The Most Iconic Centers In The History Of The NBA

Published on 01/18/2021
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The truth is that NBA centers are among the most physically intimidating athletes out there. After all, it is not rare for them to be 6 feet 10 inches tall and boasting arms and legs longer than entire bodies! In basketball, it has become less common to have a dominant center at the team’s core. This happened thanks to the rise of non-stop three-point scoring and versatile power forwards. However, centers ruled the court during the early years of the league. This is the list of the most iconic centers in the history of the NBA. We have ranked them based on career accomplishments, stats, advanced metrics, and legacy. Allow us to give a shoutout to Basketball-Reference.com! The website allowed us to arrive at this list. Let us see if you can guess who made it to our top spot.

The Most Iconic Centers In The History Of The NBA

The Most Iconic Centers In The History Of The NBA

Neil Johnston (1951-1959)

At the height of 6 feet and 8 inches, this guy is among the shortest centers on the list. However, his height was good enough to rule down low during those days. Neil Johnston was only in the league for eight seasons, but he was a six-time All-Star pick and lead NBA scorer thrice during that period of time. The Hall of Famer spent all those years with the Philadelphia Warriors, but the team is now known as Golden State. In 1956, he helped the team bring home the title. He had a 19.4 ppg and 11.3 RPG to his name.

Neil Johnston (1951 1959)

Neil Johnston (1951 1959)

Andre Drummond (2013-Present)

Is there a rebounder more gifted than Andre Drummond? Thus far, he has led the league in rebounds twice in his career. However, what makes him a truly elite player is that he has averaged 21.2 rebounds per 48 games in his career! This is the highest average in the NBA since 1973. At 6 feet and 11 inches, he has averaged a double-double. You will soon notice that this is pretty common among the power centers on our list. Since 2013, he has 13.9 ppg and 13.5 RPG. Another achievement of his is getting picked for the All-Star twice. He spent eight years in Detroit, but the team has only reached the playoffs once during that time. We hope that his talents won’t be wasted on the Cavaliers!

Andre Drummond (2013 Present)

Andre Drummond (2013 Present)

Jack Sikma (1978-1991)

We can see why some people call Jack Sikma the greatest center in the Hall of Fame. After all, Jack Sikma ruled the paint during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. The big blonde boasted an average of 15.6 ppg and 9.8 RPG during his career. He was a seven-time All-Star pick and had an NBA title to his name. He was a talented shooter who sank around 85 percent of the free throws he made. This made him even more lethal than most centers! He was pretty unbreakable, which is rare for someone that tall. He played at least 80 games in 10 during his 14-season career.

Jack Sikma (1978 1991)

Jack Sikma (1978 1991)

Dikembe Mutombo (1992-2009)

Regardless of the position he played, Dikembe Mutombo was one of the greatest defenders in NBA history. The Hall of Famer bagged the Defensive Player of the Year award four times. He is 7 feet and 2 inches tall, so he could easily swat the ball away as it approached the basket. He averaged 4.3 blocks per 48 minutes, which made him the sixth-best among centers. Even though most people on the list could outscore him, this does not change the fact that it was hard to get past him. Did you know that his rebounds per game average are higher than that of his points per game?

Dikembe Mutombo (1992 2009)

Dikembe Mutombo (1992 2009)

Bob Lanier (1971-1984)

This dominant center spent his whole career in the Midwest. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons retired his jersey number! As a center, Bob Lanier was in the NBA for 14 seasons and averaged 10.1 rebounds and 20.1 points per game. He shot more than 51 percent from the floor. He was an All-Star pick eight times from 1972 to 1982. The Pistons reached four playoffs during his time. Back then, he had an average of 25.1 points, 2.6 blocks, and 13.8 rebounds per game. Sadly, he did not win a title.

Bob Lanier (1971 1984)

Bob Lanier (1971 1984)

Dan Issel (1970-1984)

Dan Issel made a name for himself as an offensive threat in both the ABA and NBA from a record-setting University of Kentucky basketball player. He was in the former for six seasons until it merged with the latter. He won a championship and established himself as the second-leading scorer to ever join the league! For ten years, he dominated the court as a player with the Denver Nuggets. At 22.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, he nearly got a double-double for his career average. Something else from his career stood out to us as well. Did you know that he missed only 24 games in 15 seasons? Whoa!

Dan Issel (1970 1984)

Dan Issel (1970 1984)

Alonzo Mourning (1993-2008)

Over the course of his 15 years in the NBA, ‘Zo Mourning scored an average of 4.4 blocks per 48 minutes played. This is the fifth-highest record among the centers in the league. With this mark, we can see why he was a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and chosen for the All-Defensive first team twice. He was not just great at defense since he averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game too! Sadly, this took a hit during his final years on the paint as he got a kidney transplant in 2003. He was a seven-time All-Star pick and won the 2006 title with Miami. Three years later, they retired his jersey number.

Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning

Robert Parish (1976-1997)

Did you know that no one has played more games in the NBA than Robert Parish has? He took part in 1,611 games from 1977 until 1997. As you can imagine, this helped him achieve amazing stats. You are going to find him in the all-time top ten lists in blocks and rebounds. Sadly, his per-game statistics will not impress you as much since he only averaged 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. During the two decades he spent in the NBA, he played for four teams. Even so, he is best known for his time in the Boston Celtics. He raked in three titles there in the ‘80s. He went on to win the fourth one with the Bulls.

Robert Parish (1976 1997)

Robert Parish (1976 1997)

Dwight Howard (2005-Present)

No doubt, his records can guarantee him entry to the Hall of Fame. He also deserves a spot in the list of the best centers to grace the NBA. In the past, Dwight Howard has bagged the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. He also raked in an average of 12.7 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes, which is the fourth-highest record among centers. If you prefer to look at per-game stats, we will know that he has an average of 12.6 rebounds per game. This is the tenth best among all centers in the history of the NBA. You can always rely on him to score, too, since he has 58.3 percent of his shots per 48 minutes.

Dwight Howard (2005 Present)

Dwight Howard (2005 Present)

Wes Unseld (1969-1981)

Fans of Washington know just how much of a legend Wes Unseld is. He spent his whole career with the franchise now known as the Wizards. He averaged 14 rebounds per game, which is the fourth-highest record among centers. He was not the greatest at scoring since he only averaged 10.8 points per game. Even so, his presence on the court dictated games as he never failed to keep their opponents on their toes. In 1969, he was declared the league MVP. In 1978, he won a title and was dubbed NBA Finals MVP.

Wes Unseld (1969 1981)

Wes Unseld (1969 1981)

Bill Walton (1975-1987)

During his playing years, it felt like Bill Walton was busy winning. He was an asset on the UCLA team, as he was in the NBA. He averaged 13.8 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes, which is the highest among all centers in the league’s history. Aside from that, he helped his teammates a lot with an average of 5.8 assists per 48 minutes played. This is the third-best among all the centers in the NBA. In 1978, he brought home the NBA MVP award and bagged two titles. One of them was with the Boston Celtics, while the other was with the Portland Trail Blazers. Sadly, we had to lower the list due to his nagging injuries and turnover issues. Despite this, we cannot deny that he has left an amazing legacy.

Bill Walton (1975 1987)

Bill Walton (1975 1987)

Dave Cowens (1971-1983)

Here is yet another center that dominated the ‘70s. Dave Cowens won two titles with the Boston Celtics. In 1973, he was even declared the league MVP. Over the course of his career, he averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. This made him one of the greatest dual-threat centers to ever play in the league. He joined the NBA All-Defense first team once and then the All-Star team eight times. We are sure that you are already impressed! Wait until you hear that he averaged 12.4 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes played. This is the fifth-highest record among centers in the NBA!

Dave Cowens (1971 1983)

Dave Cowens (1971 1983)

Patrick Ewing (1986-2002)

It’s a shame that Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing never won a championship because he certainly gave it all he had every night in the playoffs. In fact, Ewing averaged 20.2 points per playoff game in his career, which is the eighth-best mark among all centers. Ewing’s numbers were just as ridiculous in the regular season, with him averaging 21 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. From 1986 to 1997, Ewing made the NBA All-Star team every year but one. Somehow, he was only named to the All-NBA first team once in his career, but the 7-footer was certainly one of the most feared centers in league history.

Patrick Ewing (1986 2002)

Patrick Ewing (1986 2002)

DeMarcus Cousins (2011-Present)

We are sure that many people will agree with us when we say that DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is the best center in the NBA right now. He has an average of 12.1 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes played, after all. This is already the sixth-highest among centers! The talented player is also a scoring threat regardless of position. He has an average of 31.9 points per 48 minutes played, the third-highest mark among centers. Let us not forget about his defensive talents! Did you know that he averaged 2.1 steals per 48 minutes played? In 2020, he was with the Los Angeles Lakers when they won the title but did not play that season due to an ACL tear. Right now, the only issue in his way is his turnover rate.

DeMarcus Cousins (2011 Present)

DeMarcus Cousins (2011 Present)

Artis Gilmore (1972-1988)

Also called the “A-Train,” Artis Gilmore made history as the best rebounder to join college basketball. He was also an ABA legend until the NBA swallowed it up in 1976. He was a true high-percentage shooter. As a matter of fact, he was the all-time leader of the league in this aspect by the time he retired. He sank almost 60 percent of his shots during the course of his career! He had an average of 18.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. The Hall of Famer also appeared in 11 All-Star seasons, got picked for the All-Defensive first team, and was once named MVP. As you can imagine, he could score many buckets and prevent the rival players from doing much on the court. What a beast!

Artis Gilmore (1972 1988)

Artis Gilmore (1972 1988)

Walt Bellamy (1962-1975)

In the ‘60s, Walt Bellamy was one of the tallest guys on the court at 6 feet and 11 inches. Sadly, he found himself in the shadows of peers like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. He played for five different teams but failed to rake in a championship. In 1963, he was named Rookie of the Year after setting the field goals record for first-year players. He did not stop there because he was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame. He had an average of 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during his career. Despite his great stats, he was not chosen to play for the All-NBA first team. How strange is that?

Walt Bellamy (1962 1975)

Walt Bellamy (1962 1975)

Bob McAdoo (1973-1986)

As his career was coming to a close, Bomb McAdoo earned two titles as a part of the “Showtime” Lakers. Before this, however, he already established himself as a talented center. He averaged 31.8 points per 48 minutes played, making him the fourth-best center in history. This is even higher than that of Wilt Chamberlain! McAdoo also averaged 22.1 points per game, which is the fifth-best record in NBA history. When it comes to rebounds per game, he averaged 9.4. We can see why he was the MVP in 1975!

Bob McAdoo (1973 1986)

Bob McAdoo (1973 1986)

George Mikan (1949-1956)

You are a dominant player when the NBA has to make up rules to make things easier for the other players. George Mikan is responsible for starting the trend of big men dominating the paint. The pioneer paved the way for everyone who came after the end of his career in 1956. The offensive beast made 50.5 shots per 48 minutes played! No other center has beaten this record. Aside from that, he made an average of 24 rebounds per 48 minutes played. His average of 23.1 points per game is also the fourth-highest among all the centers in NBA history. He won five championships during his time in the league. Apart from this, he was chosen for the All-NBA first team five times! What an icon.

George Mikan (1949 1956)

George Mikan (1949 1956)

David Robinson (1990-2003)

Did you know that only a single NBA player played college ball at the U.S. Naval Academy? We are talking about none other than David “The Admiral” Robinson. He averaged over 4 blocks per 48 minutes played, which is the eighth-best among centers. On top of that, he made 3 blocks per game! This is the third-highest record out there. Aside from being a great defender, he had a double-double career average with 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. The Spurs was lucky to have him for the entirety of his career. At San Antonio, he won two titles, an MVP honor, and ten All-Star Team selections.

David Robinson (1990 2003)

David Robinson (1990 2003)

Moses Malone (1975-1995)

When you are a center, you will often find yourself on the free-throw line. If you can pick someone to do this, Moses Malone should be the first guy you think of. He raked in the freest throws in the NBA’s history with an average of 9.1 free throws per 48 minutes played! Aside from that, he also made the second-highest average in terms of offensive rebounds with 7.2 per 48 minutes played. Very few people are better than this center. After all, he averaged 22.1 points per game in the postseason during the course of his career. This number will make your jaw drop if you know anything about basketball. In the past, he brought home MVP honors thrice. He also got picked for the All-Star team 13 times and then four times for the All-NBA first team.

Moses Malone (1975 1995)

Moses Malone (1975 1995)

Hakeem Olajuwon (1985-2002)

First of all, it must be fun to have the coolest moniker in the NBA. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon lived up to the nickname! He had an average of 2.3 steals per 48 minutes, the highest among the league’s centers. Aside from that, he averaged 3.1 blocks per game, the second-highest for the position. This number climbed to 3.3 blocks per game when it comes to playoff average. He proved to be a reliable scorer in those games, with an average of 25.9 points per game. Did you know that he is actually the center with the highest number of appearances at the playoffs? He got to play in nine of those! He was named the MVP once, bagged two titles, and dubbed Defensive Player of the Year twice. And last but not least, he is a 12-time All-Star player! How can you possibly not be impressed?

Hakeem Olajuwon (1985 2002)

Hakeem Olajuwon (1985 2002)

Wilt Chamberlain (1960-1973)

With a career like that, you can say plenty of things about Wilt Chamberlain. Among other things, he averaged 30.1 points per game during the course of his career! This is second only to that of Michael Jordan. Aside from that, he had an average of 22.9 rebounds per game, the highest one in NBA history. With his career average of 45.8 minutes per game and then a playoffs average of 47.2 minutes per game, he was truly one of a kind. His team relied on him a lot for a good reason. He was dubbed the MVP four times. He also led the league in scoring and rebounding seven and eleven times, respectively!

Wilt Chamberlain (1960 1973)

Wilt Chamberlain (1960 1973)

Jonas Valanciunas (2012-2020)

Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania has a fantastic set of offensive skills that allowed him to average 19.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in just 28 minutes per game he played last season at Memphis Grizzlies. So Valanciunas can further improve his averages as the leader of a young talented team including Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant by re-signing on a 3 year, $45 million deal with the Grizzlies.

Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas

 

Ben Wallace (1997-2012)

Alabama-born, Wallace had a solid career where he will be most remembered for his time playing for Detroit. Wallace played over 1000 games during his career and even saw himself be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2021. Wallace was the ultimate defensive player, having won NBA Defensive Player of the Year on four occasions. What is even more amazing is that Wallace was undrafted, the first ever to receive such recognition despite this fact.

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace

Nerlens Noel (2015-Present)

Massachusetts-born Noel was drafted in 2013 to the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. So far he has amassed 426 games, averaging 7.6 points per game and a field goal percentage of 54.9. His draft rights were ultimately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where he played for four years. Nowadays he turns out for the New York Knicks. He is a towering center, standing tall at 6ft 11!

Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel

Marcus Camby (1997-2013)

Connecticut-born, Camby was drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the 1996 NBA Draft. His career spanned 17 amazing years, where he averaged 9.5 points a game. In 2007 he was named Defensive Player of the Year, a season where he lead the league in terms of blocked shots per game. He appeared in the NBA All-Defensive team on four occasions and still sits at number 12 on the list of NBA all-time career blocks.

Marcus Camby (1997 2013)

Marcus Camby (1997 2013)

DeAndre Jordan (2009-Present)

Jordan has got to be up there in the regard of most athletic and accurate centers of all time. Jordan is a one-time All-Star champion and has won recognition for being the rebounding champion on two occasions. Additionally, he has featured in the NBA All-Defensive team twice too! In terms of career stats, he boasts an amazing career field goal percentage of 66.9% and currently turns out for the Los Angeles Lakers.

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan

Bill Cartwright (1980-1995)

California-born Cartwright was drafted to the New York Knicks in the 1979 NBA Draft. He spent half of his career at the Knicks, before moving on to the Chicago Bulls before a final solitary season with the Seattle Supersonics. At the beginning of his career, Cartwright was electric. IN 1979 he made the All-Star game as a rookie, in a season where he averaged 21.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Cartwright won the NBA title three times during his 15 year career.

Bill Cartwright (1980 1995)

Bill Cartwright (1980 1995)

Rik Smits (1989-2000)

During a 12 year career, Smits remained loyal to the Indiana Pacers the whole time. He was one of the more efficient players in NBA history, averaging 50.7% from the field within his career, making the All-Star game in 1997. During his career he averaged 14.8 points per game and had a free throw percentage of 77.3.

Rik Smits (1989 2000)

Rik Smits (1989 2000)

Arnie Risen (1949-1958)

One of the best centers in the NBA during the 50s, Risen made it into the All-Star teams on 4 occasions and won the NBA Championship twice. He averaged 12 point, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game during his career. In 1998, he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

Arnie Risen (1949 1958)

Arnie Risen (1949 1958)

Mychal Thompson (1979-2001)

Originally from the Bahamas, Thompson grew up in Florida and was drafted to the Portland Trail Blazers in 1978 NBA Draft as the 1st pick in the 1st round. Thompson stood tall at 6 foot 11 and won the NBA title twice with the LA Lakers in 1987 and 1988. His career was solid, averaging 13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game throughout. He never did make it to an All-Star game though…

Mychal Thompson (1979 2001)

Mychal Thompson (1979 2001)

Zydrunas Ilgauskas (1998-2011)

Zydrunas Ilgauskas was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, and it was here that he made his professional debut. He was drafted in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round as the 20th pick. His career spanned 13 years in which he played for the Cavs every season apart from his final one, where he featured for the Miami Heat. In 2012 he returned to the Cavs as a special advisor for the team.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas (1998 2011)

Zydrunas Ilgauskas (1998 2011)

Ralph Sampson (1984-1992)

Sampson is a 4-time All Star and has averaged over his career 15.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He was chosen as the All-Star Game MVP in 1984 and was a member of the All-NBA Team too. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2012 and will be best remembered for his time with the Houston Rockets.

Ralph Sampson (1984 1992)

Ralph Sampson (1984 1992)

Joakim Noah (2008-2020)

Despite experiencing a weltering end to his career, during his prime, Noah was a defensive force to be reckoned with. Noah is a 2-time All-Star and 3-time All-Defensive member, who was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. It was a great season for Noah, where he averaged 5.4 assists per game.

Joakim Noah (2008 2020)

Joakim Noah (2008 2020)

Pau Gasol (2002-2019)

Gasol is surely considered one of the best international players of all time. Gasol made the All-Star team on 6 occasions and won the NBA Championship twice during his career. Ranking 21st in career blocks, he also won Rookie of the Year in 2001 while playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Pau Gasol (2002 2019)

Pau Gasol (2002 2019)

Mark Eaton (1983-1993)

Not necessarily known for scoring and rebounding, what we can tell you is that he was a fantastic shot-blocker! He was a late bloomer in terms of NBA players, only entering the league at 26. He ranks 4th in all-time blocks, however. He spent his whole career with the Utah Jazz, leading the league in blocks on four occasions. 1984 was his prime shot-blocking season, averaging 5.6 blocks a game. He won Defensive Player of the Year twice.

Mark Eaton (1983 1993)

Mark Eaton (1983 1993)

Clyde Lovelette (1954-1964)

A great scorer and rebounder, Lovelette is a top player from his active period. He was a part of the All-Star game on 4 occasions and won three NBA championships during his career. In his career he averaged 17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. In 1988 he was officially inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

Clyde Lovelette (1954 1964)

Clyde Lovelette (1954 1964)

Nate Thurmond (1963-1977)

Nathaniel Thurmond was an American basketball player who spent the bulk of his 14-year career with the Golden State Warriors franchise in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played the center and power forward positions. Thurmond was a seven-time All-Star and was the first player to record an official quadruple-double in NBA history. He grabbed 42 rebounds in a game in 1965; only Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell recorded more rebounds in an NBA game.

Nate Thurmond (1963 1977)

Nate Thurmond (1963 1977)

Willis Reed (1964-1974)

Willis Reed Jr. is an American retired basketball player, coach, and general manager. With the New York Knicks, he spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974). Reed was incorporated into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He was voted one of the’ 50 Greatest Players in NBA History’ in 1996. Reed served as an assistant and head coach with several teams for almost a decade after retiring as a player, then was promoted to general manager and vice president of basketball operations for the New Jersey Nets (1989–1996).

Willis Reed (1964 1974)

Willis Reed (1964 1974)

Elvin Hayes (1968-1984)

Elvin Ernest Hayes, nicknamed “The Big E” for his alma-mater Houston Cougars, is a retired American professional basketball player and radio analyst. He is a member of the All-Time 50th Anniversary Team of the NBA and a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member. He is the leading scorer of all time for the Washington Bullets/Wizards. In any of his 16 seasons in the NBA, Hayes never missed more than two games.

Elvin Hayes (1968 1984)

Elvin Hayes (1968 1984)

Montrezl Harrell (2015-2020)

Montrezl Harrell, the 6-foot-8 Los Angeles Clippers center, started last season in five of 82 games and will again feature in the second unit of the team after L.A. acquires Kawhi Leonard Paul George. Recently, The Ringer’s D.J. Foster wrote why Harrell could feast again during a contract season in that role. In 2018-19, Harrell averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.5 REB, and 2.0 AST, all career bests, and he is capable of replacing George when a break is necessary for the MVP candidate. In smaller line-ups, Harrell can play the 5, too.

Montrezl Harrell (2015-2020)

Montrezl Harrell (2015-2020)

Clint Capela (2014-2020)

“I want to face them,” Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets Center said of the Golden State Warriors after Houston got the Utah Jazz in the playoffs, per the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. As Feigen, Blue Man Hoop’s Nathan Beighle, and The Dream Shake’s Colin Connors all explained, Golden State made Capela eat those words. Among Houston starters for that series, Capela’s net rating was the worst. Maybe during the 2020 postseason, he’ll get lucky and won’t have to see Draymond Green and Golden State.

Clint Capela (2014-2020)

Clint Capela (2014-2020)

Myles Turner (2015-2020)

The Indiana Pacers awarded a contract extension to center Myles Turner in October 2018, and the 23-year-old went on to lead the NBA in blocks per game (2.7) and strengthen his three-point shooting to a career-high 38.8 percent (76-196). Turner may compete for All-Defensive honors, but if playing him in the same lineup as Domantas Sabonis doesn’t result in wins before Victor Oladipo returns from injury, that will mean little to the Pacers.

Myles Turner (2015-2020)

Myles Turner (2015-2020)

Marc Gasol (2008-2020)

NBA history changed with the Toronto Raptors trading for Marc Gasol ahead of February’s deadline. Gasol was almost equally important to Toronto’s defense vs. the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors, while Kawhi Leonard deservedly won the NBA Finals MVP. The 34-year-old starts the season on an expiring contract, and if the Raptors aren’t legally in the championship hunt following the holidays, Toronto will do well to trade him during the winter.

Marc Gasol (2008-2020)

Marc Gasol (2008-2020)

LaMarcus Aldridge (2006-2020)

Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs can play multiple lineups vs. different opponents, including shifting LaMarcus Aldridge alongside Jakob Poeltl to feature. Aldridge undeniably has many steps at 34 years of age, but he still averaged 22.2 PPG and 8.9 REB for playoff teams for the past two seasons. The veteran joins the 2019-20 campaign needing to prove that he can help lead the Spurs past the conference’s top-tier teams, as in June, San Antonio can move on from him.

LaMarcus Aldridge (2006-2020)

LaMarcus Aldridge (2006-2020)

Al Horford (2007-2020)

When he is on the court alongside Joel Embiid, Al Horford won’t play center for the Philadelphia 76ers, but the 33-year-old veteran is listed in the position heading into the campaign. During the regular season, the Sixers did not sign Horford to get buckets. Philadelphia acquired him and his defensive prowess to face Giannis Antetokounmpo in the postseason and provide Embiid with cover when he is off the floor and/or when Embiid is sidelined.

Al Horford (2007-2020)

Al Horford (2007-2020)

Tristan Thompson (2011-2020)

Last season, multiple injury issues limited Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson to 43 games. If anything, his value moving forward will be what he gets the Cavs in a trade and what he means to a team in the 2020 playoffs. In 2018-19, he averaged 14.1 PPG and 13.2 REB per 36 minutes, career highs for the one-time champion, and he will need to repeat that production and stay healthy to assist in the reconstruction of Cleveland after what will be another terrible season.

Tristan Thompson (2011-2020)

Tristan Thompson (2011-2020)

Willie Cauley-Stein (2015-2020)

We expected Willie Cauley-Stein to get a fresh start with the Golden State Warriors. The 26-year-old would prosper even more than the Sacramento Kings playing with Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell, and Draymond Green in transition. Unfortunately, for at least one month, an injured left foot will keep Cauley-Stein a spectator. With Kevon Looney also nursing a setback, we’re not sure who will start at center for the Warriors on opening night.

Willie Cauley-Stein (2015-2020)

Willie Cauley-Stein (2015-2020)

Mitchell Robinson (2018-2020)

The New York Knicks were the worst team in the league in 2018-19, so you’re forgiven if you missed the rookie season of Mitchell Robinson a lot, if not all. The young center of New York earned 19 starts, shot 69.4% from the field (highest among rookies who played in at least 60 games), was sixth among first-year REB players (6.4), and finished second overall in the BLK Association (2.4). On the offensive end of the court, playing with Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Marcus Morris should make life easier for him.

Mitchell Robinson (2018-2020)

Mitchell Robinson (2018-2020)

Jarrett Allen (2017- present)

DeAndre Jordan might have been a great mentor to a great young man like Jarrett Allen. Competing with Jordan for minutes at this point in his career is not what Allen needs. The 21-year-old averaged 15 PPG, 11.5 REB, and 2.1 BLK per 36 minutes in 80 appearances last season. His argument for starting is those numbers. The team’s Tom Dowd’s official website explains how Allen added weight and strength to deal with bigger and more physical opposing centers.

Jarrett Allen (2017- present)

Jarrett Allen (2017- present)

Derrick Favors (2010-2020)

It would suit Derrick Favors nicely to escape the intimidating shadow of Rudy Gobert and join the uptempo New Orleans Pelicans. For the first time in a lineup that includes rookie Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball, the 28-year-old could reach a new level and average a double-double. However, it is specifically on defense, where he and Williamson can shine as a top pairing that protects the rim. Best of all, Favors is returning to his preferred center position with New Orleans.

Derrick Favors (2010-2020)

Derrick Favors (2010-2020)

Julius Randle (2014-2020)

Julius Randle turned his pro career’s best offensive season into a nice payday from the New York Knicks, and the 24-year-old should lead the club this coming season in scoring. Make no mistake about the reality that, after the Knicks missed out on Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Zion Williamson, Randle was a consolation prize. If Randle’s 34.4 three-point shooting in 2018-19, the best of his career, remained true, New York would love if he entered the campaign shooting under 26 percent as a pro from beyond the arc.

Julius Randle (2014-2020)

Julius Randle (2014-2020)

Bam Adebayo (2017-2020)

The club guaranteed 22-year-old center Bam Adebayo a spot in the starting lineup when the Miami Heat sent Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire Jimmy Butler Adebayo spent 28 games during his second pro season. Adebayo fell short of a breakout season, averaging 8.9 PPG and 7.3 REB while flashing elite athleticism on defense, despite seeing his playing time go from 19.8 MIN to a rookie 23.3.

Bam Adebayo (2017-2020)

Bam Adebayo (2017-2020)

Jusuf Nurkic (2014-2020)

Perhaps the Portland Trail Blazers would actually have given a fight to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals if Nurkic had not suffered the horrific injury that kept him out for the Playoffs. Nurkic is easily Portland’s best player after the magnificent backcourt of Lillard and McCollum, as he can score the ball inside with his strength and skill while he can be a solid rim protector. The team will at least have Hassan Whiteside, who can start while Nurkic is recovering.

Jusuf Nurkic (2014-2020)

Jusuf Nurkic (2014-2020)

DeAndre Ayton (2018-2020)

Since Ayton is on the disastrous Phoenix Suns and the 2018 rookie class is incredible, the NBA Draft 2018 number 1 selection has not received enough credit because, in this league, the Bahamian big man has so much potential. While he is a solid rebounder, his post and mid-range game is best in the league. So if he brushes up on his defense, which I’m sure he will, since he’s only played in the NBA for one season so far, he’s going to be a superstar.

DeAndre Ayton (2018-2020)

DeAndre Ayton (2018-2020)

Nikola Vucevic (2011-2020)

There are offensive skills in the Montenegrin center that can’t be taught. His mid-range and 3-point scoring around the rim is so amazing that he led the Magic to their first playoff appearance in 10 years by averaging 20.8 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. The only downside to him is that he lets up many points on the defensive end, so guys like Mo Bamba must cover him on that end of the floor for him.

Nikola Vucevic (2011-2020)

Nikola Vucevic (2011-2020)

Karl-Anthony Towns (2015-2020)

Towns are one of the league’s most athletic men, so he’s a beast driving to the rim. He is also great in the low post, while his shooting for a center is also outstanding. Overall, he’s an unstoppable player when the Dominican is feeling it. He averaged 24.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per contest and Towns is coming off a career season. Therefore, Towns has shown that he can be an elite shot-blocker even if his defense has been criticized in the past. It appears, however, that his immense talent is being wasted on the Timberwolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns (2015-2020)

Karl-Anthony Towns (2015-2020)

Rudy Gobert (2013-2020)

The Stifle Tower is the best defensive player in the league and, with consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards, has been recognized as exactly that. As much credit as Mitchell, Conley, Bogdanovic, and Ingles will get on the Jazz for the next few seasons; it’s Rudy Gobert who makes them contenders in the West because he turns Utah into his own best defensive team in the league.

Rudy Gobert (2013-2020)

Rudy Gobert (2013-2020)

Nikola Jokic(2015-2020)

Right now, “The Joker” has already established itself as the best passing big man in the league and maybe also in NBA history. He has also shown that he can get 30 or even 40+ when needed, despite averaging just over 20 points per game, which he showed against the Spurs this past postseason. The all-around skill of Nikola Jokic is simply incredible, as he can create 2 or 3 points in so many different ways for his team.

Nikola Jokic(2015-2020)

Nikola Jokic(2015-2020)

Joel Embiid (2016-2020)

On both ends of the floor, the Cameroonian center is so dominant that he has drawn many comparisons to the all-time Hakeem Olajuwon top 5 center. Last season, Joel Embiid averaged 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game, which shows he is a low-post monster and can knock down mid-range plus 3-point jumpers consistently. There are few on the defensive end which, like him, can protect the paint.

Joel Embiid (2016-2020)

Joel Embiid (2016-2020)

Bill Russell (1956-1969)

How amazing is it that Bill Russell raked in 11 NBA championship wins during his 13 seasons of tenure? No one has beaten this record thus far! Even though he was not the star of the Celtics offense, he was truly integral to its success. Those rebounding skills of his are nothing to laugh at. He averaged 22.5 rebounds per 48 minutes played, which is the highest for a center. Yep, he beat Wilt Chamberlain when it comes to this. The two of them are the only ones to have a career average of more than 20 rebounds per game! Aside from that, he was also a 12-time All-Star pick and the league MVP five times.

Bill Russell (1956 1969)

Bill Russell (1956 1969)

Shaquille O’Neal (1993-2011)

There is no doubt that Shaquille O’Neal is the best center of his generation. He was one of the most popular and feared players in the history of the NBA! Shaq made it to 15 All-Star teams over the course of his career. He has played the center position more than anyone else. He has an average of 32.7 points per 48 minutes, which is the highest for any center. He was a true beast in the postseason. After all, he averaged 24.3 points per playoff game, making it a tie between him and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-best spot. We are not surprised to hear that he was named the Finals MVP thrice! This center has four NBA titles to his name, which is nothing to laugh about at all.

Shaquille O’Neal (1993 2011)

Shaquille O’Neal (1993 2011)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-1989)

In reality, his average numbers are not as high as that of Wilt Chamberlain. Even so, it is worth noting that Kareem Abdul-Jabber was active during a more competitive time for centers. Position aside, he boasts one of the greatest careers in the league! He does not only hold the records for the most minutes played and the most points scored, but he also has six NBA titles and six MVP honors under his belt. If those are not enough to convince you that he deserves the top spot, let us remind you that he also has the highest win share record of any center. According to Basketball-Reference, he personally helped rake in 273.4 wins for the franchises he played in. This is 26 wins more than that of Wilt Chamberlain and 92 higher than the record for Shaq. Lastly, he was an NBA All-Star pick 19 times. Whoa.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1970 1989)

Kareem Abdul Jabbar (1970 1989)

Yao Ming (2002-2011)

Yao Ming is a former professional player and a Chinese basketball executive. He played for the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Shanghai Sharks and the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets (NBA). Yao was selected eight times in the NBA All-Star Game to start for the Western Conference and was named five times to the All-NBA Team. He was the tallest active player in the NBA at the time of his final season, at 2.29 m. (7 ft 6 in).

Yao Ming (2002 2011)

Yao Ming (2002 2011)

Richaun Holmes (2016-Present)

Holmes is still only 28, but he rightfully deserves his spot on this list. Born in Lockport, Illinois, he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in only the second round. Only 8 games into the season, Holmes has started strong, averaging 15.0 points a game, 9.9 total rebounds and has a player efficiency rating that is way above average. One to keep an eye on.

Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes

Joel Anthony (2007-2020)

Joel Vincent Anthony is a retired professional basketball player from Canada who played for the NBA’s Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and San Antonio Spurs. In 2012 and 2013, he won two championships with the Heat. Anthony put up two points in 3.7 minutes of action during the series.

Joel Anthony (2007 2020)

Joel Anthony (2007 2020)

Darko Milicic (2001-2020)

Darko Miličić was a former professional basketball player from Serbia. He was a solid center in the NBA, at 2.13 m (7 ft 0 in) tall. From 2003 through 2013, Milii was a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was the NBA’s fifth-youngest player and the league’s youngest foreign player, as well as the NBA’s youngest player to play in an NBA Finals game and the NBA’s youngest winner.

Darko Milicic

Darko Milicic (2001-2020)

Nazr Mohammed (1998-2016)

Nazr Tahiru Mohammed was an American professional basketball player who played for eight different clubs in the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the course of his 18-year career. He was a basketball player at the University of Kentucky. Mohammed opted to enter the NBA draft after his junior year. The Utah Jazz selected him as the 29th overall choice in the first round. In the 1999 NBA draft, Utah transferred his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for a future first-round pick, which turned out to be Quincy Lewis.

Nazr Mohammed

Nazr Mohammed (1998-2016)

Antonio McDyess (1995-2011)

The Los Angeles Clippers picked McDyess with the second overall choice in the 1995 draft, but he was sold to the Denver Nuggets before the season started, along with Randy Woods, for fellow forward Rodney Rogers and a mid-first-round pick that was eventually used to select Brent Barry. Over his first six seasons, McDyess averaged 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game thanks to his explosive leaping and power dunking skills.

Antonio McDyess (1995 2011)

Antonio McDyess (1995 2011)


Ronny Turiaf (2005-2014)

Ronny Turiaf is a retired professional basketball player from France who played for the National Basketball Association for ten years (NBA). Turiaf grew up in France and went on to play collegiate basketball for the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the United States, where his senior year he topped the West Coast Conference in scoring. He entered the 2005 NBA draft after graduating from Gonzaga and was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers. Later in his career, he played for the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks, the Washington Wizards, the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Turiaf was a member of the Miami Heat when they won the NBA title in 2012. He also played for France’s national team.

Ronny Turiaf (2005 2014)

Ronny Turiaf (2005 2014)


Nenad Krstic (2000-2016)

Nenad Krsti is a former professional basketball player and basketball executive from Serbia. He is presently the vice president of the Serbian Basketball Federation, in responsibility of men’s basketball. Krsti was a member of the Serbian national basketball team and served as its captain on an international level. He played the center position and stood 2.12 m (7 ft 0 in) tall. In 2005, Krsti was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, and in 2012 and 2013, he was named to the All-Euroleague First Team twice.

Nenad Krstic

Nenad Krstic


Samuel Dalembert (2001-2017)

Samuel Davis Dalembert is a Haitian-Canadian former NBA basketball player who spent 13 seasons in the league (NBA). He was a basketball player for Seton Hall University in college. During his NBA career, Dalembert was noted for both his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Dalembert with the 26th overall choice in the 2001 NBA draft. On June 17, 2010, he was dealt to the Sacramento Kings for Andrés Nocioni and Spencer Hawes after 8 seasons with the 76ers.


Samuel Dalembert (2001 2017)

Samuel Dalembert (2001 2017)


Andris Biedrins (2002-2014)

Andris Biedri is a former professional basketball player from Latvia. The Golden State Warriors selected him with the 11th overall choice in the 2004 NBA draft. Biedri didn’t get much playing time and was prone to foul trouble (3.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 2.9 fouls in 12.8 minutes, total 30 games). He was also the league’s youngest player during his inaugural season, at the age of 18 years old.

Andris Biedrins (2002 2014)

Andris Biedrins (2002 2014)


JaVale McGee (2008-present)

JaVale Lindy McGee is a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association for the Phoenix Suns (NBA). He was a member of the Nevada Wolf Pack basketball team in college. The Washington Wizards selected him 18th overall in the 2008 NBA draft. He is a three-time NBA champion, having won titles with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018 before joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 to capture his third title. He won an Olympic gold medal in basketball as a part of the United States national team in 2021. He is the son of Olympic gold medallist Pamela McGee.

JaVale McGee (2008 Present)

JaVale McGee (2008 Present)


Spencer Hawes (2007-2019)

Spencer Mason Hawes is a former professional basketball player from the United States. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA draft in 2007 and is the nephew of retired NBA player Steve Hawes. When starter center Brad Miller was traded to the Chicago Bulls in his second season as a pro, Hawes’ prospects grew. Hawes’ numbers improved in every major statistical category, averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game in 29.3 minutes per game, with a.466 field goal %. Hawes also started 51 games, but he missed the final game of the season due to an injury caused by a flagrant foul called on Denver Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin.

Spencer Hawes (2007 2019)

Spencer Hawes (2007 2019)


Brendan Haywood (2001-2015)

Brendan Todd Haywood is a retired professional basketball player in the United States who played center for the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2011, he won the NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Haywood with the 20th overall choice in the NBA draft in 2001. Later, he was traded to the Orlando Magic for Michael Doleac, who then traded him to the Washington Wizards for Laron Profit and a first-round selection pick. Haywood began putting up career numbers in the 2007–08 season, after spending the previous six years as the Wizards’ primary center.

Brendan Haywood (2001 2015)

Brendan Haywood (2001 2015)


Anderson Varejao (1998-2021)

Anderson França Varejo is a Brazilian professional basketball player who most recently played for the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA). Before being acquired by the Golden State Warriors in 2016, he spent 12 seasons with the Cavaliers. He has also played for Franca and Flamengo of the Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB), Barcelona of the EuroLeague and Liga ACB, and has been a frequent member of the Brazilian national squad, winning a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2003.


Anderson Varejao (1998 2021)

Anderson Varejao (1998 2021)


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