Many people believed that the center position in basketball was becoming less important and would eventually be non-existent. However, the 2020-2021 NBA Season taught us that the center position in basketball is still in great shape. The skillsets of centers in the NBA range across a multitude of categories including shooting, playmaking, finishing and defending. In this article, we will take a look at the top ten centers entering the 2021-2022 NBA season.
Top Ten Centers Entering the 2021-2022 Season
10. Christian Wood
Entering the 2020-2021 NBA Season many were skeptical about Christian Wood. Wood was coming off of a great ending of the last season with the lowly Detroit Pistons. People believed that Wood’s great numbers were a result of a decent player performing extraordinarily on a terrible team. However, Wood dismissed all of those claims, averaging a career-high 21.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for the Houston Rockets in his fifth NBA season. Wood will likely continue to grow and improve his game while trying to lead the Rockets back to the playoffs.
9. Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas is one of the most underrated players in the entire NBA. Valanciunas is a matchup nightmare for most centers as he dominates the interior with his offensive repertoire. Along with Ja Morant, Jonas helped will a young Memphis Grizzlies team to the NBA playoffs. Valanciunas averaged 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game a year ago. This offseason, Valanciunas was traded from the Grizzlies to the Pelicans. Jonas should help the Pelicans out immediately in their quest to the playoffs with his toughness, leadership, and tenacity.
8. Clint Capela
Clint Capela is the perfect center for the Trae Young-led Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks surprised the entire NBA world making it to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago. Capela’s pick and roll combo with Young as well as his amazing rebounding and rim-protecting helped the Hawks tremendously. Capela averaged 15.2 points and 14.3 rebounds per game while tallying 48 double-doubles a year ago.
7. Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic is an offensive powerhouse. He can finish inside very well, however, what makes Vucevic special is his shooting ability. Vucevic is only the second center in NBA history to make at least 175 three-pointers in a single season. Nikola had a terrific season a year ago averaging 23.4 points and 11.7 rebounds. Midway through last season, Vucevic was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Chicago Bulls. Vucevic will be an integral part of the Bulls playoff push in the 2021-2022 season.
6. Deandre Ayton
Before the Phoenix Suns’ amazing run to the NBA Finals, there was almost no chance that Deandre Ayton would have cracked my top ten list. However, after his amazing playoff performance, there is no way that he wouldn’t make it now. Ayton had a solid regular season but he completely ramped up both his offensive and defensive performance on the Suns’ push to the Finals. In the playoffs, Ayton averaged 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Ayton also played tremendous defense on some of the NBA’s best including Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic with his foot speed.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns like Nikola Vucevic is a big man who is tremendously skilled on the offensive end of the floor. Towns has the ability and skill set to be the best center in basketball but his health and attitude are sometimes of question. Towns averaged 24.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game last season. If Towns can remain healthy and play at this magnitude the Minnesota Timberwolves will be fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
4. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo can almost do everything on the basketball court. He can play make, defend both the interior and perimeter as well as finish inside. Adebayo is as versatile as a center could be. Last season Bam averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Along with Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, Bam will be pushing the Heat towards the playoffs.
3. Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert is one of the most dominant defenders of all time. Gobert is the fourth player all-time to win Defensive Player of the Year three times. He is among the likes of Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, and Dwight Howard in that regard. This past season Gobert averaged 14.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Rudy also averaged more blocks than fouls which is an incredible statistic as a defensive-minded center.
2. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is coming off undoubtedly his best season in the NBA. The MVP runner-up is no doubt the best two-way center in the NBA. Embiid is a dominant post player who can also score on the perimeter. Embiid averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game a year ago. The 76ers have had a quite dysfunctional offseason with the Ben Simmons drama but with Embiid you will always be in playoff contention.
1. Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic may simply be the most skilled offensive center of all time. The reigning NBA MVP can do it all including playmaking and scoring from any point on the court. Last season Jokic averaged nearly a triple-double with 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Nikola is continuing to improve as well averaging more points every single season. Jokic is a transcendent player and first in the top ten centers.
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