NBA's Most Powerful in the Paint: The League's 10 Best Centers

Holden McGinnisContributor IFebruary 13, 2011

Powerful in the Paint: The NBA's 10 Best Centers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It's a little over half-way through the NBA season and it seems about time for a look at the 10 best centers in the NBA.  For this article, I will only be looking at true centers, so don't get upset when you fail to find Pau Gasol, Amare Stoudemire and Kevin Love on this list.  Sorry guys, but they're only power forwards, despite playing some minutes at center.

    To determine these rankings, I created "Center Efficiency", a formula determining the effectiveness of each center in fulfilling their roles.  The stats used are points, rebounds, field goal percentage, steals and blocks.  The results of this formula were a bit surprising.

    Formula: 1.5*PTS + 2*REB + 50*FG% + 5*BLK + 3*STL

    100+ = MVP Candidate

    90-100 = All-NBA Caliber

    80-90 = All-Star Caliber

    75-80 = Borderline All-Star

    70-75 = Good Player

    65-70 = Solid Player

Borderline Top 10

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    Javale McGee (11th) swatting Paul Pierce's layup attemptElsa/Getty Images

    No. 11-15

    These guys haven't produced enough this season to be considered among the 10 best centers in the league, but they came pretty close.

    15. DeMarcus Cousins 13.9 ppg (8) 8 rpg (9) 43.8 FG% (15) 0.8 spg (7) 0.8 bpg (14)  

    Center Efficiency: 65.15

    The promising rookie center for the Sacramento Kings has been doing all he can to help his team, but it hasn't been enough to produce wins or a higher ranking.

    14. Roy Hibbert 12.8 ppg (10) 7.8 rpg (10) 44.7 FG% (14) 0.3 spg (15) 1.8 bpg (6)  

    Center Efficiency: 67.05

    Hibbert has continued to show his improvement in his third NBA season and has had sparks of brilliance, but overall, he has been a bit of a disappointment.  The beginning of the season had many fans, including myself, thinking this would be his breakout year, but Hibbert has seemed to follow up every great game with a poor one.

    13. Anderson Varejao 9.1 ppg (T-14) 9.7 rpg (6) 52.8 FG% (7) 0.9 spg (T-4) 1.2 bpg (10)  

    Center Efficiency: 68.15

    Before going down with his ankle injury, Varejao was having himself a very good quiet season for the struggling Cavaliers.

    12. Marc Gasol 11.8 ppg (11) 7.1 rpg (13) 51.6 FG% (8) 0.9 spg (T-4) 1.7 bpg (7)  

    Center Efficiency: 68.9

    This season has been a weak one for the younger Gasol brother, as Marc is posting numbers below his career average this season and well below the production of Pau.

    11. Javale McGee 9.1 ppg (T-14) 7.7 rpg (11) 54.7 FG% (6) 0.5 spg (13) 2.5 bpg (2)  

    Center Efficiency: 70.4

    McGee has been a massive shot-blocking presence inside for the Wizards, providing them with enough interior defense to make up for the loss of Brendan Haywood last season.

No. 10: Andrea Bargnani

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    Soft and sweet shooting, Bargnani has made a name for himself as the premier scorer on a Chris Bosh-less Raptors teamMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 21.5 ppg (2), 5.5 rpg (15), 44.8 FG% (13), 0.6 spg (T-10), 0.8 bpg (T-12)

    Center Efficiency: 71.4

    Though you may be surprised to find the Italian sharpshooter this high on the list due to his inability to rebound or block, his scoring ability makes up for those deficiencies.  The ranks above make it seem as though Bargnani should be much lower, but as he is so far ahead in scoring compared to many other players, he is able to achieve a higher rank.

No. 9: Brook Lopez

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    Brook Lopez fighting his way into the paint against Pau GasolStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 19.6 ppg (3) 5.7 rpg (14) 47.9 FG% (12) 0.6 spg (T-9) 1.4 bpg (9)

    Center Efficiency: 73.55

    Brook Lopez has been one of the best young centers in the NBA the past few seasons, and it's quite surprising to see his rebounding numbers down 2.9 per game from last season.  Despite his lack of rebounding ability this year, Brook still breaks into the top 10 at No. 9 thanks to his ability to score at such a high rate.

No. 8: Tyson Chandler

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 10.5 ppg (13) 9.5 rpg (7) 65.9 FG% (1) 0.5 spg (T-12) 1.2 bpg (T-10)

    Center Efficiency: 75.2

    One of the least talked about stories of this offseason was the trade of Tyson Chandler from Charlotte to Dallas.  Tyson has had a humongous impact for this Mavericks team and is a major reason that they are a title contender this season.

No. 7: Nene

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 15.2 ppg (6) 7.2 rpg (12) 64.0 FG% (2) 1.0 spg (3) 0.8 bpg (T-13)

    Center Efficiency: 76.2

    One of the most underrated centers in the NBA, Nene has been flying under the radar in Denver as the Carmelo Anthony trade talks heat up.  He has been quietly posting career highs in points, FG percentage and FT percentage this season.

No. 6: Emeka Okafor

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 11.1 ppg (12) 10.1 rpg (4) 59.3 FG% (3) 0.4 spg (14) 1.8 bpg (T-5)

    Center Efficiency: 76.7

    Now in his second season with the Hornets, Okafor is continuing to dominate the paint and play beautiful pick and roll with superstar point guard Chris Paul.  His incredible efficiency this season has led to a very impressive year for the Hornets, a team who many thought was in a rebuilding state.

No. 5: Al Jefferson

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 17.0 ppg (4) 9.0 rpg (8) 48.0 FG% (11) 0.6 spg (T-9) 1.9 bpg (4)

    Center Efficiency: 78.8

    After his career season in 2008 was brought to an unfortunate end by an ACL tear, Al Jefferson has never really been the same, posting significantly lower numbers the last two seasons.  Nevertheless, Jefferson has continued to be among the top tier of centers in the league.

No. 4: Al Horford

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 16.2 ppg (5) 9.9 rpg (5) 56.9 FG% (5) 0.8 spg (T-6) 1.1 bpg (12)

    Center Efficiency: 80.45

    Currently in his fourth NBA season, fans have become used to the consistent double-double production from Horford, the Hawk's dominant center.  This season has been more of the same and has included career highs for Horford in points, rebounds, assists, FG percentage and FT percentage.

No. 3: Joakim Noah

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 14.0 ppg (7) 11.7 rpg (2) 51.4 FG% (9) 1.2 spg (T-1) 1.6 bpg (8)

    Center Efficiency: 81.7

    Some people may be surprised to see the Bulls' monstrous center this high on the rankings, but when you look at his dominant stats this season, you will see why.  Sadly, Noah sustained ligament damage to his hand and has been out for a large chunk of the season.  It's amazing how well the Bulls have been able to play without him, and its incredible to think of how good they will be once Noah returns from his injury.

No. 2: Andrew Bogut

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 13.3 ppg (9) 11.5 rpg (3) 49.2 FG% (10) 0.7 spg (8) 2.9 bpg (1)

    Center Efficiency: 84.15

    Andrew Bogut has been one of the most underrated players in the league over the past few seasons, mainly because of playing in a small market in Milwaukee.  Bogut is having a spectacular season, posting career highs in rebounds and blocks, despite coming off of a major elbow and hand injury.

No. 1: Dwight Howard

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    Urban legend has it that Superman's alter ego is not Clark Kent, but actually Dwight Howard.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2010-11 Stats: 22.5 ppg (1) 13.9 rpg (1) 58.3 FG% (4) 1.2 spg (T-1) 2.1 bpg (3)

    Center Efficiency: 104.8

    Who else did you think would be No. 1?  Dwight Howard has been the most dominant inside force in the league for the past three or four years.  As the leader of the Orlando Magic, a top-tier playoff team, and a perennial All-Star, Dwight has made his impact felt on the court.  

Any Questions?

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Anyone disagree with the calculated rankings or the formula itself?  Any criticism or arguments are welcome.  I enjoy a good debate.