The Top Five Centers of the NBA Playoffs
With the First Round of the NBA Playoffs behind us, its time to distribute a fair amount of recognition to players who have performed above expectations for their respective squads.
In this case, I'm showing love to the big guys, centers to be exact, or the anchors of every team's defense.
The requirements are that the candidates must have played at least two seasons at their position so that rules out several players (Sorry, Nene).
So without further delay, here are my Top 5 Centers of the NBA Playoffs:
Perkins is long, aggressive, and became the Celtics' defensive leader when Kevin Garnett went down. He took the spot over Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the numbers show why.
When you take into account Perk's numbers: five double-doubles and his remarkable feat of 60% field goal percentage in the playoffs in comparison to Z's one double-double and mark of 40 percent shooting from the field, the decision was a no-brainer.
Oh and throw in K.P.'s average of 12.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and Garnett-like 3 blocks per game and you can argue he's been the most important center of the play-offs, let alone the Eastern Conference.
Despite guarding basketball's most dominant big-man in Dwight Howard, he's yet to foul-out of game and has attacked Dwight in each of the series' first two games.
Kudos goes to "Big Perk" for withstanding the athleticism of Howard.
Currently the tallest player in the NBA at 7-6, Yao utilizes his height to score the lot of his points and over the years, he's developed into a more aggressive rebounder and a mean streak which is greatly welcomed.
He's been a All-Star in each of his first seven seasons, a feat last accomplished by Shaquille O'Neal and nearly averaged 20-10 this past season with the Rockets despite being without his best decoy (Tracy McGrady).
Ming also shot 86.6% from the free-throw line (a personal best); a true astounding mark for a player of his height and size. Ming's mark beat Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Ben Gordon, and Deron Williams.
In the postseason he's averaging 17 points and 10.5 rebounds and is shooting an amazing 92% from the charity stripe.
He also carried the Rockets past the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round and has continued his dominance in Round 2 against the tall front-line of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yao scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Game One and came back from a late-game knee injury to help the Rockets defeat L.A. and silenced a few critics about his toughness and durability issues.
In Game 2, he contributed 12 points and 10 more boards in Houston's loss, for his sixth consecutive double-double of the postseason.
Because of his size, the sky may be not tall enough to be the limit for Yao and without him the Rockets wouldn't even be a shell of themselves.
On a separate note, who knew the bigger guy was such a comedic genius?
I for one didn't and he also doubled as a peace negotiator when Ron Artest began the flame out in Game 2.
A big salute to a big-time player.
Dwight Howard was a force on Team USA in the Beijing Olympics as USA earned Gold and has also been a monster down in Orlando, leading the NBA in dunks, rebounds, blocks, and other categories scattered throughout the archives.
Howard averaged 20.6 PPG, 13.9 RPG, and 2.9 BPG during the regular season while helping the Magic clinch the third seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year.
Dwight has made consecutive All-Star appearances from 2007 to the present and earned Defensive Player of The Year, as well as honors on the NBA Defensive All-First Team as the top vote getter.
Almost unguardable at times, Dwight has led his team to wins over the Celtics, Rockets, Lakers, Hornets, and Pistons.
Howard averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds in the first-round and managed to throw a few elbows around in the paint. And its about time we start seeing some aggressiveness and a fire put under D-12.
Its clear that Howard is a beast. He's strong, long, extremely athletic, and a nightmare for any team.
But the next step in his game is developing a few post-moves and becoming more aggressive as a scorer.
Horford averaged 11.5 points and 9.3 rebounds along with 1.4 blocked shots per game as the front-line center for the Hawks.
Those numbers are spectacular for a second-year center, and the fact that he isn't playing his true position only echoes how truly special a player he is.
Al primarily played power forward at the University of Florida under coach Billy Donovan and had limited experience playing center because Donovan had Joakim Noah and Chris Richard.
However, because of the Hawks' willingness to start Marvin Williams, Horford is inserted out of position at the 5 and has adapted to the change rather nicely.
During the regular season, Big Al had the Hawks first 20-20 game in Hawks' history, with 21 points and 22 rebounds against the Miami Heat. He also had three blocks and made 8-of-14 from the field in that game.
Horford kept 7-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas off the glass and limited him to only three rebounds and 2-of-9 shooting from the field in Game One against the Cavs' in a lion-hearted effort, playing on a bum ankle.
He missed the Game 2 of the Hawks-Cavs' series and judging by the thrashing Atlanta received its a fair representation of just how important he is.
Yes, the Hawks were blown out in both losses, but at least Horford was able to isolate and silence his man and one dimension of Cleveland's offense.
Bynum averaged 13.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.1 BPG midway through his first breakout season a year ago and averaged 14.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocs before again going down with a serious injury.
Last season the time-table for Bynum's injury was originally estimated as six weeks for his recovery time, though Andrew was held out of the remainder of the regular season and the postseason for fear of coming back undeveloped and re-aggravating the knee.
After the Lakers learned of Bynum's injury, Los Angeles masked their hole in their frontcourt by acquiring Spaniard Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies at the deadline in the most popular trade in the NBA last season.
Los Angeles steamrolled their way to the Finals last season, and many fans and critics around the league felt that if Bynum would have returned, it would have been a completely different series with an equally different outcome.
However, many overlook Andrew's injury and how it was actually a blessing in disguise.
If the former high school phenom never would have been sidelined, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak would not have conversed with Memphis and pulled the trigger on the Gasol deal.
Which in essence would've halted Los Angeles' return to prominence and Kobe Bryant would never have gotten his MVP award.
This postseason Bynum has only played 24 minutes in their first 2 games of the Western Conference Semis' but this also could be a good thing.
By not forcing him to play mass levels of minutes, Bynum is being preserved for an obvious greater role deeper into the playoffs.
Should L.A. be pitted up against either Cleveland or Orlando in the Finals, the Lakers will need his size and length, so Laker fans, don't be alarmed with his lack of playing time.