalo (49% owned) - Afflalo seems to be carving out a nice role for himself as Denver's third option, and has been rebounding well for his position (5 rpg in each of the Nuggets' last two games). Call this a "high upside" recommendation, as he could get even more opportunities if the Nuggets deal Carmelo Anthony.
Glen Davis (48% owned) - Another repeat recommendation - Davis continues to get big minutes off the bench for the C's, averaging just under 29 through five games.
Josh McRoberts (14% owned) - McRoberts has been the more effective half of Indiana's power forward job-share thus far, averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 boards and over a steal and a block per game. Of course, if you thinků
Tyler Hansbrough (10% owned) will eventually win the gig - and that's certainly a possibility, as Psycho-T seems to be over the health problems that washed out his rookie season - he'd be a worthy pick-up as well.
C.J. Miles (8% owned) - Miles was a bit too passive in Utah's first two games. In the next two, he started looking for his shot more, and it has really paid off - he's averaged 20 points and hit eight of eleven threes in that span. He's pretty well-established as the primary scorer of Utah's second unit now, but he could move up to the starting five if he stays hot.
Eddie House (7% owned) - Like James Jones, House is getting extended minutes (over 22 per game thus far) due to Mike Miller's injury. If he's in the game, he'll be shooting threes.