Ranking the NBA's Top 10 Frontcourts
The NBA has become a league of physical behemoths and monsters. In order to win in this league, you need speed and size.
This fits in well with the traditional notion that an elite center is the quickest route to success. Of course, guards and forwards can be equally talented, but a top big man has become a rare commodity.
In the Association today, there aren't many natural centers left, but there are plenty of frontcourts that dominate as a unit.
Rebounds, big shots, finishing inside and big defensive plays at the basket happen every night, but some do it a bit better than the rest. Here are the very best in that category.
10. Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce/Brandon Bass/Kevin Garnett
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The Boston Celtics made the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, but at 12-10 so far this year, it seems their contending days may be over. If the team is to make a run at one more title, though, Rajon Rondo will need help.
Paul Pierce leads the team with 19.8 points per night, but he doesn't have the same step as he once did and has lost of some of his aura. Brandon Bass can have big nights, but his inconsistency has held him back from being a top forward in the league.
At center, there is yet another veteran: Kevin Garnett. Garnett's rebounding is down to 7.0 per game from at least 8.2 per game each of the past two seasons, but his experience and talent is still obvious. He is a smart player with enormous defensive intensity who is very much a vocal leader.
Unfortunately, the problem for Garnett seems to be that of the team: age. This team is continuing to rely on aging players, and it might just be catching up to them.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green/Tim Duncan/DeJuan Blair
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You quite simply cannot overlook repeated success. The San Antonio Spurs have been among the best teams in the league for what seems like forever, and they have started this year 18-6.
Tony Parker has become the top guy for head coach Gregg Popovich, but Tim Duncan is still there and is among the best power forwards ever. His 17.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per night this season have him battling for yet another All-Star nod, and he continues to be a quiet leader.
DeJuan Blair is extremely powerful inside and uses that strength to liberate Duncan. Danny Green has been underwhelming, but when Kawhi Leonard returns, he will be able to alternate with Manu Ginobili to provide depth at the small forward position.
The Spurs can't seem to stop winning, and until they do, nothing but respect can be shown their way.
8. Brooklyn Nets: Gerald Wallace/Reggie Evans/Brook Lopez
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These are brand-new Nets, and not just because they play in Brooklyn now. The team has a revamped roster that has led them to a 13-9 record.
Although Deron Williams is the undisputed star of the squad, the front three have had their say in this successful start. Brook Lopez continues to struggle rebounding, but his 17.9 points per game lead the team, and the games he missed due to injury showed exactly how important he is.
Gerald Wallace has also been massively important, though. He is an elite defender who also finishes at the basket with impressive ease. This complements the gritty defense and rebounding of veteran Reggie Evans, who can't seem to stop making contributions.
Brooklyn wants to contend, and if their frontcourt continues at this pace, that will happen.
7. Utah Jazz: Marvin Williams/Paul Millsap/Al Jefferson
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The Utah Jazz are sometimes forgotten when it comes to naming dark horses for the title, but the team certainly deserves recognition.
Paul Millsap has 15.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per night. These numbers demonstrate exactly how much he provides across the board in complementing Al Jefferson underneath. Jefferson is at 17.3 points and 10.4 rebounds every time he steps on the court and is obviously a force to be reckoned with.
If Marvin Williams could penetrate a bit better and pull in a couple more boards per night, this frontcourt would become nearly unstoppable.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Metta World Peace/Pau Gasol/Dwight Howard
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OK, so things haven't been going well for the Los Angeles Lakers, but that doesn't change the absurd amount of talent this team has. In fact, the Lakers would be at the top of this list if the season had gone as well as the team had hoped.
Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA. Howard can rebound, defend better than almost anyone and finish inside. If he can manage to make a free throw every once in a while, he will continue to absolutely dominate.
However, things haven't gone quite as well for Pau Gasol. He has been hurt, and even when he plays he has been ineffective as of late. He isn't aggressive, can't hit the necessary shots and is feeling the wrath of Kobe Bryant.
Considering the three-point shooting and defense of Metta World Peace, it's a shame Gasol hasn't been able to get it together, because if he did, fans would be treated to something truly special.
5. Chicago Bulls: Luol Deng/Carlos Boozer/Joakim Noah
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Without Derrick Rose, many forget just how good the Chicago Bulls still are. Their early exit from the postseason last year undermines the fact that they had the first seed in the East despite Rose playing only 39 games.
Joakim Noah is a premier rebounder, can finish when necessary despite a hideous shot, and his energy is contagious to any crowd or team. At his side, Carlos Boozer tends to be forgotten despite his 14 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this season on top of his two All-Star nods.
The third man in the Chicago frontcourt is the leader sans Rose. Perhaps one of the more underrated stars in the NBA, Deng has 17.9 points per game this season and is more than capable of bearing the load of the offense.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant/Serge Ibaka/Kendrick Perkins
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When a team makes it to the NBA Finals in one season and starts the next with the best record in the league, that team is pretty much firing on all cylinders.
The Oklahoma City Thunder can't seem to do much wrong, and that is true of their frontcourt. The trio is led by Kevin Durant, who never ceases to amaze. His shot combined with his penetration makes him virtually unstoppable.
To help him out, he has likely the best shot-blocker in the league in Serge Ibaka and an experienced center in Kendrick Perkins. Both can score when called upon but also know how to step aside to leave space for the stars of the team. Both are superb defenders and extremely useful when it comes to rebounding.
Many expected the loss of James Harden to hurt the team, but the performance of the entire squad so far in 2012-2013 has them contending once more.
3. Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay/Zach Randolph/Marc Gasol
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Talk about a talented trio. The Memphis Grizzlies are 14-6, and their frontcourt is primarily to blame for this early success.
Rudy Gay is quite simply scoring 19.2 points per night and racking in 6.4 rebounds as well. Considering the talent he has around him, those are exactly the numbers fans want out of him. He knows when to shoot, and he does it extremely well.
Up top, the Grizzlies have what may be the best 4-5 combo in the league. Zach Randolph combines his efficient jumper with Marc Gasol's size and post moves in order to spread the field and find open looks. The sheer size of this squad overwhelms opponents, as demonstrated by the team being fourth in the NBA in rebounds conceded per game.
2. New York Knicks: Ronnie Brewer/Carmelo Anthony/Tyson Chandler
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The New York Knicks are 17-5 and in first place in the Eastern Conference. Their guards have been superb, but their frontcourt is what makes them truly dangerous.
Carmelo Anthony has been an MVP candidate since opening night with his plethora of offensive moves and defensive intensity. His three-point shooting has been excellent at .455 percent, and he is as strong and quick to the basket as ever. Now that he is diving into stands and honing in on defense, he can't really be stopped.
'Melo isn't even alone underneath, either. Tyson Chandler is the Defensive Player of the Year, leads the league in field-goal percentage and makes countless contributions unseen on a stat sheet. He is a vocal leader on this team, slams home numerous alley-oops per game, and his slap-out "rebounds" have often come at crucial times.
For his part, Ronnie Brewer has done a great job quietly doing exactly what he needs to. He may lose his spot to Amar'e Stoudemire when he returns, but for now he is locking down on defense and shooting better than ever.
1. Miami Heat: LeBron James/Udonis Haslem/Chris Bosh
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When you have the best player in the NBA in your frontcourt, things are going well. When that player is joined by another All-Star trying to help you defend your title, things are going nearly perfectly.
LeBron James is the very best in the NBA right now, period. He can shoot, he can defend, he can post up, he can rebound and he can pass. His thunderous dunks energize any crowd, and the ring on his finger has scared the monkey right off his back.
At the other two spots, the Miami Heat have Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh. Neither is as big as a prototypical center, but both can rebound hard and make defensive plays. Bosh is also very useful offensively since improving his jumper to complement his game inside.
Miami is a bit small, but the Heat are the defending champions, and the frontcourt is a big reason why.