Centers dominated the NBA in the first few decades of the league, and their presence has been essential to most winning teams.
However, that has not been the case in recent years, as talent in the position has stalled a bit. Currently, centers are making a comeback to the league's elite club, even though their styles are very different from most of the old-school NBA centers.
Some centers can pass the ball with tremendous efficiency, while others can shoot from outside with confidence and accuracy. Some traditional centers still take advantage of their physical presence to score inside and defend at an elite level.
NBA Power Rankings: Top 5 centers in the league right now
Perimeter play dominates the NBA today, but big men will always be useful for a team.
There are several stars at the position in the current NBA picture. In this edition of the NBA Power Rankings, we will take a look at the top 5 centers in the league right now.
Without further ado, let us start with this list.
#5 Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic recorded 41 double-doubles in 62 starts for the Orlando Magic in the 2019-20, and it was good enough for him to appear in this ranking.
Vucevic was solid all year, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal per game during the regular season. The Magic, led by Vucevic's team-high 21.9 Player Efficiency Rating, grabbed the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Among centers, he ranked ninth in PER. But still, his 4.2 Box Plus/Minus was Top 5 and his 3.1 Value over Replacement was Top 3.
Vucevic was the Magic's best player in their first-round series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Though the Magic lost in five games, Vucevic averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists with 50/40/90 shooting splits.
#4 Rudy Gobert
Before finishing third in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award voting last year, Rudy Gobert had won it the previous two years. The Frenchman remains a solid center in the NBA.
Gobert had his best rebounding season last year and was also the most efficient in terms of shooting from the field (mostly high-percentage finishes around the rim).
On advanced stats among NBA centers, Gobert ranked 10th in PER (21.7), but his Defensive Box Plus/Minus (1.9) was second, pushing his Box Plus/Minus (3.6) to fifth. On Value over Replacement, the Frenchman was second (3.3), only behind Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.