Top 50 Centers
1. Wilt Chamberlain
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
3. Bill Russell
4. Shaquille O'Neal
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
6. George Mikan
7. Moses Malone
8. David Robinson
9. Willis Reed
10. Nate Thurmond
11. Wes Unseld
12. Patrick Ewing
13. Bob McAdoo
14. Dave Cowens
15. Bob Lanier
16. Walt Bellamy
17. Bill Walton
18. Alonzo Mourning
19. Robert Parish
20. Dan Issel
21. Dwight Howard
22. Dikembe Mutombo
23. Neil Johnston
24. Artis Gilmore
25. Yao Ming
26. Jack Sikma
27. Bill Laimbeer
28. "Easy" Ed Macauley
29. Brad Daugherty
30. Ralph Sampson
31. Ben Wallace
32. Rik Smits
33. Zydrunas Illgauskas
34. Elmore Smith
35. Vlade Divac
36. Arvydas Sabonis
37. Swen Nater
38. Mark Eaton
39. Bill Cartwright
40. Mychal Thompson
41. Zelmo Beaty
42. James Edwards
43. Rony Seikaly
44. Sam Perkins
45. Red Kerr
46. Tyson Chandler
47. Darryl Dawkins
48. Brad Miller
49. Theo Ratliff
50. Sam Bowie
Bob Pettit ?
Bob petit was a power forward
Mount Mutombo seems a bit low and Sabonis if you look at his entire career has to be in the top 25 at least IMO.
For his NBA career Arvydas averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds which are very solid but had only around 5,600 points and 3,400 rebounds. So based on mostly his NBA career his position on this list sounds about right. In comparison to a guy lower on the list, James Edwards had nearly 3 times as many points all time and averaged slightly more points (12.7) with fewer rebounds (5.1). Edwards had some fairly high scoring years (some 15 point and 16 ppg years) and was a key component on the two Pistons Bad Boys teams then picked up another ring on the 72-win Bulls championship team. In 1989-1990 he averaged 14.5 points a game on the second Pistons title team at the age of 34. The next year he averaged 13.6 points.
In Bill Cartwright's first two years in the league he averaged over 20 points per game and was named to the all-rookie team and was an all-star his first year. He averaged 17 points in two other seasons (and around 8 rebounds). Then he started at center on three straight Bulls title teams winning his last title in 1993 at the age of 35. His career averages of 13.2 points and 6.3 rebounds compare favorably to Sabonis and James Edwards.
Sabonis didn't spend enough time in the NBA to rank higher. If he had played his entire career in the NBA he would have easily been a top 20 center. But, there are a lot of 'if's' on this list such as a few of the guys like Artis Gilmore spent some great years in the ABA. Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson would have been ranked higher had they not had injuries hinder their careers.
Pretty good list. I would definitly make room for Mel Daniels, Joe Barry Carrol and Spencer Haywood (at least if you consider Haywood a center and not a power forward).
O.P., you said top 50 centers. Not top 50 centers of NBA. Need to be more clear on what you mean. Based on what your thread states, Sabonis should should be FAR higher. Crazy athletic,HUGE, best passing big man of all time, defensive power house(even as post prime Trailblazer),and could bang th three ball at a good clip. Honestly, if we wer talking skill alone, I gotta think Sabonis is top 10. Not hting on where you put him in your top 50, just think you need to be more clear on your intentions of the thread.
The thing is, how do you compare guys who should have been ranked higher (Walton, Sampson) but weren't due to injuries, and also guys in the ABA?
Yes, I should have stated that this was a ranking of NBA centers. If this list was based on pure talent I think Sabonis would be somewhere between 8-15. His NBA stats were solid, but his injuries had already slowed him down by then.
Other guys: I never saw Joe Barry Carrol play, but he was rumored to have been given the nickname "Joe Barely Cares" so maybe he just put up solid stats on bad teams. Not something I was looking for for this list. That's one reason I have Bill Cartwright relatively high. He put up some great stats early and went to an all-star game then he won 3 titles as a starting center as a solid defender/dirty work guy who could also get a few rebounds and hit some shots. In the 1991 he beat a young Vlade Divac in the Finals. In most years to get out of the East, Cartwright had to go up against Patrick Ewing, Brad Daugherty, Bill Laimbeer/James Edwards, and Rony Seikaly. In 1992 he matched up against the late Kevin Duckworth who had a couple of all-star appearances.
... I have heard of the name Mel Daniels, and I think he had most of his success in the ABA, with the Pacers I think. ... I guess I consider Spencer Haywood for of a power forward, even though he may have played some center. I looked at Zelmo Beaty and Red Kerr for this list and they had some good years stat-wise so I included them in this list. Of the modern day centers you could probably look at Andrew Bynum and Andrew Bogut but they might need some more years in the league to get recognized more.
When I made this list I looked at Zydrunas Illgauskas, Rik Smits, Vlade Divac, and Arvydas Sabonis as foreign centers who had very nice NBA careers. Smits had the longevity, was an all-star, a great weapon on offense, and played in the NBA Finals. Big Z had a very good career, longevity, and some all-star games but he had some injuries that took a toll. He started in the 2007 Finals which I give him credit for. He was a decent contributor on last year's Heat team which also helps his case a little bit.
Divac is slightly behind Big Z because I think Big Z was more of a borderline all-star caliber (and all-star caliber) player for more years. Divac was an all-rookie team member, an all-star, and a starter on the 1991 Lakers team that lost in the Finals to the Bulls. He had a great offensive package, was a good passer, solid rebounder, could block some shots, and draw charges.
Sabonis played well in his NBA seasons, but the question is obviously "what might have been?" I have him just behind Divac because Divac had a longer NBA career and his effectiveness late in his career was very comparable. I am interested to know if Sabonis and Divac ever matched up against each other in Europe. I wonder who was more effective...
I understand all that, just that a guy like Sabonis may not have been in the NBA, he did in fact pay against NBA players and dominated them pre NBA. I get where your coming from, decent list otherwise, just stating it was a misleading thread.
IMO Kareem should be #1 Russell #2 and Wilt #3 Hakeem #4 Shaq #5, but granted I didn't watch them all play so it's only based off what I've read and old videos.
I'll have Daugherty ahead of Laimbeer..
You're right Sampson was hurt by injuries..He was on the path to becoming a Hall of Famer....
But Bowie,Tyson Chandler,Nater,Ratliffe and Brad Miller top 50 all-time?
I didnt like Eaton's style of play..But he was unorthodox and clumsy,but his size made guys thought 1st, before going into the lane...He took up so much space in the post...lol
how Wilt Chamberlain could be first if he a loser?
Nice list, but Divac should be higher than Ming and Ilgauskaus, both stats wise and overall career.
where is marcus camby? he should be in the late 20s or 30s..
If you are going to put Ratliff and Bowie on this list, you gotta have Bynum and Bougt, and Noah will eventually join this list, same with Perkins. And I have very high hopes for DeMarcus Cousins, I expect him to join the top 15 when all is said and done.
Thanks for the feedback, Memphis Madness. When you listed the top 50 centres ( we spell it diffrently here in the UK), I looked at their whole careers so that was why I would have had Sabonis higher than you put him as he was already 31 when he joined the NBA.
Also I feel that Marcus Camby has to be in there perhaps ahead of Tyson Chandler but everyone has their own opinions.
Your list is not horrible, but what do you use as a resource? You seem to have listed people as Centers that are usually not classified as such. What was your list based on, just NBA careers? If you do not use it already, go to basketball-reference.com. You have been around for quite a while, and I think you could use a lot more research. You should give a reason for why they are listed in such a way.
Here are guys who are underrated on your list, at least in my opinion, and in the opinion of many basketball analysts:
- Bill Walton: Yes, his career was short and injury riddled. He only played 482 games over 10 years. But, what many people seem to leave out, is that in his prime, the guy was dominant. I tell people, for two years, Bill Walton may well have been the best basketball player in the world. He was a player who literally did not have to score to dominate, and he raised the level of play of his teammates exceptionally. He lead the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA championship, the first ever team to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the series. That next season, the team went 50-8 with Walton in the line-up, and he won the MVP. Many feel the Blazers probably would have won the championship had he been healthy. Also, he was a crucial piece on the Celtics championship in 1986, winning the 6th man of the year award. Walton also might have been one of the best passing big men in history, he, Divac, Sabonis and Wes Unseld all stand out in that skill. Now, I do not think he is severely underrated on this list, but there are players who definitely were not as good as Bill was during his prime, not to mention some of whom may not have been real Centers (Bob McAdoo is much more of a PF, even if he is listed as a C on some website).
- Dwight Howard: The guy may somehow be the 21st right now, but he is moving the heck up this list. There are Centers ranked in front of him who probably have not accomplished what Dwight has up to this point in his career, nor were even close to as dominant, particularly on the defensive end.
- Yao Ming: He is incredibly accomplished and was amazingly skilled. Truly, I believe he is definitely deserving of being ranked higher than the 25th best Center of whatever your rankings are based on.
- Vlade Divac: Yes, he is remembered as a "flopper", and he may never have won a ring, but this guy could ball. He was an amazing passer, Kahn wishes Darko was half of the passer this guy was.
- Arvydas Sabonis: He might have been ahead of everyone I just listed had he played earlier. Even so, the guys NBA career was pretty solid, and he more than likely would have eaten many of the people listed in front of him alive.
- Walt Bellamy: Yes, the guys stats are damn impressive. 19.4 and 13.2 seem like he would be challenging Dwight Howard for best center in the league. However, the guy was a 4 Time All-Star, and his career was all down hill from his rookie year. He had one of the better statistical rookie years in NBA history, 31.6 and 19. But, lets put this in perspective. The guy won dick all. He was putting up huge numbers on losing teams, which to me is the polar opposite of being deserved to be ranked higher than big time winners. Realize that monster rebounding numbers back in the day were due to incredibly poor shooting by todays standards. There were more rebounds to be had, and it was not because guys like Bells were defensive dynamos. Maybe you might want to examine the stats a little closer to see how impressive they really were.
- Bob McAdoo, Dan Issel and Ed Macauley: All guys I would consider to be PF's rather than Centers. You can list them as Centers I suppose, but I think it might change their real value. Macauley, for one, was 6'8 and 185, and he never averaged 10 boards per game once during his career. This, remember, in times where guys were averaging WAY more.
- Elmore Smith: The guy blocked a lot of shots. He has the single game NBA shot blocking record with 17, averaged 4.9 per game. Still, the guy played in 13 play-off games and never made an All-Star team. What merits him being ranked ahead of Divac and Sabonis? Much less Red Kerr, who won a championship and had very similar statistical output.
- Swen Nater: He was a much better ABA player than NBA player. But, even if you take it all into account, the guy was putting up major numbers on WACK teams. He played all of his NBA play-off games as a back-up with the Lakers, a team he was the 10th man for. He averaged 0.6 bpg for his career, and while the statistics may look pleasing, I think the odds are, a number of players ranked behind him would have had a banner day on Nater.
I really feel you could have put more into this list, with reasoning and research. Hopefully you go back to the drawing board and look at things maybe a little more closely.
Although he might be the ugliest player of all time, Patrick Ewing is absolutely a top 10 center.
im sorry but i cant take 1950 and 1960 centers seriously
To rank the greatest centers of all time, which is a difficult task, it is super essential to stay true to how you value any player's overall career. How do you value the following attributes:
Longevity -- definitely important, but can't be the be all and end all. If you truly believe that Kareem is the greatest center of all time, its probably because you value longevity above everything else. Scoring 40000 points means that you played for a really really long time. It doesn't define your effectiveness during your career. He had a great career, as did Pete Rose, the all time hits leader, but longevity can only be worth so much while evaluating the entire body work.
Championships -- Robert Horry is not the greatest forward of all time, so therefore being a winner can't be everything. I would say that winning championships enhances individual accomplishments. Bill Russell is the greatest winner in team sports history, but does that make him the greatest player at his position? Look at his individual body of work, then give him a serious bonus for the winning and other intangibles that he brought to the table.
Dominance -- Chamberlain and Shaq were totally unguardable. Does that make either of them the greatest? You might be able to make a strong argument.
Era -- If you're going to be the best, you definitely have to be the best in your era. For all the Olajuwon worshippers, Knicks and Spurs fans would tell you that Ewing and Robinson did as much for their teams as Olajuwon did for his. Of the 3, Olajuwon is my pick, but not by a landslide.
So, what's the verdict? Its so difficult. For me, when I look at the overall body of work, Bill Russell brought winning to his team without being dominant on the offensive end of the floor. He epidomizes the phrase "Defense wins Championships". I feel that at the end of the day, his body of works supersedes, Chamberlain's and Abdul-Jabbar's accomplishments, and Shaq's overall dominace.
This is how I see it:
1 -- Russell
2 -- Chamberlain
3 -- O'Neal
4 -- Abdul-Jabbar
5 -- Olajuwon
6 -- Robinson
7 -- Malone
8 -- Ewing
9 -- Mikan
10 -- Reed
I hear ya but personally I think Russell and his 11 championships are a bit misleading if you look at them by today's standards. He won 9 of those championships in a league with eight or nine total teams. And the other two titles were in seasons with twelve and fourteen teams. It's just simple math; it's much easier to win a championship in a nine team league than the thirty team league of today. As far as I'm considered it's just as impressive for Kareem to have won 6 titles.
For those who argue that Wilt wasn't a winner I just have this to say; he was the cornerstone of two championship teams! And not only did those teams (the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers and 1972 Lakers) win the title they were widely considered the two greatest teams ever until the Bulls teams of the late 90's. You don't have to win 11 titles to be considered a winner (a fact that I'm sure Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki are glad of).
If George Mikan is so high I feel like Bob Kurland deserves at least a mention as well. When Mikan was dominant the NBA was in its infancy and was almost amateurish in so many ways that several of the best basketball players in the country didn't even bother to play in the league. I mean Bob Cousy almost chose to be a driving instructor for women instead of playing pro basketball. The 7 foot Kurland was considered Mikan's equal by many of his contemporaries. Kurland led Oklahoma State to back to back championships in 1945 and 1946 and then played center for Team USA that captured gold at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games.
Well I suppose It's only fair if I throw my top ten in here as well just so I'm up for equal criticism.
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Bill Russell
4. Shaquille O'Neal
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
6. Moses Malone
7. David Robinson
8. Patrick Ewing
9. George Mikan
10. This undersized center used technique and desire to carve out a terrific career in the NBA. He won two championships in the 1970s as the go to guy on his team, was named to 7 All-Star games and won an MVP and a Rookie Of The Year award as well. He performed at both ends of the court, being named to the All-Defensive First Team as well.
Alright this is a cop out on my behalf; I couldn't choose between Dave Cowens and Willis Reed since both of them have almost identical accomplishments.
true... but bill russell played with other really good players
but like i said... i cant take big men from the 60's and 70's serioulsy
russell was 6'9'' 220 i think?
he wouldnt even near be as dominant i think in todays nba....
can u imagine Dwight howard in 1963 playing in the nba?
he would average like idk how points.. but more than 50
so i dont get how bill russell can be the greatest center of all time or power foward w.e.
Its a comparison that's not even worth making. Training, nutrition, competition; its all way different today. If Dwight Howard played in the 60's, he would not have the same game that he has today. Whether or not he'd be as effective as Russell is impossible to predict. The only thing that is possible is to evaluate their body of work during their respective careers. If you choose to ignore the play of the big men during the earlier eras, I feel like that's a huge slap in the face to the history of the game. Just my opinion though, nothing personal
yeah i see what ur saying^^
i mean russell is of course a legend... a winner in every sense of the word...
Its a great debate to have, but like I said, its only worth having if you can stay true to how you evaluate any player. Everypne rates players differently, but you gotta be consistent with your own system. For me, Russell is the greatest player ever not named Jordan.
Kareem, Shaq, Wilt, Russell, and Hakeem.
You can seperate those 5 in any order you want, and no one will complain, but these are definatly the top 5, with Ewing on the outside looking in.
Shaq is indeed the most unstoppable Center to ever play the game. I believe that all of the Centers near the top would have been amazing in any era, but none could have messed with THE Big Fella. There is a reason that players Shaq's size have not grown on trees, and their have been players bigger, maybe even stronger than Shaq. However, none have had his combination of size, strength and athleticism that allowed him to run through opponents at an incredible rate.
See, I believe that the top 5 is indeed Shaq, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon. Each has a record that is truly incredible, in fact, Shaq might be the only one who does not. But, what I will say is, Shaq had an efficiency, even with his awful FT shooting being involved, that gave him the ability to raise teams to levels I do not believe others could. I do not even think Wilt, nor Kareem, destroyed their greatest counterparts at the rate Shaq did. Shaq and Wilt might have been comparable, but I believe that Shaq indeed would have been even more difficult to stop in that era than Wilt.
Put any 5 of those players in any era, they all dominate, I have little doubt in my mind. Bill Russell, to me, is the consummate winner in all of history, and his career is unmatched as far as having impact on championship teams. His leadership, to me, is what makes Bill Russell incredibly special. With that being said, I truly believe that Shaq would have been Russell's greatest challenge. With Shaq, anything would be possible, any team Shaq would have been on would have been a contender, that is what happened throughout a majority of his career.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is so great, he was an incredibly special player as well, and it is indeed possible that Kareem's career accomplishments are greater than any achieved. It is so hard for me to rank him 4th All-Time, but I just see the other 3 players being greater in individual accomplishment, at least in my eyes. I respect the way Bill Russell won, and feel he conducted a brilliant orchestra. Meanwhile, Chamberlain and Shaq, in my mind, were indeed even more dominant than Kareem during their given time. Kareem's longevity is amazing, and he did indeed win 6 MVP awards, made 18 All-Star Games and 38,387 points has been a long standing record. Even with all of that, even with the most unstoppable shot in NBA history, I feel that the players I have in front of him were even more dominant overall. It is hard to know what ranking system is truly the best, due to the difference between eras and circumstances, but I feel that right now, I would rank the top 5 Centers of All-Time being O'Neal, Russell, Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar and Olajuwon, in that order.
The top 5 and maybe stretching down a few places is never really in doubt in anyone's list the interest is when you get past about 10th place and you maybe think what an injury free Yao or Lonzo may have done or what say Dwight can go onto do.