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

No Dwight. No Chandler. No Gasols. The only All-Star on this list is Chris Bosh, and, well, that’s not saying much after he was on the wrong end of a couple of highlight plays. Still, this might give us all a glimpse of who will be big producers in the second half of the season.

Note: All of the following stats are based on the last five games of each player as computed by

5. Al Jefferson (UTA) - 23.0ppg, 7.8rpg, 1.4spg, 1.6bpg, .571 FG%, 24.4 EFF
The Jazz are in the thick of the Playoff race out West, and their 6-3 February standing is pretty impressive. Big Al has been a BIG part of that, of course, with his all-around polished game. Other teams are taking a close look, too, since he’ll be a free agent after the current season.

4. Chris Bosh (MIA) - 17.5ppg, 10.0rpg, 1.5spg, 1.0bpg, .585 FG%, 24.8 EFF
An 8-1 February has Miami solidified at the top spot in the East, and if Bosh continues to quietly put up great numbers, then a repeat title run is a very real probability. A double-double, a steal, a block, and nearly 60% FG shooting EVERY NIGHT? Including 20 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals against OKC before the All-Star Weekend? Phew. Man. Bosh is a beast.

3. Nikola Vucevic (ORL) - 16.4ppg, 12.6rpg, 3.0apg, .600 FG%, 25.0 EFF
Is it too early to call him the marvelous Montenegrin? Vucevic continues to be awesome in 2013, and though the Magic have nothing to show for, he’ll surely remain one of the big draws of the reeling Orlando franchise. His best this month so far? A 17-point, NINETEEN REBOUND effort against Portland – in the Magic’s only win in nine February games.

2. Larry Sanders (MIL) - 13.0ppg, 10.5rpg, 5.5bpg, .545 FG%, 25.0 EFF
The 2010 first round pick is finally coming into his own, averaging his best NBA numbers ever. And things might continue to get better. Milwaukee is holding on to the eighth spot in the East, and Sanders is really the only solid slotman in the Bucks’ thin frontline. Let Ersan Ilyasova hurl the three-bombs, and let Sanders grab the ribbies and protect the paint. I mean, FIVE AND A HALF BLOCKS PER GAME. Whuuut?!

1. Al Horford (ATL) - 20.6ppg, 9.6rpg, 3.0apg, 1.6spg, 1.0bpg, .652 FG%, 28.0 EFF
The Hawks have been inconsistent in February, but Horford has reeled in 20+ point performances in his last three games to grab the top spot among the league’s bigs. There’s no one part of his game that really jumps out at any observer, but he’s been the most consistent of the lot, and that’s a big part of what makes him such a dependable player. Also, look at that FG% number – the guy makes more than 65% of his shots. And this is a guy who takes about 14 shots a game. Insane.

Al Horford is maybe one of the most consistently
solid big men in the game today.
(image by John Raoux/AP)

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network and the Associated Press):
February 20
Final Score: Detroit 105, Charlotte 99
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Brandon Knight scored 21 points and Greg Monroe added 19, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 105-99 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Jose Calderon added 17 points and Rodney Stuckey chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Pistons, who have won four of their last six games. Kemba Walker poured in a game-high 24 points and Ramon Sessions added 18 points and eight assists for the Bobcats, who have dropped nine of their last 11 tilts.

Final Score: Indiana 125, New York 91
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Paul George scored 27 points as the Indiana Pacers got their post All-Star break schedule off to a roaring start with a 125-91 trouncing of the New York Knicks from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. George added eight rebounds while making good on 11-of-19 field goal attempts in leading Indiana to its highest scoring output of the season. David West contributed 18 points and nine boards to the rout, while Lance Stephenson registered 14 points in a game the Pacers never trailed at any stage. The win also moved Indiana within just a half-game of the slumping Knicks for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Tyson Chandler compiled 19 points and 11 rebounds for New York, which limped into the break off consecutive home losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto and mustered a subpar 33.7 shooting percentage against Indiana's stingy defense. Carmelo Anthony went just 7-of-21 from the field in finishing with 15 points, over 13 below his season average.

Final Score: Memphis 88, Toronto 82
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Zach Randolph recorded a double-double with 17 points and 18 rebounds, and the Grizzlies shut down their former franchise player in upending the Toronto Raptors, 88-82, at Air Canada Centre. Rudy Gay, playing in his first game against the Grizzlies since they traded him to Toronto in a three-team swap late last month, shot just 5-of-15 from the floor and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors had their five- game winning streak snapped. Tayshaun Prince, one of the three players the Grizzlies received in the Gay deal, added 11 points, and Mike Conley chipped in 17 points, six rebounds and six assists in the victory. Tony Allen had 12 points and eight boards for Memphis, which earned a fifth straight win for the first time since November. Alan Anderson sparked a Toronto comeback in the fourth quarter and scored a game-high 19 points, but the hosts never got over the hump in losing for the first time this season when allowing less than 90 points.

Final Score: Miami 103, Atlanta 90
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - LeBron James filled the stat sheet with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with 11 assists, six rebounds and four steals in the Miami Heat's 103-90 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks. Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat, who outscored Atlanta 40-17 in the fourth. Josh Smith, one of the most-discussed names as a possible trade chip prior to Thursday's deadline, had 10 points, nine assists and nine boards for Atlanta, which had won three of its last four tilts going into the break. Al Horford netted 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting in defeat.

Final Score: Cleveland 105, New Orleans 100
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied late to earn a 105-100 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. Dion Waiters had 16 points and C.J. Miles and Alonzo Gee chipped in 11 and 10, respectively, in the Cavaliers' first game since the midseason break. Brian Roberts paced New Orleans with 17 points and Robin Lopez scored 15 for the Hornets, who have lost two straight. Greivis Vasquez registered 13 points and eight assists in the defeat.

Final Score: Houston 122, Oklahoma City 119
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - James Harden poured in a career-high 46 points against his former team, including 16 in the final frame, to lift the Houston Rockets to a 122-119 come-from-behind victory over the Thunder at Toyota Center. The third overall pick in the 2009 draft knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers and added eight rebounds and six assists to help Houston earn its fifth straight home victory. Jeremy Lin followed with 29 points and eight assists, while Chandler Parsons chipped in 17 points in the victory. Kevin Durant recorded his second career triple-double with 16 points, 12 boards and 11 assists, but it wasn't enough, as Oklahoma City dropped its third straight contest. Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha each posted 28 points in defeat.

Final Score: Brooklyn 97, Milwaukee 94
Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Deron Williams had 23 points and eight assists in his second outing back from an ankle injury, and the Brooklyn Nets dominated the game's latter stages to rally for a 97-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. The Nets outscored Milwaukee by a 34-19 margin over the final 13-plus minutes to battle back from a 12-point deficit late in the third quarter and sweep the home-and-home set between the clubs. Brooklyn came through with a 113-111 overtime triumph over the Bucks at the Barclays Center on Tuesday, ending a 13-game losing skid in the series. C.J. Watson added 17 points and six assists and Andray Blatche racked up 12 points and 12 rebounds, with the pair keying a strong bench effort in which the Nets finished with a 47-24 scoring advantage over Milwaukee's reserves. The Bucks were dealt a sixth defeat in their last seven overall outings despite a 31-point, 11-assist performance from Brandon Jennings and double- doubles out of Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova.

Is Larry Sanders the new Ben Wallace?
(image from USA Today)

Final Score: Minnesota 94, Philadelphia 87
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Nikola Pekovic scored 27 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 94-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Derrick Williams added 17 points and eight rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko scored 15 points for the Timberwolves, who have won two of their last three games. Evan Turner had 17 points and six rebounds and Jrue Holiday added 16 points five assists and five steals for the Sixers, losers in three straight and four of five.

Final Score: Dallas 111, Orlando 96
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Vince Carter finished with 14 points and eight assists and helped the Dallas Mavericks pull away in the fourth quarter in their 111-96 victory over the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Center. Carter was one of six Mavs in double-figures, as Shawn Marion and Elton Brand each chipped in 17 points to help cap a 4-1 homestand. O.J. Mayo added 13 points, while Dirk Nowitzki and Mike James contributed 12 points apiece in the win. Arron Afflalo and Maurice Harkless paced the Magic with 21 and 20 points, respectively, and Nikola Vucevic totaled 16 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, Orlando's 15th in its last 16 games.

Final Score: Golden State 108, Phoenix 98
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Klay Thompson scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half and the Golden State Warriors held off the Phoenix Suns, 108-98, to stop a season-long six-game losing streak. Jarrett Jack added 21 points, Stephen Curry checked in with 20 and 11 assists and David Lee posted 19 points and 11 rebounds to get the Warriors back on track. Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 20 points and 10 assists, while Jermaine O'Neal chipped in 17 points and 12 boards in the loss. Luis Scola also posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to earn back-to-back victories after winning at Portland on Tuesday.

Final Score: LA Lakers 113, Boston 99
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - In their first game since the death of Jerry Buss, it was only appropriate that the Los Angeles Lakers took the floor against a storied rival. And it was only fitting that the Lakers walked off the court Wednesday with a 113-99 win over the Boston Celtics. Dwight Howard through with a 24-point, 12-rebound effort, while Kobe Bryant added 16 points and seven assists for Los Angeles, which has won 10 of the last 15 meetings in this series. Earl Clark had 14 points and 16 boards in the triumph. The Celtics have lost back-to-back tilts to begin a five-game western trek. Boston, which had won eight of its last nine prior to the road trip, fell to 0-7 on the road against Western Conference opponents this season. Paul Pierce netted 26 points in defeat.

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