Does ranking Roy Hibbert at third in the NBA seem a little high?
Allow me to explain.
During the Eastern Semifinal loss to Miami, we all got to see the value of Hibbert. It went way beyond stats.
Remember how the Pacers starting lineup (Hill, George, Hibbert, Granger and West) just flowed together, arguably giving the Heat their toughest matchup challenge during their championship run. When the Pacers ran their offense through Hibbert, it caused Miami fits. Even if Hibbert didn't shoot, his passing skills helped set up his teammates.
Down low on both offense and defense he could not be ignored, his shot alterations alone were much more numerous that his 3.1 blocks per game would properly represent.
Then when you compliment Hibbert's game with the high-post game of West, the mid-range game of Granger, George's outside shooting and Hill's driving it was tough to handle. But it wouldn't have been so tough to handle without Hibbert. Granger, George, West and Hill wouldn't have been able to get so many decent attempts or be able to play more aggressively on defense if Hibbert wasn't in the box covering for them. He was the hub that the Pacers' wheel rotated around. It's no coincident that Indiana's rise coincided with the growth of Hibbert.
But how does he compare with that of his peers?
While not the entirety of the equation, stats are a big part of it. Like rings in basketball, players must be able to put up some good numbers before their intangibles can set them apart.
So let's look at the stats, or at least the most important ones (for our purposes: points, field-goal and free-throw percentages, rebounds, offensive rebounds, blocks, assists and turnovers.)
And let's make some parameters on who we'll judge. I figured that the only players that should qualify are centers that start on their teams. Here's why, if you're going to be in contention for being one of the top 10 centers in the league, you got to be a starter, or at least start in most of your team's games down the stretch. There just aren't enough quality centers in the NBA for a Top 10 center to be coming off the bench.
This ruled out JaVale McGee, who started a cool seven games for Denver and Omer Asik. But that's okay, he'll make $8 million for his three points and five rebounds next year. I still can't get over that. It's about as bad as, I don't know, a team spending like $50 million on five players (read: Brooklyn).
I also didn't count Kevin Garnett because he's a power forward.
So the players that qualified are: Joel Anthony (MIA), Andris Biedrins (GS), Bismack Biyombo (CHA), Andre Bynum (LAL), Marcus Camby (POR), Tyson Chandler (NY), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), Samuel Dalembert (HOU), Tim Duncan (SA), Marc Gasol (MEM), Drew Gooden (MIL), Marcin Gortat (PHX), Aaron Gray (TOR), Spencer Hawes (PHI), Brendan Haywood (DAL), Hibbert (IND), Al Horford (ATL), Dwight Howard (ORL), Al Jefferson (UTH), DeAndre Jordan (LAC), Chris Kaman (NO), Brook Lopez (BKN), Greg Monroe (DET), Timofey Mozgov (DEN), Nene (WAS), Joakim Noah (CHI), Nikola Pekovic (MIN), Kendrick Perkins (OKC) and Anderson Varejao (CLE).
Now for the process.
1. I compared all 29 center's stats from last season, if they made the playoffs I added the playoff and regular season stats together and averaged them. Since the playoffs are important, this both hurt and helped various guys.
2. Rank the top ten in each category, and awarding a ten points for whoever finished first, and one point who finished tenth. For example, in ppg, Howard had the most ppg (20.6) so he got 10 points, Lopez was second (19.2) so he got 9 points, Jefferson finished third (18.8) so he got 8 points, and so on and so forth.
3. Add up all the points a player received and see what happened.
The results were intriguing. Hypothetically the best centers should score the highest, which is basically what happened. Check out the players that finished with 20 or more points:
1. Howard 42
2. Bynum 30
3. Gasol 26
4. Noah 24
5. Cousins 23
7. Duncan 20
That's a pretty good snapshot don't you think? Is that the best seven centers in the game in order? No, but it's close. Howard should obviously be the king of the hill and Bynum is clearly second-fiddle. The rest needs to be hashed out, but it's surely something we can build on.
A bigger surprise was a very low score from Chandler (8) and average totals from Gortat (13), Jefferson (13) and Jordan (13).
Of course, before we get to the top ten, we must pay tribute to the four players that laid a goose egg in my stat leader test. Aaron Gray, Brendan Haywood, Timofey Mozgov and Kendrick Perkins. Come on guys, Bimack Biyombo even got six points. Oh well, their names won't be mentioned on the next slide.