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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Andre Drummond, Nets (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Andre Drummond, Nets (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

64. . C. Detroit Pistons. Isaiah Stewart. 27. player

Ranking NBA starting centers — 27. Isaiah Stewart, Pistons

Isaiah Stewart has built admirably upon his rookie season, emerging as the kind of high-energy culture-setter every rebuild needs. Stewart does not shy away from battles in the post, and while he’s somewhat limited offensively, his effort level typically belies some level of production. He can get easy ones around the rim, he’s slowly expanding his spot-up jumper, and the defense is never in doubt.

For the season, Stewart is averaging 7.9 points and 8.3 rebounds on 51.9 percent shooting. It’s hard to measure intangibles, but they’re infinitely more important in the context of a loss-heavy rebuild. The Pistons don’t win many games, but Stewart gives 100 percent every night, which says a lot about his character.

26. player. 38. . C. Orlando Magic. Mo Bamba

Ranking NBA starting centers — 26. Mo Bamba, Magic

What a season for Mo Bamba, who just last year felt like a lost cause in Orlando’s burgeoning rebuild. With injuries to key players on the roster and no shortage of opportunity, this has been Bamba’s breakout campaign. He’s not only the starting center, but a potential building block for the Magic long-term.

Bamba’s absurd wingspan is well-documented, and makes good use of his physical gifts on defense. It’s the offense, however, that has propelled Bamba to new heights in 2021-22. He’s scoring from mid-range on a regular basis, and even expanding his shot out to the 3-point line. Not many true 7-footers can take players off the dribble and maneuver around the post like Bamba. He’s a fascinating talent. 10.4 points and 8.0 rebounds on .478/.359/.828 splits is the result of his growth.

147. . C. Brooklyn Nets. Andre Drummond. 25. player

Ranking NBA starting centers — 25. Andre Drummond, Nets

The Sixers sent Andre Drummond to Brooklyn in the James Harden trade. He has provided the Nets with much-needed size and physicality in the post. He’s still one of the best rebounders in the NBA, and while his track record against the NBA’s premier bigs is spotty at best, Drummond has the bulk and competitive juice to match up with the East’s more physically dominant stars.

Drummond is no longer the All-Star he once was. It’s clear his best role is probably that of a super-charged backup, rather than a full-time starter. That said, in 20-25 minutes per game, you can count on elite rebounding, some blocked shots, and passing creativity on offense.