Sixers: Ranking Joel Embiid and every starting center in the NBA

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic are locked in a neck-and-neck race for the MVP award. While it’s unclear who will emerge victorious, both players deserve celebration. We are witnessing two historic offensive seasons from two historic offensive talents.

Earlier in the season, we ranked every starter at every position (point guards / shooting guards / small forwards / power forwards). At long last, we arrive at the center position. Beyond Embiid and Jokic, there is a wealth of talent at the five spot in today’s NBA. The resurgence of the big man is fully underway.

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up to the Sixers‘ MVP candidate and Jokic.

C. Oklahoma City Thunder. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. 30. player. 149.

Ranking NBA starting centers — 30. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Thunder

OKC struck gold in the second round with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who’s already a rotation-level big in year one. The Thunder are in the very beginning stages of a rebuild, thus starting a second-round pick at center, but the 6-foot-6 Robinson-Earl has the skill package of a versatile modern big who should stick in the league for a long time. He can shoot, pass, rebound, and he has smarts on defense.

29. player. 79. . C. Dallas Mavericks. Dwight Powell

Ranking NBA starting centers — 29. Dwight Powell, Mavericks

With Kristaps Porzingis out of the picture, Dwight Powell is now the de facto starting five in Dallas. He’s not exactly the most exciting starter in the NBA — his defense has lapsed this season and even his improved 3-point percentage (37.1 percent) has coincided with an unfortunate dip in volume. Powell can block some shots, finish at the rim, and is a beneficiary of Luka Doncic’s extreme gravitational pull, but the center spot is a point of concern for the Mavs right now.

player. 41. . C. Golden State Warriors. Kevon Looney. 28

Ranking NBA starting centers — 28. Kevon Looney, Warriors

Kevon Looney has been a steadfast presence in the middle for Golden State, through good and bad. His numbers don’t pop off the page — 6.3 points, 7.6 rebounds on 56.4 percent shooting — but he’s just so reliable. He sets rock-solid screens, makes the easy shots, plays effortlessly within a complex offensive system, and is an effective big-bodied rim protector.

There are certain luxuries unique to Looney — he plays next to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, for example — but it’s impossible not to respect the consistency of Looney’s strong play, even if Golden State goes away from him in certain matchups (like most teams with traditional centers nowadays).