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Analyzing the 2012 Free Agents: Centers

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This is the fifth in a five part series in which I analyze the 2012 Free Agent market by position. As a source I used ESPN's list of 2012 NBA Free Agents and for statistics I used Basketball-Reference. This list of Free Agents only includes players that were on a teams roster at the end of last season. Also, please keep in mind that while I will use John Hollinger's PER (Player Efficiency Rating), this is not a be-all, end-all stat. There are several deficiencies, particularly that it is not a reliable measure for a player's defensive acumen, so keep that in mind.

Like yesterday's post on the Power Forwards, Center is a position that the Kings could look to shore up and also find DeMarcus' partner of the future. The Kings have a bit of a luxury in that DeMarcus can be comfortable playing either the four (as he did his rookie year next to Sam Dalembert) or the five (like last season).

Currently, the Kings don't really have a capable true Center on the roster aside from Cousins. Hassan Whiteside probably comes closest to fitting the bill, but over his two years with Sacramento, he has yet to show that he can make a consistent impact on the floor, or that he can remain healthy for a sustained period of time (and these injuries have come despite a relative lack of playing time).

Pairing a true Center next to Cousins would present the Kings with one of the biggest frontlines in the NBA and could seriously help the Kings' interior defense and rebounding if said center was good at those thing. Like in the PF post, the same ideal for Cousins' partner hold true if it's a Center; athletic shotblocker. If they can shoot from the mid-range and not clog the post, even better.

I don't see the Kings drafting a Center in the draft, mainly because the only one of note in the Kings' range is Andre Drummond and he is a project. Sacramento needs someone who can compete now.

Clicking on a Player's name will direct you to their Basketball-Reference page. Player Age is how old they will be at the start of next season.

(R) = Restricted Free Agent
(P) = Player Option
(ETO) = Early Termination Option
(T) = Team Option

Javale McGee (R) 24 19.9 0.552 12.1 23.3 3.5 1.2 6.6 12.2 20.7
Roy Hibbert (R) 25 19.3 0.539 12.5 20.7 9.9 0.9 5.2 14.2 21.1
Brook Lopez (R)* 24 19.2 0.560 9.3 16.7 9.1 0.9 3.8 12.0 24.0
Spencer Hawes 24 18.1 0.517 9.4 23.3 17.6 0.9 3.9 13.8 20.3
Hamed Haddadi 27 16.3 0.589 15.6 24.9 6.1 0.3 10.3 26.1 17.7
Marcus Camby 38 16.2 0.455 13.3 32.7 11.9 1.9 4.8 15.3 12.6
Chris Kaman 30 15.3 0.478 7.9 23.5 14.0 1.0 4.7 16.7 26.6
Robin Lopez (R) 24 15.2 0.526 11.5 14.8 3.4 1.0 4.8 11.5 18.9
Solomon Alabi (R) 24 14.2 0.418 14.6 30.4 4.1 0.9 6.0 11.2 17.2
Greg Stiemsma (R) 27 13.6 0.579 7.7 19.0 5.6 2.6 8.5 19.2 10.8
Omer Asik (R) 26 13.4 0.509 14.9 25.1 4.8 1.7 5.0 25.2 12.6
Hasheem Thabeet 25 12.4 0.587 13.1 22.2 0.0 0.4 5.5 21.2 12.4
Kwame Brown 30 11.1 0.519 9.7 24.8 3.2 2.2 0.0 20.3 17.0
Aaron Gray 27 11.1 0.526 12.1 28.3 5.5 1.5 1.7 21.9 13.5
Nazr Mohammed 35 11.0 0.477 10.4 17.1 3.1 1.5 3.9 12.7 13.4
Ben Wallace 38 10.7 0.398 9.6 23.7 6.4 2.6 4.1 24.2 6.6
Mickell Gladness(R) 26 10.5 0.441 6.6 17.2 2.0 0.7 6.5 6.1 13.4
Semih Erden (R) 26 9.9 0.538 6.6 18.5 4.6 1.6 1.1 14.8 14.6
Kyrylo Fesenko* 25 8.5 0.490 10.6 18.5 5.3 0.9 3.8 17.5 15.4
Tony Battie 36 7.3 0.398 3.0 22.3 7.6 0.7 1.5 7.0 9.0
Ryan Hollins 28 6.9 0.560 7.4 10.7 2.7 0.5 2.5 23.0 13.4
Erick Dampier 37 5.5 0.125 14.3 21.0 6.5 0.6 3.7 27.3 6.2
Jason Collins 33 3.7 0.418 4.6 13.6 4.6 0.7 0.7 17.7 8.6
Jamaal Magloire 34 2.7 0.360 7.9 27.3 2.4 0.6 2.2 27.9 9.9

*Brook Lopez and Kyrylo Fesenko's sample sizes were so small for 2011-12 that I used their career averages.

The top Free Agent Center prospects this year are all Restricted Free Agents, which of course complicates things.

The first is Javale McGee. My first impression of McGee is "No way do I want this guy on my team.". McGee has become synonymous with stupidity to the point where his nickname is "JaFail". One of the first results on YouTube is "Javale McGee Top 8 Dumb Plays". All that being said... I can't help but see McGee as a possibly great fit next to Cousins. He's crazy athletic, is a phenomenal shotblocker, good rebounder, and doesn't shoot much aside from dunks. He'll also be just 24 next year, a good long term prospect. How much would it take to acquire him though? Denver got him in a trade in which they gave up Nene and his 5 year, $65 million deal ($13 million a year). Last year, DeAndre Jordan, a similar player to McGee, got a 4 year, $43 million deal. Would you be willing to pay that much (or more because of the Restricted status) to get McGee? I probably wouldn't.

Next their is Roy Hibbert, who became a first time All-Star this year for the new and improved Indiana Pacers. Hibbert is one of the biggest players in the league at 7'2" and 278 lbs, and he's also a very skilled player. He can pass, play in the post, hit a jumper, and defend. Indiana will likely be very interested in keeping him however, probably to the point of matching everything up to a max deal. That's the cost of size in today's league, and Hibbert is one of the cornerstones of Indiana's bright future.

The least intriguing option (of the top tier FA Centers), in my opinion, is Brook Lopez. Lopez is obviously very talented, especially offensively. Capable of scoring inside or out, Lopez may end up being one of the premiere scoring big men in this league for years to come. But I worry about Lopez, particularly his rebounding. He has been an absolutely atrocious rebounder these past two years, almost making Carl Landry look like a rebounding savant.

His brother, Robin, is much the same as Brook in terms of rebounding, although he's less offensively gifted and a better shotblocker. I wouldn't consider Robin Lopez anything other than a quality bench big though.

One final RFA who could be ready for a bigger role is Chicago Bulls backup Center Omer Asik. Asik has quietly been one of the better backup bigs in the NBA for two years now. He plays good, tough defense and blocks shots as well. Offensively he's unrefined, but is a decent finisher around the basket. With Chicago having such a huge team salary already, it's possible the team may be forced to give up Asik if a team offers a high enough amount. How much is too much though?

Greg Stiemsma showed last year with Boston that he could block shots like nobody's business. His 8.5% Block Rate was exceeded by only Serge Ibaka (of players that got consistent time on the floor). I don't see Stiemsma as a long-term starter though, but instead a really effective roleplayer off the bench.

Last year Spencer Hawes finally played like Kings fans had hoped he could when he was in Sacramento. Unfortunately, injuries curtailed much of his "breakout" season. I wouldn't worry too much about a Spencer return though. The team gave up on him too soon to bring him back for another go-around, and this time with more money involved.

A good temporary option would be Marcus Camby, who remains a phenomenal rebounder and shotblocker late in his career. That's about all he's good for at this point, but he'd definitely be a good fit and a good veteran presence. I'm not sure he'd want to finish his career in Sacramento though, or even if he wants to continue his career.

Chris Kaman can still play basketball but I wouldn't consider him a good fit for the Kings. While he's an effective scorer, both in the post and as a jump shooter, and a good passer, he's regressed as a defender, and he definitely needs the ball to be effective. He'll be 30 next year, so it's not like he's completely washed up, and I do see him as a type of player that Geoff Petrie likes (versatile and skilled) but I personally don't think the Kings should go after him.

There aren't a whole lot of other quality Centers on the list that could potentially be starters. Perhaps you are wondering at Hamed Haddadi's awesome numbers. Well, that's where you have to look at statistics in context. Haddadi only ever got playing time usually in garbage time when the competition was much less serious. He has not started a game in any of his four years. Over those four years, he has played just 734 minutes over 121 games (6.1 minutes per game). He's also an absolute foul machine, averaging 7.3 fouls per 36 minutes.

You also might be wondering if former #2 pick Hasheem Thabeet could be available for cheep. Perhaps there is still some untapped potential? Well, if there is, let some other team try to find it. I don't want any part in Thabeet. He went about 20 picks too high in the draft purely based on his 7'3" frame and his ability to block shots. He's merely a mediocre rebounder for his height, turns the ball over a bunch, and has no offensive skillset whatsoever. He has just 15 assists for his entire three year career. That's so bad it's almost impressive. The only player to play more than 1000 minutes and have less assists than that in NBA history is Yinka Dare, who managed just 4 over 1002 minutes. That's not good company to be in.

Thus concludes my five-part Free Agency series. I'm fully aware that it was likely useless since the Maloofs are cheap and won't spend on a quality Free Agent, but I hope you all enjoyed it anyway.