Is The True NBA Center Becoming Extinct


In the NBA’s long and progressive history there has always been great centers. In the early stages of the NBA we had greats like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell who strictly dominated in their own unique and inspirational ways. After the early years of the NBA we continued to see fantastic big men influence the game. Players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal all continued the classic dominance of the center position. From these several great centers, including ones unmentioned, we have learned that being an impactful center is about several things. A great center impacts his team greatly with his huge offensive and defensive presence. Most great centers could score at will, intimidate other players, and could not physically be stopped by others. But now the NBA has become a game that relies more on shooting. Some NBA teams have adopted the “Small Ball” method which does not allow the center to be near as impactful due to the inclined importance of the three-point line thanks to great shooters like Stephen Curry.

With so many teams attempting to adapt and create a team like the Golden State Warriors currently have we now only see a few centers that still shine in today’s NBA. DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers recently said “(Centers will) never be extinct…the league is getting more guard oriented, but there are still a lot of big guys kicking ass.” There are three main centers in the league today that can play great on both sides of the court. Deandre Jordan himself, Andre Drummond, and DeMarcus Cousins.

DeAndre Jordan:

DeAndre Jordan averaged 12.7 PPG 13.8 RPG 2.3 BPG and 1.2 APG on 70.3 FG%. With DeAndre scoring almost every time he attempts a shot, averaging a double-double, being a member of the All-Defensive First Team, and a member of the All-NBA First Team there is no denying that he is a great big-man.

Andre Drummond:

Andre Drummond averaged 16.2 PPG 14.8 RPG and 1.6 BPG on 52.1 FG%. Andre Drummond was in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game and lead the league in RPG. That shows his consistency and talent as an NBA center.

DeMarcus Cousins:

DeMarcus Cousins averaged a fantastic 26.9 PPG 11.5 RPG 3.3 APG 1.6 SPG and 1.4 BPG on 45.1 FG%. DeMarcus Cousins’ offensive skills are better than any center’s in the NBA today and his 26.9 PPG average makes that evident. DeMarcus Cousins was also an NBA All-Star and also a member of the All-NBA Second Team this season.

We can compare these three center’s averages to great centers in the past but DeMarcus Cousins compared to Hakeem Olajuwon is the most eye-opening and shocking.

DeMarcus Cousins                                      Hakeem Olajuwon (MVP Season)

26.9 PPG                                                                     27.3 PPG

11.5 RPG                                                                      11.9 RPG

3.3 APG                                                                       3.6 APG

1.4 BPG                                                                        3.7 BPG

1.6 SPG                                                                        1.6 SPG

DeMarcus Cousins’ stats are fairly even to Hakeem Olajuwon’s (One of the greatest centers of All-Time) MVP season. This proves that centers are not becoming extinct, but instead that guards are becoming so fantastic and game-changing that great centers are overshadowed.

About Emanuel Godina

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