Ranking the top 30 centers in the NBA

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

86. . C. Minnesota Timberwolves. Rudy Gobert. 3. player

Top 30 NBA centers — 3. Rudy Gobert, Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert is the most dominant defender of his generation. He has three DPOY trophies under his belt and arguably should have one or two more. No big has more successfully defended the pick-and-roll over the last half-decade than Gobert. At the rim, no big forces guards to rethink their plans like Gobert does. He’s a one-man elite defense, and while the offensive shortcomings are often the topic of conversation, Gobert is still impactful on offense simply because he’s big and can finish everything within reach of the basket. He’s probably the best rebounder in the game too, also because he’s big.

Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid. 2. player. 93. . C

Top 30 NBA centers — 2. Joel Embiid, Sixers

Joel Embiid has made the jump to megastardom. He gets better every year, be it a new batch of moves in the post or increased spacial awareness when facing double teams. Embiid has made himself into a quality passer, which only further weaponizes his scoring gravity from everywhere on the court. The defense will never not bring multiple bodies at Embiid, and now he’s consistently able to make them pay. He’s also a singular defensive talent who can protect the rim as well as anyone when he’s wired in. Embiid is literally unguardable. There’s just no legal way to keep him off the scoreboard consistently. We’re witnessing something special.

1. player. 73. . C. Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic

Top 30 NBA centers — 1. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Nikola Jokic has posted two of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history in back-to-back years now. He became a political football in the MVP discourse because of the always annoying analytics pushback, but let’s be frank — Jokic won MVP because he had the best season. You do not need analytics to make that argument. All you need to do is watch the games and look at the most basic stats available. Jokic scored more efficiently than Embiid, he’s one of the best passers we’ve ever seen, and he is competent (if not elite) as the defensive anchor for Denver. The Nuggets finished sixth in the West despite missing two borderline All-Stars. Jokic navigated the same oceans of defensive attention that Embiid did every night, and was slightly more successful. It’s okay — both are all-time talents who will go down in the history books

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