10 best centers in the NBA: Joel Embiid overtakes Nikola Jokic in battle for best big man in basketball

Some might say the big man is a dying breed in the NBA. Try telling that to Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, two of the 10 best centers in the NBA today who have won the past three MVP awards.

Here we dive into that exact topic, who are the 10 best centers in the NBA? Find out down below.

Honorable mentions

  • Nikola Vucevic – Chicago Bulls
  • Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
  • Clint Capela – Atlanta Hawks
  • Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers

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10. Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans

There are a number of players who could be named here for the 10th spot in our list of the best centers in the NBA. But Jonas Valanciunas has been putting up impressive numbers in the league since 2012-13 when he was the fifth pick for the Toronto Raptors. He’s averaged a double-double for the past four seasons and, in our eyes, should be considered one of the best NBA centers today.

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9. Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s hard to miss Jarrett Allen on the basketball court. Though he measures in at 6-foot-11, Allen’s afro makes him appear much taller. More importantly, Allen has steadily improved in each of his six NBA seasons, becoming a first-time All-Star while playing a key role on a deeply talented Cleveland Cavaliers team positioned to do damage for years to come.

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8. Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards

Dubbed The Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis is a unique beast. Standing 7-foot-3, even though he’s never quite led the NBA in blocks per game, some players have suggested he’s the toughest rim protector to score on in basketball. What makes him special is the added ability to also average 19.6 PPG, as he’s done in his career, while shooting 35% from distance. Yeah, Porzingis is one of basketball’s best bigs in the Association.

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7. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

The No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton can usually be counted on for a double-double, but he hasn’t matched Luka Doncic and Trae Young, the other two superbly talented top-five picks from that class. Still, Ayton plays an integral role on a Phoenix Suns squad that reached the NBA Finals in 2021 and could be a top threat during the 2023 playoffs as well.

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6. Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves

Of course, you can’t have a list of the best centers in the NBA without mentioning Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. The one known as The Stifle Tower is an intimidating presence and likely has earned some consideration as one of the top 10 centers of all time defensively. How can he pair with Karl-Anthony Towns on the low block? We haven’t seen them click in limited action thus far, but theoretically, Gobert’s game should work well with the offensive savant.

5. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Matching his nickname, Bam has a lot of explosiveness and power in his game, playing much bigger than his 6-foot-9 frame suggests. A three-time member of the NBA All-Defensive team, Adebayo forms a potent duo with Jimmy Butler and is certainly one of basketball’s best centers today.

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4. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Commonly referred to as the best shooting big in the NBA, Karl-Anthony Towns has a special skill set. One of the biggest knocks on KAT has been a lack of defense and an inability to win a playoff series. Either way, Towns is among the best centers in the NBA.

Since he rarely misses games and has such a knack for scoring, Towns could someday be among the top centers of all time from an efficiency standpoint. But if he can’t find some playoff success, KAT could largely be forgotten about.

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3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Even though Anthony Davis may not prefer playing center, he’s one of the best in the NBA. Despite being 6-foot-10, Davis has a 7-foot-6 wingspan which helps The Brow be an intimidating force on the court, where he averages over two blocks per game in his career. Not only that, Davis averages 24 points per game while pulling down over ten rebounds per contest. He’s incredibly gifted and certainly a top-three NBA center.

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2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

10 best centers in the NBA: Joel Embiid overtakes Nikola Jokic in battle for best big man in basketball
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a more all-around skilled center right now than Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Since being selected in the second round in 2014, The Joker has developed into a triple-double machine. He’s messed around with a triple-double 105 times, which ranks sixth all-time in NBA history.

The next time you hear someone saying teams shouldn’t build around a center, kindly remind them who the MVP of the last three seasons was. Having won two himself, Jokic lands near the top of Sportsnaut’s list of best centers in the NBA after winning his first league championship. If he can have a long, productive career, Jokic might even be able to become one of the greatest centers in basketball history.

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1. Joel Embiid is No. 1 on the list of best centers in the NBA

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

As a four-time member of the All-NBA team, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is a one-man wrecking crew. The Process is the main reason why the Sixers are annually in playoff contention, thanks to his dominant defensive skills and scoring prowess. There’s no question, Embiid deserves a spot near the top of any best centers in basketball rankings. With his drive, Embiid could become one of the top centers in NBA history.

Embiid finally won his first MVP after finishing as a finalist in seasons past, leading the NBA with 33.1 points per game while also pulling down 10.2 rebounds per game. But Embiid also helped the 76ers finish with the third-best defense in the NBA, showing he’s much more than just a scorer. This is why Embiid is, in our eyes, the best center in the NBA today.

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This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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