Fantasy Basketball: Top Power Forwards/Centers Who Can Shoot From Downtown
Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins has developed a three-point shot and his coach doesn’t mind him jacking it up from downtown, but considering that Cousins is five-of-32 from behind the arc so far in his professional career, it seems fair to leave him off this list.
Here are the bigs who can actually shoot the lights out from behind the three-point line and are worth strong consideration for taking early in fantasy drafts:
1. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
It doesn’t matter that he’s going to be out for six-to-eight weeks due to a broken hand because Kevin Love is still worth taking at the end of the first round.
At All-Star Weekend last year, the T-Wolves star won the three-point shooting contest, beating Kevin Durant in the final round, and he was tied for 16th in the league for how many shots he made from behind the arc on average per game.
Looking at him overall though, this guy does just about everything on a basketball court you could ever ask from a guy his size. His field-goal percentage was at a career-low last season at .448, but you have to figure that when Ricky Rubio returns from his ACL injury that will change. Even so, Love still was able to average 26 points and 13 boards a game last year, and he also usually picked up a couple of assists and a steal each game and a block every other game.
It truly is unfortunate that Love and Rubio will be out for a couple of months to start the season, but with Brandon Roy added to the roster as well as Andrei Kirilenko, this Minnesota team finally has a legitimate chance to make a run for a playoff spot. With that in mind, you have to expect Love to put forth his best effort to make that happen since he has never reached the postseason in the NBA.
2. Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Anyone who wants Kevin Love, but ends up missing out on him should definitely consider taking Dirk. He just had arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to return in three-to-six weeks, but he will be selected later than Kevin Love, so drafting him could be considered an even better deal since you can get him for cheaper, and he’s supposed to be able to play again sooner.
He actually had a major drop-off in his stats last year, including his accuracy from behind the arc, which fell from 39.3 percent to 36.8 percent, but it would be a surprise if his numbers didn’t improve this year.
Overall, the Dallas Mavericks came out flat at the beginning of the season last year, having won the championship in 2011 and not having time to prepare once the lockout immediately ended.
Everyone had the latter problem, so it’s not an excuse, but as a team full of veteran players, the Mavs were hit as hard as anyone with last year’s condensed schedule, and Dirk was clearly affected. You can tell that he got better as the season progressed though because he averaged just 15.1 points a game in December, but then averaged 25.2 in February and 23.2 in March.
As for 2012-13, while he will be out for the first month or so, you can expect Dirk to come back strong to lead this sort-of-rebuilt Mavericks team back to the playoffs.
3. Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Hornets)
While Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki are All-Star level talents, Ryan Anderson led the league in three-pointers made last year with 166, leading the second-place man Jason Terry by 28.
However, there is a strong chance that Anderson’s numbers will go down this season because he clearly benefitted from the system in Orlando where Dwight Howard would sit in the post, defenders would double team him, and Anderson, Jason Richardson, JJ. Redick etc. would be wide open to drain three-pointers.
In New Orleans, it will be a lot different because even if Anderson does get plenty of looks from three, they probably won’t be as wide open since Anthony Davis and Robin Lopez aren’t as respected as Dwight Howard is in the post.
Further, even though Anderson did make the most 3’s in the NBA last year, he also took the most three-point shots by far. He took 422 shots from behind the three-point line, and the player closest to achieving that mark was Brandon Jennings, who attempted 34 fewer three-pointers.
On the other hand, New Orleans was second to last in the league last year in points scored, which means coach Monty Williams is probably going to give Anderson the green light to shoot as much as possible when he’s in the game.
Ultimately, what will be interesting to see is where New Orleans is ranked at the end of the year in terms of three-pointers attempted and made. Last season, the Hornets were dead last in those categories, and that could because coach Williams hates the three-ball, but it is more likely that he wanted his team to trade for Anderson in order to bring New Orleans up in those areas.
Hopefully, for fantasy owners who draft Anderson, the latter is the case.
4. Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks)
This is the most underrated prospect on this list. If you’re in a 12-team league and no one has claimed this guy by the middle of the third round, then you should definitely try to snag him. He was tied for second in the league in three-point percentage last season, making .455 of his shots from downtown.
There are only two potential issues for Ilyasova. First, Monta Ellis is in town now, and he’s going to take up a lot of shot attempts, but that will likely affect Brandon Jennings more than Ilyasova. And second, although Andrew Bogut is gone, the Bucks drafted John Henson and signed Samuel Dalembert during free agency, and both of those guys will take up minutes in the frontcourt.
Assuming that Ilyasova’s minutes and shot attempts don’t decrease significantly though, he had a career-high 8.8 rebounding average last season, and he also shot nearly 50 percent from the field and averaged 13 points a game.
And even though Ilyasova only averaged .9 three-pointers made per game, that adds up. He’ll give you around four extra three-pointers that you wouldn’t have had otherwise from the 4 spot, and that could make a big difference each week in your fantasy league.
5. Al Harrington (Orlando Magic)
This guy has bounced around the league the past few seasons, but he put up pretty decent numbers last year as he averaged 14.2 points, 1.6 three-pointers made and 6.1 rebounds per game. Most importantly though, he’s landed in a great situation in Orlando in terms of what the move is going to do for his production.
With Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson and Jason Richardson gone, that’s 47.7 points missing. Obviously, Arron Afflalo will help close that gap along with the other players that Orlando acquired in the offseason, but Harrington should get plenty of minutes with Glen Davis, Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic being the other top options at the 4 and 5.
While rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn has a lot of young players on his roster and he knows that expectations aren’t going to be high in Orlando, it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to lean on veterans like Harrington to help give this team a respectable record.
ESPN has Harrington ranked as the 128th best prospect, so you should be able to pick him up with one of your last picks.