The center has experienced more change than any position in basketball. For years, contending teams had to have that final necessary ingredient if they wanted a true shot at a championship.
Bill Russell dominated for over a decade winning 11 titles with the Celtics. Kareem’s Lakers seemed at times unstoppable. There were Moses Malone’s 76ers, Bill Laimbeer’s Pistons, and of course Hakeem’s Rockets. And you can’t forget Shaq.
For a very long time, the best teams (that didn’t have Michael Jordan) relied upon a strong defensive stopper at the glass, hulking giants that could out-muscle opponents and clear space. They didn’t have to shoot because the five feet around the hoop was theirs and if you wanted in you were going to have to pay.
But gone are the days of a Center-dominated NBA. Everyone has taken note of this fact, including the leagues GM’s, and it seems that many teams of the future intend to rely on glorified Power Forwards to control the paint. There’s been an explosion of lanky big men with long arms, quick reflexes and a consistent jumper.
Just look at last year’s NBA finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. Often times, the match-up at the 5-spot was Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh. Neither of them qualify as a typical center but their defensive presence, length, and shooting ability meant they were able to stretch the floor for their teams and take part in a transitional offense that many big-men would simply be too slow for.
Does this mean that the traditional center is extinct? Hardly, they’re just becoming more scarce, which in a way, increases the overall value of a player that retains those traditional post-skills.
Here, we’ll count down the top 10 predicted centers for the 2012-13 season.
The parameters surrounding a “good” center are malleable, so hopefully this list will reflect both the changing nature of the position and of the game of basketball.