With the season a few months away, we take a look at the centers who might potentially surprise us.
With that said, here are the giants not getting enough recognition who have the potential to breakout this coming season.
Three NBA Centers Who Will Fly Under the Radar
Alex Len – Phoenix Suns
This past season was arguably Len’s best season in his 3 years in the league.
He averaged 9.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg while playing only in a little over 23.3 mpg. Prior to the start of the season, the Suns signed veteran Tyson Chandler for 4 years and $52 million to try and lure LaMarcus Aldridge. Even though the plan failed, the team found themselves a mentor for the young Ukrainian.
Post All-Star break, Len averaged an impressive double-double. He posted 13.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg in 30 mpg, which is a pretty impressive stat line.
Even though Len enjoyed improved success, the weaknesses in his game still show from time to time (not very polished offensively, shot just a little over 40 percent from the field). It is a weakness that is very fixable during the summer. Remember what they always say, big guys take a little longer to develop.
With his contract up, Len might take the starting position from Chandler this upcoming season. And with the national attention that Devin Booker garnered in his first season, the spotlight is barely touching the young center. Add to the mix the most hyped European prospect in this year’s draft in Dragan Bender, and an athletic freak of nature in Marquese Chriss, and the stage for Len’s success is all set up.
Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers
No one knows what the future holds for Nerlens Noel. There have been reports that he is being shopped by the 76ers. There have also been reports that they plan to keep Noel and that they are trying to trade Okafor. But one thing is for sure, Noel is going to have a very good season.
In his second season the defensive juggernaut averaged 11.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.8 spg, 1.5 bpg, in almost 30 mpg. Those numbers show how much he affects the game defensively. And if we go deeper in his advanced stats we’ll see how amazing he is on that side of the court. He has a defensive box per minute of 3.4 and a defensive win share of 2.8. To give you an idea, DeAndre Jordan had a DBPM of 3.8 and a DWS of 5.5.
The Sixers made themselves known during draft night when they nagged Ben Simmons from LSU, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot from France, and Furkman Korkmaz from Turkey. Not to mention the hype surrounding Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor is so high right now that they forgot about Noel.
If he improves his offensive game, Noel will definitely have a breakout season. Whether or not his breakout season will take place in Philadelphia is yet to be determined; we just have to stay tuned.
Jusuf Nurkic – Denver Nuggets
I’m just gonna say it straight: The Nuggets are probably the least popular team in the NBA.
With that said, no casual fan will know who Nurkic is.
Well, let me introduce you!
Jusuf Nurkic is a 21 year old center from Bosnia. He made the NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team back in 2014 and is one of the most promising young big man we have in the NBA. His stats won’t jump out at you at first glance, as he averaged just 8.2 ppg and 5.5 rpg last season.
Like Noel, it’s defense where the Bosnian shines. Per 36 minutes, he averages 1.6 steals per game and 2.9 blocks per game, and he has a defensive box per minute of 2.8.
He has to stay healthy in order for his name to be heard around the league, as he only played 32 games last season due to ankle and knee issues.
The Nuggets have built an exciting young core with Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Jamal Murray. But where does Jusuf Nurkic fit into the equation? I personally think he’s a starter on this team with Jokic being versatile enough to play the 4 spot.
Looking Forward to the Season
The NBA season is almost upon us. With all these talented centers, there is another reason to be excited about the coming year of basketball. Will the Most Improve Player of the Year be a center this time? We will just have to find out.
DALLAS, TX – NOVEMBER 13: Nerlens Noel (4) of the Philadelphia 76ers is in action against Dirk Nowitzki (41) of Dallas Mavericks during the NBA basketball match between Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on November 13, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)