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NBA Draft: Top 10 Centers

Tue, 06/12/2012 - 7:10pm

The center position has three lottery candidates and five worthy of first round consideration. The rest of the bunch will have to differentiate themselves from their competition by standing out as either a defensive presence or offensive option. Teams looking for a second round center are generally looking for depth and reliability, not necessarily upside.

Andre DrummondAndre Drummond1. Andre Drummond 6-10 260 PF/C UConn Fr. We knew about Drummond's athletic attributes, but his most recent measurements have confirmed that he's officially related to the Hulk. Imagine 7.5 feet of arms attached to seven feet of muscle- flying through the air? Defenses, or humans in general just aren't built to defend that. Skeptics raise concerns over his raw offensive game and questionable passion, but his ceiling is simply too high for pessimism. At just 18-years old, the risk is worth the potential reward.

2. Meyers Leonard 7-1 250 C Illinois So. Leonard could end up being one of the real prizes of the draft. He made a big jump his sophomore year, illustrating a natural midrange jump shot and a soft over-the shoulder-hook. His numbers and touches were limited due to a dysfunctional team approach, but 7'1 athletes with talent and mature NBA bodies don't get judged by college statistics. He may not be ready for a regular rotational role, but his upside could justify a top ten selection.

3. Tyler Zeller 7-0 247 PF/C North Carolina Sr. Zeller's most effective offensive quality remains his instincts and feel for the rim. He can score from any position in the post, regardless of his angle. His feel, recognition and strength have allowed him to overcome some athletic limitations that cause most centers to struggle. The fact that he gets up and down the floor as if each baseline is a finish line only adds to his appeal as an NBA big man.

4. Fab Melo 7-0 255 C Syracuse So. Ironically, Melo showed his hunger to improve by dropping 30 pounds. His transformation improved his agility, making him a bigger threat on both sides of the ball. He consistently altered shots from penetrating guards, and prevented big men from scoring easy baskets. Offensively he provided his playmakers with a reliable target at the rim, and used his newly discovered mobility to clean up misses and loose balls. Though he lacks a true offensive package of skills, Melo's ability to impact a game in the paint will be an attractive asset for teams with a gentle front court.

5. Festus Ezeli 6-11 255 PF/C Vanderbilt Sr. Ezeli's role at the next level will require him to clog the lane and occupy space. And at 6'11.5 with a 7'5.5 wingspan, that shouldn't be a difficult task. He's not someone guards will look to feed the ball to in the post. But as a true center who can give and take contact thanks to Hercules-like strength and above average athleticism, he's an immediate defensive upgrade for teams with minimal rim protection.

6. Henry Sims 6-11 251 C Georgetown Sr. Sims isn't the smoothest operator, but owns a unique set of skills that could be of use in the right system. He led the Hoyas in assists, showing the vision and awareness that allows him to facilitate from the high post. And while he's not thought of as a scoring threat, he's shown deceptive quickness with his back to the basket and a soft touch at the rim. Considering he's not a dominant rebounder, it would be beneficial for Sims to show he's capable of knocking down 15-18 footers throughout workouts (which he tried to do occasionally as a senior), just to increase his potential services at the position.

7. Robert Sacre 7-0 255 C Gonzaga Sr. Though not much of an athlete, Sacre is a legit 7 feet with a strong build and soft touch. The strong build helps him earn position and get a shot off, the soft touch helps him drop it through the hole. Strength, finesse and 7-feet don't usually go unnoticed. Add solid defensive ability and there's a backup center role somewhere waiting for him to fill.

8. Justin Hamilton 7-0 260 C LSU Jr. Hamilton had a big year for LSU after transferring from Iowa State, giving the Tigers an active 6'11 body with a balanced overall skill-set. He's not dominant in one particular area, although he sports a soft touch in the post and can get up and down the floor. Teams looking for size and some front court presence could give Hamilton a look in that 45-60 range.

9. [Player Leon Radosevic] 6-10 240 PF/C Croatia 1990 Radosevic has improved his midrange game and maintains a high basketball IQ. While he combines a nice mix of size, athleticism and motor, there just isn't one thing he does great to solidify a role for him in this draft.

10. Xavier Gibson 6-10 250 PF/C Florida St. Sr. Gibson has underachieved, but measured 7 feet with 9'3 reach and a 7'3 wingspan in Portsmouth. He's shown potential however, with a solid overall skill-set and impressive shot-blocking instincts. But the fact that they came in flashes instead of stretches over a four-year college career (he's 23 years old) eliminate any first round buzz he once generated. There could still be treasure in this chest, it's just a matter if teams are willing to spend time trying to open it.

Honorable Mention: Brian Diaz 6-11 240 C Nebraska Sr., Kenny Frease 6-11 260 C Xavier Sr., Travis Hyman 7-0 250 C Bowie State Jr., Mindaugas Kupsas 6-11 PF Lithuania 1992, Yancy Gates 6-9 289 PF/C Cincinnati Sr., Peter Roberson Grambling State, Garrett Stutz 7-0 252 C Wichita St. Sr.,

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AKOO
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I think Sacre should be

I think Sacre should be before Sims but no real problems with anything else. Drummond and Leonard a clearly the two that have all-star type physical tools. They may not put it together but hey its the draft.

FUNKYBUNCH
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Drummond's upside you just

Drummond's upside you just can't deny- he's definitely 1 on this list. I think Leonard, Zeller, Melo, and Ezeli are all close. Leonard may have had the best combine, but Zeller's touch and the way he runs the floor you just can't deny either. Melo is intrigueing, especially losing that much weight. He plays physical on both ends. Ezeli is a straight beast on defense! He was key when Vandy started winning big games, including the win over Kentucky. And he has some upside too, not playing the game for that long. It will be interesting to see which one of these guys becomes the better NBA player. This is a good list IMO. If I would change anything- Yancy Gates I believe can be higher. Just got a bad rep from the fight, which I believe he grew up a little from.

river09
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I have to think Melo will

I have to think Melo will have more success in the league than Zeller.. He just has so much better tools to work with..

cyclo
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Where's Plumlee?

Miles Plumlee should be on this C list somewhere between 4-6.

6'11", 252 lbs

juice304
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Tiers

Tier 1--potential all star

Drummond & M.Leonard

Tier 2--solid starter

Zeller

Tier 3--solid backup

Ezeli, Melo

Tier 4--on a roster but barely get burn

Plumlee, Sims, Sacre

After that i don't think anybody else makes any impact or even gets drafted

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1.Peter Roberson of

1.Peter Roberson of Grambling...WoW!!!Someone finally gives him some ink..He might not get drafted by i think he can impress at summer league and get an invite to training camp..I can see him making the roster as a 10th or 11th man..He runs the floor like a guard,has a nice touch and rebounds well...

2.Justin Hamilton-Reminds me alot of Brad Miller, solid all around player,that plays with a mean streak..Funny thing about Hamilton is that i've heard alot of people say they saw LSU play this season..But dont remember seeing Hamilton....lol..

3.Travis Hyman..I saw some articles online that said the Spurs will be interested in him..He looks like a D-Leaguer to me...

4.Yancy Gates-Has that nba body and decent post game,but his attitude is a concern..

5.Kenny Frease-It might surprise some if he gets drafted,but i think he can be another Josh Harrellson....

6.Fab Melo-Some team like Houston might pick him in the lottery,if Zeller is gone..His defense is exactly what they need..

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