Power Rankings: Centers
Plus, of course, the 10 best games of the week.
The Bucks have lost all five games they’ve played without Bogut this season. Sure, Milwaukee’s only 4-4 with their big man in the lineup, but he still makes a world of difference. Bogut surely ranks as one of the top defenders amongst all centers and he pairs this with a solid offensive post game as well. Injuries have limited him in his seven-year career and his shooting leaves plenty to be desired, but the Australian seven-footer remains a double-double threat when he’s on the floor and his defensive presence is invaluable.
Such a shame that Horford’s season is probably done after tearing his pectoral muscle, but to the Hawks’ credit, they are 4-0 since their big man has gone down, including a huge win against the Blazers Wednesday night. But make no mistake, Horford isn’t replaceable on this Hawks team. He’s been one of my favorite players since coming out of Florida, and it could be argued that he’s the Hawks most important player given all that he does. Horford’s definitely not a typical center in size (6-10) and he’s not particularly great at any one thing – he’s just really good at everything. Horford can run, shoot, defend, pass and rebound. If Atlanta didn’t have such deep talent every year, they’d probably rely on Horford to carry more of the offensive load, but luckily he’s never really had to. The Hawks are really making noise this year with some gigantic wins so far, and it’s unfortunate that he’s sidelined since he only makes his team better.
He’s no longer just Pau’s brother. After nine double-doubles in 13 games so far, Marc Gasol is firmly establishing himself as one of the best centers the NBA has to offer. He’s averaged 18 points, 12 boards and 4 assists in his last five games and is leading the Grizzlies, currently on a four-game winning streak, without fellow big man Zach Randolph. A monster at 7-1, 265, Gasol is a very solid defender and his offensive game is continuing to improve. He’s only in his fourth year and is finally breaking out big time this season, so the sky is truly the limit for the Spanish funny-man.
For SLAMonline’s top 50 players entering this season, I did the write-up on Andrew Bynum, who came in at No. 44. I think it’s pretty safe to say that after Bynum’s first 11 games this season, we should probably take a re-vote. In the write-up I said that Bynum’s career has been littered with brilliant flashes but he’s never been able to fully put it together. Until this year. His 13.8 boards is almost double his career mark of 7.3. He’s in great shape, his defense remains a big strength and he’s healthy (right now, at least). Oh yeah, and his 16.4 points per game is the highest of his career. In every sense of the word, Bynum’s just dominating. And he’s only 24.
Who’d you think I meant when I said in the intro that there was one true great center in the League? It’s obvious. It’s so beyond obvious that I really don’t need to say anything here. But of course, this year is far different from any of Dwight’s first seven campaigns as he has his very own trade wish list. Ain’t that nice? While many expected an unhappy Howard to have a down year in Orlando, he’s instead enjoying the best run of his career. Dwight’s career numbers are already cartoonish, but his 15.6 rebounds per game so far is just laughable. He’s already recorded four 20/20 games and is well on his way to winning his fourth consecutive Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Like Shaq, Howard’s only glaring flaw is his free-throw shooting, but like Shaq, it rarely matters for the Magic beast. Domination is an understatement.
1) Lakers at Magic: Fri, 1/20, 8:00 (ET), National TV: ESPN
2) Sixers at Heat: Sat, 1/21, 7:30 (ET)
3) Nuggets at Knicks: Sat, 1/21, 7:30 (ET), National TV: NBA TV
4) Spurs at Rockets: Sat, 1/21, 8:00 (ET)
5) Magic at Celtics: Mon, 1/23, 7:30 (ET), National TV: NBA TV
Celtics at Magic: Thu, 1/26, 8:00 (ET), National TV: TNT
6) Grizzlies at Blazers: Tue, 1/24, 10:00 (ET)
7) Pacers at Bulls: Wed, 1/25, 8:00 (ET), National TV: NBA TV
8 ) TWolves at Mavericks: Wed, 1/25, 8:30 (ET)
9) Hawks at Spurs: Wed, 1/25, 8:30 (ET)
10) Clippers at Lakers: Wed, 1/25, 10:30 (ET), National TV: NBA TV
Spurs – 7
Lakers – 7
Clippers – 7
Bulls – 6
Blazers – 6
Thunder – 5
Nuggets – 5
Hawks – 5
Heat – 5
Mavericks – 4
Sixers – 4
Magic – 4
Knicks – 3
Pacers – 3
Celtics – 3
Jazz – 2
Grizzlies – 2
Rockets – 2
TWolves – 1
Still awaiting the Nets, Raptors, Pistons, Cavs, Bucks, Bobcats, Wizards, Kings, Suns, Hornets and Warriors.