10. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.8 APG
Vucevic is quickly establishing himself as one of the top centers in the league and a guaranteed double double. It was his second year in a row averaging a double double. His rebounding numbers dropped a bit, but his scoring increased a bit as well. He missed a whole stretch of games due to an injury last year though, but I expect him to continue to be a top center regardless of how many games he plays. He’s arguably the best player on the Magic…thy got a steal when they picked him up from the Sixers a couple years.
9. Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 17.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 0.9 APG
Pekovic is another young center that has already become one of the top centers in the league. He improved his scoring yet again last year and kept his rebounding up around the best in the league. His biggest problem is injuries, which have kept him out of at least 20 games in each of his four seasons in the NBA. Last year he missed 28 games, but he started every game he played and performed very well. With the Timberwolves rebuilding, he should stick around and be a key part of that process.
8. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Stats: 12.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 5.4 APG
Noah is probably the best all-around center in the entire league. What other center averages a double double and still over 5 assists per game? I’ll answer that: nobody. In fact, no center even averages over 4.0 APG other than Noah. He’s the only player I’ve ever seen to get a double double from rebounds and assists…that’s just unheard of in this era of basketball. He’s a tenacious defender that also adds 1.5 BPG as well, rounding out his game. He may not be the most attractive player on the court, but he will be feared by those going against him.
7. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 17.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.4 APG
Gasol dealt with what seemed like season-long injuries, but still managed to play in 60 games last year. He played mostly center for the Lakers in a lost season after Kobe Bryant got hurt and missed basically the whole season. Gasol wanted out of LA anyway, and he finally got his wish after he signed a new deal with the Bulls. He’ll likely move down to PF with Noah the clear center in Chicago, but I still expect him to dominate. That team is going to be a scary team if everyone stays healthy, and I expect Gasol’s impact to be similar to his usual self.
6. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Stats: 13.5 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 0.4 APG
Drummond is already a great player, but I guarantee he’ll be a top 5 center at some point in his career. He comes in just below that this past year at #6, but will likely be representing Team USA in FIBA this summer, a great honor. He was second in the league in RPG last year and still averaged a solid amount of points. His scoring is what will keep him out of the top 5 for now, which is good, but not great. His free throw shooting is also terrible at this point in his career, coming in at an atrocious 41.8%, more than 20% below his field goal percentage. He’s not a good passer either, but his rebounding make up for that. I love this guy.
5. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Stats: 18.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.6 APG
I was sad to see Horford go down so early in the season because he was having an awesome year on a team with a real shot to make a run in the Eastern Conference. It was the second season in three years where he played just a small portion the season, so hopefully his durability isn’t a big question moving forward. His rebounding last year was actually lower than most years in his career after coming off a double double average the year before, but his scoring was the highest it’s ever been. He also was having his best shooting year in terms of percentage at 56.7%.
4. Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
Stats: 20.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.9 APG
Lopez was also having a great year until he got hurt and missed the majority of the year. Like Horford, it was his second extremely shortened season due to injury…it would be a shame to see him struggle to stay on the court when he has so much promise. It was his best season in terms of both FG% and PPG, as well as tied for his career high in FT%. Other than his first two years in the league, his rebounding hasn’t been great for a dominant center, but maybe he’ll be able to improve that over time. He had the second highest PER among centers at 25.50.
3. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
Stats: 18.3 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.8 APG
So many people consider Dwight Howard as the obvious best center in the league, but I have to disagree. Sure, he’s an excellent scorer and rebounder, but ever since leaving Orlando he’s been a bit lower in terms of stats. His personality also sometimes seems to create problems in terms of chemistry, which is a big reason why he only spent one season with the Lakers. The bottom line though is that he’s still putting up immense rebounding and point numbers that he’s still a top 5 center. Still though, there are a couple guys that had better seasons…
2. Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats
Stats: 21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
I knew Al Jefferson was good, but I never knew he was that good anymore. This is by no means his first 20-10 season…he had two of them in Minnesota way back when. But I had no idea what to expect after Jefferson left the rebuilding Jazz and joined a team that has either been terrible or in playoff limbo. He pushed them just enough to get to the 7th seed in the East, providing the pure definition of “putting the team on his back.” He went on a tear at the end of the season to get his team into the postseason, something he’d only done twice in his career. As long as he’s the leader in Charlotte, I expect his dominance to continue.
1. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Stats: 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.9 APG
I have no idea what is holding people back from naming Cousins as the best center in the league. Cousins exploded in his fourth season in the league for a career year, averaging a 20-10 year for the first time. He also averaged almost 3 APG and over a block and a steal per game. His FT% was better than many top centers in the league and he improved his shooting percentage to just below 50%. His weakness is that he often gets into foul trouble and has a temper that can get him suspended for the occasional game, but it’s so worth it to have a guy like him. His PER is off the charts at 26.18, which is 5th in the entire league. He’s establishing himself as the best center in the league, and I’d take him at this point over any center in the league.
Well that’s the end of the centers rankings and all of my individual player rankings. Tomorrow I will post the rankings for the top 50 overall players in the NBA to see where people rank throughout the league.