Top 30 NBA centers — 9. Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers
Jarrett Allen made his first All-Star appearance as the centerpiece of Cleveland’s revamped defense. He’s a towering shot blocker with nimble feet in space and next-level hops. On offense, he proved himself capable of big games. He’s dominant in the paint — too big, too strong, and too athletic. He can go through or over most defenders and he’s one of the premier finishers in the game as a result.
Top 30 NBA centers — 8. Deandre Ayton, Suns
A pitiful end to the season has generated quite a bit of speculation around Deandre Ayton’s future. Will the Suns pay up, or will the former No. 1 pick find a new home? Either way, he should be right back in the conversation for best up-and-coming big next season. Ayton’s year-to-year improvement arc is mighty impressive. He’s adding range to his jumper and improving his defensive fundamentals. A bigger role with a new team could facilitate another leap for Ayton. If he stays with Phoenix, he’ll be right back in championship contention next season. It’s win-win.
Top 30 NBA centers — 7. Domantas Sabonis, Kings
The Kings’ decision to trade for Domantas Sabonis was met with considerable pushback. Ultimately, it was probably the wrong choice — Sacramento isn’t good enough to trade elite young talent for “win-now” players who aren’t superstars. That said, Sabonis does make the Kings better in the short term. He’s a dominant post scorer with balletic footwork and dynamic playmaking chops. He creates for teammates as effortlessly as he creates for himself, and he has already showed promising chemistry in two-man actions with De’Aaron Fox.