Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
Throughout the NBA’s history we have seen all sorts of dominant centers that have defined an era, changed the game and won multiple championships.
Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets and both Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers.
What do all these centers have in common?
They have all won multiple championships and absolutely dominated the game in their prime!
The center position is the most vital position on the floor for a basketball team as it is the one position that controls the paint and can single handedly control the pace of the game. These days basketball is a different game and we don’t see as many dominant centers as we used to, but there are still a few that have the potential to dominate in the paint and win some championships in the future.
Here is a list of the best centers in the game and their potential:
Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Yao is the total package at the center position as he can hurt you from inside and outside the paint, but with great upside comes great downside as Yao struggles to stay healthy every single season.
When Yao is in the lineup for the Houston Rockets, he can play with the best of them at the position, but he has been labeled as injury prone and if he can’t stay healthy he might not be able to lead the Rockets to an NBA title.
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Arguably the best all around center in the league today, Dwight Howard has turned the position into something different as he brings the athleticism and high flying ability of a guard to the paint.
At times Howard struggles with his shot and still needs to polish some post moves, but he is as tough to guard as any big man in the game. The Magic already have one NBA Finals appearance to their credit with Howard in the paint and I believe there will be many more before Superman decides to hang up his cape.
Shaquille O’Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers
When he was in his prime there was no center or any other player better and he has four NBA titles to prove that fact, but as he has begun to age and is obviously in the downside of his career, the Big Aristotle isn’t the force he once was in the paint.
With that being said, Shaq has been nothing more than a second or third option on the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He probably has two more years left in him, but it could mean two more title if he stays playing alongside King James in Cleveland.
Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers get a lot of negative press throughout the NBA season as they are one of the teams in the league with great young talent, but never seem to produce wins and always drop the ball at the wrong moment.
Despite being a perennial underachiever in the NBA, the Clippers do have a huge upside as they have one of the best up and coming centers in the game in Chris Kaman.
This season Kaman became an All-Star for the first time in his career and it could quite possibly be the first of many to come!
Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers
When this kid was drafted at just 17 years of age, Andrew Bynum was the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game and many people thought he would be the next great Lakers center in the NBA, but ever since becoming the starter for the Los Angeles Lakers he has been unable to play a full 82 games in the regular season.
Occasionally, when Bynum is healthy, the Lakers center looks very promising as the future face of the franchise when the Kobe Bryant era is over in Los Angeles, but with every passing season Bynum continues to get hurt and proves he is as injury prone as they come.
Andrew Bynum is still a young kid and still has a long career ahead of him, but if he can’t turn it around, I really can’t see him dominating like his predecessors have in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.