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.
1. 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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