Criminally Underrated Centers In the NBA


In this league that has evolved to run from the outside in, it is easy to forget the centers who roam the paint. It’s so easy to get caught up in the pretty shots of Steph Curry and James Harden, that the hard work of someone like Hassan Whiteside or DeAndre Jordan often flies under the radar. It’s even worse for the big men who play their grueling game every night but never get recognized for it because they may not have the biggest name or the highest numbers. This list is to give credit to the often overlooked centers in the NBA.


Ian Mahinmi

Ian Mahinmi has been in the league for seven seasons.  In that time he has never averaged more than 18 minutes of playing time per game, so no one really expected much more from the Indiana Pacers’ backup. After the offseason trade of longtime starter and recent underperformer Roy Hibbert to the Lakers for Jordan Hill, and the drafting of Myles Turner, those predictions looked to be valid. They were proven wrong as the rookie Turner was placed at the vacant power forward and Mahinmi was given the nod to start at the five. Since then, he’s started 71 games, averaging a nice stat line of 9 points, 7 rebounds, an assist and a block per game.  That is worthy of note for this bruiser.


Bismack Biyombo

Biyombo, like Mahinmi, had limited minutes in his final seasons with the Charlotte Hornets and his production never really reached its potential. His role changed to a rather large one off of the bench and he took to it with gusto. He embraced the Toronto fans and became the ultimate spark plug for that Raptor’s second unit. His points per game averaged out at a tad over 5 per contest, but his production came largely from his rebounding and defense. Having someone to back up your starter is a boost that could make a huge difference for any team.


Nikola Vucevic

In my opinion the most underrated center resides in the lesser talked about Florida based team. In the wake of Dwight Howard’s departure, another big man took the mantle and ran with it. Nikola Vucevic made adjustments to his game to become a more complete player this season. He played less games than last year due to nagging injuries, but when he did play he showed that he was just as good as before. He has also shown that he hasn’t just been working to keep his postgame fresh, but has also been steadily improving his defense. If he can keep improving like this he might become a household name for the young Magic team.


Every team relies on their big men for rebounding and post production. Without them, the paint remains unprotected and opposing guards would run rampant on cuts to the hoop. If a big man can do what a team requires of him, it helps the rest of the team spread the floor and open up the shooters to make those long distance bombs. Moral of the story is never overlook the bruisers who are banging in the paint.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron is a staff writer and the Co-Founder of NBALEAD. He has been following the NBA for over 15 years. Graduated from Purdue University.

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