Top 10 Centers Heading Into the 2017-18 NBA Season
Cousins, Towns lead the list of top big men entering the 2017-18 campaign.
Just a couple seasons ago, we were talking about the center position becoming somewhat of a lost art. Well, not anymore. The position has gotten so much deeper in just a year’s time. In today’s game, a dominant big man hasn’t necessarily been needed to win a championship, but it certainly helps. Here’s a list of the 10 best centers heading into the 2017-18 NBA season.
10. Al Horford, Celtics
Expectations for Horford should be tempered heading into the upcoming season, after a somewhat disappointing 2016. His rebounding numbers were down, but he is still a more than efficient player on the offensive side of things. Horford is a gifted passer for his size and has started to develop a halfway decent outside shot. The Celtics are going to rely heavily on him to help them get out of the East.
9. Myles Turner, Pacers
The NBA is full of promising young players, and Turner is certainly one of them. He averaged just over 14 points and seven rebounds a game last season. He also showed his prowess on defense, blocking about two shots a night as well. At the young age of 21, it’s clear that he is just getting started. With Paul George no longer in town, the Pacers are now going to build around Turner, a 6’11 big with an inside and outside game. They are going to give him the green light in 2017. Expect a big year from Turner.
8. Hassan Whiteside, Heat
There is a new sheriff in town, South Beach. It was interesting to watch Whiteside play last season without Dwyane Wade by his side. Whiteside, like other players on this list, is a true stat sheet stuffer. There actually may be some untapped potential here, with him being just 28 years of age. Whiteside impacts the game in a multitude of ways, whether it be his aptitude as a rim protector or his improved post moves on the offensive end. He is the catalyst for a Heat team with playoff aspirations.
7. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
There may be some gripes here, but I don’t think DeAndre Jordan gets nearly as much credit as he deserves. When discussing Jordan’s game, the first thing that comes to mind is his superb defense, and rightfully so. He’s one of the best the game has to offer when it comes to stopping the opposition from scoring. Jordan is also an absolute monster on the glass, as he is liable to grab double-digit boards every night out. But, he’s not a one-trick pony. He is an efficient offensive player as well, leading the NBA in field goal percentage.
6. Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Rudy Gobert may very well be the best rim protector in the entire league. The Jazz big man averaged nearly three blocks per game last season. He’s lanky, but he’s also extremely tough to get an edge over. He’s a double-double machine and opposing teams have to account for him when game planning for Utah. Gobert’s offensive repertoire isn’t nearly as developed as his defensive, but his ability on the defensive end of the floor, alone, earns him a spot on this list.
5. Joel Embiid, 76ers
Embiid has the potential shoot up this list by season’s end. When healthy, he is easily one of the most impactful big men in the game of basketball. There are few players who can provide as much value on both ends of the floor as Embiid. His unique skill-set, in combination with his infectious energy has the 76ers very excited about their future. The scariest part of it all is that he is only 23 years old. The only knock on Embiid is his injury history. But, when he’s on the floor, he’s as good as it gets in the paint.
4. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
When I think of Marc Gasol, I envision a model of consistency. Sure, he’s peaked, but there are still few players that do it better than him. Gasol enjoyed a career-high in scoring last season (19.5 PPG) and he proved to be a willing and able passer as well, averaging nearly five dimes a game. He has even developed a perimeter game, extending to beyond the three-point line. Gasol has also helped spearhead the Grizzlies’ defensive efforts. The former Defensive Player of the Year makes slashers think twice before taking it at him.
3. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
The 2016-17 season was a breakout campaign for Jokic, to say the least. The offense in Denver runs through him and it’s not hard at all to see why. Last season, he made his presence felt in every aspect of the game, averaging just under 17 points and 10 rebounds a night, to go along with five assists and nearly a block and a steal. His defense isn’t fully developed yet, but the kid is only 22. But in terms of offense, Jokic is one of the best the game has to offer.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
There is no doubt that Karl-Anthony Towns will be elevated to the top of this list at some point in his career, if not by the end of the upcoming season. He has progressed rapidly since entering the NBA. Now, in his third season, he has the opportunity to play on a playoff contender. The Timberwolves have a bright future and KAT is the biggest reason for that. He’s a safe bet to get you a double-double and a few blocks on any given night. Let’s hope this isn’t his peak. It would be nice to see a Monstar play in Minnesota.
1. DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans
Boogie Cousins has been the best center in the league for the past several years and I don’t expect him to be dethroned just yet. Playing next to Anthony Davis in New Orleans, he should have plenty of opportunities to thrive. Cousins is a force in the paint, whether he’s swallowing up all the rebounds, rejecting weak shots or showing off his arsenal of post moves. If the Pelicans can make the playoffs this season, Cousins may even sneak into the MVP conversation.