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Power Ranking Dwight Howard and the Top 15 Centers in the NBA

Mark EvansCorrespondent IIIAugust 10, 2011

Power Ranking Dwight Howard and the Top 15 Centers in the NBA

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    While coming up with the list of the best centers in the NBA, I quickly realized a few things.

    There is one guy who is absolutely great. Dominant.

    After that, there are a few centers who are pretty good. Nothing too special, but pretty good.

    And after that, there's not much. There are a whole lot of average big men in the league.

    There's also a lot of players who are pretty much only in the league because they're seven feet tall.

    Please note, it's tough to decide whether many players are centers or power forwards. Some of the names I left off my list because I felt they were power forwards include Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, Pau Gasol and Amar'e Stoudemire.

    All that being said, here is my ranking of the top 15 centers in the NBA today. We'll start at No. 15.

15. Javale McGee (Washington Wizards)

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    As we all know, Javale McGee is very athletic, a great dunker and a pretty good shot blocker.

    That combination of attributes makes it seem like he should be higher on the list, right?

    Well, his inconsistency and terrible decision making at times has him stuck at No. 15. He flashes so much potential, and then makes a play that leaves Wizards fans scratching their heads.

    Could he climb up the list? Of course, I expect him to. But at this moment, here is where he'll stay.

14. Kendrick Perkins (OKC Thunder)

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    Let's just say his stock was probably higher before he left the Celtics.

    Perkins certainly benefited from a great defensive system in Boston, where he was surrounded by elite defenders such as Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. I understand Serge Ibaka is quite the shot blocker, but the defensive energy that Garnett brings to the table is rivaled by very few, if any.

    You know what you're going to get from Perkins: Very good on-ball defense, good rebounding and some clean-up points under the basket.

    There is no doubt he is a decent player, but Perk is nothing terribly special.

13. DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)

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    I know he's only played one year. I also know that he only shot 43% from the field, which is terrible for a big man.

    But in a league where centers are at a premium, give me DeMarcus Cousins at No. 13.

    He's physically developed and is one of the strongest guys around. On top of being a huge presence in the lane, he also has some offensive game.

    He averaged 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds on a team that struggled greatly this past season. I expect Cousins to take a leap this coming season, which will probably make me put his name higher on this list.

12. Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors)

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    If we're only looking at numbers, Bargnani should be higher on this list. To his credit, he did average 21 points per game this past season.

    But wow, is he soft or what?

    Sorry, but I have a hard time putting him higher on my list. He can't rebound and he can't guard anyone. Bargnani just chucks up jump shots all game.

    His stats are very hollow, to say the least.

11. Emeka Okafor (New Orleans Hornets)

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    Emeka Okafor has had a pretty good career so far in the NBA. He's been nothing too special, but definitely a quality player.

    In seven seasons, he's averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Okafor won't dazzle anybody with his offense, and he certainly won't demand many double teams.

    But, as I said, centers these days are very average. And Okafor is a little bit better than average.

10. Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)

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    Tyson Chandler is one of those players who does one thing particularly great. In his case, defense is the specialty.

    Everyone in the Mavericks organization will tell you that Chandler changed the defensive mindset of the entire team into one that allowed them to win a championship.

    None of his numbers are mind blowing. Last season, he averaged 10 points, 9 rebounds and 1 block. But his defensive presence, energy and leadership are nothing short of elite.

    I would take Tyson Chandler on my team any day.

9. Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers)

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    At 7'2", Hibbert provides great length at his position. However, he needs to learn how to use his size to be an elite rebounder.

    He's a big part of a young Pacer team with a lot of upside. If Hibbert can fine tune his offensive game and become a better rebounder, he could be an elite center. And the Pacers could be an elite team.

    But, until he does that, he is only No. 9 on my list.

8. Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)

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    Similar to Tyson Chandler, Noah does a few things extremely well to make up for his deficiencies.

    Noah is a tenacious defender and rebounder, and is a huge part of who the Bulls are.

    He may not bring a whole lot to the table offensively, other than clean-up points, but few centers do these days.

    Noah is an elite defender and certainly one of the better centers.

7. Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)

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    It wasn't until this year's playoffs that most fans realized "the other Gasol" can actually play.

    He was a huge part of the feel-good story that was the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol benefited from having Zach Randolph next to him, but he deserves a lot of credit for his performances.

    Gasol is a very well-rounded player. He's a good rebounder, a good on ball defender and has good touch around the rim and. He's the whole package, and will be a great asset to his team for years to come.

6. Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets)

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    His rebounding struggles have been well documented and are not to be forgotten. To be an elite player, Lopez has to be an elite rebounder.

    That being said, Lopez is a very good offensive talent. He averaged 20 points per game last season while shooting 49% from the field, as well as 79% from the line.

    He has all the skills you love to see out of a young big man. It's very possible that his rebounding will improve with experience. And if it does, is there anything not to love?

    Lopez seems to be a big part of the future of the Nets, and that's a good sign for New Jersey fans.

5. Nene (Denver Nuggets)

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    Nene has been overlooked by many over the years, but he won't be passed over much longer. He'll get his pay day soon, and it will be a big one.

    He is a very balanced player and makes a big impact on both ends of the floor. He is freakishly efficient on the offensive end, where he shot 62% from the field last season while averaging 15 points.

    In addition, Nene is a pretty good defender, too.

    He is one of the top centers in the league, and hopefully people will start to notice.

4. Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers)

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    Bynum could definitely be higher on this list, if he stayed healthy and achieved his potential that is constantly being discussed.

    Even if he is underachieving, Bynum still averaged 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks last season while shooting 57% from the field. Those are numbers that many players would take in a heart beat, but it's clear that Bynum is capable of more.

    In addition to staying healthy, growing up a bit would do Bynum some good. We all remember the J.J. Barea incident in this year's playoffs, which cannot be excused.

    All that being said, there's a reason he has been rumored to be available for a trade in exchange for Dwight Howard. That is because he's valuable and could be dominant on both ends of the floor.

    Let's see how Bynum responds to a disappointing end to his season.

3. Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)

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    Almost every team would be thrilled to have a center who produces 15 points and 9 rebounds, shoots 56% from the field, 80% from the line and plays tough interior defense.

    Well, that's what you get out of Al Horford.

    He isn't the most talented or the tallest center around, but he is certainly one of the toughest. And he knows how to play.

    He's been consistently producing since his rookie year and shows no signs of slowing down. Horford is not a once-in-a-generation talent, but he's a heck of a player.

2. Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)

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    Remember when he was a first overall pick?

    Bogut is a little taller and a little more skilled around the rim than Horford, along with being one of the best shot blockers in the league.

    His injury may have affected his development, which is truly a shame. Hopefully, he'll rebound and continue to improve his game, because he is a special player.

    He is a huge part of a disappointing Bucks team that hopes to make a run this year after acquiring Stephen Jackson in a trade.

    Unfortunately for him, Bogut will probably never be the number one center in the league. That title belongs to a certain player in Orlando, and will for a long time.

1. Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)

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    Is there any serious debate about this one at all?

    This guy is dominant in every sense of the world, and the best center we have seen since a young Shaq. 23 points, 14 rebounds and 2.4 blocks? Really? Not to mention he's on a terrible team. Seriously, the Magic would be in the cellar of the standings if not for Howard's excellence.

    He is a once-in-a-generation player and one of the best in the league today. If I could build my team around any player in the NBA, it would be Dwight Howard, partially due to his talents and partially due to the shortage of great centers today.

    The scary part is that his offensive game still has room for improvement. He has gotten much better around the rim over the past few years and will continue to work on his game.

    He has a contagious personality and an energy that is hard not to love.

    There is some debate as to who is the best player in the league, but there is absolutely no question who is the best center. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dwight Howard.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @JrMarkyMark

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