In the NBA, the primary role of the big man has been to set solid screens, rebound and anchor the defense down low. While there are a number of big men who carry the offensive responsibilities for their teams as well, the traditional big man was meant to be an intimidating presence in the post. All said and done, the role of the center in the NBA was bound to change.
As the game changes and evolves, the role of the traditional big man has made room for a lot of additional skills. Be it the ability to stretch the floor and shoot from the outside, or nifty ball handling ability, the quality of big man in the modern NBA is vastly different from what it used to be in the past.
The ability to pass the ball is one such skill that tends to get noticed when talking about big men. Being able to stand at the low post and facilitate the offense through drop passes and hand-offs to cutting players opens up several opportunities to score. On this list, we take a look at the top five passing big men in NBA history.
Note: For this list, we are considering players who primarily play power forward and/or center. Players like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are essentially point-forwards, were excluded.
#5 Vlade Divac
Vlade Divac is best known for his time in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings organization. As their starting center and part of the frontcourt with Chris Webber, the Kings in the early 2000's were strong contenders in the Western Conference.
Vlade Divac had a great habit of keeping his head up and surveying the court when he would receive the ball in the post. Understanding the passing lanes for potential dives, he used his size to drop passes over unsuspecting defenders. He could also effectively spot shooters on the perimeter who were on the opposite side of the court.
Vlade Divac, for his career, averaged 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
#4 Joakim Noah
An aspect of his game that does stand out is his passing ability. During his time with the Bulls, Noah practically ran the offense. He had an incredibly creative sense for finding teammates on the break, often leading fastbreaks himself. He also had a strong fundamental understanding of timing his entry passes and penetrating passes to cutting players.
Noah was equally effective in passing out of the low post, as well as the high post. Keeping his head up to survey the floor, Noah dished out some fancy two-handed bounce passes into crowded spaces that would otherwise have been very difficult for most big men in the NBA.