For much of the past decade the NBA has been riddled with mediocre play from the center position. Had it not been for Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Ben Wallace, and Yao Ming. The position wouldn’t have warranted much of a look.
However, that no longer is the case. The position has been revitalized by an inlux of talent that has been drafted over the past five seasons. That means the future of the position is in pretty good shape.
As many as 12 teams have players that could compete for All-Star positions. It’ll be very intriguing to see which players help propel their teams into playoff contention.
With that said, enjoy these rankings for the starters of the center position.
Joel Anthony is a veteran of three years. He will taking over the starting center position for the Miami Heat. This will be the first time in his three year career that he enters the seasons as the starter for any team.
Joel Anthony is the worst starting offensive center in all the NBA. He has flashed moments of being a respectable threat but he really isn’t much of a threat outside of offensive rebounds and lobs at the rim. One of the best at setting screens and is a solid passer.
Defensively Anthony has great footwork and is solid as an individual defender and team defender. He is the worst defensive rebounder among the 30 NBA starters.
Although the Heat managed to go 13-3 in games that Joel Anthony started last season, he shouldn’t be starting for a team that’s expected to compete for a NBA Championship. His inabilities may be the reason the Miami Heat end up falling short of their expectations.
Ryan Hollins is a veteran of four years. Last season was a bit of a breakout year for Hollins, as he improved nearly all of his previous career high statistics.
Hollins is one of the five most athletic players at the center position. If ever he should hone his skills, his athletic prowess could make him one of the most dynamic players at his position.
Offensively Hollins is very good at moving without the ball and has a soft touch around the paint. But at the age of 25 he’s primarily a dunker and an offensive rebounder, nothing more. He’s poor at setting screens but does display an improving basketball IQ.
Defensively Hollins could be special. His length and leaping ability give him added advantages that most rebounders and shot blockers aren’t afforded. Should he put time in to strengthen his mind and body, he’d be a player to reckon with. Currently he’s a mediocre rebounder at the defensive end and often looks none interested.
At this stage, only Joel Anthony is less of a player in regards to starting centers.
Darko Milicic is a NBA veteran of seven years. In many fans’ eyes he is a bust.
However, he isn’t the kind of bust that doesn’t display abilities that translate into efficient and quality play. He’s the kind of bust who is multi-talented but has lost his confidence. Good thing for him he’s just 25 years old.
Offensively Milicic can do everything and then some needed of a center. He can be featured on the low block, step out to knock down jumpers and set teammates up with arguably the best passes from a NBA center. His only weakness is his confidence. Should ever he find it, he could become one of the really special players at his position.
Defensively Milicic is vastly underrated and is going to open a lot of eyes this season. He’s a solid shot blocker as well as individual low-block defender. He’s an average rebounder and his team defense is in need of some work, but it isn’t so bad that it handicaps his teammates.
JaVale McGee is a pro of two years. This season he will begin the season as the undisputed starter for the Washington Wizards.
McGee is the most athletic player at the center position and is improving with every passing moment. He has a drive to be a relevant player in this league, and that’s something a lot of players at his position don’t display enough.
Offensively McGee is still a raw player that relies more on his athletic ability more than he does his actual skills set. He’s primarily a dunker and offensive rebounder at the young age of 22. He does have a developing jump hook that he can use turning over each shoulder and some ability to put the ball on the floor
Defensively, McGee is good at recording rebounds and blocking shots but he really isn’t good at defending. He’s more of a reaction player than one that is good at reading and perceiving what the offense is trying to do. This often gets him into trouble and makes him prone to foul trouble.
This will be a breakout season for McGee and he should climb up the rankings as the season proceeds.
Ronny Turiaf is a veteran of five seasons and will be joining his third NBA club this season. It will also be his first year opening a season as a starter.
Turiaf is one of the most insightful and intelligent players in the league. But the average fan isn’t aware of this because all they see is his rough looking exterior and childish smile.
Arguably the best off the ball moving big in the game, Turiaf makes his mark on the offensive end by knowing when to dive to the lane to help his teammates get an easy assist or when to crash the boards for an easy two handed put back. He’s also a solid ball handler, passer and decent enough shooter. His only weaknesses is he is a horrid free throw shooter and lacks aggression in post situations, often passing out of one-on-one opportunities.
Defensively Turiaf is one of the five or six best shot blockers in the NBA even though the numbers don’t show it. His defensive IQ is vastly underrated. For a guy with a knack for chasing shots, he still manages to do a solid job in occupying rebounds and not putting his teammates in unsavory positions. He can be a gambler at times as he often forgets he’s a big and tries to emulate a wing player.
This season will be a career year for Turiaf, expect him to open a lot of eyes now that he’s a New York Knicks player.
Nenad Kristic is a veteran of six seasons. No longer is he the player that anchored the New Jersey Nets front line.
Kristic abilities greatly exceeds what he’s allowed to display on the Kevin Durant lead Thunder. It also wouldn’t hurt him if he actually took the time to strengthen his often injured body. It’s almost as if he doesn’t care about fulfilling his potential as a player.
Offensively Kristic is a pretty balanced player, but his health and poor conditioning has prevented him from performing at his peak. His lack of physical strength and fluctuating competitive nature is all that holds him back.
Defensively Kristic is a solid rebounder and does a great job of executing in the help defender role. He’s a mediocre shot blocker but does a solid job as an individual defender when he’s focused.
Ben Wallace is a NBA veteran of 14 seasons. This season will most likely be his last and rightfully so.
No longer is he the All-World defender that anchored a Pistons’ defense that won a NBA Championship in 2004. He now finds himself amongst a rebuilding project in Detroit.
Offensively Wallace isn’t much of a threat to do anything but offensive rebound and set solid screens, which were both two things he did very well this past season. He also an underrated passer but doesn’t have the ball enough to display it.
Wallace is no longer the game changer that won four DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year) awards, but that isn’t to say he isn’t still effective. He’s still one of the more productive rebounders and paint defenders in the league. His only weakness is his declining athletic abilities.
Spencer Hawes is a three year veteran and will be joining the 76ers organization this season. This will be his third season as an opening night starter.
Hawes is a player with enough talent and skill to be a top 10 center in the NBA. What he doesn’t have is a commitment to reaching his potential, or at least he hasn’t displayed so. He is only 22 years old and has a long career ahead of him if he so choose.
Offensively he all the skills to play either the center or the power forward position. What he doesn’t have is the strength needed to be a steady low back present. If he would just commit himself to the weight room, he’d easily be a player that could average 17 or more points per game. His only real weakness other than his strength is his mediocre free throw shooting.
Defensively Hawes is a good weak side shot blocker and above average rebounder. His mobility allows him to be solid against perimeter oriented bigs. Where he struggles is against bangers because he’s too light, weighing in around 240 to 245lbs. He's also struggles with foul trouble because of his limited strength.
Nazr Mohammed is a veteran of 11 seasons. Last year he helped anchor a Bobcats defense that help the club make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Mohammed is one of the more solid offense threats at the center position who excels at playing in the paint. His numbers don’t reflect it because he doesn’t play a lot of minutes per game, but his per 36 numbers had him at 17 points per game last season. He has solid foot-work and a soft touch. He’s also one of the better offensive rebounders.
Defensively Mohammed is solid in every aspect and is only limited by his mobility. At age 32 he isn’t going to get any better than he already is.
DeMarcus Cousins is the fifth overall draft selection in this past 2010 Draft. Originally he was projected as a big power forward. However, due to uncertainty with other players, the Kings have decided to start him at the five position.
Thus far through training camp Cousins has proved more than capable of dominating NBA centers. How well he does will be entirely on him.
In regards to his offense, the young man is as complete as a 19-year-old center can be. Cousins has a solid inside-outside game, terrific passer, can put the ball on the floor and is a solid offensive rebounder. All he needs to do now is continue to get physically stronger; the rest will take care of itself.
Defensively Cousins has all the tools to be a factor, but it just hasn’t clicked yet. He’s been in foul trouble quit a bit and needs to concentrate more. He’s a excellent rebounder and will be a factor in the shot blocking department. It’ll take half a season or more before he’s a respectable individual defender but his team defense should be decent enough to warrant him heavy minutes.
Emeka Okafor is a veteran of six seasons. He will be entering his second season as the Hornets starter.
Okafor has had a very interesting career, his numbers keep dropping each season, and no one has a reason as to why; including Okafor himself.
Offensively he gets his off the offensive glass and being set up by his teammates. He showed promise of being a possible low block option as a rookie, but those days appear to have passed. He has good hands but is a poor dribbler and average passer.
Okafor is a good shot blocker and rebounder. He’s a solid individual defender and above average team defender. The Hornets will rely heavily on him to improve on their bottom of the pact defensive rankings.
Marcus Camby is a veteran of 14 seasons. This is arguably his last year playing, unless of course he decides to go down and win a title next season in Miami.
Offensively Camby still is predominantly a offensive rebounding stud. He’s also has a solid 15 foot jumper. He’s an average passer and mediocre free throw shooter.
Defensively Camby still ranks among the elites in steals and rebounds. He’s also great at generating steals. He’s had 14 seasons to develop his individual and team defense, and it clearly shows as he ranks among the top 10 in both categories.
Roy Hibbert is a two year pro that will be opening his second season as a starter. He is coming off a season in which he bettered his numbers in every statistical category imaginable.
The Pacers have big plans this season for Hibbert , they are on record saying they will run the bulk of their offense through him this season. Keep in mind this is a team with Danny Granger and Darren Collison on it.
Hibbert has a tremendous basketball IQ and uses it well on the offensive end. He displays a soft touch on his shots and has a nice strong wide base when receiving the ball near the basket. He’s also a heck of a passer but needs to be more dominant on the offensive glass.
Defensively Hibbert is average individually as well as team wise. He’s an average rebounder but excels at shot blocking. Hopefully he’ll continue his growth as he enters his third year as a pro.
Kendrick Perkins is a veteran of seven seasons. Perkins is only 25-years-old and it remains to be seen if he’s reached his ceiling.
Perkins will miss at least the first three months of the season. Until he returns, Shaquille O’Neal will man his spot.
Offensively Perkins is solid at best. He has a developing post game but for the most part relies on his teammates and offensive rebounds to get his points. He isn’t a good ball handler and is an average passer, but he does set some of the best screens and picks on this side of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Defensively is where Perkins makes his money. He has arguably the best footwork among NBA centers and is terrific at rebounding and blocking shots. He is a top five individual and team defender at his position.
Robin Lopez is a two year veteran for the Phoenix Suns. He will open the season as the teams starting center for the first time in his brief career.
Much will be expected of Lopez with Amar’e Stoudemire residing else where now. The Suns will rely heavy on the third year pro to be its’ focal point for low post scoring.
Lopez is a very effective offensive option, partly due to his size and the teams system. He gets a ton of looks at or near the front of the rim. He has soft hands and solid footwork that allows him to effectively play off Steve Nash. He’s developing a dependable jumper and hook over his left shoulder.
Defensively he’s aggressive and usually it’s a benefit to him. However, it gets him into trouble because he’s a bit of a dirty player and picks up cheap fouls here and there. He’s a good shot blocker and rebounder and does a good job in the individual and team defending aspects.
Mehmet Okur is an eight year veteran. He want be playing till late December or early January due to an Achilles injury. Until he returns, Al Jefferson will man his position.
With Carlos Boozer in Chicago now, the Jazz would sure love to have Okur healthy. Last time Boozer missed significant time Okur ended up in with an All-Star selection in 2007.
Okur can do it all offensively. Whether it be posting up or spotting up outside for a three pointer, you name it and Okur will bring it. He’s a gifted passer and sneaky offensive rebounder.
Defensively Okur has been underrated every since he left Detroit and came to Utah. It’s almost as if people forget how effective he is as an individual and team defender. He’s an average rebounder and solid shot blocker.
Okur is a really bright player that’s often overlooked because he tends to get his in the flow of a game. Just when you think he’s had a 11 point and five rebound night. The stat sheet will read something like 19 points and nine rebounds.
Andrea Bargnani is a veteran of four seasons. This year he will be expected to be the Raptors go to scorer.
Bargnani is extremely versatile on the offensive end. He can post, dribble penetrate and hit the spot up three pointer. He’s an average passer and mediocre offensive rebounder. He needs to strengthen his base so he can be more effective on the block because that’s where his head needs to be.
Defensively Bargnani isn’t as bad as many thinks. He’s a decent individual defender and solid team defender in regards of him getting weak side blocks. Where he struggles is being moved out of the way of potential rebounds. He just needs to focus more on fighting for position and he’ll be alright.
Andris Biedrins is a veteran of six NBA seasons. Last year he and his game were hampered by groin and abdominal injuries. He also dealt with being the brunt of Don Nelson’s jokes.
Well he’s healthy now and Don Nelson has been replaced. Those two factors have Biedrins excited about this upcoming season.
Biedrins is arguably the most fluid player at the center position. It’s often spoken in regards to a lot of centers, but in regards to him, he really does move and run the floor like a guard.
He uses this speed and agility in an efficient manner offensively. He has wonderful hands and is a great ball handler and passer. He has a solid mid range jumper and is a phenomenal offensive rebounder. His one flaw is poor free throw shooting.
Defensively Biedrins is a beast on the defensive boards while still managing to be a solid shot blocker. His individual and team defense are often underrated because of the system that Nelson employed. He will no longer have to deal with that as new coach Keith Smart has implemented a defensive system suitable to his skill set.
Yao Ming is a veteran of seven seasons. He missed all of last season and will have his minutes monitored this season (24 minutes per game).
Yao peaked three seasons ago when he averaged 25 points per contest. Those days are most likely behind him but the skills that permitted him to do so are not. Yao will still be a presence on the low block and he still is an exceptional shooter and passer. What his fans might not see is him putting the ball on the floor as much as years past.
Defensively Yao should be much stronger on the block due to his all his rehab time. He’s a good rebounder and team defender. His shot blocking and individual defense should take a hit with all the time off his feet last year. He’ll need at least half a season to get back to his past abilities.
Joakim Noah is a pro of three seasons. This will be his second season as the opening day starter.
Offensively Noah is an excellent offensive rebounder and passer. He’s also skilled enough to put the ball on the floor to attack the rim area. His post game is inconsistent at best but still improving.
Defensively Noah brings tons and tons of energy as well as basketball IQ. He’s one of the better team defenders and rebounders in all of basketball. His individual defense is average but at times he can take a player completely out the game. He’s a skilled shot blocker and growing as a ball hawk.
Brook Lopez is a two year veteran. Last season he led his team to the worst record in the NBA. This season he will look to improve on his vastly overrated stock.
Offensively Lopez isn’t the dominant low post threat that many believe him to be. Most of his points are those of the opportunistic and off-ball variety. He does a great job of establishing deep positioning and has the ability to put the ball on the floor. He’s more productive with his jump shot than he is with his actual back to the basket game. He’s also a very good passer and offensive rebounder.
Defensively Lopez is an average rebounder and good shot blocker. He’s a decent enough individual defender but mediocre team defender minus the blocks.
Al Horford is a three year pro. He’s increased his efficiency in each of his previous two seasons and nothing suggests that he won’t do the same this season.
Offensively Horford is one of the most efficient scorers at his position. He likes to sweep across the lane and use his baby hook. He’s a solid passer and is an absolute beast on the offensive board. He has a solid mid range jumper and does a good job of moving without the ball.
Defensively Horford does everything at an above average level. His only weakness is his limited height and lack of being an explosive athlete.
Nene Hilario is a veteran of eight years. He is coming off his first season of staying healthy for all 82 games. It’s also the second time in his career that he’s played 77 of more games in consecutive seasons.
There wasn’t a better scorer last season per 100 possessions in all the NBA last year. He’s arguably the most underutilized offense force in the entire league.
Nene uses his strength and athletic ability to get what he wants. He’s one of the best athletes in the NBA. Nene is a low post nightmare for any defender. He’s adept at putting the ball on the floor and making a play for himself or his teammates. He can knock down the mid range jumper and he can be a terror on the offensive board. Nene’s only real weakness is his inability to stay interested and his teammates not force feeding him.
Defensively Nene may be the best at guarding centers off the dribble drive. His footwork and agility is phenomenal when he’s healthy. He’s a solid team defender and rebounder. Where Nene separates himself from most centers is his ability to generate turnovers, they may not be anyone better at the position.
Nene has the skill, talent and confidence to be a top five center in the NBA. He may need a change of scenery to reach his potential.
Marc Gasol is a veteran of two seasons. After stepping out of his star-brother’s shadow last season, he will look to ascend into the ranks of NBA All-Star this year.
It’s rather remarkable that Gasol was able to average 15 points being the fourth option on his club. His ability to attack from the perimeter or the low block makes him one of the most difficult covers in the NBA. He’s a really good passer and solid offensive rebounder. His only weakness is his limited athletic ability.
Defensively Gasol has a solid IQ and good footwork. He does a good job on the boards and providing protection of the rim area with his quick hands and timely swats.
Andrew Bynum is a veteran of five years. Once again Bynum will fail to play a complete season.
Only once in his career has he managed to play over 65 games. He’s missed a total of 132 games in his five seasons, that’s an average of 26 games a season.
When healthy, Bynum is a beast on the low block. His unique blend of size, explosiveness, agility, strength and skill makes him the most difficult post presence to contain. He has a soft touch on his shots and is an underrated passer. When focused, he’s one of the most difficult players to keep off the offensive glass.
Bynum has increased his scoring for the past four seasons. It’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues.
Defensively Bynum can make it nearly impossible to be efficient in the paint. He’s a skilled shot blocker and dominant rebounder. He’s an underrated individual defender and equally overrated team defender.
Chris Kaman is a veteran of seven seasons. Last season he was selected to his first All-Star game.
Kaman is the most complete offensive player at the center position. He’s easily the best ball handling big at the position and arguably the best passer. He has multiple moves he can go to on the block or he can use his mid range jumper. He’s also an underrated rebounder.
Defensively Kaman has solid footwork and does a good job of defending perimeter oriented players. He struggles defending the post because he isn’t physically strong enough to handle some of the bigger players. He’s a solid rebounder and shot blocker.
Kaman would be an even better player if ever he dedicated himself to weight lifting. Yet for some reason he hasn’t shown much of an interest at getting stronger.
Andrew Bogut is a five year pro. Bogut is extremely talented and equally injury prone. He still hasn’t recovered from his elbow and hand injuries that he suffered last season.
Bogut is skilled at multiple things on the offensive end of the court. He’s one of the best ball handlers at the position. Has a versatile back to the basket game and is tremendous off the dribble. He’s a skilled outside shooter and underrated passer. He’s also one of the best offensive rebounders in all of basketball.
Defensively Bogut made great strides last season under the tutelage of head coach, Scott Skiles. He’s a tremendous defensive rebounder and shot blocker. He’s arguably the best individual defender at the position due to his size, athletic ability and strength. He’s an equally adapt team defender.
Bogut’s only weakness is his lack of commanding the ball. Once he does that, he and his teammates will be better off.
Dwight Howard is a veteran of six NBA seasons. He currently is the most statistically dominating player at his position. He can dominate both ends of a court on any given night.
He's not the most skilled player at his position but he is the most productive and has the biggest impact.
At the tender age of 24-years-old, he has yet to reach his potential. As dominating as he can be, it’s rather hilarious when people talk about certain players becoming the best player in the NBA but manages to leave his name out of the conversation.
He’ll sit at the top of this list for years to come.