The NBA: January 2013 Position Battle – The Top 5 Centers Right Now

Big D is back at the top, while some young guns rise in the rankings! Who are the bona fide awesome big men right now? Read on!

5. Greg Monroe (DET) - 18.4ppg, 11.2rpg, 3.0apg, 1.2spg, .538 FG%, 23.6 EFF
The young Detroit big man has settled himself back into the shape that saw him become one of the best slotmen at the start of the season. His double-double numbers are eye-poppingly good, but the fact that he doesn’t block shots is also eye-poppingly worrisome.

4. Nikola Vucevic (ORL) - 13.8ppg, 14.6rpg, 1.0bpg, .554 FG%, 24.8 EFF
He scores, rebounds, AND blocks. No wonder hardly anyone really misses the hit-or-miss and whiney attitude of Dwight Howard (wait till you get to #1, though). Vucevic’s last 5 games might not really be representative of what he is currently capable of, but he has definitely shown the potential to be as great as… say… Dino Radja?

3. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) - 20.8ppg, 10.0rpg, 3.6apg, 1.0spg, 1.0bpg, .515 FG%, 25.2 EFF
Need anymore proof that when DeMarcus wants to be awesome, he can be awesome? Of course, that’s assuming his temperament and maturity actually allow him the needed minutes on the floor. If his numbers remain this good on a consistent basis, then an All-Star slot in 2014 will not only be possible, but also probable.

2. Al Jefferson (UTA) - 21.4ppg, 10.0rpg, 2.6apg, 1.4spg, .550 FG%, 26.4 EFF
Trade rumors notwithstanding, Jefferson continues to be one of the most overly effective yet severely underappreciated centers in the league. He’s an all-around center who makes the Jazz extremely solid down low. He’s a big reason Utah is locked with Portland for the eighth seed, and he’s mighty enticing trade bait, too.

1. Dwight Howard (LAL) - 18.0ppg, 20.0rpg, 1.0spg, 2.5bpg, .833 FG%, 32.0 EFF
Now this is the Dwight Howard the Lakers dreamt of. TWENTY REBOUNDS per game?!?!?!?! EIGHTY THREE PERCENT field goal shooting?!?!?!?! R I D I C U L O U S!!!

Dwight Howard is the best center in the world once again.
(image by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
January 14
Washington 120, Orlando 91
Emeka Okafor scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and A.J. Price added 18 points and six assists as the Washington Wizards cruised past the Orlando Magic, 120-91, at the Verizon Center on Monday. Kevin Seraphin also dropped in 18 points and Bradley Beal netted 17 on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor for the Wizards, who have won a season-high three straight games. John Wall, who returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing the first 33 games of the season with a knee injury, had 12 points and six assists in just under 20 minutes. Jameer Nelson scored 19 points to go with 12 assists and Nikola Vucevic notched a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards for the Magic, losers of 11 of their last 12.

Nikola Vucevic has the potential to be a really big
impact-player for the Magic.
(image by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Boston 100, Charlotte 89
Rajon Rondo amassed his third triple-double of the season to help the Boston Celtics take a 100-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. Rondo had 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who are on a season-high six-game winning steak. Paul Pierce scored 19 points with six assists and Avery Bradley gave 16 points in the win. Hakim Warrick and Ramon Sessions each posted 16 points for the Bobcats, who have lost their past four games. Ben Gordon and Kemba Walker each scored 12 points in the loss.

Chicago 97, Atlanta 58
Carlos Boozer recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds on Monday, as the Chicago Bulls stifled the Atlanta Hawks in a 97-58 victory at United Center. Luol Deng donated 18 points, while Joakim Noah added nine points and 16 boards for the Bulls, who have won two of three and set a franchise record for fewest points allowed. Mike Scott scored a team-high 10 points for Atlanta, which was held to a franchise- record low five points in the second quarter en route to their sixth loss in their last seven games.

LA Clippers 99, Memphis 73
The Los Angeles Clippers have proven they can win at home, now they'll have a chance to show what they can do on the road. And they passed the first test of a brutal road stretch, even without the services of superstar point guard Chris Paul. Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes netted 16 points apiece in the Clippers 99-73 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies. Filling in for Paul, Eric Bledsoe donated 14 points for Los Angeles, which snapped a brief two-game road losing streak and will play -- including Monday -- 15 of its next 19 games away from Staples Center. The Clippers, who just had their 13-game home winning streak snapped Saturday against the Orlando Magic, holds an 18-4 record in Los Angeles compared to a 11-5 mark on the road. Zach Randolph had 15 points and 12 boards to lead the Grizzlies, who played without forward Rudy Gay as he attended the funeral of his grandmother.

Dallas 113, Minnesota 98
Darren Collison scored 23 points to go with nine assists and Elton Brand chipped in with 20 points off the bench to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 113-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. O.J. Mayo also scored 20 points and dished out nine assists while Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman and Vince Carter added 10 points apiece for the Mavericks, who have won three straight. Nikola Pekovic notched a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds and J.J. Barea poured in 21 points off the bench for the Timberwolves, who have dropped four straight games.

Oklahoma City 102, Phoenix 90
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 77 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder took a 102-90 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Durant had 41 points on 15-of-30 shooting while Westbrook added 36 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who have won four straight. Kevin Martin added 12 points off the bench. Shannon Brown scored 21 points while Marcin Gortat gave 19 points and 15 boards for the Suns, who were coming off a win against Chicago on Saturday that had snapped a five-game losing streak.

Utah 104, Miami 97
When LeBron James and the Miami Heat made their run, the Utah Jazz held their ground. Al Jefferson tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds in Utah's 104-97 win over the Heat. Gordon Hayward scored 22 points for the Jazz, who have won seven straight home games against Eastern Conference opponents. James netted 32 points for Miami, which has dropped three of its first four on their six-game road trip. The Heat trailed by as many as 21 in the third before an elongated 21-5 run pulled the hosts within two in the fourth.

Sacramento 124, Cleveland 118
DeMarcus Cousins recorded a double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds on Monday, as the Sacramento Kings held off the Cleveland Cavaliers, 124-118, at Sleep Train Arena. Cousins also added six assists, while Marcus Thornton poured in 20 points off the bench for the Kings, who snapped a four-game skid. Dion Waiters netted a career-high 33 points and Tristan Thompson tallied 17 points and 15 boards in the setback, Cleveland's third in a row.

January 15
Indiana 103, Charlotte 76
Paul George scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Roy Hibbert added 18 points and four blocks as Indiana outlasted the Charlotte Bobcats, 103-76, at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday. David West contributed 15 points and eight rebounds and George Hill added 16 points for the Pacers, who stopped a three-game road skid and improved to 14-4 in their last 18 games. Gerald Henderson scored 15 points and Kemba Walker tallied 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor for the Bobcats, who are now 2-24 in their last 26 games since starting the season 7-5.

New Orleans 111, Philadelphia 99
Greivis Vasquez led five Hornets players in double figures with 23 points, as New Orleans came away with a 111-99 road victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Eric Gordon had 19 points, Ryan Anderson scored 14, Xavier Henry compiled 11 and rookie Anthony Davis added 10 for the Hornets, who have won five of their last six games. Jrue Holiday finished with a double-double, 29 points and 11 assists, to go along with five rebounds and four steals for Philadelphia, which was looking to win consecutive games for the first time since late November. The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak Saturday against Houston.

Brooklyn 113, Toronto 106
When the Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson on Dec. 27 many wondered which big name would be hired as the team's next head coach. It looks like they may already have found their man in interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Since taking over as head coach, Carlesimo has guided the Nets to a 9-1 record, including a 113-106 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Deron Williams finished with 21 points and seven assists, Brook Lopez tallied 22 to go with nine boards and Joe Johnson added 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting for Brooklyn, which has won a season-high seven straight games. Kyle Lowry scored 21 points off the bench despite leaving in the second quarter with a left ankle sprain and playing just under 15 minutes, and Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon chipped in with 15 points apiece for the Raptors, who have dropped their last three contests with Brooklyn.

LA Clippers 117, Houston 109
Chris Paul sat for a second straight game with a bruised kneecap, but for a second consecutive night, the result remained the same. Eric Bledsoe filled Paul's spot nicely once again, posting a season-high 19 points along with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals as the Los Angeles Clippers downed the Houston Rockets, 117-109, on Tuesday. Blake Griffin finished with 19 points and eight assists for the Clippers, who once again got solid contributions from their bench. Jamal Crawford sank 11- of-20 from the field en route to a season-best 30 points and Matt Barnes chipped in with 18 to help Los Angeles become the NBA's second 30-win team. Following a disappointing three-game road trip, the Rockets' poor shooting in the third quarter contributed largely to the team's fourth straight loss. James Harden led Houston with 23 points and Jeremy Lin added 12 points and 10 assists. Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino contributed 17 and 16 points, respectively, in the setback.

Denver 115, Portland 111 (OT)
Wilson Chandler buried the go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left in overtime to help lift the Denver Nuggets to a 115-111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Chandler, who returned to the Nuggets' lineup on Sunday after missing two months because of a hip injury, finished with 13 points and six rebounds off the bench for Denver, who have won six straight. Ty Lawson poured in 24 points to go with 12 assists, Kenneth Faried dropped in 21 points and pulled down 11 boards, and Danilo Gallinari finished with 25 points for the Nuggets, who improved to 15-2 at home this season. LaMarcus Aldridge poured in a game-high 28 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists, while Nicolas Batum chipped in with 22 points, seven assists and seven boards and J.J. Hickson scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped three straight. Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively, in defeat.

LA Lakers 104, Milwaukee 88
Dwight Howard finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers downed the Milwaukee Bucks, 104-88, at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant also poured in 31 points, while Metta World Peace finished with 12 and Antawn Jamison contributed 10 with eight rebounds. Steve Nash added eight points and 11 assists for the Lakers, who have won two straight following a six-game slide. Monta Ellis scored 17 points to pace Milwaukee, which lost two of its last three games. Beno Udrih followed with 14 points and seven assists, Brandon Jennings had 12 points and Mike Dunleavy dropped in 10 in defeat.

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