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 2021-22 season, the NBA's talent pool is once again incredibly deep, so going into your drafts with a plan is more imperative than ever. Early on, drafting the top talents should be the priority, but as the draft progresses, it's important to be cognizant of which positions you're stocking up on and which you'll need to target in the mid-to-late rounds. Tiers can help achieve the roster balance most Fantasy managers are hoping to come away with.
Here are our center tiers, which can serve as a general guide for those playing in standard leagues.
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.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Last season's MVP and hands-down best Fantasy player, Jokic is in position to potentially improve his numbers this season. Jamal Murray is expected to be out for at least half the season, and the Nuggets' de facto No. 2 option, Michael Porter Jr., has a history of back issues. Jokic's usage rate could end up being higher than ever. He's not just the best center to draft, he's the best player to draft No. 1 overall.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Towns has been a top-eight Fantasy player on a per-game basis since his second season in the league, and there's no reason to anticipate that changing significantly this season. He's arguably the best 3-point shooting center of all time, and he's good enough inside the arc to still be a career 52.7 FG% shooter for his career. Since 2016-17, he's averaged 24.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 3s and 1.4 blocks in 34.9 minutes.
Joel Embiid, 76ers
Embiid is an MVP candidate for this season, and the in-flux Ben Simmons situation means Embiid could take on even more usage than last year, when he ranked fifth in per-game Fantasy production behind 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals. However, Fantasy managers need to keep in mind Embiid's injury history, which includes persistent knee and foot issues. The center has played just 260 games since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2014, never playing more than 64 games in a season.
Bam Adebayo, Heat
The 24-year-old is one of the best emerging big men in the NBA. Despite not making the All-Star Game last season, he improved his numbers and averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks. The addition of Kyle Lowry to the Heat could take some playmaking responsibilities off Adebayo's shoulders, but the center will still be a focal part of the game plan on both sides of the ball.
Nikola Vucevic, Bulls
The soon-to-be-31-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, ranking 13th in Fantasy on a per-game basis. However, it's possible Vucevic sees a role reduction, as he'll be surrounded by the most talent of his career in Chicago this season. He'll have to share the ball with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball. The result could be fewer post-ups and assists for Vucevic, so it wouldn't be surprising to see his numbers take a slight dip. Still, he'll remain a constant threat for 20-and-10 with some assists chipped in.
Myles Turner, Pacers
Though he's a low-usage offensive player and a below-average rebounder for his position, Turner has carved out a role with Indiana as a 3-and-D center. Last season, he made 1.5 triples per game and led the NBA in blocks per game (3.4 BPG) for the second time in his career. He appeared in just 47 games due to a toe injury, but he ranked a career-high 28th in per-game Fantasy production -- his third time inside the Top 40. The Pacers have a new coach in Rick Carlisle, but Turner's role shouldn't change significantly this season.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Gobert is a back-to-back All-Star, a four-time All-NBA selection, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and has been named to five All-Defensive teams. The 29-year-old is coming off a 2020-21 season in which he led the league in field-goal percentage (67.5%) for the second time in his career, averaging 14.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.3 assists in 30.8 minutes. Nothing is expected to change in 2021-22. Gobert's limitations are well-known, but he's still one of the steadiest center options available early in drafts.
Christian Wood, Rockets
Injuries limited Wood to 41 appearances last season, but he was putting up All-Star-caliber numbers when available. In 32.3 minutes, he averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks while shooting 51.4 percent from the field. He should continue to be a focal point of the Rockets' rebuild this season, so there should be no worry from Fantasy managers about his role being reduced despite the additions of Daniel Theis and Alperen Sengun.
Deandre Ayton, Suns
Ayton took on a significantly smaller role for the Suns last season with the addition of Chris Paul. He was still a crucial part of Phoenix's run to the NBA Finals, however, and he increased his efficiency dramatically, shooting 62.6 percent from the field en route to 14.4 points per game. It's possible he sees his usage increase with another year of development under his belt and increased confidence from a successful playoffs, but it doesn't seem likely that he'll quite reach the 18-and-12 he averaged as a sophomore.
Clint Capela, Hawks
Capela is essentially Rudy Gobert lite, and he averaged 15-and-14 with two blocks on 59.4 FG% last season. He's one-half of the devastating pick-and-roll duo that also features Trae Young, and that part of the Hawks' game plan isn't going to change this season. The biggest stride that Capela could realistically make would be improving his free-throw percentage, but he's only had one season over 57 percent, so that's not something Fantasy managers should bank on.
Jonas Valanciunas, Pelicans
Valanciunas may not have the highest ceiling, but he's been among the most consistent Fantasy centers for the better part of the last decade. A move from Memphis to New Orleans brings some uncertainty, but the Pelicans brought him in to complement Zion Williamson, so his workload likely won't see much, if any, regression. While Valanciunas may not be able to match last season's career-best numbers, he'll remain a solid points/rebounds/blocks/FG%/FT% contributor who will likely take more 3s this season.
Richaun Holmes, Kings
One of the more underrated big men in Fantasy basketball, Holmes contributes in the classic center categories -- points, rebounds, blocks, FG% -- while also adding value at the free throw line, where he shot a career-high 79.4 percent last season. Injuries have sapped some of his value in recent seasons, but Holmes remains a solid, middle-round option whose best days might still be ahead of him.
Chris Boucher, Raptors
For the second straight season, Boucher had trouble convincing Nick Nurse to hand him a starting spot, but he still produced 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.5 3s in just 24.2 minutes per game. Once again, it remains to be seen if Boucher can beat out Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa for the lion's share of minutes, but even in a reduced role he has the potential to be a top-60 player. With Pascal Siakam likely to miss a few weeks to begin the season, Boucher could have more value early on.
Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers
After splitting last season between Brooklyn and Cleveland, Allen re-upped with the Cavs on a five-year, $100 million contract. He'll be the clear starter at center, but with Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen and No. 3 pick Evan Mobley also on the roster, all four players could cannibalize each other's Fantasy value. Nonetheless, Allen projects as a nightly double-double threat who should approach 1.5 blocks per game and shoot 60 percent from the floor. He doesn't add much value in assists, steals or 3s, however.
Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers
Talent-wise, Nurkic probably belongs a tier higher, but he's missed so much time over the last two seasons that his Fantasy stock has to be discounted. After an eight-game 2019-20 season, Nurkic appeared in only 37 games last season, averaging just 23.8 minutes per contest while working in a timeshare with Enes Kanter. Chances are, Nurkic will move closer to 30 minutes per game in 2021-22, and if he can stay even relatively healthy, he could be set for a major bounceback. Despite the injuries and reduced role, Nurkic still averaged 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steal last season.
Robert Williams, Celtics
There's a case to be made that Williams belongs in a higher tier, but with the Celtics bringing back a pair of familiar faces in Al Horford and Enes Kanter, the depth chart is suddenly crowded. At this point in their careers, Williams is easily the most-talented of the three, but he'll likely be stuck in a timeshare that restricts his Fantasy ceiling. Still, Williams is one of the best per-minute shot-blockers and rebounders in the league -- plus, he's topped 70% from the field in all three NBA seasons -- so he's worth a later-middle-round selection.
Brook Lopez, Bucks
We know what to expect from the 33-year-old, who presents a unique stat profile from the center position. Lopez is a poor rebounder for his size, and he takes so many 3s that his FG% is below-average for a center, but he offers strong value in blocks, 3s and free throw percentage. Ultimately, he's a relatively low-ceiling Fantasy player, but Lopez's durability makes him a reliable pickup in the later rounds.
Mitchell Robinson, Knicks
Since putting up 2.4 blocks in just 20.6 minutes per game as a rookie, the hype around Robinson has exceeded his actual Fantasy value. His blocks numbers have declined in each of the last two seasons, and he appeared in just 31 games in 2020-21 while battling multiple injuries. With Nerlens Noel back on a new contract, Robinson's ceiling isn't nearly as high as it looked to be a year or two ago.
Nerlens Noel, Knicks
Noel began the year as the backup to Robinson but was able to take advantage of injuries to move into a larger role over the second half of the season. He still only averaged 24.2 minutes per game, but Noel managed 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals while posting solid field goal and free throw percentages. Robinson and Noel will once again work against each other's Fantasy value, but Noel may be the safer option of the two.
Isaiah Stewart, Pistons
Despite being just a 6-foot-8 rookie center, Stewart ranked 17th in total rebound percentage and eighth in total block percentage last season -- numbers that translated to 11.2 boards and 2.1 swats per 36 minutes. He played just 21.4 minutes per game while Detroit gave minutes to Mason Plumlee, but the organization showed confidence in Stewart down the stretch by playing him 26.5 minutes per game in his final 19 appearances, and he averaged 11.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 assists during that stretch. If Stewart can manage to see closer to 30 minutes per game, he should rank inside the top 100.
Jakob Poeltl, Spurs
Poeltl took over as the Spurs' full-time starting center in February and never looked back. In 69 appearances, he put up 8.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Obviously, the shot-blocking is Poeltl's most valuable asset, but his relative lack of scoring and damaging free throw percentage (50.8% FT) prevented him from cracking the top-100 in 8-cat per-game value.