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NBA Centres: 13 Best Ranked NBA Players

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NBA Centres

NBA Centres: The death of the big man in the NBA was greatly exaggerated.

In the 2020-21 NBA season, the two leading MVP candidates are centers who blend an old-school game with the new-school diversity of today’s game.

Throughout the league, there are quality centers — offensive dynamos, defensive specialists, traditional rim-runners, and players with unique skillsets.

Here are the 13 best NBA centers in NBA today

NBA Centres

Honorable mentions in NBA Centres : Mitchell Robinson, Christian Wood, Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, Al Horford

13. Myles Turner |NBA Centres

  • Team: Indiana Pacers
  • Age: 25
  • 2020-21 stats: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3.4 blocks, 47.7% FG, 33.5% 3FG

Where he stands right now: Turner has never morphed into the inside-outside offensive presence some hoped for, but he’s had a stellar year defensively. He leads the NBA in blocks and boasts the best on-court net rating of any regular rotation member on the Pacers. He’ll get some consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. Even if he never realizes his full potential, he is a solid modern-day big man.

12. Jarrett Allen

  • Team: Cleveland Cavaliers |NBA Centres
  • Age: 23
  • 2020-21 stats: 13.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 64.2% FG

Where he stands right now: Allen is a classic rim-runner: a player who finishes easy shots at the rim, doesn’t stray outside of his comfort zone, and serves as an anchor on the defensive end. He has a surprising burst near the rim and impeccable timing in turning away dunk attempts. He could be a true centerpiece for the rebuilding Cavs if he can develop a one-dribble offensive move and make kick-out passes from the pick-and-roll.

11. Brook Lopez

  • Team: Milwaukee Bucks |NBA Centres
  • Age: 33
  • 2020-21 stats: 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7 assists, 48.8% FG, 34.9% 3FG

Where he stands right now: The Bucks have changed some schemes that haven’t helped Lopez: they’re playing less five-out offense and less “drop” scheme on defense, where Lopez thrived defending the rim. Still, Lopez is the rare center who is a true threat beyond the arc and capable of bullying opponents in the post.

His height and length are still a big help on defense, even if he may struggle to stay on the court if the Bucks begin switching more. His rebounds are low, but he plays with a teammate who gobbles up 12+ per game. His offense has ticked up in April, a sign he may be peaking at the right time.

10. Clint Capela

  • Team: Atlanta Hawks |NBA Centres
  • Age: 26
  • 2020-21 stats: 15.5 points, 14.7 rebounds, .8 assists, 2.1 blocks, 59.5% FG

Where he stands right now: Another classic rim-runner, Capela has proved to be a stabilizing force for the Hawks. He owns the best on-court net rating on the NBA Centres team. He ranks second in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, just behind Rudy Gobert, and has drawn rave reviews from teammates who say they feel his absence when he’s out of games.

It’s unclear if he’ll be able to play huge minutes in the postseason, but a consistent, two-way, stabilizing presence at center is a big luxury many teams don’t have.

9. Deandre Ayton

  • Team: Phoenix Suns |NBA Centres
  • Age: 22
  • 2020-21 stats: 15 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 62.5% FG

Where he stands right now: Ayton entered the NBA Centres capable of scoring. What’s been more impressive is how he has molded his game to better fit the demands of the modern game. He has taken a step back on offense this season to fall in line under Chris Paul and Devin Booker. His defense has also improved and only stands to get better with more experience. The playoffs will be a huge test for the 2018 No. 1 pick’s growth.

8. Jonas Valanciunas

  • Team: Memphis Grizzlies |NBA Centres
  • Age: 28
  • 2020-21 stats: 17 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 58% FG, 36.5% 3FG

Where he stands right now: A classic bruiser, Valanciunas has flown under the radar in Memphis because he replaced Marc Gasol. Valanciunas can bully opponents in the post, but he has also developed a feathery touch from deep.

His 80 games with 10+ points and 10+ rebounds over the last two seasons is fifth-most in the NBA Centres in that span. He’s limited defensively but can alter shots and rebounds, keeping him from being a liability on that end.

7. Nikola Vucevic

  • Team: Chicago Bulls |NBA Centres
  • Age: 30
  • 2020-21 stats: 23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 49% FG, 41.8% 3FG

Where he stands right now: One of the most skilled offensive big men in the NBA, Vucevic is capable of working in the post, shooting threes, or facing up opponents and beating them off the dribble.

He is one of 15 players this season averaging over 22 points per game with a 55% eFG. His defense remains a concern, however, and he’ll have to prove he can leverage his offensive skills into meaningful wins on a legitimate playoff contender.

6. Kristaps Porzingis

  • Team: Dallas Mavericks |NBA Centres
  • Age: 25
  • 2020-21 stats: 20.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 47.4% FG, 36.3% 3FG

Where he stands right now: Porzingis’ best games are a revelation: a 7-foot-3 “unicorn” who can hit a deep three one minute, stuff a dunk attempt the next, then face up and hit a mid-range jumper, like some super-sized Carmelo Anthony. In Year 2 in Dallas, he’s posting the best eFG% of his career.

Injuries seem to have taken their toll on his ability to corral opposing ball-handlers, but he is still a solid, rim-protecting center. Health and consistency are the biggest factors holding him back; he’s played in just 144 games over the last four seasons.

5. Karl-Anthony Towns

  • Team: Minnesota Timberwolves |NBA Centres
  • Age: 25
  • 2020-21 stats: 24.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 49.3% FG, 39.4% 3FG

Where he stands right now: Towns is truly capable of doing it all offensively. He can score from anywhere and punish mismatches. He’s a skilled playmaker: his 4.5 assists per game this season are a career-high and further proof he could be the fulcrum of an offense with the right pieces around him.

However, his defensive problems remain puzzling, as Towns certainly doesn’t lack the athleticism or smarts necessary to be a solid defender. There is a nagging feeling that one day, Towns’ incredible skillset will be more appreciated on a better team.

4. Bam Adebayo

  • Team: Miami Heat |NBA Centres
  • Age: 23
  • 2020-21 stats: 19.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 56.8% FG

Where he stands right now: Adebayo’s stats underscore his impact. He has improved as a mid-range jump-shooter, finishes with toughness on the inside, rebounds well at 6-foot-9, can catch the ball at the elbow and make a play, and credibly guard all five positions.

Adding a three-point shot is next. At 23, his versatility and room for growth are the keys to Miami’s future. Adebayo isn’t the best center, but given his age, would he be the No. 1 center teams would choose to build around?

3. Rudy Gobert

  • Team: Utah Jazz |NBA Centres
  • Age: 28
  • 2020-21 stats: 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.8 blocks, 67.6% FG

Where he stands right now: It can be difficult for casual fans to wrap their heads around Gobert’s impact. He is historically efficient in the paint and his rolls to the rim open up shots for his teammates. He doesn’t demand touches. He cleans the boards. And on defense, he is a force unto himself.

Gobert can block shots, sure, but he also changes opponents’ shot profiles by patrolling the paint and scaring shooters away from the rim. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and frankly, should and will have more as long as voters don’t get bored of voting for him.

2. Nikola Jokic

  • Team: Denver Nuggets |NBA Centres
  • Age: 26
  • 2020-21 stats: 26.2 points, 11 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 56.7% FG, 40.7% 3FG

Where he stands right now: There’s never been another player like Jokic. Plodding and cunning, Jokic floats around the court, impacting everything. He is the true hub of the Nuggets offense — he’ll catch the ball at the three-point line, elbow, or post, survey the court, then whip one-handed passes, always on point, to their target.

Averaging 26 points on 60.5% eFG is stunning because Jokic almost looks as if he doesn’t want to look for his own shot on most possessions. He tries on defense, is often in the right spots, and uses his size and rebounding to his advantage — he’s not the weakness on that end that he is sometimes portrayed to be.

1. Joel Embiid

  • Team: Philadelphia 76ers |NBA Centres
  • Age: 27
  • 2020-21 stats: 29.8 points, 11 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 51.4% FG, 37.6% 3FG

Where he stands right now: Embiid mixes old-school and new-school to form a perfect mix of what a center can be today. He has the post moves of throwback ’90s centers but can also shoot threes. His career-best offensive season has been boosted by increased efficiency in the midrange.

Defensively, he can be a game-wrecker, with the ability to drop back and protect the rim or use his quickness and length to bother smaller opponents on switches. Health remains a question, but he has been mostly available this season, and the result has been an elite talent realizing his potential and becoming a dominant force on both ends.

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