By: Mike Wagenman
Going The Distance’s list of the NBA’s top 30 centers continues today with No. 25-21. Scroll down to the bottom of the article to find the previously posted rankings (No. 30-26).
25. Marcin Gortat – Phoenix Suns: Gortat has taken a bit of a tumble in the center rankings since last season. He averaged 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds last season with 31 double-doubles. Obviously the addition of Luis Scola in Phoenix has taken some opportunities away from Gortat, but he has still managed to average 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 2012-13. What hasn’t declined is his defense. Night in and night out, Gortat provides problems for opposing centers around the rim.
24. JaVale McGee – Denver Nuggets: McGee is the NBA’s king of mental lapses, to put it lightly, but there is no denying that the seven-foot center is an athletic freak. His stats may not be as eye-popping as the other centers on this list, but that’s due to the reserve role he has so nicely fit into in Denver.
McGee is the perfect man for the job with the Nuggets because of his ability to run the floor and be agile while still being a constant shot-blocking threat. He averages 2.0 blocks this season and 1.9 for his career, and ranks second in the league in dunks with 167. If McGee can continue his progress towards getting his head on straight, he has the potential to keep climbing higher and higher on this list.
23. Emeka Okafor – Washington Wizards: Okafor certainly hasn’t justified being taken as the second overall pick in 2004, but he has had a stellar career. He has slipped down to 23rd on this list, as his stats have declined every year since 2007. At 9.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, Okafor is still a solid player. His most redeeming quality is his defense. Okafor averages just 1.9 fouls at a position that is most prone to whistles.
22. Kendrick Perkins – Oklahoma City Thunder: While in Boston, Perkins was a much more recognized offensive center, although his defense made most of the headlines. Perkins is still a top defensive center, but playing alongside Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin has resulted in him getting far fewer touches on offense. The six-foot-ten center provides OKC with the luxury of a defensive anchor, which allows the big guns to focus on scoring the basketball.
21. DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers: Highlight-reel dunks can really overrate a player. Jordan is the epitome of that. The Clippers’ big man is averaging a career-best 8.8 points on 64.1 percent shooting while pulling down 7.1 boards per game and averaging 1.3 blocks, but those may be the lowest averages of anyone on this list.
Jordan is fourth in the NBA in dunks and is a defensive presence, but his abysmal 39.1 free throw percentage is crippling. He is a liability, to say the least, for L.A. in the fourth quarter, as “Hack-a-Jordan” has become a staple for its opponents in close games. Just the fact that he can’t be on the floor at the end of close games keeps him out of the top 20, but his crowd-pleasing dunks and blocks place him just on the fringe.
Preceded by: NBA’s Top Centers: No. 30-26