Head-To-Head: Who Is Fantasy Basketball’s Top Center?: Dwight Howard vs. Amare Stoudemire

Last year there was absolutely no debate on this one question. Who should be the first center off the board in my fantasy basketball draft? This year, things might be changing thanks to what Amare Stoudemire did in his first season as a New York Knick.

There is no question that Amare Stoudemire has certainly closed the gap between number one and number two in the fantasy basketball center rankings. The question we must ask is; Has Amare surpassed Superman for number one? I am going to break down the two guys, offer my own projections and make my own pick for who is number one.

Keep in mind that I am making these projections based on the way things are right now, and when free agency and trading starts things could look differently.

First of all let’s look at the reigning fantasy basketball big man champion.

The Case for Dwight Howard

We know all about D-12’s free-throw shooting issues and how maddening that can be for a fantasy basketball owner who doesn’t like to see that 1 point in any category for his team. Taking Howard means you than have to be conscious for the rest of the draft to build a team around Howard to overcome for his poor free-throw shooting in order to salvage a couple of points at least.

But then you look at the rest of last season’s numbers:

22.9 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.4 BPG, 59% FG, 60% FT

Those are awfully enticing numbers and more importantly they are improved numbers from the past. Dwight Howard is in a class with only one other guy when it comes to board (obviously Kevin Love) and there are very few who can touch him when it comes to blocks. If you own Howard you can bank on being near the top of the standing in two categories, on D-12’s merits alone.

Then there is the counter to his FT%, his FG%. Howard might sink your free throw average, but having Howard gives you the ability to carry a guy like Brandon Jennings on your team without stressing about field goal percentage. Especially as D-12 starts to shoulder more of the offensive load and takes more shots which will only make his FG% more appealing.

That takes me to my next point, Howard is evolving as a scoring big man. He can do more than muscle guys up and dunk on them now. And hopefully he’s doing more work on that low post game this off-season as well to get even better. The Magic need to realize that they need to feed the big man to win games. And Howard needs to step up and accept that role as the go-to-guy on the team. If those two things happen, and Howard keeps evolving offensively, we haven’t yet seen Dwight max out on points per game.

And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that he gets a lot of steals for a big man as well. That’s a whole lot to like to weigh against that FT shooting percentage.

Projected Stat line: 24.4 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 60% FG, 60% FT

The Case for Amare Stoudemire

Reunited and it feels so good. Amare was more than excited to be back and working under Mike D’Antoni last season for the New York Knicks. His numbers reflected that excitement as he reverted to his earlier Suns years, rather than the later ones.

These are the numbers put up by Amare in his first season in the Big Apple:

25.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 50% FG, 79% FT

There are no two ways around things here, that is dominant. Amare had his second best season in point scoring and his second best season in blocked shots. There were stretches last season where Amare was the best player in fantasy basketball. For the month of December he was almost an automatic 30 and 10 every single game.

Unlike Howard there isn’t one single category in which Amare dominates, but there isn’t a category where he doesn’t contribute and there isn’t a category where he hurts you. Any center who shoots 80% from the free-throw line is a rare treat to have, and Amare even dishes out a fair amount of assists for a center. It’s obvious that Amare doesn’t have the same rebounding numbers, or even close, as that of Howard, but he is an across the board player and that’s not easy to come by.

I know there are some who are worried about what a full season with  Carmelo Anthony will do to Amare’s stats, but it didn’t have a terrible impact in their short time together last season. Amare continued to score in high 20’s, if anything his big games were a bit more inconsistent, but it all evened out in the end of things. Having another scoring option should also free Amare a bit more under the hoop to take better shots and make more of them.

Projected Stat Line: 24.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 52% FG, 80% FT

Conclusion

Dwight Howard may be the most dominant player in the game, or at least he has the potential to be if he allows himself to be. But that free-throw shooting is hard to get past and it puts a lot of pressure on you to draft a specific way once you take Howard.

Amare’s the safe pick for sure. At worst he is a 20 point and 8 rebound guy who doesn’t hurt you anywhere else. But he has the ability to be a 25 point per game guy and no one can question it.

You could call it a matter of preference, but my preference is still Dwight Howard. He has his downfalls, but there are few players who can dominate more than one category the way Howard does while contributing significantly in so many more. I think we’ re going to see D-12 take another step forward this year in the point scoring department and if that happens he’ll re-establish himself as the surefire number one center and there will be no debate next season.

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