You can never start a new NBA season without ranking the top players at each position. As December 22 looms closer, we take a deep look at each position and rank the top-10. Let’s kick things off with the centers.
10. Steven Adams
Stevens Adams with the Pelicans is a rather questionable move. He has always been a strong defensive presence but on a team that is lacking an adequate number of shooters, it’s hard to pinpoint where he will truly make his impact. With J.J Redick and Josh Hart being the only consistent shooters, the Pelicans’ offense will be predicated on paint dominance. And if that’s the case, then expect Adams to flourish. Despite being a solid big man for the past few seasons, he lacks the production that the players higher on this list have.
9. Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond is one of the NBA’s largest rebounding machines. With an average of 14 rebounds over the past eight seasons, Drummond is a player any team can benefit from. Where he slips on this list however is his lack of creativity scoring the ball. He’s a double-double machine with a field-goal percentage above 50 percent. But that’s just about it. In a 2020 NBA, teams favor big men that can shoot. That is just not an area where Drummond has developed just yet. Until then, he will just be a big man whose offensive game fails to expand beyond the inner arc.
8. Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic will go as far as Nikola Vucevic will take them. He’s the modern, stretch-big that the NBA loves. He took a minor step back in all facets of his game but this is an Orlando Magic team that could creep up as an upper-echelon team in the east. Vucevic will be Orlando’s best player but as far as this list goes, he doesn’t put up the numbers nor has the impact as some of the other players above him.
7. DeAndre Ayton
DeAndre Ayton should be considered a candidate for Most Improved Player. As much as the media and fans believe that the acquisition of Chris Paul will help Devin Booker, it is going to help Ayton that much more. The Suns obviously need to see him expand his range and start making threes. However, he is a player that can easily average 23 points and 12 rebounds. Last season brought a noticeable improvement for the big man but now it’s time to take the leap needed to put Phoenix in the playoffs.
6. Jusuf Nurkic
The Portland Trailblazers will not be anything close to a contender without Jusuf Nurkic. His return in the bubble launched the Blazers into the postseason and a surprising win over the Lakers in Game 1. He can stuff the stat sheet unlike many big men in the NBA. Although he only played eight games at Disney, he averaged a career-high 18 points which is saying something on a team with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. He can rise his stock to potentially a top-four center if he stays healthy and continues to be the x-factor for Portland.
5. Kristaps Porzingis
The chances of the Dallas Mavericks snagging home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs are slim. But if they want to do it, Porzingis will need to stay healthy and put up career-high numbers. Dallas came close to sending the Clippers home earlier than expected in the bubble. That was largely in part to the play of Porzingis. We all know what Luka Doncic will do. if Porzingis can put himself in a position to average a double-double (which he hasn’t done yet) then Dallas can become an instant threat.
4. Rudy Gobert
Gobert may not be as good of a scorer as some of the other centers above him. But he sure is the best defender. Gobert has been one of the league’s best defensive big men for a long time. Considering the other teams in the west, it is safe to say that the Utah Jazz are on a deadline to win now. Gobert’s defensive prowess and mixed with his constant stinginess in the paint makes him one of the league’s best centers.
3. Karl Anthony Towns
Karl Anthony Towns may very well lead all centers in scoring this season. His offensive ability trumps any flaws he has on the defensive end, leading to his placement at number three. Towns has been through a ton this season and will play every game with a chip on his shoulder. With number one overall pick Anthony Edwards by his side, expect Towns to put up career numbers. Can he end the season as the best center in the league? Perhaps.
2. Joel Embiid
For a long time, at least for me, Embiid was the best center in the NBA. However, injuries, an early playoff exit, and an overall disappointing season has knocked him down from the top spot. Embiid is a generation talent that does it all for the Sixers. He is one of the best players in the entire league and needs to prove that in a loaded Eastern Conference. With a roster better suited for him and Ben Simmons, now is the time to make an NBA Finals run. Embiid is a leader and can shoot, rebound, and defend better than most centers in this league. He will remain among the best the league has to offer.
1. Nikola Jokic
Who else did you expect at the top of the list? The bubble is what made Nikola Jokic the best center in the NBA, leading Denver all the way to the NBA Finals. Nikola Jokic scores, rebounds, and playmakers unlike any of the centers on this list. Jokic should fully step up to the point where he can be an MVP candidate. The Nuggets can notch themselves homecourt for the opening rounds of the NBA Playoffs. But will only do that if Jokic is at his best. Nikola Jokic is the best center in the NBA and it is not a debate.
That wraps up our list for the top-10 centers in the NBA for the 2020-21 NBA season. Check back soon for the power forwards list. Did we get the list right? Let me know below.