The biggest lie in the NBA is that the center position is gone. Gone are the traditional back to the basket, nasty, hard fouling, mean son of a guns in the middle. Lies, I tell you. The center position is not gone, it’s evolved. We still have the long rim protectors. We still have the back to the basket guy, the 20 rebounds guy. The difference is now we have the jump shooting center. The high post center that puts it on the floor and takes you off the dribble. Take a look at the top of the center totem pole and tell me what their skills are worth.
1- DeMarcus Cousins
The mercurial Cousins gets noticed more for his antics than his skills. That’s sad, because his skill are outlandish. A load to defend at 6′ 11″ 270 pounds and has quickness to match. He’s very strong especially in the upper body, which helps him get positioning to rebound at a great rate (12.5 per game). Cousins is solid defensively, quick hands for steals and a good rim protector. He has good post moves and can put it on the floor and create shots for himself. Cousins has a solid jumper from about fifteen feet, which he can extend to the three point line (.361 three point field goal %). He has good floor vision, often finding teammates in good position to score. Tough as nails with an attitude to match, it doesn’t get much better than Cousins in the NBA at any position.
Joel Embiid looks like he watched a Hakeem Olajuwon instructional video growing up. Embiid has an assortment of post moves we haven’t seen in decades. He’s long and silky with an athletic burst to the rim. Deceptively strong, he is able to get to his spot on in the floor with little resistance. He’s a good rebounder, not elite, but good at right around ten a game. Embiid has brought “sexy” back to the NBA post game. He’s battled some injuries, but a healthy Embiid does what he wants in the post.
3-Karl Anthony Towns
The ultimate millennial center, Towns plays all over the court. I don’t know if it’s even fair to deem him a center, he’s really just a big (thank you NBA all-star game). Towns can handle the basketball and not like a few dribbles to the basket kind of moves, either. I mean the cross you over, don’t reach or look stupid kind of moves. He can shoot from anywhere on the court and has the athleticism to finish strong at the rim. He’s a great rebounder and a decent shot blocker. Towns is one of the best wing players we have in the league, he just happens to be seven feet tall.
Drummond will not win a scoring title at any point in his NBA career. A limited offensive arsenal coupled with a terrible free throw shooting percentage (it’s much improved this season) makes for an average offensive player. Drummond is however an athletic dynamo at 6′ 11″ and 279 pounds. He’s a massive rebounder who gives you plenty of second chance shots on offense. He’s a great help defender and his one on one defense is pretty solid as well. He is a great rim protector: he won’t always make the block but always alters opponents’ shots. He’s already in his sixth season at age 24 and still has plenty of upside to improve. It’s scary to think that’s he’s not a finished product.
The Grizzled veteran (pun intended) of the group, Gasol is definitely entering the final years of his career. His overall skill is still impressive on both sides of the ball. Not the caliber rebounder of a top center, but his basketball IQ and passing ability make up for any of his deficiencies. Another strength is his leadership on and off the court. Gasol seems to always make the right decisions with the ball. His foul line jumper is almost automatic and he can still back you down in the post.