NBA Report: The Centerpiece

6

Words by Phlip

If I were exercising any level of foresight on this, I would have written this post first, or at least immediately after deciding to make a series of it.
I say that only because the league has so few centers worth mentioning these days. Look at the ones that made this year’s All-Star game:

• Dwight Howard
• Andrew Bynum
• Marc Gasol
• Roy Hibbert

Consider the fact that Gasol is not even the best player in his own family, and I cannot HONESTLY say that I know what Roy Hibbert’s strong points are by way of anything other than the internet. This saddens me.

It’s not for nothing, either. Centers like Andrew Bogut, the (now-defunct) Yao Ming and (next-defunct) Greg Oden were to be the next big things as classic back-to-the-basket centers in the league, but these days when the “best center” conversation commences, the ONLY two names that come up are Bynum and Howard, and not for nothing either.

Around the league, the still not dead Spurs unexplainably employ a 6’7” Center but a 7’1” Power Forward and teams like the Wizards and Clippers, for examples, are starting hyper-athletic centers who seem to only be there for their size in JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan. Throughout the rest of the league, the centers of our fathers’ league in Bill Russell, Wilt, Kareem and Robert Parrish; and of our own in Hakeem, Shaq, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing are gone, and the Lopez Twins, Andersen Varejao (the trio perhaps representative of the Terwilliger family in the NBA) are splitting minutes with the likes of Johan Petro, Marcin Gortat and Semih Erden, respectively. Right, I heard you ALL ask yourself “who?” at the mention of those names.

Also around the league, the Bulls are starting a sized-for-Power Forward Joakim Noah who is effective at Center because of his energy, the Celtics are employing a San Antonio approach with KG at Center most nights but refusing to be called one and most other teams content to start either the biggest Power Forward they can or employing someone who is clearly on their way to retirement. To that ends hilariously enough; in lieu of a Greg Oden (who has less effective knees than my 7-month-old daughter), Marcus Camby starts in front of Kurt Thomas in Portland. Denver alternately starts a Brazilian who goes by one name, or a guy whose name is a verb for being viciously dunked on, and their first backup is a guy who sat out two years for pissing hot for meth on a drug test.

If only Shaquille had remained committed to conditioning, he could STILL be a dominant Center in the NBA despite turning 40 on Tuesday. Hakeem Olajuwon is the go-to for players of all sizes to be coached up on their post games, he seems to have taken 1-3 into his home in Houston for each of the last three summers to do so. One can do that when they’re not specifically tied down by a specific team. In so much, I would also be willing to bet that HE could come in and make some noise, even at his age. I would say the same for David Robinson too, who appears to be staying in shape quite nicely as well.

If Point Guards and Power Forwards are ubiquitous in the league nowadays while Small Forwards are simply well stocked and Shooting Guards are becoming a lost art then we can go ahead and begin mourning the death of the NBA Center as we knew it.

I would end this post with a eulogy, but like with any of these as discussed, the position will make a natural return sometime in the not-too-distant future, they always do.

Words by Phlip
@CallMePhlip
callmephlip.tumblr.com

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6 comments on “NBA Report: The Centerpiece

  1. Nagan says:

    another great write up!
    aww aussie draft picks (dunno if kyrie irving counts as one even though he was born in BURN city) Bogut hasn’t become the superstar us aussies longed for. Luc longley was probably the aussie with the most success. Basketball isn’t that big here now, unfortunate coz it was my “other” sport before i got heavy into MMA

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  2. markdub7 says:

    The funeral dirge of the center began w/the European-style offense that infiltrated the league, encouraging swifter big men to not just hover near the basket and/or bang, but to run the floor w/the guards and small forwards. Cats like Deandre Jordan and JaVale McGee, who would have been power forwards in the Shaq/Hakeem era, have propered in those kinds of offenses as “centers”. Dwight Howard is over-rated b/c he simply doesn’t have very many guys who can bang with him in the paint.

    Oh yeah…Marc Gasol might not be the best player in his family, but he’s definitely the best center in his family. Pau doesn’t wanna bang in that post, while Marc is all-too willing. I LIKE what Marc Gasol brings for Memphis

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    • Phlip says:

      I agree with you, Marc is definitely the better center in his family, if only for his willingness to bang and be hit.
      If Pau were willing, with his footwork and ability to stretch the floor with his shot, hands/passing/vision, could be DANGEROUS if only he was up to the physical rigors of playing center. The SportsCenter top 10 has ruined the NBA center, no longer is it good enough to be the anchor on your team to get those Ws, you MUST be on television banging a dunk in on 7 people with outstretched arms.

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      • markdub7 says:

        The SportsCenter top 10 has ruined the NBA center, no longer is it good enough to be the anchor on your team to get those Ws, you MUST be on television banging a dunk in on 7 people with outstretched arms.

        ^^^ This. EXACTLY why the monster in the middle mindset that centers used to have and used to be is dead.

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  3. DV says:

    Im just waiting on the rise of the point-center. It will eventually happen. Technically Magic was the first. Odom is another. I agree with you on Shaq tho. If only he maintained his Miami debut weight he’d still be playing. Guys like Parrish, Moses Malone and Kareem where able to play for so long because they managed to keep the weight off for most if not all of they career. SIDENOTE: Have you seen Robinsons cranium? That has got to be illegal somewhere. He may be the only guy able to box out just by the thought alone.

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    • Tony Grands says:

      I think Shaq’s body [||] was finito, no matter the weight. Look at his career, how physical he was, he big he is, how old he is. Even with weight management, that’s still a huge guy. Ask his knees. Imagine how much of a toll hack-a-Shaq was on him before they started changing rules.

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