NBA Power Rankings: Bill Russell and Every Team's Best Center Ever
First off, I'd like to apologize to the readers for finishing this slide show two days later than promised.
Someone who always finished what he started, on the other hand, is Bill Russell.
Russell is (in my mind, but feel free to share otherwise) the best center in the history of the NBA.
His will to win (which you will grow tired of if you read the slide) and his unquestioned leadership helped lead the most dominant dynasty in the history of sports. The C's won 11 NBA Finals out of 13 possible during Russell's career.
Russell, as well as others, got me thinking: who is every team's greatest center?
In keeping up with my series on the "Greatest Ever," I present to you that same question regarding guys who played the five spot.
With that in mind, I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!
Greatest at Each Position for Each Team Series
Point Guard—March 24th
Shooting Guard—March 28th
Small Forward—March 31st
Power Forward—April 4th
Special Power Ranking of Each Squad—set to be finished on April 16th as of right now.
Atlanta Hawks: Zelmo Beaty
Years as a Hawk: 1962-69
Key Achievements: Two-time All-Star
I'll bet that 80 percent of you haven't heard of the force that was Zelmo Beaty.
In over 500 games played (some in St. Louis before the move), Beaty averaged better than 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Beaty is still a top five member on the Hawks' points and rebounds tally.
So why isn't this guy more notorious among basketball junkies? Whatever the case, we can now appreciate more the original "Big Z" after hearing of his accomplishments, which includes two trips to the All-Star Game.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Beaty took his talents in 1969 to the American Basketball Association to become a member of the Utah Stars.
It's a shame Beaty's talent aren't remembered like they should be, not only in this organization but also amongst the association.
Boston Celtics: Bill Russell
Years as a Celtic: 1956-1969
Key Achievements: 11-time NBA Champion, Five-time NBA MVP, 12-time All-Star, 3/8/0-time All-NBA, One-time All-Defensive, No. 6 jersey retired
Bill Russell without a doubt changed the game of basketball and is the most under-appreciated player in the history of the association.
Instead of putting up huge offensive numbers, he opted to play the less popular route: defense. He was arguably the best frontcourt defender that the NBA has ever seen and let his teammates, who were more than able, to do the majority the scoring.
The difference between Russell and a guy like Wilt (yes, it's a Simmons-like debate here) is that Russell wanted to win and Wilt wanted to pad his stats. I'm not in any way ripping Wilt, but the truth is that he wasn't the best teammate in the history of basketball; that title belongs to Bill Russell.
In a time where segregation was at an NBA all-time high, Russell rose to the occasion and became the most polarizing figure in the game.
Another thing that separates Russell from the greatest had to do with his stellar basketball IQ. Russ cared and knew more about the game than anybody, Red Auerbach (his coach) included.
The funny thing is that I haven't even mentioned his championships yet. For any of you who have been living under a rock, Bill Russell had 11 titles in 13 years. Words can't even begin to describe how important he was to the Boston Celtics. He has meant more to his respective franchise than any other player not named Michael Jordan.
He averaged 15 points, 22.5 rebounds and better than four assists per game during his time as a legendary Celtic—but even those numbers don't tell the full story.
He didn't need to be Wilt and score 100 points or have a nickname because, in all honesty, he was that much greater.
Boston also sports two more of the best centers ever in Dave Cowens and Robert Parrish, but neither of them were near the unmatched level of Bill Russell and so concludes my "decision."
Charlotte Bobcats: Emeka Okafor
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Years as a Bobcat: 2004-09
Key Achievements: 2005 Rookie of the Year
Understanding that, yes, Emeka Okafor primarily played power forward as a Charlotte Bobcat, that's not to say he didn't play any center during his tenure.
I will bet money that not many readers of this tremendous slideshow (golly, I am so funny) know that Okafor averaged a double-double in all five seasons in Charlotte.
His biggest claim to fame was being the first pick in Bobcats' draft history (second behind Dwight Howard), he averaged 14 points while grabbing better than 10 rebounds per game.
The 6'10" UConn product is now a member of the New Orleans Hornets, where he has started every game he's played in almost two seasons thus far.
Chicago Bulls: Artis Gilmore
Years as a Bull: 1976-1982
Key Achievements: Four-time All-Star
Artis Gilmore was a superb example of a great player who plays on an otherwise bad team (think Dwyane Wade of three seasons ago).
He played for the Chicago Bulls, who at the time had accomplished next to nothing in the NBA.
During Gilmore's tenure, that didn't change, and his 19.3 point, 11 rebound, two block per game averages almost seem like a waste years later.
Gilmore's greatest accomplishment in the NBA (other than his four All-Star selections) was the fact that he set the NBA's career field goal percentage, and during his time in Chicago, he drained 58.7 percent of his attempts.
Clifford Ray deserves some recognition, as being the only other better than average center in Bulls history.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Craig Jones/Getty Images
Years as a Cavalier: 1996-2010
Key Achievements: Two-time All-Star
You might stop and think, "Where's Brad Daugherty?" when you gaze upon this selection—but the fact of the matter is that Zydrunas Ilgauskas' loyalty to the franchise as well as team and individual success earn him this spot.
Big Z spent 12 seasons in Cleveland and is the franchise leader in games played, rebounds, and blocks.
In over 1,000 games, Ilgauskas averaged 14 points and eight rebounds, and scooped up a pair of All-Star selections in the process.
Dallas Mavericks: James Donaldson
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Years as a Maverick: 1985-1992
Key Achievements: One-time All-Star
This was one of the more difficult choices on the list, and it wasn't because there was a lot of competition— in fact, there was actually very little.
While pondering the selection here, I discussed the pick with a diehard Mavericks fan, debating between James Donaldson and Shawn Bradley.
Bradley was notorious for being hated around the Dallas area, and Donaldson was nothing more than an average center in the league, but his one All-Star (in fact, the only Maverick center selection ever) appearance gets him the nod here.
I guess I should mention his rather unspectacular statistics as well. He averaged 8.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and a decent 1.3 blocks per game. "Eh" is the best word to describe those kinds of numbers.
If Tyson Chandler stays in Dallas for just two more years, he's got this spot.
Denver Nuggets: Dikembe Mutombo
Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images
Years as a Nugget: 1991-96
Key Achievements: Three-time All-Star, 1995 Defensive Player of the Year, Two-time All-Defensive
Uh-oh. Controversy arrives early in the slide show as Joseph Fafinski selects Dikembe Mutombo over perhaps a top three Nugget in Dan Issel!
Seriously though, what did Issel achieve during his time that overshadows what Mutombo did?
In five more seasons, Issel only garnered two more All-Star selections, something Dikembe could've done easily had he remained.
Mutombo was a far superior defender and shot blocker. Apparently the only thing Issel was better than him at was his scoring ability. I'd take a great defender, rebounder, and shot swatter like Dikembe over a scorer like Issel any day of the week.
All in all, Dikembe averaged about 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game, the last of which ranks among the best clips in NBA history. His last season he swatted 4.5 per night, an incredibly high number.
Expect an article of me supporting Dikembe's induction to the Hall sometime in the near future.
Detroit Pistons: Bill Laimbeer
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Years as a Piston: 1982-1993
Key Achievements: Two-time NBA Champion, Four-time All-Star, No. 40 jersey retired
The Detroit Pistons have had numerous notables at the center position over time, but ultimately Bill Laimbeer takes the biggest chunk of the cake.
His stigma defined the Pistons in the 80s and early 90s, and his toughness was noted around the league. He only missed nine games in his career!
Sure, he didn't put up the numbers that predecessor Bob Lanier did (he averaged almost 23 points and 12 boards) or have the defensive skills Ben Wallace did (although he was good on D), but he was a member of two title-winning squads that were, and are still known, as "The Bad Boys," a group that featured several Hall of Famer members: Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, and Dennis Rodman, all of which own the spot in this series at their respective position.
He put up 13.5 points and snagged 10.1 rebounds during his tenure as a Bad Boy, which lasted 11 seasons.
Laimbeer's resume includes those two aforementioned championships, four All-Star appearances, and a No. 40 jersey that hangs at the Palace of Auburn Hills, never to be worn again.
Whether you like him or not, Bill Laimbeer is the greatest center in Pistons history.
Golden State Warriors: Wilt Chamberlain
Years as a Warrior: 1959-1965
Key Achievements: 1960 NBA MVP, Six-time All-Star, 4/1/0-time All-NBA
Wilt Chamberlain, the most accomplished basketball player statistically of all-time, began his historic career in Philadelphia with the Warriors, before the team relocated to its present-day Bay Area location.
The 7'1'' tower spent six seasons there and naturally put up monster numbers but did not win any titles. Low blows aside, "Wilt the Stilt" put up 41.5 points, 25.1 rebounds, and three assists per game, all great numbers. He was an All-Star every year, and made the All-NBA team five times, four coming as a first-teamer. He won the MVP his rookie year after averaging 44 points, and never once during his time out east did he average anything under 23 rebounds per game. Let's for a moment remember that only Kevin Love has topped 23 rebounds this season—in a single game.
It was as a Warrior that Chamberlain performed his legendary 100-point game, his also-legendary 50 point per game season, and many more truly amazing individual accomplishments.
The keyword from the previous sentence is "individual." It was in Philadelphia that Wilt the Stilt might be remembered the most, but he never could quite understand how to play on a "team," and therefore his team got annually whooped on by the Celtics.
While there is other "competition" at the spot, no one can touch what Wilt did as a Warrior.
Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Years as a Rocket: 1984-2001
Key Achievements: Two-time NBA Champion, 1994 NBA MVP, 12-time All-Star, Two-time Defensive Player of the Year, 6/3/3-time All-NBA, Five-time All-Defensive, No. 34 jersey retired
Hakeem Olajuwon's name means "always on top" in Arabic.
How fitting is that?
Olajuwon did just about everything one can do during his noteworthy career than spanned 18 seasons, the first 17 of which were spent as a Houston Rocket, a place where his collegiate years were spent as well.
During his time there, Olajuwon established himself as one of the best bigs in NBA history, as he averaged 22.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game to go with an excellent 3.2 block average.
During Michael Jordan's two-year baseball hiatus (how awkward would that be if someone like LeBron or Kobe did that today?), Hakeem and the Rockets took full advantage, winning both championships, and took unwarranted heat due to His Airness' absence. The two titles are still the only times the Rockets have hoisted the trophy in their 44-year existence.
Olajuwon is easily the best player in Rockets history, and for his efforts, his famous No. 34 jersey has placed placed in the rafters of Houston's Toyota Center.
Maybe if Moses "Mumbles" Malone had talked himself into staying in Houston he would've made the list, but that just had no chance of happening as no one could understand his voice, er, I mean, his game.
Indiana Pacers: Rik Smits
Getty Images/Getty Images
Years as a Pacer: 1988-2000
Key Achievements: One-time All-Star
Rik Smits wins a narrow race over Jermaine O'Neal in Indiana's slide, but why?
Due to the fact that he helped define the grit of the Pacers' teams of the 90s, Smits' inclusion is without a doubt merited.
One of the tallest players in NBA history at 7'4", Smits helped anchor the frontcourt of an Indiana team that made it to the NBA Finals.
Teaming up with Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, and Dale Davis, Smits had a surprisingly successful career in Indianapolis. In over 800 games as a Pacer, "The Dunkin' Dutchman" averaged 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and better than a block a game.
I feel bad leaving Jermaine out, but he never found the team success that Smits enjoyed, and therefore it is acceptable.
Los Angeles Clippers: Bob McAdoo
Years as a Brave: 1972-76
Key Achievements: 1975 NBA MVP, Three-time All-Star, 1973 Rookie of the Year, 1/1/0-time All-NBA
Bob McAdoo's first four seasons of his legendary career were spent as a member of the Buffalo Braves, or now known as the Los Angeles Clippers, for whom he is still the best center in franchise history.
During his four seasons in New York, McAdoo averaged 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, and took home an MVP award in 1975, to put the icing on the cake.
During that magical 1974-75 season, he averaged better than 34 and 14 for the seemingly-otherwise mediocre Braves, whom McAdoo helped become relevant briefly.
Elmore Smith, who averaged 18 and 13 for the Braves in three seasons, also is worth noting here, especially since he was dealt in '72 to make room for the 6'9" McAdoo.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Years as a Laker: 1975-1989
Key Achievements: Five-time NBA Champion, Three-time NBA MVP, 13-time All-Star, 6/4/0-time All-NBA, Three-time All-Defensive, No. 33 jersey retired
What can I say about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, really?
Yes, this word seems to fit. While he may not have put up astronomical numbers, you cannot doubt the impact he bestowed upon the games he suited up in. Still, he put up 22 points and nine rebounds per game in well over 1,000 games.
In addition he added three MVP awards (in '76, '77, and '80) to the three he already collected while a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
This word might just be the epitome of Abdul-Jabbar. He played in more games than any other player in NBA history not named Robert Parrish. He was beloved by Lakers fans alike, and in return for their admiration, he gave them five championships.
That word could be used in so many varieties when describing a baller like Kareem. His teams, an astounding cast that also featured Magic Johnson and James Worthy, reached eight NBA Finals during the 80s and ended up hoisting the trophy five times.
Ask anybody their version of the top five players to ever play the game, and frequently Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is mentioned.
He was quite possibly the game's most intimidating force while in Los Angeles, and even if his career was solely based on his time in California, he would still be considered an NBA legend.
He was so popular that even 6-year-old kids recognized him off of the court in movies.
I guess I should mention the competition here additionally, which is as good as any position in this entire series.
George Mikan was the first great Laker, albeit as a member during the Minneapolis years. Throughout his time in my hometown, Mikan was as polarizing as any sports figure. He revolutionized the game. The George Mikan Rule dealt with expanding the lane from six feet to 12. All in all, he averaged 23 and 13 in the great state of Minnesota.
Shaquille O'Neal enjoyed the (second) prime of his career as a member of Los Angeles' finest, and in eight seasons, he won three titles with Kobe but ultimately was dealt when he messed with the team's chemistry. Still, that's not to take away what he did as a Laker, where he established himself as the game's most dominant force in the paint.
Oh yeah, and some guy by the name of Wilt Chamberlain had a decent run here. In his final seasons in the early 70s, "The Big Dipper" added titles two and three to his already spectacular resume.
Memphis Grizzlies: Bryant Reeves
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Years as a Grizzly: 1995-2001
Key Achievements: None
Bryant "Big Country" Reeves was a decent force in the paint during his years in Vancouver, as a member of the Grizzlies.
In 395 games, he averaged almost 13 points and seven rebounds.
After his first three years, his "prime," weight control became a growing problem on Reeves and he eventually ballooned to 300 pounds as his career began its antapex.
Big Country's chronic back pain ultimately destroyed his career in 2001, and he retired after just six-plus seasons.
Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Years as a Heatle: 1995-2002, 2005-08
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, Five-time All-Star, Two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Two-time All-Defensive, 1/1/0-time All-NBA
The majority of Alonzo Mourning's 16-year career was spent in the warm confines of Miami, Florida as a member of the Heat.
During that time, he won a title, was an All-Star, and was a formidable defensive force, winning the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award in two consecutive seasons.
An inspiration to many, Mourning came back to the Heat in 2005 after a kidney disease nearly took his life.
He averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, and an astonishing 2.5 blocks per game in a dozen campaigns as a Heatle. One season he even recorded a 3.9 average!
Had Shaq, another member of the '06 title-winning squad, been able to play, say, eight more years in South Beach he'd be here, but Mourning's accomplishments trump the Diesel's.
Milwaukee Bucks: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Years as a Buck: 1969-1975
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, Three-time NBA MVP, Six-time All-Star, One-time Finals MVP, 4/1/0-time All-NBA, 1970 Rookie of the Year, Two-time All-Defensive
After boasting 382 words on the Laker slide about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it is my duty to notify you that it is with another team that he saw the most individual success of his career.
In six seasons with the Bucks, he won three MVPs, was selected to the All-NBA team five times, a quartet coming as a first-teamer. More importantly, he won the first of his six NBA titles in Wisconsin, a feat he, Oscar Robertson, and the rest of the Bucks accomplished in 1971.
Abdul-Jabbar's statistics were unbelievable in Milwaukee, as he sported 30.4 points and 15.3 rebounds per game averages. He also shot 54 percent and dished out better than four assists per night.
Want to hear something crazy? During Kareem's tenure, he never averaged less than 27 points or 14 rebounds in a season.
How's that for a beginning to a legendary career? Not many players can match those numbers.
One final parting thought: look at the picture of Kareem above. It's hard to believe he's the same guy that's featured on the Lakers slide. To me they look like two totally different human beings!
Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Jefferson
John Gichigi/Getty Images
Years as a Timberwolf: 2007-2010
Key Achievements: None
Contrary to popular belief, much of Al Jefferson's minutes spent in Minnesota were at the center position. In fact, 95 percent of his floor time during the 2008-09 season came at the five spot, and during his first year in the Twin Cities, he was the center 60 percent of the time.
Regardless, Jefferson came to 'Snowta in 2007 as part of the blockbuster Kevin Garnett deal, and I, along with many T'Wolves "enthusiasts," were determined not to let it falter our future, but it did because the Pups could not start winning again.
The only other problem concerning Jefferson was his defense, something us Wolves fans took for granted when the Big Ticket was in town.
Nonetheless, "Big Al" had some solid seasons in Minnesota, and in 206 games, he averaged better than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, but ultimately he was shipped to Utah in order to make room for Kevin Love in the frontcourt, a decision that has worked out thus far.
New Orleans Hornets: Alonzo Mourning
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Years as a Hornet: 1992-95
Key Achievements: Two-time All-Star
With the second pick of the 1992 NBA Draft (the Diesel was first), the Hornets selected the 6'10" Alonzo Mourning out of Georgetown. Mourning makes the list a second time for his efforts in Charlotte.
Mourning spent the first three seasons of his illustrious career in North Carolina, and it was there that he established himself as one of the league's formidable big men.
In 216 games with the Hornets, Mourning averaged better than 21 points and 10 rebounds to go with a tremendous 3.2 blocks per game.
He led the Hornets to the franchise's first winning record (44-38) and playoff appearance as a rookie.
Vlade Divac's solid run of two seasons do not trump that of Mourning's three though.
New York Knicks: Willis Reed
Years as a Knickerbocker: 1964-1974
Key Achievements: Two-time NBA Champion, Two-time NBA Finals MVP, 1970 NBA MVP, Seven-time All-Star, 1965 Rookie of the Year, 1/4/0-time All-NBA, Two-time All-Defensive
In the tightest race for this position (and perhaps the whole series), Willis Reed wins by the slimmest of margins over Patrick Ewing.
The reason Reed is the winner here has to do with his astounding resume: he was an NBA Champion twice (both of which he won Finals MVPs as well), he was an NBA MVP in '70, he was a seven-time All-Star selection, he was named to the All-NBA team five times, and he won Rookie of the Year.
Reed was one of the toughest players to ever step on the hardwood, and there was no doubt about it. During Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, Walt Frazier and the rest of the team (minus Reed) walked onto the floor for warmups. Moments later, out came a trotting Reed, whose thigh injury was beyond severe, and yet his determination, love for the game, and loyalty to the Knicks trumped his own health. That moment was voted as the greatest in the history of the Madison Square Garden.
During his career, Reed averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds, a true testimony to his skills, considering he was an undersized 6'9" center.
Ewing had a successful career as well, but never brought a ring back to the Big Apple.
An 11-time All-Star, Ewing's individual success (22.8 points, 11 rebounds) makes him the better offensive player, but Reed's sheer will (no pun intended) to win, leadership, and toughness makes him the selection.
Ask any Knicks fan and they'll tell you Reed is more revered by fans alike.
New Jersey Nets: Brook Lopez
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Years as a Net: 2008-present
Key Achievements: None
Brook Lopez's inclusion to the list doesn't necessarily make him a great player, but the fact is that there aren't many to choose from for this pick.
Lopez has averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in his 239 games as a Net, a career in which he has yet to miss a game. He has started in all but seven of all these contests.
The 7'0'' twin, Lopez also shoots a tremendous (for a center) 80 percent from the charity stripe, something that often gets overlooked in his game.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Jack Sikma
Years as a Super Sonic: 1977-1986
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, Seven-time All-Star, No. 43 jersey retired
Jack Sikma, an easy selection here, was a daily double-double threat during his time with the Seattle Super Sonics.
In 715 games, the 6'11" center averaged roughly 17 points, 11 boards, and three assists. In his last seven seasons with the club, he put up a double-double each yearly campaign.
Additionally, Sikma was a rare combo of a rebounder and outside shooter. He drained 33 percent of his threes over the course of his career, and incredibly enough he made 84 percent of his free throws. One season in the latter portion of his career (as a Buck) Sikma drained 92 percent of his foul shots en route to becoming the first center to lead the league in that category.
Most importantly, Sikma helped win the Sonics their first title in 1979, and his jersey has since been retired by the franchise.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Years as a Magician: 2004-present
Key Achievements: Five-time All-Star, 3/0/1-time All-NBA, Two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Three-time All-Defensive
Other than the dilemma I faced in the Big Apple, I'd say this was the hardest decision I had to make on this list.
On your left hand you have a legendary career that has only been mentioned once thus far in the slide show, and on the right you have a seven-season veteran who night after night destroys the competition almost single-handedly and brought an otherwise mediocre team to the 2009 NBA Finals.
These two bright stars are the best true centers of the last 20 years.
Shaq's numbers from his years in Orlando are incredible (27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game for starters) but his run with the crew only lasted 295 games and he never let up during his tenure in mid-Florida.
Conversely, Howard's defensive game bullies on Shaq's, but offensively the Diesel was a better Magician.
Howard's numbers, although spectacular (18.2 points, 12.9 boards, 2.2 blocks, and an incredible 58 percentage on all his field goals), don't tell the entire story.
The 6'11" Atlanta native has won two consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards, and has a legitimate case to make it a trio after this season.
Howard's five All-Star selections are more than Shaq's four. Dwight's four All-NBA (soon to be five) selections, three of which are first-team slots, are one (soon to be two) more than the Diesel's total as a member of the Magic.
Dwight Howard continues to dominate as he holds tight on this position.
Philadelphia 76ers: Wilt Chamberlain
Years as a Sixer: 1965-68
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, Three-time NBA MVP, 3/0/0-time All-NBA, Three-time All-Star
During his time there, which lasted all of three-plus seasons, Chamberlain put up some more incredible numbers. He averaged 27.6 points, 23.9 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in 277 games as a Sixer.
"The Big Dipper" got his first title in 1967, his second campaign with the 76ers.
He won three MVP awards here in all three of his full seasons.
Although I could go on all day about how awesome Wilt was, I think I'll spare you with just a few closing thoughts: one, once Wilt's individual success diminished here, his team's success went up considerably. No, I can't take credit for that since Bill Simmons already has. Two, he once led the league in assists. You read that right—Wilt Chamberlain led the league in assists!
It is in Philadelphia (the Warriors had already headed to the Bay Area by then), the second time around, that Wilt Chamberlain became an all-around baller.
Just look under his "Key Achievements" section. Has anybody in the history of the game accumulated what he did individually in just three seasons?
The easy answer is no, but Wilt Chamberlain was a huge fan of the "impossible."
Poor Moses Malone had a good run in Philly, but he wasn't even close to being included because of good ol' Wilt.
Phoenix Suns: Alvan Adams
Years as a Sun: 1975-1988
Key Achievements: One-time All-Star, 1976 Rookie of the Year
Alvan Adams' long run in Phoenix helps earn him this spot on the list.
He began his career with a huge bang, coming right out of the gate to average 19 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Adams, who ranks second in team history in points and first in rebounds and steals, was the face of the Suns throughout his 13 years, which was where he spent the entirety of his career.
He averaged 14.1 points, seven rebounds, and better than a steal in 988 games, and his No. 33 jersey now hangs in the rafters in Phoenix.
Portland Trail Blazers: Bill Walton
Years as a Blazer: 1974-79
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, 1978 NBA MVP, Two-time All-Star, 1/1/0-time All-NBA, Two-time All-Defensive
Bill Walton is looked at by Portland Trail Blazers fans as a savior, but oddly enough the 6'11" big only played in 209 games while in the Rose City.
He was one of the game's most dominating forces in the paint when healthy, and during his tenure in Oregon, he averaged 17.1 points, grabbed 13.5 rebounds, and dished out 4.4 assists per game. He also blocked 2.6 shots on average.
One aspect of his game that was often overlooked was his phenomenal passing, and he is widely considered one of the best passers among all the bigs to ever play in the NBA.
He brought Portland its first and only title, and for that, he will always be considered a Trail Blazer hero.
Sacramento Kings: Wayne Embry
Years as a Royal: 1958-1966
Key Achievements: Five-time All-Star
Wayne Embry was Oscar Robertson's sidekick during Big O's years as a Cincinnati Royal. He and Robertson flawlessly perfected the pick-and-roll throughout their time together, and many of Big O's (and teammate Jerry Lucas) assists can be attributed to the 6'8", 240-pound force that was Embry.
Embry played in 605 games for the club and averaged better than 14 and 10 during his tenure there.
Although he didn't win a title in Cincy, Embry was rewarded with his five consecutive All-Star appearances beginning in 1961. All five of those campaigns featured a double-double on Wayne's part.
It was in the late 60s that the washed-up Embry reunited with Big O in Milwaukee, only to fall short of a title.
Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Years as a Raptor: 2006-present
Key Achievements: None
"Andrea Bargnani? Are you kidding me Joseph? The guy is a hack who doesn't know how to rebound or play defense!"
That all makes sense, but who else is there to pick? Marcus Camby played less than two full seasons.
The fact lingers that the Raps don't exactly have the cream of the crop here, and the former No. 1-overall pick is, without a doubt, the right pick.
Bargnani's offensive game is nothing to shy away from, as his 15 points per game and 45 percent field goal percentages do the talking for him.
However, if you've ever watched Toronto play, you'll notice he doesn't even put forth effort on the other side of the floor. He rebounds at a worse rate than any center in the game today, averaging just under eight every 48 minutes he plays.
If I were a betting man, I'd say the Raps need to place Bargnani in a small or power forward role rather than at center, but that's just me.
Man, if Raptors fans don't hate me after this series, I'll consider myself the luckiest man alive.
San Antonio Spurs: David Robinson
Ken Levine/Getty Images
Years as a Spur: 1989-2003
Key Achievements: Two-time NBA Champion, 1995 NBA MVP, 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, 10-time All-Star, 4/2/4-time All-NBA, Four-time All-Defensive
David Robinson, one of the best all-around centers in the history of the game, takes this spot with ease.
Robinson, affectionally known as "The Admiral" around the league for his service in the Naval Academy, averaged 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and swatted three blocks per game in his 987 contests as a Spur, where he spent every second of his career.
Perhaps the smartest player in NBA history, Robinson's love for the game was evident the second he began his career. He won Rookie of the Year in 1990 after averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks per game.
In February of 1994, Robinson became the fourth player in league history to snatch a quadruple-double, and the following year, he won the NBA's season-long Most Valuable Player chase.
Robinson eventually became a champion for San Antonio when another big whose name is Tim Duncan (you might know him) came along and helped the Admiral hoist the trophy in 1999 and then again in 2003, his final season in the association.
What a way to go out.
Utah Jazz: Mark Eaton
Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images
Years as a Jazz player: 1982-1994
Key Achievements: One-time All-Star, Two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Three-time All-Defensive, No. 53 jersey retired
Mark Eaton was the best defender on the Utah Jazz during the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Although he was never an offensive force down low, the 7'4" Eaton was one of the best shot blockers in NBA history. One season, he averaged a jaw-dropping 5.6 swats per game, the best such number in the history of the association.
His best season was in 1988-89, when he was named an All-Star (alongside Stockton and Malone) and Defensive Player of the Year, the second time he was given the award.
In 12 seasons and 875 games for the Jazz, Eaton averaged six points, nearly eight rebounds, and better than three blocks per game. For his efforts, Utah has retired his No. 53 jersey.
Washington Wizards: Wes Unseld
Years as a Bullet: 1968-1981
Key Achievements: One-time NBA Champion, 1969 NBA MVP, 1969 Rookie of the Year, Five-time All-Star, 1/0/-time All-NBA
Wes Unseld, one of the game's most undeserving unheralded centers ever, peaked in the NBA as a 22-year-old rookie.
How good was he that season?
Well, if you must ask, he averaged 13.8 points and an incredible 18.2 rebounds while winning both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, as well as being named to the All-Star Game All-NBA First Team
Alas, it would be his best season, but that's not to say that the 6'7" (and completely undersized) Unseld didn't have a good career in our nation's capital.
In 13 seasons, Unseld averaged 10.8 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.9 assists for the Bullets, and promptly proved that one didn't need to be a spectacular shooter to succeed in the NBA.
Walt Bellamy, on the other hand, was a prime example of a great offensive player (he averaged 27 points and 16 boards in four seasons) but his lack of a championship (Unseld hoisted the trophy in '78) and the fact that he only played in 300 games keeps him off this list.
About the Author
Joseph Fafinski is a 19-year-old, originally from Chaska, Minnesota.
He is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri pursuing a career in journalism.
He is a huge fan of basketball, football, baseball and golf, and is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report for the NBA and the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also loves the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Twins.
You can follow Joseph on Twitter at @JosephFafinski.
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