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Centers of Attention: Sorting Out the Messes in Phoenix, Brooklyn and Sacramento

Mike Barner

Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. He currently focuses on the NBA. Before RotoWire, Mike wrote for KFFL.com.

Believe it or not, we are already a quarter of the way through the NBA season. As we move towards the halfway point, there are still a few teams that are a mess at center due to injuries, lack of talent or downright lack of quality options.
Today, weíll examine three of these teams and see if thereís any semblance of Fantasy value to be gained from the chaos.

Phoenix Suns

Is there any more frustrating rotation than the Sunsí center position? The Suns added Greg Monroe when they traded Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks, creating a three-headed mess of Monroe, Tyson Chandler and Alex Len.

The Suns would probably love to deal Chandler, but his big contract, which runs through next season, makes him a tough sell. He has started 17 games this season, averaging a respectable 7.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. The problem is, he doesnít provide much in the way of blocks, averaging only 0.6 per contest.

Chandler has started for most of the season, but not only did he give way to Monroe in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, but he didnít end up playing in the game at all.

While Monroe started Wednesday, he was coming off a DNP-CD on Tuesday against the Bulls. He provides more scoring than Chandler, but Monroe also struggles to block shots with only 0.4 per game as a member of the Suns.

Finally, that brings us to maybe the most talented player of the bunch in Len. Only given the chance to start two games this season, Len has the best numbers of the group, averaging 9.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks overall.

If you are in desperate need of help at center or want to stash someone, Len has the highest upside of the three, so heís the player to own. However, with all three players averaging fewer than 25 minutes per game and sitting out entire games without much prior notice, itís tough to rely on any of them.

If you are in a head-to-head league, itís a situation to stay away from altogether, at the moment. If one of the three were to be traded, the situation would become much more desirable, from a fantasy perspective. There is the possibility that fellow-center Alan Williams (knee) also returns from injury at some point, but that would be toward the end of the season, if at all.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings are probably the most frustrating team, overall, when it comes to fantasy production. Not only is the center position a mess, but the entire rotation seems to be constantly in flux.

For the most part, the center position has been a timeshare between Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Kosta Koufos, with all three averaging between 18 and 25 minutes per game. While he mostly plays power forward, Zach Randolph also muddies the Kingsí frontcourt situation.

Cauley-Stein began the season as the starting center and has made 15 starts at the position in total. Labissiere has taken over of late and now has eight starts of his own. While Koufos has not started a game and is definitely not someone you want to own in fantasy, his average of 19 minutes per game drags down the value of Cauley-Stein and Labissiere.
Labissiere has not thrived as a starter, as he is only averaging 7.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 19 minutes per game. The move to the bench has helped Cauley-Stein, though -- mainly because heís played five more minutes per game as a member of the second unit than he has as a starter. The result has been averages of 17.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in six games off the bench.

At this time, Cauley-Stein is the only one of the three you want to have on your fantasy squad. With the Kings going nowhere fast, there is also the chance that they try to trade Koufos or Randolph to a contending team in need of frontcourt help, although that seems rather unlikely. The Randolph signing wasnít good to begin with, especially given the rebuilding state of the franchise. Labissiere would get a big boost in value if a deal were to be happen, so keep him on your radar.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets donít deploy a frustrating rotation, they just lack talent at center in general. Timofey Mozgov began the season as the starter but was awful and has mercifully been removed from the role. The problem is, the Nets donít have much talent behind him. Itís so bad that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been forced to log time at the five this season.
Tyler Zeller has moved into the starting center spot, but he leaves plenty to be desired and has only averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in five starts. You only want to consider him in the deepest of leagues as he has very limited upside.

If you want to take a flier on someone, take a look at Jarrett Allen. Heís starting to see more playing time of late, logging at least 19 minutes in three of his last five games, something he hadnít done once this season heading into that stretch. His offense is still a work in progress, but he can provide value in blocks and rebounds if he can continue to get an increase in playing time as the Nets play at the third-fastest pace (105.2) in the NBA.

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