SACRAMENTO-With there being a wave of talented point guards arriving in the NBA over these last few years, I think we have forgotten about some of the dominate big men in the game today. Guards have always been a fan favorite and with young players joining the league at this position and actually flourishing, it’s exciting to see.
In addition to outstanding guard play there has also been a culture change. European players have joined the league, executing an effective but different style of basketball than we’re accustomed to seeing. Players with an offensive game from the power forward position, stretch the floor and become shooters from the outside instead of possessing the traditional inside game.
To their credit the style have been beneficial; it has given a championship to future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) and to Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks) for their respective teams. However, this change has left the center position in some sort of default position on the defensive end.
In years past, the center was a defensive anchor, as well as the backbone of an offense. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are fans of the fast-paced tempo that is being branded now. However, I don’t think the league would suffer from teams playing with a post presence. Although the center (position) has not been celebrated as much since the departure of four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal, I would like to take the time to give my Top 5 centers in today’s game.
In most cases players are ranked according to their team’s success; however that will not be the case in this ranking.
- DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings 24.1 pts 12.7 reb
- Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies 17.6 pts 7.9 reb
- Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats 16.6 pts 8.4 reb
- Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons 13.6 pts 13.4 reb
- DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers 11.4 pts 14.8 reb
Deandre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers is coming in at No. 5. For distant and fairweather fans, Jordan is best known for his continuous highlights on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. Although he can jump out the gym, he does not get enough credit for the other tangible elements he brings to help his team win. Jordan leads the NBA in rebounding, and if I had a vote, would be my Defensive Player of the Year.
On the West Coast, we don’t get to see the Detroit Pistons play but coming in strong at No. 4 is Andre Drummond. Drummond recently played for Team USA in the off-season and is only in his second year as a pro. He has great post moves on the block and is second in the league in rebounding, only behind Jordan.
Another player we don’t see often is Al Jefferson of the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 3. This center has great foot work for a big man and is almost automatic down low once he gets into a rhythm. Charlotte has a bright future if they can utilize Jefferson’s skill set with a great core of players to surround him with.
Memphis big man Marc Gasol sits at No. 2. He is a player that would be at the top of most people’s list. Gasol is one of the only players on this list in which his team will make the playoffs this year. However, like I stated earlier, team rankings don’t apply here. Although Marc Gasol has a nice inside, outside game, passes the ball well and is the defending Defensive Player of the Year, I don’t think many can argue about who the number one center is.
Although we all know basketball is a team sport, and the record of the Sacramento Kings isn’t anything to be proud about this season, no one can deny the talent of DeMarcus Cousins. His on court demeanor alone separates him from the pack. When he steps onto the floor he has a certain swagger about him that makes a statement that tells you “I’m the best in the game.” From start to finish, the game will be physical down low and in most cases, Cousins wins that battle.
Not only does he have a strong post game on the block down low, he can also knock down the 15-foot jump shot from the outside. For a guy that is 6-foot-11, Cousins also has excellent ball skills, with the ability to grab a defensive rebound and run the floor like a point guard and pass to the open shooter. We know his stats on the year: 24 points and 13 rebounds per game average.
That’s impressive but let’s not forget about Cousins joining Kareem Abdul Jabbar with recording back-to-back games with at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. In one of those games, Cousins added 6 blocked shots. Oh yeah, by the way, that was going up against Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, who in recent years was celebrated as the league’s best center.
Last week Cousins faced off with his college replacement from the Kentucky Wildcats, Nerlens Noels for the Philadelphia 76ers. Playing at home, with the game on the line, Cousins lead by example and got a defensive stop to help Sacramento secure the 107-106 victory.
Cousins outscored Noel 33 to 14 and outrebounded him 17 to 10.
His next encounter with a former Wildcats center that’s transitioned into power forward in the NBA was against Anthony Davis in the Kings’ 101-95 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans. Although Davis took home the victory, Cousins recorded a triple double (24 points, 20 rebounds, 13 assists) to outshine his Kentucky Wildcats counterpart in a close game that the Kings let slipped away in the final seconds.
Cousin’s rains have the top Center in in the 2014-2015 season. It won’t be long before he’s winning record reflects just how dangerous he is.
The Honorable Mention award would have to go to Dwight Howard. Being injured, I understand this effected his stats. Howard has tremendous upside when you look at his body and abilities. however I’m not a fan of giving someone credit based on potential. Eventually you have to show up. After not being able to adjust his ego in Los Angeles as a Laker to become the second option to five-time champion Kobe Bryant, Howard is now the second option to MVP candidate James Harden in Houston.
The great centers have always been hard to find. We have a few though that can change the game. It’s up to them to write their own story.