Centers have become kind of obsolete nowadays, and regardless of what TV insiders may say to try and convince you, it seems like you don’t need a lot of post moves and pick and roll offense to succeed anymore.
Nonetheless, there was a time when this league was dominated by big men, with the game oriented towards the paint and when having a rim protector meant everything for NBA coaches and General Managers.
The center position has come a long way ever since, but if we think about the perfect big man, we would have to take a little out of some of the best to ever do it, so today, we’re going to create the perfect center.
Footwork: Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon is arguably the most complete center ever. He was deadly down low as a rim protector, but was a skilled as a ballerina in the low post as well, having the best footwork this game has ever seen.
The Dream was incredibly skilled for a guy his height, and up to this date, he still helps the Houston Rockets big men with their post moves during the offseason, so that’s a total no-brainer here.
Basketball IQ: Tim Duncan
The Big Fundamental was always the smartest player on the floor, an extension of coach Popovich in the hardwood and a hard-working big man that always made the right play and rarely made any mistakes.
Duncan would do his job on a nightly basis without any kind of complaints, had terrific on-court awareness and positioning, and was even such an underrated passer, but always knew where his teammates had to be at all times.
Athleticism: Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is perhaps one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports, as he even pursuit a volleyball career following his retirement from the NBA and was a part of the Harlem Globetrotters before entering the league.
As a matter of fact, Chamberlain even enjoyed doing a bit of parkour, jumping from rooftops and ceilings, just for the mere fun of it. His length, wingspan and athleticism made the league change a lot of rules.
Defense: Dikembe Mutombo
We’re talking about the guy responsible for the finger-wag following an emphatic dunk, a 4-time Defensive Player of the Year (tied for most with Ben Wallace), and arguably the greatest shot blocker in NBA history.
Mutombo was such a big force down low that even though he was never featured on offense, he definitely made his presence felt on every play, altering shots, dominating the glass and obviously, swatting layups with great ease.
Discipline: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the most disciplined players in the league for sure, even despite being constantly hacked and fouled as the Bucks and Lakers go-to-guy on the offensive end.
KAJ played for over 20 seasons and never got into heated scuffles or altercations, and was as neat and clean on the defensive end of the floor as he was when he shot his signature sky shook.
Strength: Shaquille O’Neal
Total no-brainer here, as Shaquille O’Neal was by far the most dominating big man this game has ever seen, making the most of his superhuman-like physique to bully every opposition in both ends of the hardwood.
Shaq was so freaking strong that the league was forced to change the material they used to make backboards. Also, it was just hilarious to see players getting hurt after fouling Shaq to try and get him to the line.
Passing: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic hasn’t been around the league for long, but he’s still quickly become perhaps the best passing big man the Association has ever seen, better than Joakim Noah and even better than Arvydas Sabonis himself.
Jokic is so skilled with the rock on his hands that he’s actually the Nuggets primary ball handler for most of the time, and he can easily run the team’s offense and lead the break after getting a defensive board.
Shooting: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has made great strides as a three-point shooter ever since entering the league, and that’s one of the main reasons why everybody was so high on him when the Timberwolves took him 1st overall.
Towns is money from all over the court when it comes to offense, and he’s successfully made the transition to a stretch five in the league, although he still needs to do a lot of work on defense to become the league’s best center.
Handles: DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented big men in the league and it’s not even close, as he proves this past season as the main guy for the New Orleans Pelicans, improving his ball handling skills a lot and showing his playmaking skills.
Cousins can create off the dribble and cross defenders with great ease as if he were a guard, although he’s kind of turnover prone, but mostly because he’s out of control when he attacks and tends to get called for offensive fouls.
Mentality: Bill Russell
And finally, we need the mindset of a champion, and who would be a better fit for that than Bill Russell himself? The greatest champion this game has ever seen and the main reason why the Celtics are the most winning franchise ever.
Even despite the fact that Bill Russell didn’t have much opposition, winning 11 NBA Championships is something that’s never likely to be matched, and he was the team’s best player in both ends throughout those 11 titles.