Embiid and The Big Man Impact
Embiid is looking like the clear cut #1 pick should he be cleared medically when he works out for the Cavs. My question is, how important is it to have a dominant big man as it translates to NBA titles?
Lets look at the last 10 NBA champions.
2012 and 2013 Heat: No clear cut big man that was a major contributor to the title run.
2011: Mavs: Dirk was the main cog in that title run. Tyson Chandler is listed as their center (as is Brendan Hayward) but we can agree Tyson was a huge impact on the defensive end but anything he contributed offensively was created on his own on put backs.
2009-2010 Lakers: Bynum was an impact in both title runs, but Kobe, Pau and Odom were the key contributors, IMO.
2008: Celtics: Perkins is listed a their Center and while he did contribute, KG, Pierce, Rondo and Allen were the focus.
2007 Spurs: Duncan is a PF and there was no dominant center for them.
2006 Heat: Shaq averaged 20 and 9 that year and even though Wade was the main guy, I think you have to say that a dominant center was a major contributor to the title run.
2005 Spurs: See 2007 above.
2004: Pistons: The main big men for the Pistons were the Wallace's (Ben and Rasheed). I don't consider either to be a center.
This is why I am a little bit leery to take Embiid #1 and expect him to lead a team to a title. I already hear the argument "who is saying that Embiid is going to lead a team to a title?" Well, to that I say, if you are taking a guy who is being compared to Hakeem Olajuwon I don't think it is entirely unreasonable to expect that player to be the main piece in an NBA champion (like Hakeem was).
My point is there is just no track record (based on the last 10 years) to prove that a dominant center is the path to an NBA championship.
In your first paragraph you ask the importance of dominat big men and then in your last paragraph you say the great Centers. Which one is it? If you mean bigmen then that includes PF and then your argument would be contradictory because most of the teams on your list have had good to great PF's and or C's. If you mean specifically Centers then that is different but historically having a great two way center really does help your chances of going deep into the playoffs and contending for titles. The game may be becoming more spread out and wide open but embid has the chance of becoming a dominant center that can thrive in this new style of play.
1. Bynum played a pretty big role for the lakers as their center. That's nice that in your opinion he wasn't a major contributor, but in reality he was just as important as anyone not named Kobe.
2. Ben Wallace is 100% no doubt a center. Not sure what you'd consider him if he's not.
3. If Embiid can make as good of an impact on both ends of the floor that some people think he can, you have to take him whether you think centers help you win or not.
Dwight Howard run with the magic was incredible and dominate play but the lakers had kobe the rest was history. The problem with this so many big men the past 10 years became bust you could say the same with scoring point guards
I hear what you are saying and I agree that perimter players are progressively becoming more important in the NBA and interior players are becoming less important - especially on offense. Advanced stats and rule changes explain a lot of this phenominon. However, the only team you listed where at least one big had less than a massive impact was the Heat.
2012-13 Heat - They play "small ball" using Bosh as their 5, but they are able to do that because LBJ can often guard the other team's top big. He has a history of demolishing Al Jefferson defensively, for example.
2011 Mavs - Dirk played the 3/4 and was their star. However, Tyson was one of the best 5s in the NBA that year and during that run. He was a freak defensively and super efficient--but with low touches--on O. Without Tyson, they don't win. He had a major impact on D.
2009-10 Lakers - Their 2nd and 3rd most important players were 7-footers. Their 4th most important player was a 6-9 SF. This team was huge. Kobe was the top scorer, but this team was dominant because others could not match their size. Bigs were critical for this team.
2008 Celtics - KG was one of the top bigs in the game. Yes, Perkins was listed as the 5, but everyone knows KG is really a 5 that calls himself a 4. KG was critical to this team's success and they would not have won without him. He was the biggest guy on his team and guarded the best opposing big while providing elite help D.
2005/2007 Spurs - TD. Like KG, he is a 5 that calls himself a 4. He is their post offense and is the center mass of their D. Anyone suggesting TD was not the most important part of these runs did not watch closely. Without TD, none of these championships happen.
2006 Heat - Shaq. Like many other teams on this list, the scoring punch at the end came from an elite wing, but Shaq was a necessary part of this run and still clogged the middle on D at an elite level. Shaq was already declining here, but was still a major force to be reckoned with and at least the second most important piece on this team.
2004 Pistons - Ben Wallace was a C. No doubt about it. He had minimal ability on O, but was an elite defender at the time. The scoring punch came from 1-4 on that team, but Ben was a very important part of the team for his D.
If you go further back it only becomes more C dominant as we run into Shaq in his prime, David Robinson/TD, Hakeem, etc. In reality, the only teams that won a championship without at least an elite defensive big were teams led by MJ or LBJ, the best players most of us have ever seen. Moreover, while MJ/LBJ did not have elite bigs, they did have elite wings playing next to them and other teams could not match their output in that area.
To me, bigs (at least an elite defensive big) look to be a necessary part of the equation for a championship team unless you have the best player in the world. And having a big that can create on O is icing on the cake. I'm not saying you pick Embiid ahead of Parker/Wiggins, but if you believe he will be an elite big he has to be in the conversation.
most dominant big this day are PF who 20 years ago would of been C. Big men are more versatile now so majority of the teams over the past 10 years has had at least one or the other, last one that hasn't was Bulls? I believe even though they had Rodman who is just a one way big man.
If you ever feel like doubting Tyson Chandler's value, look at the defensive stats and playoff success of the last 4 teams he has been on before and after he left the team. He was one of the NBA's most influential players for a five year stretch and was the second best player on that Mavs championship team.
Also, Duncan basically counts as a dominant center. Yeah, he plays PF, but everything he does on offense can be done from the Center slot. It seems really arbitrary to use him as evidence centers can't make an impact on championship teams.
And Ben Wallace was a Center. Maybe he wasn't dominant on offense, but he was a phenomenal defender.
And Bynum and Shaq were both obviously really important.
KG and PP only have 1 title. His offensive rebounding killed the Celtics in that last finals they faced off. I think Clevland needs Wiggins more though. Just my opinion. Bigs need the ball and Clevland has college minded guards who score and dominate the ball. Wiggins would fit better as a catch and shoot guy who can defend multiple positions. He could be plugged right in. Embid is good and I am sure its difficult to pass up that big but if he cant finish seasons Cleveland will regret it. I still like Randle as the best prospect in terms of readiness. Randle has high potential too. More than whats spoke on.
As metioned earlier a Power Forward is a "Big". Tim Duncan has been an offensive Center pretty much since Robinson retired. Also Pau gasol is 7ft he def qualifies as a "Big" same with Dirk. Lastly the only reason teams haven't been winning without a dominat center is because there really hasnt been any dominant centers. Last time I checked Duncan has 4 titles, Shaq has 4 titles
I think people assume there is a certain path to an NBA championship. There are many ways to win it, and it all comes down to talent and experience. Talent comes in many different forms and positions. When you have needs almost everywhere like the Cavs you just take the best player available and in my mind that's Embiid.
I agree with this, also everybody always wants to say it's not a big mans league anymore... and that point guards rule the NBA, but realistically when was the last time a team won an NBA championship when their clear cut best player was a PG. Magic? Isiaiah? Tony Parker would be the closest thing but I believe Tim Duncan was just as important in winning those, even if he didn't get the finals MVP.
Dirk, Pau, and KG, are three 7 footers who have won titles in the past 10 years, not to mention Tim Duncan and Shaq winning loads of titles in the past 15 seasons.
Chris Bosh is an all-star center and has two rings. Bynum was a top 5 center in his prime and has a couple of rings.
Wallace and Wallace were two bigs who can play. Or was Tayshaun Prince, their long, two-way small forward the key to that team?
Kobe and LeBron have 7 titles combined, but each one had an all-star big man to play with.
Ideally, you get a guy like Embiid AND Wiggins, but if you had to choose, I would go with the Big Man.
Recently it has been more likely to win a title with a great big man and no great wing player, than the other way around. Not since the Chicago Bulls (and they had Jordan AND Pippen).
The least likely team to win a title is one built around a high scoring, offensive weapon small forward, without a legit big man to help out. The last team to do that was the Warriors with Rick Barry. Odds are that a team with Jabari Parker and glorified scrubs will not win a title, or even get to the Finals.
Had Greg Oden been able to stay healthy (along with Brandon Roy) and guys like Eddy Curry, Yao (Robert Swift also had sick potential) devloped to their full potential, we all might have a different outlook on the impact of the traditional center in the NBA. In addition, the guys like Kaman, Bogut, Bynum, Thabeet have really brought the idea of the traditional center down a knotch. I think MoonRiver brings up a good point as the game has changed over the last 10 years or so. It used to be that centers dominated the NBA from the old school with Wilt, Russel, Moses Malone, Kareem, Hakeem, Ewing, David Robinson, Mutombo, Duncan, the to Shaq... However, since Shaq's prime, the game has really changed and become faster and more athletic with wings really dominating. In today's game it seems there's really only 1 center who can totally dominate a game - Dwight Howard. Who else out there could dominate a game who's a center? The players that come to mind are Kevin Love, Aldridge and maybe Cousins, however DeMarcus is really the only real center of the group. Aldrridge won't even call himself a center (understandably so b/c of the Portland center jinx - Oden and Bowie). Maybe Drurmond, Embid, Cousins and some guys coming change things in a few years, but for now it's clearly not a center's league anymore.
Had Greg Oden been able to stay healthy and guys like Eddy Curry, Yao (Robert Swift also had sick potential) devloped to their full potential, we all might have a different outlook on the impact of the traditional center in the NBA over the last 10 years. In addition, guys like Kaman, Bogut, Bynum, Thabeet have really brought the idea of the traditional center down a notch. I think MoonRiver brings up a good point as the game has changed over the last 10 years or so. It used to be that centers dominated the NBA from the old school with Wilt, Russel, Moses Malone, Kareem, Hakeem, Ewing, David Robinson, Mutombo, Duncan, up to Shaq's prime... However, since then, the game has really changed and become faster and more athletic with wings really dominating. In today's game it seems there's really only 1 center who can totally dominate a game - Dwight Howard. Who else out there could dominate a game who's a center? The players that come to mind are Kevin Love, Aldridge and maybe Cousins, however DeMarcus is really the only real center of the group. Aldrridge won't even call himself a center (understandably so b/c of the Portland center jinx - Oden and Bowie). Maybe Drurmond, Embid, Cousins and some guys coming out of college change things in a few years, but for now it's clearly not a center's league anymore.
ehh sorry for the dup, i'm new at this.... it won't allow me to delete - the second post was edited a bit
Every NBA team needs a few key things from their big men, or team in general. Post offense/defense, wing/guard defense, perimeter shooting (both midrange and from three), P&R defense, shot blocking ability, a go-to offensive player, a strong bench and energy players, etc.
A team, such as the 2011 Mavericks, were able to win with Tyson Chandler as their center because he brought so much defensive versatility as a center. He was an excellent shot blocker/changer, could move to guard the P&R, was a great team/position defender, etc. He has very limited offensive ability, but the energy he played with on the boards and his ability to finish lobs and close shots allowed him to get 10 ppg. A "great" big man is not a necessity, as long as you can get the traits you would expect in your bigs from other positions. The Heat, for instance, do not initiate post offense with their big men; they use LeBron and Dwyane Wade. These two players command double teams on the block, which opens up their offense due to their solid three-point shooting. However, their interior defensive ability comes mostly from Chris Bosh and Anderson. LeBron is more effective defending on the perimeter, stopping drives and playing passing lanes as a "free safety".
All in all, a "great" big man can have a huge impact on their team because they bring multiple necessary (for team success) offensive and defensive skill sets at 6'10 or above. This is very rare in today's game. Hakeem Olajuwon was able to defend almost any center or forward, score inside and out, set up teammates with his passing ability, etc. Tim Duncan helped carry the Spurs in a similar fashion for the first part of his career, however, he now thrives with his defensive prowess/ability/mobility and ability as a screen setter, rebounder, and team player. If need be, he can drop 20 points, but the other nine rotation players can take care of that due to Pop's coaching.
Good point about those 2011 Mavs. Tyson Chandler was a force. They were technically a Twin Towers team with Dirk also being a 7 footer. Shawn Marion was another big front line guy.
If a team wants to contend, I think they have more room for error if they have the dominant alpha seven foot center. All of Shaq's teams contended. Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon met in the 1994 Finals without another super star, or even another perennial all-star next to them. Dwight Howard took a team to the Finals.
With all the good point guards out there, and with 3 point shooters, it might be easier to build around a top flight center (if Embiid is indeed one). Put Embiid with a great guard like Kyrie Irving, other good options like Waiters and Bennett, then all they need would be a Kawhi Leonard type guy on the wing. ... if I were the Cavs I would go with Embiid at 1, and then DeAndre Daniels at 33 if he is still there. Good skillset, a 3 point shooter who can also dunk, rebound, and block shots. A similar skillset to Robert Horry with Daniels' junior year stats being almost IDENTICAL to Horry's sophomore year stats. Daniels also has Kawhi Leonard's measurements. He had some good tourney games, and could be a guy who really turns into a top role player in the NBA. ... Kawhi Leonard has been to the Finals already. Robert Horry has seven rings. ...history would show that a guy like that does well with a great center.
First of all in todays Nba there's a shortage of centers and none of them are dominant. So listing teams with (allegedly) so so centers that won the ring is pretty insignificant: you could as well ask "what if there was a team with a dominant center?"
Second, todays Nba is more about the skills and the things you can do than positions. Rim protection has more value than ever. Of all those teams you mentioned, all had above average (if not great) rim protectors. Miami is the only exception, and that's a testament to the historical value of their accomplishments. They made up for their lack of size with quickness, protecting the rim with their speed instead of height. But no one has ever done that before. The other teams: Dallas had Chandler, a great help defender and rim protector; Bynum in his prime was very good protecting the rim in Jackson's system; Perk has never been a great shot blocker, but he's fundamentally sound on defense and the Celtics had KG, who's been one of the best defensive players ever at his peak; Duncan may not be listed as a center on Nba 2K, but that's what he's done on defense ever since Robinson retired, he's guarded mostly centers (during those playoffs Pop has used him mostly on Dalembert, Lopez, Perkins, Adams) and he's probably the best help defender who's ever played the game, his feel for rotations is uncanny; Shaq was an imposing dude and scoring at the rim against him was never easy; both Wallace-s were great help defenders and Ben was a tremendous shot blocker.
We're seeing how big of an impact Ibaka is having against the Spurs and how different is for OKC to play with him or without him. But we can also see how tough it is to build a decent defense when your center is a liability on that end of the floor: Mike Malone is the guy anybody (except for Mark Jackson) credits for building Golden State's elite defense, but he couldn't do the same in Sacramento with DeMarcus Cousins in the middle (though he's been a bit better this year and I expect the Kings to improve a lot in their second year with the new coach). While on the other hand Golden State was ranked 3d in defensive efficiency this year even playing two very poor individual defenders as David Lee and Stephen Curry together. It's due to their defensive system of course, but that system is build on Bogut and wouldn't be possible without him (and I'm talking about Andrew Bogut, not Bill Russell). Heck, even a guy like Sam Dalembert gets a lot of money and starts only because of the 20-25 minutes he could give to make Dallas' defense look at least passable.
So if you're looking for a dominant big man basing on points per game or other individual stats or awards you may be right, but that's mostly because there are no dominant centers anymore, for a lot of reasons. The value of big men and low post presence on offense it's not that important nowadays. With the current rules post ups are not all that efficient or at least there are more efficient options on offense. But that's not the same on defense, indeed you can argue that you can't build a championship team without rim protection and a defensive presence in the paint. So, at the end of the day it has a huge impact. If that big man is not only a defensive anchor, but can also provide some offense he's just priceless.
Can you please stop calling Tim Duncan a Power Forward? He's been primarily a Center for almost 10 years
There are some pretty good centers out there. We don't have a Mount Rushmore Center today, but I think there are 10-15 good centers. There is more center depth now than in the Nineties in my opinion. Not too many stiffs starting.
You mean guys like Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, Vlade Divac, and Rik Smits are THAT much better than Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, DeAndre Jordan, and Andre Drummond? Oops, forgot about Dwight Howard. Howard has been hyped up his whole career. But, so was Patrick Ewing. Was Ewing in that class of Kareem and Wilt? No, but he was in New York so they had to talk about something...
We don't have those top flight superstar centers, but, overall, the center position is as deep as its been in years. You even have some good backup centers now like Omer Asik, Steven Adams, Kosta Koufos, and Gorgui Dieng.
You mean guys like Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, Vlade Divac, and Rik Smits are THAT much better than Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Roy Hibbert, Chris Bosh, DeAndre Jordan, and Andre Drummond?
Well as far as skills and fundamentals, no doubt they are, with the exception of Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins (who could still use some polish anyway). But Marc Gasol doesn't have much of a scorer mentality. Ewing was a tremendous offensive player. He has never won anything but he was playing in the same era of Shaq, the Dream, David Robinson and by the way there was this other guy called Michael Jordan who won 6 of the 10 championships available in the 90s. Ewing is a legit hall of famer, I'm not sure the same could be said for any of the guys listed above, except for Chris Bosh (who by the way is a center in Miami weird system, but he would play at 4 for any other team). He's not in the same class of Kareem and Wilt, but that doesn't mean much. Daugherty was very good, really skilled, such a pity injuries ended his career. Seriously, in the 90's you had at least 3 centers among the 10 best players in the league, and probably 5 of the best 20. Zo played in the 90s too. Olajuwon, Shaq, Robinson, Ewing, Zo. There's nothing like that nowadays. Also guys like Divac and Sabonis were at least as good as Marc Gasol. While today there's more depth at center (you also forgot Lopez) than in the early 2000s (when after Yao and Shaq there wasn't much else and guys like Magloire could make the all star game), the 90s were definitely better. But again, part of that is due to the fact that the game has changed a lot and centers play a smaller role on offense. And by the way the fact that centers aren't as good as they used to be and that they play smaller roles on offense doesn't mean they don't make a big impact.
Big men today have to be primarily pick and roll or face up guys... There aren't a lot of options from the post position with your back to the basket... Before the rules changed you could wait until the double team fully committed then pass out of it... Then repost and force the defense to fully commit again or you destroy them with your low post moves... You can't do that with todays NBA... Embiid is primarly a back to the basket player... So his shot attempts will not be that high because of this... We won't see him average no more than 18 points unless he starts to dominate in pick and rolls or get a deadly face up game... That or you run a risk of him shooting less than 50% and turn the ball over because of a defense collapsing... My question to you guys are... Let's say Embiid is perfectly healthy... Are you ok with picking him #1 with a stat line of 18, 10, and 2 blocks a game? Because there is no team in the playoffs with a big man that's a first option outside of Dirk and he's a face up guy...
Big men today have to be primarily pick and roll or face up guys... There aren't a lot of options from the post position with your back to the basket... Before the rules changed you could wait until the double team fully committed then pass out of it... Then repost and force the defense to fully commit again or you destroy them with your low post moves... You can't do that with todays NBA...
Embiid is primarly a back to the basket player... So his shot attempts will not be that high because of this... We won't see him average no more than 18 points unless he starts to dominate in pick and rolls or get a deadly face up game... That or you run a risk of him shooting less than 50% and turn the ball over because of a defense collapsing...
My question to you guys is this... Let's say Embiid is perfectly healthy... Are you ok with picking him #1 with a stat line of 18, 10, and 2 blocks a game? Because there is no team in the playoffs with a big man that's a first option outside of Dirk and he's a face up guy..
I'm glad you can predict statistics, I think embiid will thrive in pick and rolls and on post ups. Lamarcus Aldridge might have something to say about not being a first option in this years playoffs.
Lillard... But LaMarcus points came from jump shots, face ups
Nope, LA carried the blazers most of the playoffs, yea he was hitting a lot of jumpers and facing up but he was making moves in the post too with turn around jumpers, running hooks, and other moves.
To be fair, it's never really clear what Duncan's position is. Whether PF or C he is a dominant big man
From 1999 to 2007 you either saw Shaq or Duncan in the NBA Finals