Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

NBA 2012: Where have all the Big Men gone?

Published on January 15, 2012 by admin   ·   No Comments

Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers C Andrew Bynum, Atlanta Hawks C Al Horford, Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah, Denver Nuggets C Nene, Memphis Grizzlies C Marc Gasol, New Jersey Nets C Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks C Andrew Bogut.

Those names are who will likely populate All-Star balloting from the center position save for Al Horford who just went down for a while with an injury and Brook Lopez. Who on this list will even come close to the Hall of Fame? Maybe Dwight Howard, but he may need a ring to do so.

The NBA is no longer a league for big men. Sure, there are some excellent forwards out there. Miami Heat SF LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder SF Kevin Durant are the most complete players in the NBA right now even amid the scoring binge by Los Angeles Lakers SG Kobe Bryant. Right now, the list of the best centers in the NBA hardly strikes fear in the hearts of slashing shooting guards and high flying forwards.

No longer is the NBA led by stalwarts over the years like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Bill Walton. The NBA may have had more star caliber centers in a single season (perhaps the 1970s or 1980s) than the NBA has shown at the position in the last five. The lack of scoring big men, defensive brick walls, or centers who can shoot is making itself apparent, with fewer explosive games from centers and more reliance on foul shots than anything.

In today’s NBA, all a center is required to do is clog up the paint and snag rebounds. No longer are fans accustomed to seeing 40 point outbursts from Shaquille O’Neal in the NBA finals, or triple doubles from Wilt the “Stilt” or players at the position garnering as much media attention and popularity as those flashy guys did in the ’70s when they dropped bucket after bucket and graced the cover of the NBA like Tom Cruise does a GQ magazine.

What happened to the star power at the position? Centers are now asked to block a few shots, tip in a basket, and get some rebounds, while the shooting guards drop it from deep. Maybe the evolution of the center position to a blue-collar paint occupier with no serious contribution requirements is a good thing. But then again, seeing players like Shaq be the face of the franchise, assert his sense of humor and drop 30 on a given night is something special.

Sports, like music, movies, and art evolve. In a way, athletics are an art. As of today, there are a whole lot more Joel Anthony’s in the league than Bob Lanier’s. It makes for a lame assertion to the position, but everyone would rather see speed on the floor anyway, than a methodical approach to the paint.

There is something special to a center who can catch the ball and work their way to the basket and finish with a flourish. Hopefully more Dave Cowens’ emerge. There is nothing like a surgical center who can make the paint into his scoring haven, and the opposition into his punching bag.

Eric Schmidt is the owner/editor of You can follow Eric on Twitter @bucco40 and make sure to visit the pigskinreport FB page. Make sure to visit our other sites- and for all of your sports needs.

You can find Eric's work on Fox SportsYardbarker and at



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