Ranking Dwight Howard and the NBA's Starting Centers for Each Team
I have compiled a list ranking the probable starting centers for all 30 NBA teams, and I based these rankings on many of the qualities that make a great center: size, scoring ability, rebounding, defense, shot-blocking and intangibles.
Another factor was the ability to be a true center and not a forward-center; you will notice in the rankings the true centers are a lot higher.
Let's starting counting 'em down...
30. Ronny Turiaf, New York Knicks
Simply put, Ronny Turiaf is not cut out to be a starting center in the NBA as his stat line of four points and three rebounds per game will tell you.
He does bring energy and hustle on the defensive end of the floor, but he is a serviceable backup at best.
29. Joel Anthony, Miami Heat
Another guy who shouldn’t be starting in the premier basketball league in the world, Joel Anthony is a great defender and competent shot-blocker, but he lacks the height (only 6'9") and offensive game (2 PPG) needed to be a good center in the NBA.
28. DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
Blair had a solid season with the Spurs, but at 6'7", I can’t put him any higher on the list.
Whilst his numbers of eight points and seven rebounds per game are good, I think if Blair wasn’t playing with a power forward as fundamentally solid as Tim Duncan he would be exposed.
27. Jermaine O'Neal, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have a massive whole at center where they are currently starting Jermaine O’Neal, who averaged only five points and three rebounds a season ago.
O’Neal has good height for the position, but will need to return to his old form to give the Celtics a chance in the East.
26. Kwame Brown, Charlotte Bobcats
Kwame Brown had an improved season last year with the Bobcats and figures to be the starter again in 2011.
His numbers aren’t too impressive though at seven points and six rebounds per game, and his defense will need to improve to give the Bobcats a chance of getting to the playoffs.
25. Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are set at every position except center.
Hawes had a poor season last year, averaging only seven points and five rebounds per contest. Both he and the 76ers know he can play better, and he will need to, or he may lose his job to first-round draft pick Nikola Vucevic.
24. Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors
Andris Biedrins was a double-double machine only two seasons ago, but injuries and a lack of confidence have seen his numbers spiral downward. He is an efficient rebounder, but his poor effort on offense may see him lose his job to sophomore Ekpe Udoh.
23. Darko Milicic, Minnesota Timberwolves
Despite his reputation, Darko Milicic is actually developing into a serviceable center in this league.
He put up a solid eight points, five rebounds and two blocks per game in 25 minutes of action last season, and his numbers would be higher if he wasn’t playing alongside All-Star Kevin Love.
22. Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
The former No. 1 overall pick has proven to be an NBA-caliber starter—just not at center.
A shooting guard in a center's body, Bargnani dropped more than 21 points a game last season, but his lack of effort on defense and his poor rebounding mean that a position switch is in order.
21. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
A Second-Team All-Rookie selection, Monroe impressed for the Pistons, scoring just under 10 points per game and crashing the boards for seven rebounds a game.
He has a very well-rounded offensive game with nice hands on defense, which should allow him to become a top-10 center in the league someday.
20. Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
A solid player when healthy, Varejao was emerging nicely as a full-time starter in 2010 before a season-ending injury derailed what was a promising start.
A solid defender with good rebounding and scoring ability, don’t be surprised to see Varejao averaging a double-double soon.
19. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Jordan is a young, athletic center who figures to only get better playing alongside one of the premier power forwards in the league, Blake Griffin.
Although Jordan is a great post defender with good rebounding ability, he needs to work on his offensive game, especially his free-throw shooting (45 percent last season).
18. Marcus Camby, Portland Trail Blazers
While Camby is still a great shot-blocker and rebounder, he seems to have lost a step, especially on offense; he averaged only five points per game last season.
Camby is a solid presence in the middle for a contending Trail Blazers team, but he may lose some of his minutes to Greg Oden.
17. Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns
16. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
An All-Rookie First Team selection, Cousins quickly blossomed into a starter for the Kings, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds a game.
Although his attitude does need some fixing, Cousins has undeniable potential and could very well become an All-Star soon.
15. JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards
JaVale McGee is a great young center for the Wizards, and is a competent rebounder and shot-blocker, as well as a force in the paint offensively.
He is still quite raw, but in a Washington rotation that lacks depth at center, McGee should definitely see more playing time and improved numbers next season.
14. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
Perkins proved to be a capable rebounder and post defender during his time with the Boston Celtics.
He still needs to find his niche with the Thunder though, as he didn't put up his regular numbers toward the end of the season, especially in the playoffs.
13. Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
Jefferson would be higher on the list if it wasn’t for the fact that he is more of a power forward.
Jefferson is a force in the offensive low post, a great rebounder and a great shot-blocker, averaging nearly two swats a game last season. This block stat is quite misleading though; his defense is shoddy to say the least.
12. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
Roy Hibbert is a physical specimen at 7'2" and 278 pounds. He can be counted on to drop double-digit points every night, as well as bang on the boards and in the defensive low post.
Foul trouble held him back a bit last season, but with Frank Vogel’s smash-mouth basketball, expect to see improved numbers for Hibbert.
11. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
A dominant scorer and shot-blocker when healthy, Yao’s recent injuries are a major reason why the Rockets can’t make the playoffs.
Gone are the days where you could get 35 minutes, 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks from Ming. He is definitely still a quality starter, but his minutes will need to be reduced for his efficiency to get back up there.
10. Emeka Okafor, New Orleans Hornets
Emeka Okafor is a double-double machine and is averaging close to two blocks a game for his career.
Although his numbers have dipped since he arrived in New Orleans, he is still averaging a double-double, and with David West’s inevitable departure, his numbers should only increase.
9. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
While Gasol’s numbers (11 points and seven rebounds per game) aren’t that fantastic, he has proven to be a force in the middle with his 7'1", 265-pound frame.
Gasol has great shot-blocking ability; he’s a good distributor for a big man and has proven to be an efficient scorer who will only continue to grow in this league as he gains experience.
8. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Al Horford has proven to be an interior force for the Hawks, but he is not a true center, which is why I can’t put him higher on this list.
He can be counted on for a double-double every night, is a solid shot-blocker and will give a high amount of minutes for a big man (35 per game). Horford should only grow on a contending Hawks team.
7. Nene, Denver Nuggets
Nene has become a very efficient offensive center throughout his time in the league and will look for a big contract either from the Nuggets or another team in free agency.
He had the highest field goal percentage in the league last season and can get about 15 points per game. A great athlete for the position, Nene has also improved his passing and shot-blocking skills.
6. Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks
5. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
When healthy, Noah is one of the best all-around centers in the league.
As good as they come on defense, he recorded a little more than a steal and a block per game, as well as averaging a double-double. He is an efficient player and a good distributor who should see his numbers improve with more playing time.
4. Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets
Besides Deron Williams, Lopez is a shining light for a struggling Nets team.
While his rebounding could stand to improve, he is an efficient shot-blocker and averages more than 20 points per game. Also a good distributor, Lopez is in line for a big contract extension from the Nets.
3. Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks
The 7'0", 260-pound Bogut is as solid as centers come in today’s game. He is a double-double machine who also led the league in blocks.
Bogut is well respected by his fans and players throughout the league, and should be in line for another solid season in 2011-2012.
2. Andrew Bynum, L.A. Lakers
When healthy, Bynum is the best center in the Western Conference. He played like an absolute animal at times last season, using his entire 7'0", 285-pound frame to score in the post, crash the boards and block shots.
Fingers crossed he can stay injury-free so we can see him reach his full potential.
1. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Was there ever any doubt here?
Dwight Howard is clearly the best center in the league. He’s made five consecutive All-Star games, has three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards and four straight All-NBA First-Team appearances.
Howard is a force on both ends of the floor and is an efficient rebounder. He's also very durable, only missing seven games in seven years.
Well, there are the rankings. I hope you enjoyed the read and if you have any concerns or queries feel free to post a comment in the box below.
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