In the NBA, the position of center has been evolving over the past decade more than any other position. The majority of centers that failed to evolve never reached the elite threshold. In today’s game, the best of the best are great all-around players. They can completely take over a game at times and always have a positive impact on defense.
Best Centers Currently in the NBA
Honorable Mention: Nikola Vucevic
If you look at numbers alone, you might wonder why Nikola Vucevic isn’t higher on this list. On the season he is currently averaging 18.6 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game for the Orlando Magic. While those numbers look outstanding on paper, he doesn’t quite rise to the levels of his competition. He has been very inconsistent this season in terms of scoring. One game he’ll look truly elite, and the next he’ll struggle mightily. On the defensive end, he also falls short of his competitors. While his play defensively isn’t a liability, it clearly isn’t elite. He’ll have a chance over the next couple of seasons to rise on the list if he can gain some consistency.
5. Rudy Gobert
When you think of Rudy Gobert two words immediately come to mind: lockdown defender. Gobert immediately strikes fear into his opponents with his massive frame and quick reflexes. Throughout his career, he has won the defensive player of the year award twice, while making the All-NBA Defensive team three times. Gobert is not to be messed with on the offensive side of the ball as well. He is currently averaging 15.7 points per game, as well as 14.5 rebounds on the year for the Utah Jazz. While he may not be an elite scorer he certainly gets the job done.
4. Bam Adebayo
Out of just about every center in the NBA, nobody has improved as much as Bam Adebayo. Since cracking the starting lineup this season, Adebayo has put on a show. On the year he is currently averaging 16 points, 10.5 rebounds, and nearly 5 assists per game for the Miami Heat. His defensive ability is not to be messed with as well. He has been able to contain some of the best and brightest in the league. His play has even garnered some defensive player of the year buzz. At the age of 22, Adebayo is just getting started in this league. If he continues improving at this rate he will be at the top of the list in no time.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns
In terms of pure talent, there may not be a more talented center in the NBA than Karl-Anthony Towns. He has all the skills in the world and his numbers certainly show it. He is currently averaging 26.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Numbers-wise you can make a case for him being the best center in the league. However, the fact that his elite scoring has not translated into wins for his team is alarming. While he does need more talent around him, the truly great ones find a way to get wins regardless. His play also appears to fall off during crunch time. With all that being said, it is undeniable that Towns is an incredible player with the potential to alter games and one day top the list of best centers in the NBA.
2. Nikola Jokic
It’s fair to say that this season has not been the best of Nikola Jokić’s career. His season got off to a slow start, however, his play has been stellar as of late. On the season he is currently averaging 19.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. While a player like Towns may have better numbers, Jokić has a much greater impact on wins for his team. He currently has the Denver Nuggets sitting pretty as the fourth seed in the west. When the game is close, he elevates his game to the next level. With Jokić at the helm, the Nuggets will be in a good position for the next several years.
1. Joel Embiid
While there are many out there who don’t like Joel Embiid, it’s impossible to deny the impact he has on the court. He is a complete two-way player who is capable of scoring on all levels. He is currently averaging 22.8 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on the year for the Philadelphia 76ers while also providing top-notch defense. If Embiid would play at an elite level consistently, it wouldn’t even be a debate. He has the talent to be a future MVP in this league but needs to improve on his health and consistency if he wants a chance at it. If he does stay healthy he will be towards the top of the list for top five centers in the NBA for a long time
Embed from Getty Images