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2013 NBA Center Preview 

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When I started this particular preview I went in thinking it would be a short list. But after completing it I have realized how much deeper the Center position is than I previously thought. Not that long ago you could count the good Centers on one hand. Now the game has evolved a bit and the Center cycle ran it’s course. Now I have ranked the top 15 at their position and all 15 are solid starting Centers or will be very shortly.

HM. Kendrick Perkins

I don’t know how many more guys I would have to rank before I get to Perkins, but I love this guy too much to completely leave off the list. He is just about a zero on the offensive end, but this kid turned himself into a starting Center with the help of Kevin Garnett. As a Celtics fan, I saw what Kendrick Perkins had to offer before KG, let’s just say he was likely on his way out of the league. But he worked his ass off and earned himself quite a few more dollars than anyone other than his moms would have guessed.


15. Tiago Splitter (SAS)

This guy got rather abused late in the Spurs playoff run last year but that isn’t scaring me away from him. At 28 years old he may not have much room for drastic improvements in his game itself, but being that this will be just his fourth season he still might be good. If there is one organization I trust it’s the Spurs and he will be starting at center for them. With Tim Duncan being one year older and especially after logging all those minutes en route to an appearance in the NBA Finals, they are going to lean on Splitter a lot more this season to allow Duncan to get the appropriate rest during the season. That should mean more minutes and more plays run for him. This will really be a telling season for Splitter’s career.

14. Andre Drummond (Det)

This kid is close to bursting onto the scene. This could be his year in Detroit. While playing just 20 minutes a night Drummond was able to grab nearly eight rebounds and block 1.6 shots a night. That’s called efficiency. This year he should get quite a bit more playing time resulting in some big numbers on the stat sheets. Just some a shear math standpoint if you bump this kid up to 30 minutes a night you have a double double machine that blocks two shots a night. And that is based on his abilities last year. This year he should be even better. He just turned 20 years old in August and should learn quite a bit from Josh Smith coming to town. There were several years where you wouldn’t want a young kid playing with Josh Smith, but he seems to have turned the corner and grown up into a leader. Provided he stays healthy the only weakness to his game is at the charity stripe where he shot just 37% last year, not a joke he was actually that bad from the free throw line last year I know it’s unbelievable that anyone, let alone an NBA player could be that bad with nobody guarding him.  

13. Larry Sanders (Mil)

This Bucks team is going to be a hell of a lot different than they were last year. No longer do they have two guards whose only idea of offense is jacking up shots. There will be a lot more structure in Milwaukee this year meaning Sanders should have more of an opportunity to showcase his offensive game instead of just his tremendous ability to play defense and draw technical fouls.

12. Nikola Pekovic (Minn)

It’s amazing how long it took this guy to get paid. While all the other bigs found a home it took until the middle of August to land a deal. But he was still able to cash in with a five year $60M extension with the Timberwolves. His numbers have gotten better as his minutes have increased in each of his three seasons in the league. Last year he averaged 16.3ppg and 8.8rpg (by the way, when you can grab nearly nine boards a night while playing with a glass cleaner like Kevin Love, you are pretty damn good at rebounding). The only downside to playing him alongside Kevin Love is their lack of ability to defend the rim. Straight up on the block this guy can battle with the best of them, but he is not athletic enough to get you a couple of blocks a night. His game should continue to grow and especially as Ricky Rubio matures he should have a career year. He should see a lot more open looks and should get the ball where he can score easily. He may even make the All Star team this year.

11. Brook Lopez (Brk)

This guy is going to be unleashed offensively this year. While he is still far too soft on the glass, now he has guys like Paul Pierce on his team that prides themselves in their rebounding ability. Also with Kevin Garnett picking up the defensive slack and with so many offensive weapons, Lopez is going to be facing a lot of single coverage. If he doesn’t have his best scoring season of his career he will be looked at as having a disappointing season.

10. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor)

This guy really turned some heads late last year. Over the last month and a half of the season he saw a nice bump in his minutes, and he wasted no time proving he deserved that bump. Over that stretch he averaged nearly 16 points 7 rebounds and nearly two blocks a night. Now this 21 year old seven footer heads into a season where he knows he is the starting center of the Toronto Raptors. He should be able to average at least those numbers for a full season this year. If he can this up and coming team may be a move or two away from being serious playoff contenders. If they stand pat Jonas might be able to have a good enough season to sneak them in as a 7 or 8 seed. I have high hopes for this kid. So much so that I kept him in my fantasy basketball league, granted Chris Paul wasn’t eligible to be kept, but still I made the finals last year, that should tell you something about how good this kid really is since odds are you aren’t caught up on your Toronto Raptors hoops.

9. Chris Bosh (Mia)

Are there people outside of the Miami area rooting for this guy to play well? Bosh has earned his reputation of being one of the most hated players in the league with his shitty attitude. He just wants to chill. Bosh may have put in less work than anyone that has ever won two NBA titles and while that could be viewed as a compliment of his talent, it’s not, he is playing with Lebron James. He should put up nearly 17-7 every night and really should continue sucking on the teet of Lebron James.

8. Nikola Vucevic (Orl)

When you are 7’ tall and have a 97’ wingspan you are probably going to succeed in this league. Vucevic wasted no time turning himself in a legitimate starting center in this league last year. After the 76ers gave up on him the Magic called his number and boy did he deliver. Basically out of nowhere Vucevic stepped right in and scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds a night. Also he became an underrated defender on and off the ball. Orlando is young and getting better. They have a couple of nice pieces in place now and Vucevic is certainly one of them. Last year was just a sneak peak into this kids ceiling. At 23 years old and only one real season under his belt we have only seen the beginning.

7. Al Horford (Atl)

Poor Al Horford has been left behind in Atlanta. Luckily the loss of Josh Smith came with the addition of another capable big in Paul Millsap. After missing most of the 2011-12 season due to injury Horford came back last year and posted career numbers in scoring, rebounds and steals. Now he will be asked to step his production up even more, with less around him. We saw Tony Allen score 20 points a game for a decrepid Celtics team, we may see Al Horford have a career year where he averages more than 20-10 every night.  

6. Boogie Cousins (Sac)

What do we make of Boogie Cousins? While this is only his fourth season and while he won’t turn 24 until after the end of this season, I think we all feel like he has left a bad taste in our mouths. It hasn’t felt like he has made the most of his talents thus far and his immaturity plays a huge role in that. Now with new coaches surrounding him it will be interesting to see if he has grown up at all, or if he can even be contained. We should have a good idea of what Boogie we are getting this season by the end of November. He has the raw talent to be the best big in the game but I’m not entirely sure he wants that right now. I just hope he doesn’t ruin Ben McLemore along the way this year.

5. Roy Hibbert (Ind)

Roy Hibbert grew up before our eyes last year. Heading into last season I think most of us thought of him as a guy that made it due to his incredible size. Then we thought okay he can be really good at defending the rim. Then he turned into a “great” big man mostly because of the lack of great big men. Then he elevated his game by nearly six points and two rebounds in the playoffs, while making several incredible plays along the way. There is no questioning him now. Roy Hibbert is a great Center and he could climb a lot higher on this list by this seasons end.

4. Al Jefferson (Cha)

Big Al has never been in a situation like this before. While he was brought to Minnesota to be “the guy” he was still a bit raw and by the end of his tenure there all he heard about was the young bigs behind him on the depth chart. Now he goes to Charlotte where he is “the guy” and he wants to prove that he can carry a team. At first thought you may think he just gets lost on a bad team, but this team is no joke. They are going to be a lot better than most people think. Al Jefferson is going to be the best player on a team that wins 25 more games than they did a year ago. He may even receive some MVP buzz.

3. Joakim Noah (Chi)

Noah might be my favorite player in the league. He is the kind of guy you hate to play but would love to play with. He leaves it all on the floor, maybe too much at times. While he has had a tendency to miss 15 or so games none of them at per his request. While Derrick Rose sat on the bench unwilling to come back from a knee injury that he was cleared of, Noah was out there giving everything he had while playing with a tear in his foot. The guy could barely run at times, yet played great defense and brought a ton of energy to the Bulls when they needed it the most. Now with Rose back and healthy, he should be able to get a bit of a break in his minutes creating a less likely chance of injury but also should find himself getting a lot of easy buckets as defenses look to slow down the former MVP in Rose. 15 points 11 rebounds two blocks and a defensive player of the year award are well within reach for Joakim this season.  

2. Dwight Howard (Hou)

1. Marc Gasol (Mem)

I had a tough time ranking the top two. I went back and forth several times and decided to give the nod to Gasol based on A. Dwight’s bullshit attitude and B. because he is now second fiddle to James Harden. Dwight took the easy way out and has never really had to prove himself. Marc Gasol has had that Pau trade hanging over his head for most of his career. Whatever the breaking point is for amount of times you must be referred to as part of the “worst trade ever” Gasol clearly eclipsed that. He turned all that negativity into an amazing all around game that makes him the best Center in the league right now. Gasol can defend the best this league has to offer and can score on them as well. Also he is a really good passer maybe the best passing big in the game right now. However, the lack of outside shooting on Memphis doesn’t exactly help him showcase that side of his game. If Memphis can make a move and surround him with talent that benefits his game, this might not end up being all that close at the end of the year.


Monday, October 28, 2013

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