The players who play in the center position are extremely tall players. These players are very strong and have great physical predispositions and an enviable dose of athleticism. They need the mentioned characteristics in order to adequately fight under the basket with their equally strong rivals.
The center has an equally important role on both sides of the field. In attack, he is there to thank the ball after a miss by his player, while in defense he does the same after a miss by his rivals. Rebounds are one of the most important statistical parameters in basketball. A team that has dominance in jumping very rarely loses games.
Basketball is getting faster and more dynamic from decade to decade, and today almost all players shoot for three points. Now there are more and more tall players who can easily hit a shot for two or three points. Let’s just look at Nikola Jokic who does literally everything.
He blocks, steals balls, shares crazy assists, frees up space and plays his teammates, hits from all positions. In addition to him, on this occasion, we will mention several other players who marked the history of this league and played in the center position.
Best Centers In the NBA history
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Abdul-Jabbar is not only one of the best centers of all time who has ever played in the NBA, but he could easily enter the competition for GOAT in the NBA in general. Abdul Jabbar is the player who scored the most points in NBA history. During his career, he scored as many as 38,387 points. He was recognizable by his skyhook shot, but he was also a great blocker, rebounder, and as we mentioned a great shooter.
He played in the NBA for nearly two decades wearing the jersey of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. During that time, he won as many as six championship titles. Wearing the jersey with the number 33, he was chosen as the MVP of the league 6 times and twice as the MVP of the finals. He has played in the NBA all 19 times.
2. Bill Russell
Along with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics are the most trophy-winning team in the NBA, having won the league seventeen times. This is largely due to Bill Russell, who won as many as 11 championship rings. Russell is the second-best rebound of all time and has been named MVP of the league five times.
He has performed on ALL STAR 12 times. He marked one era of this league and brought many Celtics titles in the years when they fought great battles with the Lakers. It is unlikely that anyone will ever manage to break his record for the number of championship titles he won, and where it is especially important to point out that he did it with one club. From the beginning to the end of his career, he remained faithful to the Celtics. Russell was known for his great defense and during his career, he recorded an unreal number of blocks.
3. Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain was offensively one of the best centers of all time to ever play in the NBA. The data that speaks best about how dominant this player was is that he managed to score as many as 100 points in one game, which is still a record for the number of points scored by one player in an NBA game.
Wilt was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and then played for the Philadelphia and Los Angeles Lakers. During his career, he won two championship titles. Wilt is still the leader in the number of rebounds made in the NBA.
4. Shaquille O Neal
The guy known by the nickname “Big Aristotle” marked one era of the Los Angeles Lakers when he won several championship titles together with Kobe Bryant. In his career, O Neal won a total of four championship rings. With the Lakers, he won three titles and was selected for the MVP finals all three times. He won another title with the Miami Heat.
He has played in the NBA All-Star 15 times. “Big Aristotle” achieved unprecedented physical domination over his rivals. Such dominance has not been seen since the aforementioned Chamberlain, although he has won only one MVP title. At the same time, he was remembered for his very poor performance of free throws, which were a big problem throughout his career.
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
We will also mention one player who is not from the USA. Hakeem Olajuwon, known by the nickname “The Dream”, is probably one of the best players who played in the NBA without being from the USA. Olajuwon still holds the record for the total number of blockades achieved today. During his career, he recorded as many as 3,830 blockades. During his career, he played for only two clubs: the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors.
He just won two championship titles with the Rockets, and both times he was named the MVP of the finals. He participated in the ALL-star game 12 times. This basketball player from Nigeria was remembered for his great games on both sides of the field. There is no need to waste words on its defensive characteristics if the mentioned data on the number of blockades is taken into account. He was deservedly chosen among the 50 best players of all-time in the NBA.
Best Centers in NBA right now
1. Nikola Jokic
We mentioned Nikola at the very beginning of this article. Nikola is almost certainly the best center to play in the NBA today. We could not call it a classic center because it seems that Nikola, with his talent and the lucidity he possesses, could play in all positions. In the 2020/21 season, Jokic was chosen as the MVP of the regular part of the season.
He got that title completely deservedly because Nikola does everything on the field. “Joker” plays fantastically on both sides of the field. He hits shots for two or three points without any problems, he is an excellent rebound, he shares incredible assists, he blocks.
Then it is not surprising that Nikola is a real triple-double machine. In the coming years, he should be expected to reach his first NBA title.
2. Joel Embiid
The Process ”along with Jokic is almost certainly the best center in the NBA right now. He is one of the most deserving guys why Philadelphia has returned to the top of the NBA after years of hard work. We mentioned Olajuwon as one of the best basketball players from Africa to have played in the NBA and Embiid has every predisposition to have a similar career as Hakeem.
His start in the NBA was marked by severe injuries, but he rose above all that, and today he is not only one of the best centers in the league, but also one of the best players in general. He has competed in the NBA All-Star five times so far and should be expected to win his first NBA title in the near future.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns
We said that more and more tall players have no problem hitting a shot for three points. Karl-Anthony Towns is a typical example of this. Towns isn’t someone who will hit a shot from time to time but he does it in a really fantastic way.
How good a shooter he is is shown by the fact that he won the 2022 NBA All Star 3 point contest. Being an extremely versatile player, he is justifiably considered one of the best centers playing in the NBA today. He was once elected Rookie of the Year, and if he continues to record great games, he should be expected to win the championship ring one day.
Best Defensive centers 2021
We talked about the guys who are the best players playing in the center position today as well as the basketball players who marked the history of the NBA by playing in that position. Many of them played great on both sides of the field, some of them were better in the attacking part of the game and some much better in defense. Speaking of unrivaled defense for years the best center when it comes to this segment of the game is Draymond Green.
You won’t see him at the top when it comes to blocks, steals, or other defensive statistical parameters, but Green is really able to drive his opponent crazy with a defense he plays on with unreal crazy energy. He is not known as someone who protects the rim, but as a lockdown on-ball defender. Along with the “Splash brothers”, he is most responsible for the successes that Golden State has achieved in recent years.
According to his defensive characteristics, Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert, and Matisse Thybulle, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, could match him at the moment.