They were once the key to winning in the NBA, but are now thought to be extinct. The big men in basketball have seen some major changes over the last decade. The physical makeup of the position has gone from huge dominant bodies, to lean ones with finesse capabilities.
You don't see a Bill Russell anywhere. Gone are the days of Hakeem, Kareem, and Wilt. No more Shaq, Ewing, or David Robinson. What we have now are hybrid-type players that have revolutionized the position, for better or worse.
Looking at the projected NBA depth charts heading into training camp, we take a look at the 10 best at the position today.
These guys are obviously top 10 caliber players, but with any list, there will always be those that just miss the cut.
Kendricks Perkins: He has been a defensive force inside for Boston and now Oklahoma City, but his offensive game has always been non-existent.
Andrew Bogut: If he can figure out how to stay healthy, the sky is the limit for Bogut. He is now part of a very deep team in Golden State that could really turn some heads this season.
Anthony Davis: The No. 1 draft pick from Kentucky's National Championship team has already won a gold medal with Team USA in London. He looks to be the anchor of a young team on the rise in New Orleans.
Jefferson is part of a trio of big man talent in Utah. Often overlooked, his offensive game is unique, but effective. His numbers have been consistently good, and the offense is run through his hands. His defense has been improving, and he is built like a brick.
At 27 years old, he averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game last year with the Jazz, and you can expect more of the same this season.
The Nets have been waiting for Lopez to explode, and this season he just might. The seven-footer averaged 19 points per game last year, but just 3.6 rebounds per contest. Still, the 24 year old only has four years of experience, so he is still improving.
With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Marshon Brooks, and Gerald Wallace in the mix, it should be a great year for the big man out of Stanford.
Despite his injury last season, Horford still managed to put in 12.4 points and seven rebounds per game for the Hawks. Many see Horford as more of a power forward, but his 6' 10, 250 pound frame holds up well against most centers in the league.
He is quick, and can move very good laterally. He's only 26, and still has yet to reach his prime, which is scary.
The Gasol brothers can be compared to the Manning brothers in some ways. Obviously Pau has the hardware, but Marc is right there with him when you talk about talent. He is part of a nice young nucleus in Memphis that always proves to be a tough out in the playoffs.
Last year he averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per game. He is over seven-feet tall and just 27 years old.
Entering his fifth season in the NBA, this could be a huge year for the big man.
When you think about Chandler, you think defense right? He does that well, but he has so much more to offer.
The Knicks' 7' 1" center averaged 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game last year.
Though he is entering his 12th year in the league, he is still only 29 years old. There is still room for improvement, but we know what he already brings to the table.
Hibbert earned a spot in the top five after his All-Star season last year. The 7'2" monster for Indiana averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per game last year. He is obviously the anchor on the defense, and a real presence inside.
The Georgetown product has only four years of NBA experience, and is only 25 years old. After signing the max contract with the Pacers, his future looks bright and secure.
Whether it's the floppy hair, the flamboyant playing style, or his antics on the court, many people don't like Noah. For whatever reason, they are missing on the type of talent he brings to the game.
Yes, he only averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds last year, but his 1.4 blocks per game and his tenacity on defense are what makes him great. He is an underrated free throw shooter, even with his unusual form.
He is a polarizing player, but he is also very good at what he does.
Power forward may be his natural position, but when Boston needed him to fill the center position last year, he did so without missing a beat. He averaged 16 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics, leading them deep into the playoffs once again.
Kevin is entering his 18th season in the league, but he can still play at the age of 36. His lead-by-example play on the defensive end is the engine that runs this team. Give him an open 15-foot shot, and he'll knock it down every time.
In some people's eyes, Bynum didn't live up to expectations in Los Angeles. Surrounded by so much talent in Laker Land, he now has the chance to prove he can be a franchise player for the Sixers. It is Philadelphia though, so there will be plenty of critics.
He is still just 24 years old, so hopefully the maturity comes along soon. His 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks per game last year were impressive.
Can he have the same type of production with a less talented team this season? He has the skills to keep the Sixers in the mix in the East.
No surprise that Dwight still owns this spot. First, It will be interesting to see how his back holds up over the course of the season. Second, it remains to be seen how well he meshes with guys like Kobe and Nash—who need to have the ball in their hands a lot. He can't expect to get the same amount of touches as he did in Orlando.
He scored 21 points and hauled in 15 rebounds per game last season. His 2.1 blocks were impressive, and that could balloon even larger playing alongside Gasol.
He has some big shoes to fill in L.A. with their history of big men, but Dwight obviously has the talent to get them back to the Finals.