An almost comprehensive and only marginally biased breakdown of every starting center in the NBA

January 12, 2012

When he isn't asking for a trade, he is The Best

By Jack Maidment

Greg Stiemsma is currently the starting center for the Boston Celtics.

If that is not a good enough reason to examine the state of the center position in the NBA right now, I don’t know what is, so here is a breakdown of the 30 brave souls who are starting down low this season.

Safe to say this could get interesting.

STUDS. There are two and only two and one is significantly better and more reliable than the other. Simply put, Dwight Howard is far and away the best big man in the NBA. Then there is Andrew Bynum who, when his knees aren’t on vacation, is a monster. Consistently. These are the only truly elite centers in the NBA right now. Good start.

GOOD, COULD BE GREAT. Andrew Bogut. Before his elbow almost fell off, the Australian was on his way to becoming a very good and almost great player. He rebounds, he scores, he cares. What’s not to love?

Even though I know he will make me regret it, DeMarcus Cousins also makes this tier. Hear me out. When he isn’t being a petulant teenager he is really good. I’m not sure he will figure it out in Sacramento but soon enough I believe he will. He is too talented and too big not to.

NEVER GOING TO BE STARS BUT VALUABLE. This group is the most diverse and ranges from very valuable to better-than-solid. All of them have issues which prevent them being ranked higher. But they all do really good things for their teams. They include: Tyson Chandler (see Championship, Dallas), Kendrick Perkins (see Defense, Scowl), Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol (almost made the next level), Al Jefferson.

TABLE GUYS. They giveth and they taketh away. Usually excel at one thing, struggle elsewhere. But ultimately valuable in some way: Nene, Andereson Varejao, Chris Kaman, Joel Anthony, Brook Lopez (scores, but I like my centers to rebound – I’m old fashioned), Marcus Camby.

UP AND COMERS. Could go either way. Will probably end up as either table guys or NGTBSBV guys. Greg Monroe, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee (Just. He should be putting it together by now)

GUYS THAT MAKE YOU SAY URGGGGH, YEAH, HE’S OKAY. Roy Hibbert, Marcin Gortat. Enough said.

TEAR JERKERS. Players who make you cry when you see them hit the floor for the tip. Usually overpaid. More frustrating than anything else. Brendan Haywood, Kwame Brown, Samuel Dalembert, Darko Milicic.

NOT CENTERS AND PROBABLY MUTANTS. Harsh, but probably fair. Andrea Bargnani because he is 7ft tall and had three rebounds last year (look it up), DeJaun Blair because I’m pretty sure I read he has no knees.

WHO? Greg Stiemsma. Byron Mullens. Spencer Hawes (didn’t know about Spencer ‘I work out with Shawn Kemp’ Hawes, so he landed here. Apologies). If anyone can tell me where these guys played college ball, that would be great. Thanks.

That’s your 30.

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Toronto Raptor’s offensive prowess enough to keep Chris Bosh in Canada?

November 13, 2009

bosh1by Jack Maidment

Best scoring teams in the NBA this year. Phoenix Suns. Golden State Warriors. Toronto Raptors.

Wait.

The Raptors? As unlikely as it may seem, the Canadians rank third overall in points scored this season.

108.12 points per is pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider that the franchise has experienced a fairly radical reshape in the past few months.

Shawn Marion has gone. As has Anthony Parker. Both athletic wing players, both versatile, both missed?

Losing two of your better players doesn’t seem like the type of business strategy designed to keep your restless star player in town next year.

With that in mind, it was far from surprising when the Raptors aggresively pursued Hedo Turkoglu whose value, fresh from a trip to the Finals, was at its peak.

Whether or not the amount of money Toronto splurged on snatching Turkoglu from the clutches of the Portland Trailblazers has had the desired effect on Chris Bosh’s mindset regarding 2010 and free agency, there can be no denying the benefits of having the ex Orlando Magic forward on your squad.

14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists may not exactly justify the man’s contract, but Hedo is certainly balling as he tries to adapt to a new home town, a new system. The level he was at last year should eventually come back to him as he adjusts to the wants and needs of his new team.

If Turkoglu isn’t blowing up with points every night, how are the Raps so prolific on the offensive end?

Their much coveted big man and his larger frame is perhaps the main reason. Chris Bosh has been putting up the kind of numbers that will have GMs across the land salivating. 29 points, almost 12 rebounds, 2 assists and a block a game. Numbers worthy of the anticipated demand for his services next summer.

The problem for the Raptors is that basketball is a game played on both ends of the floor. They are currently suffering from the same affliction that has dwelt in Golden State for some years. Entertaining for sure, but the ‘we’ll score more than you’ philosophy can only get you so far.

Defense is the key. A boring fact, but a fact all the same. Allowing 108.62 points a game just isn’t going to get it done in the NBA and it is for that reason the the Raps sit at .500, 3 games won, 3 games lost.

Until they develop a defensive identity the Raptors will remain a team on the cusp of greatness. They have enough fire power to worry any team in the League, but the consistency that a solid defense would bring is sorely missing.

Their status as dark horses for dishing out a playoff upset is well founded, especially given the promising play of rookie wing DeMar DeRozan who is right next to Brandon Jennings in terms of chances of excitement when a rookie plays.

The question for Toronto fans is simple: will the Raptors’ collective performance this year be enough to convince Chris Bosh to stay north of the border?

If it is, Toronto should have a promising few years ahead of them: Bargnani is always improving, Turkoglu should have 3 solid years to come, Calderon’s ability to run a team is unlikely to evaporate and the future of DeRozan is undeniably bright.

If not, Toronto will truly feel the sizeable hole left by Bosh, in all probability consigning the franchise to further years in the NBA wilderness, neither awful or great.

Mediocrity. Nothing more frustrating.


Toronto Raptors Trade Jason Kapono, Philadelphia 76ers Real Winners

June 20, 2009
Firepower? You could say that...

Firepower? Kapono's your man.

by Jack Maidment

On June 9 2009 the Philadelphia 76ers sent Reggie Evans to the Toronto Raptors in return for the services of Jason Kapono.

In Evans the Raptors gained a player who can add toughness and rebounding to their front court, something that they desperately lacked this season past: getting banged on the boards was one of the bigger reasons why they were so disappointing this year.

In Chris Bosh and Andre Bargnani the Raptor’s possess two big guys with great scoring ability but little in the way of defensive presence.

Evans, who once led the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes, should prove effective in compensating Toronto’s existing finesse game inside.

Toronto certainly gain a quality player through this trade, a player that they really needed, but there is a reason why Andre Iguodala was so excited when Kapono’s arrival was announced, a reason that suggests that the Philadelphia 76ers can be more than content with their shopping.

In the 2006-07 season Jason Kapono led the League in 3pt % shooting at a clip of .514, 4th best in NBA history. He has two All Star weekend 3pt scoring titles in his locker. He shoots .454 from 3 for his career.

There can be little doubt that Jason Kapono is the League’s best 3 point shooter. Stats don’t lie.

That is not to say that you want the ball in his hands down the stretch, because, well, because you probably wouldn’t, but for scarily consistent production from down town, Kapono is your man.

For a team like the 76ers, this is the sort of trade that can only make your team better, another piece that can help push you to the next level.

If Andre Miller can be re-signed, Kapono will join a core of players who have been a constant in the East for the past two years: just below Cleveland, Orlando and Boston but competitive.

The Sixers have achieved that largely without their All Star forward Elton Brand and if the pivot man can stay healthy for the whole season, allowing some rhythm to grow in the team, the 76ers have the pieces, and now the fire power, to legitimately challenge in the East.

Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand holding down the paint, Andre Iguodala slashing from the wing, Kapono spreading the floor and Andre Miller running the show.

Add to that the ever improving Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Willie Green and the Sixers may be the force that they were predicted to be last year.