In the NBA, teams only have so much cash to throw around. As a result, each franchise has at least one starting position that is weaker than the rest. In today’s era which is dominated by outside scorers, good big men are hard to find.
The center position seems to be going out of style, as there are fewer and fewer traditional centers available. The players highlighted on this list are, unfortunately, the bottom of the barrel in terms of starting big men in the NBA.
Players will not just be judged on their on-court production, but also on what they bring to the team intangibly, how well they fit the center position and how much money they are costing the team. That set of criteria results in some interesting names on the list, as you will soon see.
(All salary information courtesy of ShamSports.com)
2012-13 Stats: 15.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 blocks
2012-13 Salary: $12 million
All right, before you Atlanta Hawks fans begin writing your angry comments, please hear me out. Al Horford is a very good player. His inclusion on this list has nothing to do with his talent or ability on the court. It also has nothing to do with his salary, because he is paid fairly for the amount of production he gives the team.
Horford is on this list because he is not a center, but a power forward. That is his more natural position. While the Hawks have been able to win with him playing at center, they will be much better if they can get him a solid center to play with. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense why the Hawks have shown interest in Dwight Howard.
2012-13 Stats: 9.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
2012-13 Salary: $13.7 million
Roy Hibbert is another talented player who may seem out of place on this list. He is a solid defensive presence who makes an impact on a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. However, when you see what he is getting paid, you realize why Hibbert deserves to be here.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many teams that would love to have Hibbert. However, when you look at production, there are many teams who are getting the same with a much cheaper price tag. It is not even Hibbert’s scoring that is really the problem here, but rather his 8.3 rebounds per game. For over $13 million, you have to get me more than eight boards a game.
2012-13 Stats: 4.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 blocks
2012-13 Salary: $8.3 million
Kendrick Perkins does add to this Oklahoma City Thunder team. His veteran presence and leadership have been integral to this team’s rise to the top of the NBA over the last few seasons. However, his production on the court is ridiculously low.
His defense is slipping as he gets older, and he continues to produce offensively only on occasions few and far between. Perkins should be in the NBA, but probably not as a starting center. He has been a rumored amnesty candidate for the last few years, but it will all depend on whether the Thunder brass values his off-the-court contributions enough to ignore his shrinking production on-the-court.
2012-13 Stats: 6.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks
2012-13 Salary: $3 million
You really cannot blame Lavoy Allen for this. Andrew Bynum has still not come back from injury, and although he may be back by the All-Star break, Allen has started the most games at center, so he will be the player we use.
The truth is that Allen is just not starting-center material, but the Sixers have not had much of a choice. Bynum’s injury has really put them in a bind, so much so that they have a power forward trying to play center on a nightly basis. Hopefully for the team, Bynum will come back and be a difference-maker soon.
2012-13 Stats: 4.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
2012-13 Salary: $2.9 million
You might be noticing a trend of players who, are not necessarily bad players, but rather have been put into a situation in which they cannot perform to the best of their potential. The same is true of Bismack Biyombo.
While Biyombo does look like he has a promising future as a big man in the NBA, he should be playing power forward, much in the vein of a guy like Serge Ibaka, rather than center. The Bobcats need the defensive impact Biyombo brings there, but he is not doing well at that spot. His player efficiency rating is below 10, and many of his stats are dipping in his second NBA season.