The NBA: Position Battle: The Best Centers Right Now

Let’s get one clear and surprising thing straight – none of the best centers of the past week in the NBA were All-Stars last season.

No Dwight Howard. No Andrew Bynum. No Marc Gasol (he almost made it, though). No Roy Hibbert (of course!).

Based on their EFF ratings for their last 5 games, here are the Top Five slotmen in the NBA (stats taken from

5) Anderson Varejao (CLE) - 13.4ppg, 15.4rpg, 3.4apg, 1.6spg, 22.6 EFF
Arguably the most surprising player this season, and leading candidate for Most Improved Player in my book, Varejao continues to fill up the stat-sheet. Someday, the Brazilian’s great play will translate into more wins for the Cavs, but for now they’ll have to be content with a 5-game losing spell

4) Tyson Chandler (NYK) - 15.0ppg, 13.8rpg, 1.4bpg, 25.6 EFF
He SHOULD HAVE BEEN an All-Star last season had someone been smart enough to NOT include Roy Hibbert. Still, Chandler continues to be a strong double-double machine. It also helps that he has rediscovered his shot-blocking skills. In contrast to Varejao and the Cavs, though, Chandler and the Knicks are reaping the benefits as they went 4-1 in the past 5 games.

3) Joakim Noah (CHI) - 14.8ppg, 13.8rpg, 4.6apg, 1.4spg, 2.4bpg, 26.0 EFF
The Bulls seem to have righted the ship, going 4-1 in their last 5 games and taking the top spot in the Central Division from the Bucks. Noah has been a big part of that run, doing everything except, well, nothing. He IS doing everything! Just imagine if D-Rose were back and healthy!

2) Al Horford (ATL) - 18.0ppg, 12.4rpg, 3.8apg, 1.2spg, 1.4bpg, 26.4 EFF
The Hawks remain the second-best team in their Division, but that’s only because the best team is big bad Miami. Horford, though, has blossomed into the best big man in the division, despite the great play of Chris Bosh. The Dominican Republic national is registering All-Star level numbers again, and Atlanta has won 4 of 5 because of it.

1) Al Jefferson (UTA) - 20.3ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.0bpg, 27.0 EFF
The Jazz are riding high on a 3-game winning streak (including a big win over the Lakers at Staples), and Big Al is leading the charge. Jefferson’s big numbers make him the best center of the past week, and though the Jazz are way behind the Thunder in the Northwest, they are well-entrenched in the 6th spot in the conference.

Al Jefferson revealed himself to be the best center of
the past week as Utah won its third straight game.
(image by Rick Bowmer/AP)

Honorable Mention: Marc Gasol (MEM), Andray BLatche (BRK), and Dwight Howard (LAL)

Moving forward, I’m wondering if we’ll ever get to see the names of Howard and Gasol (Pau) and Bynum on the Top 5 again this season. Given how two of those guys are on the same team sharing one ball (with Kobe at that), and how Bynum is, well, turning out to be a dud, it looks like the best big men in the league won’t carry big superstar statuses with them. Here’s to the relative no-namers taking names.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
LA Clippers 102, Toronto 83
Blake Griffin had 19 points and nine rebounds in the Los Angeles Clippers' 102-83 win over the Toronto Raptors. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford netted 16 points apiece for Los Angeles, which has won six straight on the heels of a four-game skid. DeMar DeRozan poured in 24 points for the Raptors, who have lost four consecutive contests and 10 of their last 11. Linas Kleiza added 17 points in the setback.

Milwaukee 97, Brooklyn 88
Brandon Jennings scored a game-high 26 points and Monta Ellis followed with 24 as the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late fourth quarter Brooklyn Nets rally for a 97-88 victory at Barclays Center on Sunday. Jennings knocked down 4-of-7 from three-point range, while Ellis shot an effective 8-of-13 overall from the field in the Bucks' second straight win. Marquis Daniels totaled 13 points and seven rebounds. Brooklyn lost its fourth consecutive game and has won just once since starting center Brook Lopez went down with a foot injury. Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams helped fuel a fourth-quarter comeback, but the 29-point hole the Nets fell into during the third quarter was too much to overcome. Wallace posted a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Williams finished with 18 points and eight assists in defeat.

Oklahoma City 104, Indiana 93
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder ran their winning streak to eight in a row with a 104-93 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Kevin Martin netted 24 points on 7-of-12 from the floor and Russell Westbrook donated 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka contributed 12 points and nine boards. David West hit 10-of-16 from the field for a team-high 21 points to go with nine rebounds, while Paul George gave 17 points and eight boards for the Pacers, who have lost two straight.

New York 112, Denver 106
Carmelo Anthony showed no ill effects in his return, scoring 34 points, and the New York Knicks beat the Denver Nuggets, 112-106, at Madison Square Garden. Anthony missed the previous two games with a lacerated middle finger on his left hand. Jason Kidd finished with 17 points and seven assists for the Knicks, who improved to 8-0 at home this season. It's their best start as host since opening the 1992-93 campaign with nine straight wins. Tyson Chandler had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for New York. Ty Lawson led six Denver players in double figures with 23 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds. Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and nine boards, while Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer supplied 15 points apiece. The Nuggets fell to 1-2 on their five-game road trip and have dropped five of seven overall.

Tyson Chandler slams one home in the first half of
the Knicks' home victory over the Nuggets.
(image by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Orlando 98, Phoenix 90
JJ Redick hit 4-for-8 from three-point range en route to a game-high 20 points and nine assists as the Orlando Magic knocked off the Phoenix Suns, 98-90, on Sunday at U.S. Airways Center. Andrew Nicholson netted a career-high 19 points on an impressive 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, while Glen Davis contributed 15 points and seven rebounds for the Magic, who concluded a five-game road trip with a 3-2 mark. Nikola Vucevic added 12 points and nine boards in the victory. Shannon Brown scored a team-high 17 points and Jared Dudley added 15 points for the Suns, who lost for the seventh consecutive game. Marcin Gortat donated 12 points and six rebounds in the setback.

Utah 117, LA Lakers 110
Paul Millsap poured in a team-high 24 points to go with nine rebounds, leading the Utah Jazz to a 117-110 road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center. Mo Williams netted 22 points and Al Jefferson donated 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who have won three straight on the heels of a three-game slide. Enes Kanter dropped in 14 points and grabbed six boards in a 17-plus minute run off the bench and Gordon Hayward also contributed 14 points in the victory. Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 34 points and Jordan Hill added a career-high 17 points and nine boards for the scuffling Lakers, who have lost seven of their last 10 and played without Pau Gasol for the fourth consecutive game due to knee tendinitis. Jodie Meeks put home 16 points and Dwight Howard added 11 and 16 boards in the setback.

Top 10 Plays of the Night:

Game Highlights:

Next Post »
0 Comment