With the NBA in its yearly offseason lull, it’s as good a time as ever to rank the best players at each position. RDE co-editor Chris Manning and site blogger Trevor Magnotti will be taking a look at the Top 10 players (plus three honorable mentions) at each position for the next five weeks. The last of this series looks at the center position.
Chris Manning’s Top 10
1. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
2. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
3, Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
4. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
5. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
6. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
7. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
8. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
9. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
10. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Putting Howard at the top is an admitted risk, as he looked like a much lesser player in Los Angeles last season. I think Houston – for a variety of reasons –should bring the best out of him. Gasol is just a step beyond but could make a statement that he is the best with another strong season. Three through five (maybe even six) is very close and they could realistically be flipped in any order. Gasol comes in at seven with a high skill level, but a lack of defensive ability hurts him. Cousins is the big question mark here, as he is not efficient (or mature) as one would like, but he has undeniable skills. SANDERS deserves more credit than he gets playing in Milwaukee and is a younger version of Tyson Chandler. Bosh, who I think would rank higher as a power forward, is still a very good center and, despite all the flack he takes on the internet, is a key performer for the Heat.
- Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks – The veteran has been slowed by injuries as of late, but is still a good player.
- Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves – Solid player, does the dirty work and looks scary. Not a bad compliment to Kevin Love.
- Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers – I’m taking a huge flyer here. If he’s healthy, however, he’s Top 5 without question.
How the Cavaliers stack up
The Cavaliers center position is intriguing. As I said above, Bynum is easily Top-5 when playing, while Anderson Varejao was largely effective, if brittle. Together, they form a formidable duo that should make the center position a strength. The interesting name at play here is Tyler Zeller, who seems motivated to improve on a largely average rookie season. This trio, with varying skill sets and body types, should make this position interesting. My guess, is that combined, the position is Top-10 and, beyond the Kyrie Irving-Jarrett Jack point guard duo, is the Cavaliers most productive position. Alas, one injury – or two – could destroy this position for this year and the long term.
Trevor Magnotti’s Top 10
1. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
2. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
3.Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
4. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
5. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
6. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
7. Pau Gasol Los Angeles Lakers
8. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
9. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
10. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
Marc Gasol is the best all-around center in the game, and while he isn’t flashy by any means, you know what you’re getting here: Elite defense, passing ability, and decent rebounding. Dwight has the most talent, but I need to see him actually perform at a high level again. 3-7 can be basically interchangeable to me; I went Brook (Elite offensive talent who’s improving on the boards), Hibbert (The opposite of Lopez), Horford (One of the league’s most versatile centers who is wildly underrated), Joakim (Intense, fantastic, but always injured), and Pau (Offensive savant, but old and his confidence is wrecked). Then it’s Chris Bosh, who’s an outstanding defensive center and mid-range threat, as well as the most hilarious player in the NBA. Tyson Chandler and Tyson Chandler Jr (LARRY SANDERS!) round it out.
- Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves-The scariest NBA player is a vital cog in the Timberwolves lineup, and one of the game’s best pick setters.
- Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats-An elite post scorer who dominates the ball and doesn’t play a lick of defense. The NBA’s version of a fullback.
- Nene, Washington, Wizards-The best passing big man in the game, who’s underrated due to injury issues.
How the Cavaliers Stack Up:
It would be great if we knew, wouldn’t it? Andrew Bynum, if healthy, is a top 5 talent at center thanks to his rebounding and defensive abilities. The chances he’s fully healthy for an entire season are slim, but as long as he plays some this year, it’ll be a success. Anderson Varejao is a more known commodity, as he is fully healthy now and hopefully that will not change. He’s probably on par with Nene, Demarcus Cousins, and Greg Monroe at the position in terms of talent level. Tyler Zeller seems committed to improving, and should get less “manhandled” and more “outmatched” this year. We’ll always have those excellent screens, though.