Centers are a dying breed in the NBA in this day in age. Not many teams in this league have a bonafide big man that can dominate the paint. It is even rarer to find a center that dominates on both ends of the floor. This is what we call a true center and they are more valuable than ever. Here is a top 10 list of centers in the NBA today.
10. Joakim Noah Chicago Bulls – Noah is a one of hardest workers in basketball. The former national champion brings so much energy to the Bulls, especially on the defensive end. Every season he is getting better around the basket, but he is most valuable for his tenacious rebounding and ability to create second chance points. Although Noah is unconventional, he has turn into a good pro.
9. Al Jefferson Utah Jazz- Being in Minnesota and now Utah the last five seasons, Jefferson isn’t as well known as the other big names but he should be. Jefferson is a flat out stud and has averaged 19.6 points over the course of the last five seasons and has averaged nine rebounds per game since he entered the league in 2004 with the Celtics. He is a consistent as it gets at the center position and should be more recognized in the league.
8. Al Horford Atlanta Hawks- Many forgot how good Horford really is when his season was lost when he tore his pectoral muscle early in 2012. This man can do it all. He has an array of low-post moves and a beautiful mid-range game to go along with being a good passer and playing solid defense. Not to mention his rebounding prowess, averaging 9.4 for his career. Horford is the ideal center you want on your team. He can score in so many ways, spreads the floor out for his teammates and blocks shots on the defensive end. Surprisingly Horford played in three playoff games last year, not at 100 percent and averaged 15.3 points.
7. Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies - Marc is known as Pau’s little brother but that is quickly starting to change. Granted, Pau is more of a power forward, but Marc is much more physical and willing to bang in the paint than his brother. But banging and scoring tough points in the paint isn’t all that Gasol can do. He has a nice little mid-range jumper that keeps getting better and is no slouch on the other side of the floor either, blocking 1.9 shots per game in 2012. Very similar to his older brother, Gasol is an extremely good passer too, logging 3.1 assists a game.
6. Roy Hibbert Indiana Pacers – Hibbert made his first All Star game in 2012 and it was well deserved. He was a workhorse for his Pacer team, logging 30 minutes per game. Hibbert is listed as 7’2” and uses every bit of it, rebounding, defending, and blocking shots. The ex-Hoyas offensive game keeps getting better too, averaging almost 13 points per game last season. The 25 year old is a force to be reckoned with and has become a star.
5. DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento Kings – Cousins is just what you want physically out of your center. He’s seven foot tall, 270 pounds, strong and physical. The former Kentucky Wildcat had a monster 2012 season, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game and even shot 70 percent from the free-throw line. There’s just one problem…he’s a head case. Cousins was second in the league with 12 technical fouls and is known as somewhat of a cry baby and complainer. He is a competitor though and you want that on your team, but he needs to get his head on straight. He even got his coach fired last season. Cousins has the ability though to be one of the best centers in the league.
4. Tyson Chandler New York Knicks- Chandler can’t do what the other big men can do, and that is score. But there is more to basketball than putting the ball in the basket. Chandler is so important to this Knicks team and was instrumental in the Mavericks championship run two years ago. He is a smart player, a leader, and biggest of all, he is one of, if not the best defensive players in the NBA. He does it all on the defense, by communicating, playing tough, defending the ball and swatting shots. Chandler was awarded for his defensive play by being named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He even shot 70 percent from the field last season.
2. Andrew Bynum Philadelphia 76ers – This guy is getting better every day, as he should. Bynum is undoubtedly the second best center in the game, right behind Dwight Howard. Last season, Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks a game. Those elite numbers should be even better in 12-13 with the four team blockbuster trade that sent him to Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala to Denver, and our number one ranked center, Dwight Howard to L.A. Bynum should prosper in Philly, he will be the focal point of their offense and is not in the shadow of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bynum has two major flaws that are keeping him back from being the best center in the league, his physical health and his mental health. He has yet to play a full season and takes himself out of games literally by suspensions and mentally by checking out of games. If Bynum can get his head straight, at only 24, he can be just as good as or better than Dwight Howard.
1. Dwight Howard Los Angeles Lakers- Not much of a surprise here. Howard has basically man-handled all big men since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2004. Most say he is the last of a dying breed of “true” centers. Howard is simply a physical specimen. With his athleticism and strength he can absolutely dominate a game with low-post scoring, rebounding and shot blocking. Howard can definitely improve with his back to the basket and needs a ton of work on his free-throw shooting. Despite that, he is still the best big man the NBA has to offer. Howard, who led the Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009, joins the semi-new look Lakers along with Steve Nash. He is recovering from back surgery but when he returns he will shine in purple and gold with the future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Nash.