Who is the second best center in the NBA?
Okay, it’s not Andrew Bynum. I’m sorry, it’s just not. I understand that he is WHEN he is healthy, but do you realize in his now eight-year career he has only played more than 60 regular season games three times? Not to mention, he has played in none this year, thus far. I understand a lot of people say he’s number two under the argument of the center position is dying. To that, I say why? Why is the center position dying? It may be true that the Shaq’s and Olajuwon’s of the world are disappearing. The guys you can just chuck it into the post and they’ll create something out of nothing. It’s really an art form what men like this have done and there are players like that still out there. They may not be Hall of Famers, but they are out there. Here are a few of my candidates to compete for second best center of the league.
Al Jefferson – Big Al is a great big man in this league but is mainly overlooked because he plays for the Utah Jazz. That’s not a knock on Utah, you just don’t get to see them play as much on national TV to make a bigger name for himself. He averages, for his career, 16 ppg and 9 reb. He plays back to the basket and has a deadly mid range game. Not to mention he can play pretty good defense, which doesn’t simply mean he blocks shots. Al can man up on the league’s best bigs. The only thing teams don’t like is he can be a bit of a black hole once it gets dropped to him in the post.
Joakim Noah – Looks better and better every year. I’ve been very impressed with this former Gator. His defense is unquestioned and rebounding is what you ask out of your center. He doesn’t have the greatest athleticism in the world, but he really doesn’t need it. I’ve even noticed his mid range shot fall on more than one occasion, granted the ball corkscrews upon his release, but it doesn’t always matter how it looks so long as it goes in (ask Shawn Marion). Noah is looking like he’s going to have a very good career ahead of him. With Derrick Rose and maybe one more piece, he could help lead Chicago to a title.
Marc Gasol – The big-bodied Gasol has a much different game then his lanky brother. Marc beats you up, scraps and gets down right rough with most people. He has been a giant reason for the Grizzlies continued success with the consistent rebounding and good passing from down low. He Isn’t featured much on the highlight reels when it comes to blocking shots, but he does his fair share of altering shots when players drive.
Brook Lopez – Brook made the All-Star game this year, which is great, especially after spending all last season on IR. He doesn’t play the most physical defense and only averages 1.7 blocks per game for his career, but he is starting to develop and is getting much better on the defensive end. He isn’t the best rebounder, and can be seen getting bullied sometimes. Lopez is a smart player and he will figure it out in due time. He also has a bit of a shooting stroke from mid-range. It can come and go but, it is there and you have something to work with.
Greg Monroe – Georgetown sure knows how to put out the big men. Although I haven’t watched a whole lot of Pistons games this year, I have noticed Greg Monroe. I feel this 22 year old can really develop into something special with the right coach. As of right now, he is still posting some decent numbers. I’d like to see what he can do with a little more help around him to utilize his passing abilities.
Roy Hibbert – Good God, how tall is this man? This 7’2″ monster regularly looks like a man amongst boys. Surprisingly though, his rebounding isn’t that great, and he is rarely seen dunking the ball. With height like that though, he still deserves to be mentioned on this list. If he could just work on his positioning abilities on rebounds, there really is no reason why he couldn’t be towards the top of the league’s leading rebounders.
JaVale McGee – JaVale is often seen on ESPN’s top 10 or not top 10, and sometimes both. Although his basketball IQ is sometimes in question, there is no denying his leaping ability. JaVale can smack a ball into the 12th row for one series and be seen trying to draw a charge on Nate Robinson the next. He is very fun to watch for the good and bad, I’m just glad he’s not on my team because I think I’d go insane watching him play regularly. On the plus side, his bone headedness has went down considerably since being moved to Denver. I’m a fan of his for sure, but that’s mostly due to him making me laugh or screaming “WOW, did you see that!!!”
DeMarcus Cousins – I feel I need to put him on here just on potential. I’m really not even sure what to say about him; his own team has suspended him or removed him from team functions because of his attitude. It’s like Zach Randolph all over again except Cousins has more upside. I think if he gets on a team, with more of an established coach, he’ll grow up. As of now, he’ll just be another “wanna be gangster” in the NBA. Maybe the potential move to Seattle will help him, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
These are the centers I wanted to highlight to help point out that the center position is not dead. The league is just changing into more teams wanting to Run’n Gun and bomb threes, and some of these young centers don’t get the touches required to put up the bigger and more consistent numbers. Until a team sees resounding success built around a low post player again like Tim Duncan, change might not occur.
Written By: Andy Lesmeister