Top 10 NBA Centers of All Time

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Top 10 NBA Centers of All Time

10. Bill Walton

Walton would have been higher on this list had he had a healthy career. However, he could never stay healthy, as he only played in 468 career games. The fact that he still made the list shows you how great he really was. He had career averages of 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 0.8 steals in only 28 minutes per game.

He also shot a fantastic 52.1 percent from the field and 66 percent from the free-throw line. He is generally considered as the greatest passing big man of all time, and one of the best defensive centers as well.

He won a rebounding title in the 1976-17 season. He was also one of the greatest college basketball players, as he won three NCAA Player of the Year Awards, and led the UCLA Bruins to three NCAA championships.

He was also selected to two All-Star teams and two All-NBA teams, with one of the latter as a member of the first team, as well as two All-NBA defensive first teams. He also won the MVP Award in his only healthy season, 1977-78. 

Walton led the Blazers to their only championship in 1977, winning the Finals MVP Award.  He also helped the Celtics win a title in 1986 as a reserve.

 

9. Willis Reed

Reed was one of the first dominant big men in the league's history. In his ten-year career, Reed had averages of 18.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists along with 47.6 percent from the field and an excellent 74.7 percent from the free-throw line. He was selected to seven All-Star teams, and he also won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1965.

He also was selected to the All NBA team five times, with one of those on the first team.  Reed also won the MVP Award in the 1969-1970 season and an All-Star game MVP in that same season.

He led the Knicks to their only two championships in 1970 and 1973, winning the Finals MVP in each series.

 

8. George Mikan

Mikan was the first dominant big man in the history of the league. As a member of the Minneapolis Lakers, he led them to five championships in a short seven-year career. He had career averages of 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists along with 40.1 percent from the field and a fantastic 78.4 percent from the free-throw line.

He won three consecutive scoring titles, and back-to-back rebounding titles. He was also selected to the All-Star game four times, winning the All-Star MVP in 1953. He was selected to the All-NBA team six times, with all of the selections as a member of the first team.

 

7. David "The Admiral" Robinson

Robinson was one of the best offensive and defensive centers of all time. In a 14-year career, he had averages of 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals, and three blocks per game. He also shot a very good 51.8 percent from the field, and an excellent 73.6 percent from the free-throw line. 

Robinson was selected to ten All-Star games. He also won Rookie of the Year in 1990 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

He was selected to the All-NBA team ten times, with four of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also a great defender, as he was selected to the All-NBA Defensive team eight times, with four of the selections as a member of the first team.

Finally, Robinson helped lead the Spurs to two championships, and won the MVP Award in the 1994-95 season.

 

6. Shaquille O'Neal

O'Neal was one of the most dominant players of all time, as no one in his era was big or strong enough to guard him one-on-one down low. So far in 16 seasons, he has career averages of 25.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. He also has scored over 25,000 total points, and has shot an amazing 58.1 percent from the field along with a pathetic 52.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Shaq has also been selected to the All-Star team fourteen times, winning MVP awards in the 2000 and 2004 All Star games. He also won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 after a dominant season with the Orlando Magic.

He has been selected to the All-NBA team 13 times, with eight of those selections as a member of the first team, and the All NBA defensive team three times, with all of the selections on the second team.

Shaq also won an MVP award in the 1999-2000 season with the Lakers, as he also won his second scoring title, averaging 29.7 points along with 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and three blocks per game.

He has also won four championships in his career—three of them on the Lakers with Kobe Bryant, and the other one in Miami with Dwyane Wade. Shaq won three Finals MVP Awards with the Lakers during their three-peat.

 

5. Moses Malone

Moses was one of the most dominant big man of all time. In his twenty-year career, he had averages of 20.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks. He ranks fifth all-time in total points scored with 27,409. He also won seven rebounding titles, including six straight from the 1980-1981 season through the 1984-1985 season.

He was selected to the All Star team eleven times in his career, and was selected to the All-NBA team eight times, with four of those selections as a member of the first team. He was also a solid defensive player, as he was selected to the All-NBA defensive team twice, with one of the selections of the first team.

Malone is also one of only seven players in the history of the league to have won three or more MVP awards.  He won three in his career, including back-to-back awards in the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.

Finally, Moses also won a championship in the 1982-83, as he led the Sixers to a dominant playoff performance.  They only lost only one game in the entire playoffs.

 

4. Bill Russell

Russell was the greatest defensive center ever, the anchor of a great Celtic defense for over a decade and probably been the leader in career blocks per game if they had recorded defensive stats in his era.

In his thirteen-year career, Russell had averages of 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists along with shooting 44 percent from the field and a terrible 56.1 percent from the free-throw line.

Russell was also selected to the All-Star team twelve times, winning the All-Star game MVP in 1963. Russell was also selected to the All-NBA team eleven times, with three of the selections as a member of the first team. Russell also ranks tied for second all time in MVP awards with five in his career.

He is also considered by many to be the greatest winner in team sports. He won eleven championships in this thirteen-year career and led his team to the Finals in every season he played in except for one.

He led the Celtics to a record eight consecutive championships in the 1960s, with most of those Finals wins coming against the great Lakers teams of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.

 

3. Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon

Hakeem was one of the most-skilled big men of all time at both ends of the floor. Offensively, he averaged 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, shooting 51.2 percent from the field and a solid 71.2 percent from the free-throw line. Defensively, he was amazing, with career averages of 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals.

He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in both 1993 and in 1994 and he was selected to the All-NBA defensive team nine times, with five of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also selected to the All-Star team twelve times and to the All-NBA team twelve times, with six of those selections as a member of the first team.

He also won his only MVP award in the 1993-1994 season. He won two rebounding titles in his career along with three blocked-shot titles. He also ranks first all-time in career blocked shots with a total of 3830, and he somehow is eighth all time in total steals with 2162.

Hakeem led the Rockets to back-to-back championships in the mid '90s, winning the Finals MVP award each time.

 

2. Wilt Chamberlain, "The Big Dipper"

Wilt was, without a doubt, the most dominant player of all time. In his 14-year career, he had averages of 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, while shooting a fantastic 54 percent from the field and a terrible 51.1 percent from the line. He won seven scoring titles and an unheard-of eleven rebounding titles in his career. He also would've been at the top of the blocked shots list, but they weren't recorded in his era.

He was also selected to the All-Star team thirteen times, winning the All Star game MVP in 1960. He was also selected to the All-NBA team ten times, with seven of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also selected to the All-NBA defensive twice, with both of the selections as a member of the first team. (All NBA Defensive teams started in his last two seasons.) He also ranks fourth all-time in total points, with 31,419 in his career.

He also won four MVP Awards, including three consecutive from the 1965-66 to the 1967-68 seasons. He also had the greatest statistical season of all time by far, as he averaged an unfathomable 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in the 1961-62 season.

Wilt won two championships, and the Finals MVP in the 1972 Finals as a member of the legendary Lakers team that won 69 games (a record at the time) and 33 straight—still a record in all of sports.

 

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In terms of accomplishments, Kareem is the greatest player of all time, and without a doubt the greatest center of all time. He is first all-time in total points with 38,387, third all-time in total rebounds with 17,440, third all-time in total blocked shots with 3,189 and even 33rd all-time in total assists with 5,660.

In a dominant twenty-year career, he had averages of 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 2.6 blocks per game. He also shot an amazing 55.9 percent from the field and 72.1 percent from the free-throw line.

He was selected to a record nineteen All-Star teams and to the All-NBA team 15 times, with ten of the selections as a member of the first team. He was also a very good defensive center, as he was selected to the All NBA defensive team ten times, with five of the selections as a member of the first team.

Kareem was also one of the game's biggest winners, as he led his teams to six championships, five of the them with the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s. He also led his team to the Finals a total of ten times, winning the Finals MVP twice, in the 1971 and 1985 Finals.

Kareem also won the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award, and a record six MVP Awards in his career.

On a side note, Kareem was also the greatest college basketball player of all time, as he led the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA championships, a total record of 88-2 and was the winner of two NCAA College Player of the Year Awards.

Within the next few days, I will write an article of the 25 greatest NBA players of all time.

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