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Fantasy Basketball Draft Prep: 2020-21 Center Tiers start with stats beasts Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic

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Tiering is one of the most popular ways to prepare for a fantasy basketball draft. Within each position group, separating players into tiers is an effective means of projecting general value and keeping organized during your draft. If you’re in a position where you need to make a quick decision, consulting a set of tiers can help settle the debate between two players who are relatively close in value.

Entering the 2020-21 season, the NBA‘s talent pool is incredibly deep, so going into your drafts with a plan is more imperative than ever.

Here are our point guard tiers, which can serve as a general guide for those playing in standard leagues.

Tiers: Point Guard | Shooting Guard | Small Forward | Power Forward | Center

Tiers assume eight-category settings. Each player only appears in one set of tiers. Players are assigned to the position at which they’re likely to play the most.

Tier 1

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

In a league full of talented big men, Towns is in a class of his own when it comes to Fantasy. Assuming the 2015 No. 1 overall pick has moved past the wrist injury that plagued him before the suspension of play last season, Towns could be poised to improve upon the career-best 26.5 points per game he put up in 2019-20 while still serving as an above-average source of rebounds, assists and blocks. What truly separates Towns from is the fact that he’s one of the better 3-point marksmen at any position – Towns has now shot at least 40.0 percent from distance in three straight seasons.

Tier 2

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

On any given night, Jokic can hang with Towns, but his ceiling isn’t quite as high. Jokic’s scoring and rebounding dipped just a tad last season, but his 52.8 percent success rate from the floor was his best since 2016-17. Factor in his world-class passing and 3-point contributions, and you have one of the most complete and durable Fantasy centers in any format. 

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid will always have the injury/durability cloud hanging over him, but the fifth-year big has an undeniably positive impact on the 76ers when he’s on the floor. Embiid has yet to play more than 64 games in any of his 82-game seasons, and he logged just 51 appearances over 73 contests in the shortened 2019-20 campaign. But his contributions in scoring (23.0 PPG), rebounds (11.6) and blocks (1.3) make Embiid one of the best big men in Fantasy. 

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Adebayo made one of the most notable leaps of a player at any position last season, capping it off with some memorable postseason performances. Fresh off signing a lucrative extension, Adebayo should only improve as he enters his fourth year in the league. Last season, he broke out with 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest. The drawback with Adebayo is he doesn’t shoot 3s, and he’s only a decent free throw shooter (71% career) for a big man.

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic 

Fantasy managers almost take the prolific Vucevic for granted at this point. The 10-year-veteran has been a model of scoring and rebounding consistency throughout his career. Even with a slight dip in field goal percentage last season, Vucevic still put up the second-highest scoring average of his career (19.6), while averaging double-digit boards (10.9) for the sixth time. Vucevic also shot a respectable 33.9 percent from 3 on a career-high (by far) 4.7 attempts per game.

DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

Ayton’s sophomore campaign was partly derailed by an early-season suspension, but he returned with a vengeance and displayed notable improvement in scoring (18.2 PPG), rebounds (11.5), assists (1.9) and blocks (1.5) after an impressive rookie campaign. Ayton should benefit greatly from the addition of Chris Paul, who’s had plenty of success facilitating for big men in the pick-and-roll.

Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

A lower-leg injury will delay the start of Porzingis’ season for the second consecutive year, but this time around, the talented big man is well along in his recovery from a torn meniscus. The health component naturally adds risk to drafting Porzingis, but when healthy he’s the rare center who both shoots 3s (2.5 3PM/G) and blocks shots (2.0 BPG) at an elite rate.

Tier 3

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers

After missing most of last season, Nurkic made his return in the bubble and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. In eight games, Nurkic averaged a career-high 17.6 points to go with 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals while also pulling down 10.3 rebounds. While the sample size was small, it was more than enough to convince Fantasy managers that the catastrophic leg injury Nurkic suffered in March of 2019 won’t be a long-term concern.

Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers

Drummond made a mostly seamless transition from the Pistons to the Cavaliers after being dealt on Feb. 6. While the Cavs have a talented first unit, Drummond once again projects as one of the league’s best volume rebounders, who also adds assists and elite defensive numbers (3.5 steals/blocks last season).

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Gobert continued to generate above-average scoring, rebounding and defensive numbers for Fantasy managers last season. The seven-footer put up the second-best scoring average of his career (15.1) and set a new career-best with 13.5 boards per contest. Gobert is also an elite shot-blocker, but he’s a poor free throw shooter and does not shoot 3s.

Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks

Capela’s upside in what should once again be one of the fastest-paced attacks in the league is fascinating from a Fantasy perspective. While the Hawks beefed up their roster this offseason, Capela should remain an excellent source of rebounds (career-high 13.8 per game last season) and blocks (at least 1.2 BPG in five straight seasons).

Tier 4

Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

The veteran stepped in for Jusuf Nurkic last season and posted the second-highest scoring (15.5 PPG), rebounding (13.5 RPG) and blocks (2.9) averages of his career while even adding a career-best 1.2 assists per game. In Sacramento, Whiteside will have a chance to compete for the starting spot, but he’ll likely end up splitting time relatively evenly with Richaun Holmes, so his ceiling is quite a bit lower in 2020-21.

Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

Turner can be counted on for solid contributions in scoring, rebounding and blocks, and he offers the added bonus of above-average 3-point and free throw shooting. The Pacers will have full continuity on their first unit from last season, and even with a new coach in Nate Bjorkgren at the helm, Turner should be in position to once again be in the neighborhood of his career averages.

Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks

Lopez is always in play during middle rounds of drafts thanks to a diversified skill set that includes volume 3-point shooting and shot-blocking. Lopez has also proven exceedingly durable for a big man, playing at least 72 games in five straight seasons before appearing in 68 of the Bucks’ 73 regular season games last season.

Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies

Valanciunas thrived with extended opportunity during his first year in Memphis, setting new career highs in rebounds (11.3), assists (1.9) and field-goal percentage (58.5%) while scoring 14.9 points per contest and averaging more than a block per game (1.1). He may not be the ideal modern center, but Valanciunas should again be locked into a starting spot for a team that didn’t make any notable roster moves.

Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards

Bryant took another step forward last season and now gains an elite facilitator in Russell Westbrook as his point guard. If Bryant can stay healthy and move closer to 30 minutes per night, he could be among the year’s top Fantasy breakouts.

Tier 5

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Minutes are the concern for Robinson, who’s been the best pure shot-blocker in the league since entering as a second-round pick in 2018. Last season, Robinson managed per-36 averages of 15.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.3 steals. He won’t see that much of a boost, but if Robinson can get to even the 27-to-30-minute range, his upside could skyrocket.

Al Horford, Oklahoma City Thunder

An excellent floor spacer, Horford is likely to be counted on plenty if he sticks on a rebuilding Thunder squad that can count only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a more reliable option. His best days are behind him, but Horford has some bad-team/good-stats potential.

Steven Adams, New Orleans Pelicans

The player Horford is replacing in Oklahoma City, Adams will be surrounded by more talent in New Orleans than he had with the Thunder last season. Somehow only 27, Adams already signed an extension in New Orleans and should see a typical starter’s workload. 

DeMarcus Cousins, Houston Rockets

Given his previous body of work and overall talent, Cousins is one of the more intriguing upside plays late in drafts this season. Training camp and preseason should provide further insight into Cousins’ conditioning and mobility after dealing with a torn Achilles and ACL over the last two years.

Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets

Despite sharing time with DeAndre Jordan last season, Allen still set new career-highs in points (11.1), rebounds (9.6), assists (1.6) and field-goal percentage (64.9%) across 26.5 minutes per contest. The 2017 first-round pick has gained plenty of seasoning over his first three NBA seasons (222 total regular-season games), but it’s very possible he once again ends up losing more minutes to Jordan than he should.

Wendell Carter, Chicago Bulls

The 2018 first-round pick has played in only 87 of a possible 147 games through two seasons, but he did take another step forward last season, when healthy. A good rebounder (9.4 RPG) who nearly averaged a double-double, the hope is that Carter can improve as a shot-blocker (0.8 BPG last season), while rediscovering the 3-point stroke that made him a perimeter threat at Duke.

Late-Round Targets

Richaun Holmes, Sacramento Kings

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

Serge Ibaka, Los Angeles Clippers 

DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets

Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics

Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers

Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

Mason Plumlee, Detroit Pistons

Tristan Thompson, Boston Celtics

What’s the exact Fantasy value of every NBA player? And which surprising player cracks the top 10? Visit SportsLine now to get optimized Fantasy basketball rankings, all from a daily Fantasy pro who has won almost $2 million in his career and has simulated the entire season 10,000 times.

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