20. J.J. Hickson, Denver Nuggets
Stats: 11.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
Hickson came in as the starting center for Denver after an injury took out Javale McGee for the rest of the season, and he excelled. In his first year for the Nuggets he averaged close to a double double in 69 games and 52 starts. His stats did decrease a little bit from two years ago when he was in Portland and averaged 12.7 PPG and 10.4 RPG, but he still had a very good season and deserves to continue starting over the unintelligent McGee. His shooting percentage was nice at almost 51%, but he needs to get his FT% way up if he doesn’t want to be considered a liability.
19. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 APG
The Bucks were putting in people all over the place last year, and Henson ended up in at center a lot of the time. He came off the bench more often than not though and seems like he’d be better fit at PF considering how skinny he is. He’s similar in size to Nerlens Noel though, who projects to be very good for Philadelphia next year. Henson had a much better year last year than his rookie year, doubling his minutes and averaging 1.7 BPG, one of the best averages among centers. If Larry Sanders comes back and actually plays well, I think it would be fine to slip Henson down to the 4 and have Sanders start at center. Or just have Henson come off the bench, which was something he did very well.
18. Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers
Stats: 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 0.9 APG
Robin Lopez is a very underrated center that kind of gets lost in the shuffle due to his brother, Brook, taking over the Lopez fame. But Lopez had a very solid season as the starting center in Portland last year. He got his highest MPG of his career and started all 82 games for the second year in a row, a rare feat for a center. He also shot excellently no matter where it was from, unless it was 3-point range…but that was mainly because he never took 3-pointers. He has proved himself to be one of the better centers in the league and would be even more of a threat if he got his scoring up.
17. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG
If Sullinger could get some help on his team and become more consistent, he could be a very good player soon. It’s clear that his scoring is there and will be improved, and he also has the ability to grab 20 rebounds in a single game. What more can you ask from a center? His shooting percentage is pretty low for centers at just 43%, but that’s mainly because of how many shots he takes and how much of the offense he was forced to be. I think if a few more offensive threats come to Boston and take the pressure off of him, he can continue to score what he has been but in fewer attempts.
16. Spencer Hawes, Cleveland Cavaliers/Philadelphia 76ers
Stats: 13.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.0 APG
Hawes is one of those guys that’s good enough to be a starting center, but is never going to be an elite or top 10 guy. He’s a great scorer and still manages to bring down center-like rebounds, while adding a nice passing game of 3.0 APG. He also shoots 3-pointers better than any 7-plus footer I’ve seen, a rare skill to have for a guy as big as Hawes. That allows his team to stretch the floor and adds another dangerous aspect to his game. He can be inconsistent though and probably takes more shots than he should, but I’m not sure that will ever change. He’ll be more of a backup with the Clippers next year.
15. Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards
Stats: 13.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
I really like Gortat for multiple reasons. First, he plays lots of games and lots of minutes, something that big men often struggle with. He has consistently been one of the best centers in the league in past four year stretch, having the second best year of his career in his first year with the Wizards last year. He shoots efficiently as well and scores a fair amount of points and should look to be a key part of the Wizards in the next few years after he decided to re-sign with them this offseason.
14. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG
Favors started all 73 games he played for the Jazz last year and had a career year. In addition to setting career highs in both PPG, RPG, and APG, he also averaged over a block and a steal per game, which is always an impressive feat. I think he fits better as a PF so that they can get Enes Kanter on as a starter as well. The Jazz surprisingly chose to start both Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson last year at the 3 and the 4, both old veterans when they’re looking to become as young as possible. Favors is one of the best players on the team and the leader in the front court.
13. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Stats: 16.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.1 APG
There is no doubt that Bosh’s production dropped when he got to Miami, but he suffered from declining production in each of his four seasons with the Heat. Once a guaranteed 20-10 guy, he now is a good scorer with a below average rebounding total. That’s not to say that Bosh is bad though- he’s still a very good player. He shoots wonderfully from the field and from the free throw line and has a high PER of 19.11. His stats might improve a bit next year without LeBron James in town, but he’ll never get back to where he was.
12. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 14.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.6 APG
Gasol was once the defensive player of the year for whatever reason, but he was unable to retain that title. He still turned in a very nice performance last year, even if it was a bit less than the year before. He still provides a nice combination of points and rebounds and averaged over a block and a steal per game. He also averaged the second highest APG among centers in the league, an excellent attribute for a center. He plays lots of minutes, but missed a lot of games last year due to an injury. I expect him to continue to hover just below the top 10 center mark in the league.
11. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 0.9 APG
Jordan is a massive presence on the defensive end, especially with Blake Griffin next to him in the front court. He’s the first center on this list that averaged a double double, and he actually averaged more rebounds than points. He grabbed so many rebounds that he actually led the league in RPG, an impressive feat. He’s never going to dazzle anyone with his offensive production, but he does shoot an insane 67.6% from the field, the highest for any center in the league as well. His free throw percentage is one of the worst in the league though at over 20% below his shooting percentage.