Top 10 NBA Centers of All-Time
The center position is not always the most flashy or highlight-worthy position on the court, but it’s importance to winning in the NBA cannot be underestimated. A great big man has been a key player on most championship teams sans Michael Jordan.
Missed the Cut:
Alonzo Mourning: 2-time Defensive Player of the Year and a 7-time All-Star.
Robert Parrish: 4 NBA titles, 9-time All-Star, good free throw shooter, & a low 1.98 turnovers per game.
Bill Walton: 2 NBA titles, 1 MVP, 1 Finals MVP, and was a great passer with 3.8 assists per game.
10.) Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
Dwight defines the center position today. He is the best that the Association has to offer right now and will continue to dominate for years to come. I can see him moving up this list as time goes on. He has already won Defensive Player of the Year and is currently leading the league in rebounds (13.2 RPG) and blocks (2.8 BPG), and has been for two years now. He is a big time shot blocker and a excellent rebounder, but his downfalls are his terrible shooting ability, poor free throw shooting, and Dwight has a problem with foul trouble early in games.
9.) Patrick Ewing – New York Knicks
He’s the only retired player on this list without a ring. He had two chances to win a ring, but he was beat by Olajuwon in the first Finals, and missed the second due to an Achilles injury. Although he is a 11-time All-Star, Ewing had a lot turnovers and, just like Howard, was always in foul trouble. Ewing averaged 21.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 2.4 BPG, which is just good enough to make this list.
8.) George Mikan – Minneapolis Lakers
Mikan is a true pioneer to the position. He was the first of these giants and should definitely be on this list. He won 7 titles and should be the silhouette of all centers to follow. He helped the NBA gain popularity in the 1950’s with his size and skill. He was one of the first superstars in basketball history and one of the most dominating player of his time. He averaged over 23 PPG and 13 RPG, but committed 4.2 fouls per game, which is too many to be any higher on the list. On top of that, Mikan’s competition was very limited at this time in NBA history.
7.) Moses Malone – Houston Rockets/Philadlephia 76ers
One of the best offensive rebounders of all-time, averaging 5.1 ORPG (12.2 RPG total). He also holds 3-time MVP, 12 All-Star appearances, and won a championship. He wasn’t a slouch offensively either, scoring 20.6 PPG. Malone only had problems on the defensive side of the ball. He averaged .8 SPG and 1.3 BPG (the lowest block total of the top 10).
6.) David Robinson – San Antonio Spurs
I personally loved watching this guy play. A fierce physical specimen, Robinson was a stat machine, doing anything and everything he could to help his team win. His efforts weren’t enough to win a ring until Tim Duncan (who is too much of a power forward to be on this list) arrived in San Antonio and finished the job for him. He did play a big enough role though earn those (as opposed to going along for the ride) 2 titles and also accumulated a blocking, rebounding, scoring, and MVP title in his Hall of Fame career.
5.) Hakeem Olajuwon – Houston Rockets
He truly was a dream for the Houston Rockets and a nightmare for anyone else. You don’t have to believe me, just ask David Robinson how fun he was to play against. He outplayed half the guys on this list with his 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and a outstanding 3.0 BPG. He is a 2-time champion, former MVP, 2-time Finals MVP, 2 -time Defensive Player of the Year, and a 12-time All-Star. He really was the focal point of the team, sometimes controlling the ball more during a possession than the point guard (which is extremely unusual for a center) and setting up the offense from the post.
4.) Shaquille O’Neal – Orlando Magic/Los Angele Lakers/Miami Heat
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s the real Man of Steel! Arguably the most dominating figure in sports history, O’Neal stands at 7’1” and weighs over 340lbs at some times. He was intimidating to all players. He overpowered and bullied every opponent en route to 6 Finals appearances and 4 titles. This 15-time All-Star averaged over 24 points, 11 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 blocks per game. He also has an all-important 58.1 FG%. O’Neal has also one a regular season MVP, and 3 Finals MVP awards. With so many accomplishments, he’s still not number one. Why? He is one of the worst free throw shooters of all-time and when you get fouled over five times a game, missing almost half of them is a huge problem, especially when O’Neal was the main scorer on most teams. The “Diesel” also has way too many injury problems, playing in over seventy games in only seven of his eighteen seasons.
3.) Bill Russell – Boston Celtics
I know many people think he should be number one on this list, but I disagree. Even with 11 titles, 5 MVPs, and 12 All-Star appearances, he averaged a list-low 15.1 PPG and only shot 44% from the field. Russell also played with the most dominate team ever, which included 8 Hall of Famers such as Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, and John Havlicek. Oh, and he was coached by Red Auerbach, one of the best coaches all-time. Even though he’s not number one, he is still high on this list and will probably remain here forever.
2.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Milwaukee Bucks/Los Angeles Lakers
It was very hard to put this guy at number two because he is the all-time scoring, field goal, and All-Star appearance leader. He has 6 MVPs, 6 championships, 2 Finals MVPs, and 3 NCAA titles. He was just a pure winner without a doubt. He averaged over 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game. He had a very low turnover rate, not many fouls, shot a fantastic field goal percentage, and was a excellent free throw shooter for a big man. What more could you ask for? One hundred points, maybe?
1.) Wilt Chamberlain – Philadelphia (Warriors) 76ers/Los Angeles Lakers
I know you might not agree, but just listen to his line. He averaged a list-high 30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, and 4.4 APG. These numbers are just ridiculous. One year, he averaged a mind-boggling 50.4 PPG. Wilt is the only player to score triple digits in a game (100). Some of the things he did were so unreal and bizarre, such as averaging over 20 RPG ten years in a row, over 33 PPG seven years in a row. In 1967, he even led the league in assists, which never been done before or repeated as a center since. He also has 2 championships, 4 MVPs, and 13 All-Star appearances. Wilt played in over seventy games all but one year in his super natural career. If these numbers and accolades don’t equal number one then what does?