Does the well-roundedness of Marc Gasol or Joakim Noah allow one of them to jump to the top of the rankings? Is it going to be one of the young up-and-comers like DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe?
Is center really as wide open at the top as it seems?
These are just some of the many questions that total offense created (TOC) will help answer. This stat, developed by fellow Featured Columnist Kelly Scaletta and myself, measures how offensively dynamic each of these players has been during the 2012-13 season.
There are plenty of other offensive metrics, but they all have various biases and fail to account for at least some aspect of a player's performance. This one doesn't.
When you're reading this article—which begins with a two-slide explanation of total offense created that I would highly encourage you to go over carefully—keep in mind what the intention is here. We're measuring how dynamic a player is on offense.
This is not an overall ranking of centers. Defense is not accounted for in any way.
Instead, we're essentially looking at how effective players are at creating offense. This is about how offense is initiated, not finished. Here's where I get to turn to Kelly's cannonball metaphor:
To launch a cannonball you need to light the gunpowder, which creates an explosion and propels the cannonball forward. The cannonball then hits whatever you're aiming for and does damage.
On the one hand, the cannonball does the damage, but on the other hand, the force of it is generated by the explosion which propelled it. That's the "dynamic."
We're not denying the importance of the cannonball here by any stretch. Without the cannonball, the explosion is useless.
Some players are more "explosion" and some are more "cannonball." We're measuring the explosions here.
So, looking at passing, scoring and a number of other factors, which big men produce the biggest explosions?
A total of 46 have both played in at least 20 games this season and averaged at least 15 minutes per game, so read on for the rankings.
Note: All stats are current through Friday, March 22, and come from the various pages of Hoopdata.com, NBA.com's stat resources and Basketball-Reference.com. You can find the point guard rankings, as well as the original version of this introduction, here. The shooting guard rankings can be found through this link, and you can click here for the small forward rankings.