NBA Draft 2012: Ranking the 10 Best Center Prospects

Patrick BrittonAnalyst IJune 14, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Ranking the 10 Best Center Prospects

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    Russell. Wilt. Kareem. Hakeem.

    Great teams win with centers—it's as simple as that. While other teams are looking for quick guards in the draft, your team should be looking for a big man.

    As Miami found out in the NBA Finals last year, it's hard to win when you have Joel Anthony and the opposition has Tyson Chandler. 

10. Renardo Sidney

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    Sidney was highly-touted coming out of high school, but he struggled at the collegiate level.

    While he could still be a solid pro, Sidney is very immature. In 2010, Sidney got into a fight with one of his Mississippi State teammates.

    He also needs to lose a ton of weight (currently over 300 lbs) if he wants to make an NBA roster this fall. 

9. Justin Hamilton

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    Hamilton has nice size for the NBA and could be drafted late in the second round. He is not special in one particular category, but he plays hard and can score a bit around the rim.

    Hamilton doesn’t have a very high ceiling, but he could be a solid bench player in the league. 

8. Yancy Gates

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    After carrying Cincinnati to the Sweet 16 this season, Gates showed he can bring it in big games.

    The main issue with Gates is his weight and his height. He would be undersized at center at just 6’9”, and he doesn’t have the quickness to play power forward.

    Gates will need to lose weight (he is currently 290 lbs) if wants to stay in the league for more than a season or two. 

7. Henry Sims

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    Sims could be a nice steal in the second round because of the size and energy he brings. At 7'0" and 240 pounds, he can hang with other big men, and scouts love the fact that he never takes a play off.

    He is a little older than some of the other prospects, but Sims has a great basketball IQ, and he will always work hard for you. 

6. Robert Sacre

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    Equipped with a back-to-the basket post game and a decent jump shot, Sacre should find himself drafted in the middle of the second round. While he played well against smaller opponents in college, he doesn’t have the athleticism that so many other NBA players have.

    However, he might be able to make up for it with his superb free-throw shooting and great understanding of the game. 

5. Fab Melo

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    Melo has great size at 7'0" and 250 pounds and showed he is difficult to score on by winning the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. While he lacks a quality offensive game, because of his length, he could develop a post game that would be difficult to stop.

    Although he is good defensively, Melo, for whatever reason, is not a great rebounder. He will need to improve if he wants to become a starting NBA center. 

4. Festus Ezeli

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    Ezeli is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft. He is a good shot-blocker, and his size makes him a great post defender. However, Ezeli’s offensive game is almost nonexistent, as his jump shot is terrible, and he lacks a good post-game.

    If he eventually figures out how to score, he could turn into a Samuel Dalembert-type of player. 

3. Meyers Leonard

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    Leonard made a huge jump in his sophomore year at Illinois, as his offensive game improved mightily. He stands at 7’1”, which is great size for a center. If he continues to get stronger, he will be difficult to stop.

    Although his offense improved this season, it is still not ready for the NBA. Leonard will have to work hard if he plans on scoring at the pro level.

2. Tyler Zeller

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    After playing four years at college, Zeller’s ceiling is lower than some of the younger and less experienced prospects in the draft. However, he has a great post game and can finish with both hands.

    He also runs the court very well for a big man and has a high basketball IQ. At the very least, Zeller will turn out as a quality big man off the bench for a contending team. 

1. Andre Drummond

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    Drummond has by far the most upside out of the center prospects in the draft. At 6’11" and 260 pounds, he has the size and strength to excel at the NBA level.

    The only problem with Drummond is his effort. Scouts question his passion for the game, so he could either be the next Andrew Bynum or the next Kwame Brown.

    It's high-risk, high-reward for the team who decides to select the center out of UConn.