The NBA center isn’t what it used to be, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any great ones. With the league developing the run-and-gun offense it’s hard for the true centers to adapt but there is always going to be a place for a back to the basket big man.
#5 – Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
2012-13 stats: 11.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 18.2 PER
Noah isn’t your prototypical center, actually he isn’t a prototypical anything. However, he is a great on ball defender from the center position and has all the intangibles you can ask of from a player. Noah is long and lean, he can rebound along with score in the post. He Needs to work on his unorthodox shot but his all around game is something special for the Bulls.
#4- Chris Bosh, Miami HEAT
2012-13 stats: 16.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 20.1 PER
Bosh has helped the Miami Heat win two championship and appear in three NBA Finals since landing in South Beach. There is no question Bosh is the most overlooked of the “Big 3″ but he could be the most important. His rebounding ability along with his scoring from 15-18 feet help open up the lanes for LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. With acquiring Greg Oden to play the five this year for the Heat, look for Bosh to play his more natural four spot.
#3 – Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 stats: 19.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 24.8 PER
Lopez has tremendous upside. Even though the big man averaged close to 20 points per game last season, he still has room to improvise offensively. The Nets would like to see him improve on his rebounding. The addition of Kevin Garnett will help Lopez mentally and physically, two areas of weakness as well. He tends to play a little soft and fades away from the basket, you can book the fact he will practice with Garnett and learn to be tougher.
#2 – Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
2012-13 stats: 14.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 19.6 PER
He’s not flashy but he definitely is effective. Gasol became just the second player in NBA history to average at least 14 points, 4 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting above 84 percent from the foul line. The other guy was Michael Jordan, not bad company. This past season Gasol won the defensive player of the year award, establishing himself as the most well rounded centers in the game. Gasol is a rare big man who can do so much so easily, this season will be an even bigger one for him.
#1 – Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
2012-13 stats: 17.1 ppg, 12.4 ppg, 2.4 bpg, 19.5 PER
Howard is the most dominating defensive force in the NBA. The three time defensive player of the year lead the NBA in rebounds last season coming off back surgery.
With all the off the court distractions, it’s overshadowed how effective Howard really is. With the debacles in Orlando and Los Angeles behind him, look for Howard to have a great season in Houston alongside James Harden. Its no secret Howard must work on his post moves but with the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon Kevin Mchale that shouldn’t be too hard. Dwight understands this is his third team in as many years, no more excuses its time to put up.