The depth and talent at the center position has improved a great deal over the last few years thanks to the emergence of some up-and-coming young big men with vastly different skill sets. Some centers are called on to score with their back to the basket while others can step out and stretch the defense. Some are on the floor purely for the ability to rebound the ball, block shots and play defense.
Here is a look at the best season by a center in 2013-14.
30. Zaza Pachulia, Milwaukee Bucks: After signing as a free agent, Pachulia earned the most starts of any Bucks center in ’13-14. In 53 games (43 starts), he averaged 7.7 points on 42.7 percent shooting to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
29. Samuel Dalembert, Dallas Mavericks: Dalembert was a solid performer for Dallas in his first season with the Mavericks. In 80 games (68 starts), he averaged 6.6 points on 56.8 percent shooting as well as 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in more than 20 minutes a contest.
28. Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns: after playing a total of 55 minutes in his rookie year, according to Basketball-reference.com, Plumlee got traded to the Suns and found a significant role. On the season, he averaged 8.1 points on 51.7 percent shooting from the floor. He also contributed 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 80 games.
27. Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers: Even though the Lakers had a difficult season, Hill had the best showing of his young career. In 72 games (32 starts), he averaged a career-high 9.7 points on 54.9 percent shooting to go along with 7.4 rebounds.
26. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford would have been much higher on the list had he played more than 29 games because of injury. In his shortened season, he averaged 18.6 points on 56.7 percent shooting. He also registered 8.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocks in 33 minutes a contest.
25. Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder: Perkins isn’t a weapon at all on the offensive end, but gets plenty of minutes because of his presence on defense. He is a bruising interior force who is the perfect complement on a championship contender. On the season, he averaged 3.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in nearly 20 minutes a night.
24. Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets: Garnett isn’t near the player he once was, but he can still play solid defense and knock down a big outside jumper. In his first season with the Nets, he averaged 6.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in more than 20 minutes a game.
23. Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers: After appearing in just 81 games over three seasons, Varejao was healthy enough to play most of the season in ’13-14. In 65 games (29 starts), he averaged 8.4 points on 49.5 percent shooting to go along with 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals.
22. J.J. Hickson, Denver Nuggets: In his first season with the Nuggets Hickson had another solid season. In 69 games (52 starts), he averaged 11.8 points on 50.8 percent shooting. He also added 9.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in nearly 27 minutes a game.
21. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics: The Celtics played small most of the ’13-14 season as they tried to rebuild with Sullinger seeing plenty of time as the biggest guy on the floor. In 74 games (44 starts), he averaged 13.3 points as well as 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
20. Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers: Even though Hawes was traded midseason, he showed his ability to step away from the basket and knock down the 3-point shot during his time in Philadelphia. In 53 starts, he averaged 13 points on the strength 39.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He also chipped in with 8.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks.
19. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors: The growth of Valanciunas from his rookie to second year was one of the biggest reasons that the Raptors made the playoffs. In 81 starts, he averaged 11.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting to go along with 8.8 rebounds and nearly a block.
18. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors: After two injury riddled seasons, Bogut proved that he didn’t miss a step defensively. In 67 starts, he averaged 7.3 points on 62.7 percent shooting from the floor. He added 10 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 blocks in more than 26 minutes a contest.
17. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks: Even though Chandler missed a part of the season, he still had a solid season for the underachieving Knicks. In 59 starts, he averaged 8.7 points on 59.3 percent shooting from the floor. He also contributed 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks in more than 30 minutes a night.
16. Robin Lopez, Portland Trail Blazers: In his first season in Portland, Lopez had his most complete of his six-year career. In 82 starts, he averaged 11.1 points on 55.1 percent shooting from the field as well as a career-high 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.
15. Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: Vucevic is one of the best young rebounding big men on both ends of the floor in the game today and also a very solid scorer for the rebuilding Magic. In 57 starts, he averaged 14.2 points on 50.7 percent shooting from the floor. He also added 11 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals in nearly 32 minutes a night.
14. Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves: Even though Kevin Love got most of the press, Pekovic had a very impressive season for the Timberwolves. In 54 starts, he put up 17.5 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the floor to go along with 8.7 rebounds.
13. Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards: Gortat made a huge impact on the Washington front line during his first season with the Wizards as they advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In 81 games (80 starts), he averaged 13.2 points on 54.2 percent shooting. He also contributed 9.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 blocks in nearly 33 minutes a game.
12. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz: In his first season as a fulltime starter, Favors showed why the Jazz gave him a big contract extension before the year started. In 73 starts, he averaged a career-high 13.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting. He also chipped in with 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.2 assists and a steal as the backbone of the Jazz defense.
11. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers: Even though the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference finals and Hibbert made an all-star appearance, he didn’t have his best season. In 81 starts, he averaged 10.8 points on 43.9 percent shooting from the floor. He also chipped in with 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 2.2 blocks in nearly 30 minutes a game.
10. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers: Although he isn’t the player with the biggest name on the Clippers, Jordan is the key to their defensive success. In 82 starts, he averaged a league-leading 13.6 rebounds a game to go along with a career-high 2.5 blocks. He also did a nice job on the offensive end with 10.4 points on 67.6 percent shooting from the floor.
9. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh made his ninth straight all-star game in 2013-14 even though he had one of his least productive years of his career. In 79 starts, he averaged 16.2 points on 51.6 percent shooting from the field, including a career-high 56.9 percent from inside the arc, according to Basketball-reference.com. He also totaled 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, a steal and a block in 32 minutes a night.
8. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies: Even though injuries limited the amount of games Gasol played in ’13-14, he still had a very productive season for the Grizzlies. In 59 games, he averaged 14.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and a steal to help lead Memphis to another playoff appearance.
7. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: Drummond is still a huge liability at the free-throw line (41.8 percent on 328 attempts), but that is one of the few weaknesses in his game. In an already crowded front court, he averaged 13.5 points on 62.3 percent shooting from the floor, 13.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals in more than 32 minutes a night.
6. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Even though Duncan isn’t the kind of player he was while in his prime, he is still one of the best big men in the league and a huge reason why the Spurs brought home another championship ring. In 74 starts, he averaged 15.1 points on 49 percent shooting. He also put up 9.7 rebounds, three assists and 1.9 blocks.
5. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings: Cousins took a huge step forward and showed that he is one of the most talented offensive centers in the league. In 71 starts, he averaged a career-high 22.7 points as well as 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks.
4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: Davis improved on a solid rookie campaign with an excellent second season on both ends of the floor. In 67 games (66 starts), he averaged 20.8 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the floor. He also added 10 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals in more than 35 minutes a night to earn his first all-star game invite.
3. Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: After a slow start in his first season in Charlotte, Jefferson exploded offensively to carry the Bobcats to a playoff appearance. In 73 starts, he averaged 21.8 points on 50.9 percent shooting as well as 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks to earn all-NBA third-team honors.
2. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets: Howard made his eighth straight all-star game in his first season with the Rockets thanks to fine play on both ends of the floor. In 71 starts, he averaged 18.3 points on 59.1 percent shooting from the floor. He also added 12.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 blocks in nearly 34 minutes a game to be named all-NBA second team honors.
1. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls: Noah is a big man who proves that you don’t have to dominate in the scoring column to be an elite player in the NBA. In 80 starts, he averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals to earn his second consecutive all-star appearance and a spot on the all-NBA first-team. He was also named the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year for his work on the less glamorous side of the floor.