Here comes the conclusion to the NBA draft position series. The center position is the last piece to the puzzle and here is how good the center position looks this year.
In this upcoming draft, there are many teams craving for talent to help their front court. Not just talent, but size as well.
There aren’t that many centers this year so the list is narrowed down to five, but I guarantee you it’s a good five. Matter of fact, every single center in the draft can be gone when the lottery is over. Or realistically speaking, everyone should be off before the twenty-first pick.
You have Hassan Whiteside, the ruler inside the paint, DeMarcus Cousins the muscle, or Soloman Alabi, the prospect that many think is going to be a huge playmaker in the league.
Most teams in this draft need centers because their centers are either injured, not good enough, or they love the prospects at the position.
Here is my take on the top five centers in the draft.
Unlike most players from Nigeria or surrounding countries, scouts have high hopes for Alabi.
First off let me tell you the obvious. The scouts love his size at 7'1'' and 240 pounds. Along with that NBA body comes a 7’8’’ wingspan that he uses to his advantage.
He is a very good rebounder. He uses his upper body strength to muscle away the defender and pull down the rebound. He is also good at sealing the defender off and securing the rebound.
Also, with his long wingspan, he can alter and block shots in the post. From the center position he can get up and block attempts at the rim.
On the offensive end he displays some great skills that are rarely seen from African born players.
Alabi has the ability to hit the short and mid-range jumpers as well as finish strong in the paint. He is one of those guys that can clean up his mess proficiently. I have seen a lot of put-back dunks in college from him and expect the same in the pros.
In the post he is a back to the basket type of player. His first move on offense is looking over his shoulder to see his point of attack. His go to move would have to be his jump hooks over his right shoulder.
Alabi has the ability to run the floor in transition as well. He finishes strong around the rim and he can also dish it off in transition if needed.
Think: DeSagna Diop with offense
Did you witness Daniel Orton on the court or the bench more this season?
Not only did scouts only get to see 14 minutes worth of Orton’s game but the stats he put up also led to just about nothing. Epic fail right?
Wrong! Daniel Orton displayed some very good skills in those select minutes he played.
For example, his ability to establish post position. He is 6’10’’ and 260 pounds. He knows how to move the big body, seal off the defender, and catch the entry pass. Did I mention he has soft hands in the post? He has excellent touch around the rim and loves to throw it down on you.
Orton is physically tough. He can out-muscle you, manipulate you, and just plain play harder than you or match your intensity in the post. He will definitely be trouble in the painted area in the NBA.
He will be a great addition to any team that is looking for a project. His offensive skills are very raw and the team that drafts him should wait awhile for his full evolution.
Think: Kendrick Perkins
If I were to tell you that an NBA prospect broke their school record for most blocked shots in a career, led in blocks this season, led the country in triple doubles after pulling down three, and was a definite lottery pick, would you think Hassan Whiteside?
Whiteside is a very intriguing prospect on the account of his 7'0'' and 235 pounds to go along with his 7'6'' wingspan.
I don't know if it was the competition or just his skill set but he rose above the competition at Marshall. He can throw any dunk down on you. When watching highlights of him, I noticed every time he is around the rim he is looking for the throw down. He shows his aggression.
Unlike most seven-footers, Whiteside is very athletic. Do you see Dwight Howard participating in the dunk contest for his size? Whiteside could do the same.
His offense is under construction but on the defensive side of the ball, Whiteside is a great defender. Remember he has a 7'6'' wingspan and he has good run-and-jump ability to block shots at a high rate.
According to a YouTube video with his highlights he broke the career blocks record at Marshall in three-fourths of the season. What makes this so interesting is that Whiteside is only a freshman and it took him such a short amount of time to achieve the feat.
Along with blocking and altering shots comes a well in-depth rebounder. His frame allows him to clean up his miss or snatch down rebounds on the defensive end.
Think: Dwight Howard as a rookie
You hear everybody saying "Oh take the project" or "in about three years he'll be really good." Well why not take the NBA ready prospect that is ready to contribute now?
Cole Aldrich, the 6'11'' center from Kansas, is the most NBA ready center in the draft; both mentally and physically.
You can get a lot from a player like Aldrich. For a player his size he displays very good vision in the post. At Kansas he usually always faced the double team but that didn't rattle him; he still passed it out or scored. In addition, he has the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.
When he pulls up, you're either disgusted by his form or wondering why he just pulled up for the jumper, until he made it.
Aldrich can score from the inside, with jump hooks and runners, but can also score with his jump shot.
On the defensive side of the ball he has defensive mastermind written all over him. The three years he spent at Kansas helped him become a great defensive center. He has good shot blocking skills and displays nice footwork in the post.
He works very hard to keep his man in front of him, and always makes sure everything is tough for the opposition. He alters shots just as well as any veteran in the NBA.
Along with blocking shots comes a great rebounder. His upper body strength allows him to knock off defenders and grab the rebound. He has sure hands and is very alert so there is no possibility of a steal.
Think: Joel Pryzbilla
Look at the picture above. That’s what scares most teams away.
According to most, Cousins is a great prospect and one of the top players in the draft this year. He brings so much to the table from a basketball stand point.
First off, let’s start off with the obvious. He is very versatile and his excellent footwork and timing around the rim is an advantage.
He has the scorers’ mentality at the center position. But as I said before he is very versatile. He has the ability to face the basket and attack or he can be a back to the basket scorer. He likes to create his own shot but could create shots for others as well.
His jump shot allows him to step outside the paint and knock down that mid-range jumper. Also once he steps out of the paint he can drive on you out of the face up. I have even witnessed him knock down three point jumpers before.
Along with his offensive intensity he also brings defensive intensity. He can be a great post presence when committed to playing defense.
He is physically tough, and his long body will solidify him as a true post defender. He can block and alter shots, and snatch down defensive and offensive rebounds.
Cousins will be a great player if he matures and is committed to playing basketball.
Think: Eddy Curry