Mythbusters: There’s No Good Centers in Basketball Anymore

They say there just aren’t as many good centers anymore these days. It’s true, there’s only a handful of them, and many of them look like they’d have played power forward if they lived a generation earlier. I feel like we’ve been saying that about basketball for years now though. Could it be that there’s always been a shortage of solid, true centers and we’ve just always remembered there being more great ones before them? I’ve decided to put it to the test. Here I’ll list the top ten centers in the game, in my opinion, and then work our way back each decade. Let’s see if the quantity / quality of centers in the game has gone down over the years….


  • Dwight Howard
  • Andrew Bogut
  • Marcus Camby
  • Chris Kaman
  • Al Horford
  • Amare Stoudemire
  • Andris Biedrins
  • Nene
  • Roy Hibbert
  • Brendan Haywood


  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Alonzo Mourning
  • Dikembe Mutombo
  • David Robinson
  • Dale Davis
  • Vlade Divac
  • Antonio Davis
  • Michael Olowokandi
  • Theo Ratliff
  • Ervin Johnson


  • Hakeem Olajuwan
  • David Robinson
  • Patrick Ewing
  • Robert Parish
  • Rony Seikaly
  • Mark Eaton
  • Benoit Benjamin
  • Sam Bowie
  • Mark West
  • Rik Smits


  • Moses Malone
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Bill Cartwright
  • Swen Nater
  • Jack Sikma
  • Dan Roundfield
  • Kermit Washington
  • Randy Clifford
  • Roger Bond
  • Crisp Robinson

Yeah, so I made a few up there at the end but I wasn’t even alive in 1980 so I’d only heard of six of these guys. If you go back further, you’ve got guys like Russell, Chamberlain, Mikan, Walton, Gilmore, etc. To sum it all up, looks like there’s an even field each decade. This myth has been…. Busted!

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9 responses to “Mythbusters: There’s No Good Centers in Basketball Anymore

  • Chris Humpherys

    It’s an interesting debate, man.

    To answer your question, I’d just say there’s a lack of ‘true’ centers in the league today. Ewing, Robinson, Olajuwon, Mutombo, Mourning, those guys were true centers, not power forwards/centers.

    For example, although guys like Horford or Stoudemire might log minutes at center, I still don’t think they’re centers. Nor did I ever think Tim Duncan was a F/C.

    And you forgot Yao Ming and Kendrick Perkins in 2010 by the way.

    I do feel that the center position, pound for pound, isn’t as good as it’s been in the past. Nor is the shooting guard position for that matter.

    But the league is loaded with point guards and forwards so that more than makes up for it.

    • mceezy

      I tried to touch on that same point about guys like Amare and Horford, even Howard and Bogut for that matter, being more like Power Forwards of old, but it’s hard to know where to draw the line. I suppose I did forget Perkins, but I left Yao off on purpose. I’m just not sure he’s a Top 10 center right now.

  • chappy81

    I know it’s some asian bias, but you couldn’t have squeezed Yao on there?!?

    • mceezy

      I debated for a minute, but I’m just not convinced he’s the player he used to be. Let’s hope he comes back strong this year though. The Rockets’ record surely isn’t helping though.

  • tophatal


    Gone are the days when you could literally say that the NBA is littered with really good centers. Shaq is on the downward side of his career . Yao simply isn’t the impact player that many had envisaged him to be and Dwight Howard ……. well the jury is still out on the guy at present !

    The younger guys now coming into the league their games aren’t yet refined enough and what we tend to see at the college level with so many of them is so one dimensional to begin with !

    tophatal 🙂

    • mceezy

      While there’s certainly no centers that are the caliber of guys like Ewing, Olajuwan, Robinson, Shaq, Kareem, etc…. the discovery I made was that there’s never really been an era that had more than 4-5 dominant true centers at any given time. I saw Biedrins convert a sky hook the other night though, and I got a little tear in my eye. It was a thing of beauty!

      • tophatal


        The irony also is that the NBA analysts complain how some of these kids once out of college their game isn’t that polished. But I look at this way if their game is essentially one dimensional to begin with and they’re not being coached in such a way where their game becomes more all round we’ll continue to see the deficiencies and a complete lack of skillset from these guys playing center.

        tophatal …. 🙂

  • tophatal


    The bare fundamentals are no longer being taught at the college level and when these kids come to the NBA they’re still a work in progress some two to three years down the line and that can’t be afforded by some teams as it’s all about the here and now when it comes to winning . Most of these kids would rather be highlight reels than having refined their games.


    tophatal …… 🙂

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