Centers of Attention
There is a revolution happening before our very own eyes. It is the reoccurrence of the big man taking back their place in the game. So much scrutiny placed on this position in the last few years while guard-dominated basketball has taken over the league. The biggest evidence of this was the center position being taken out of the All-Star balloting. Who is to blame for the declining interest in the position? Analytics? Trends of NBA offense in a copycat league? Maybe it’s a combination of it all. One thing has come out of all the scrutiny though-big men have figured out how to be effective in this new era of basketball.
Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Gasol, Al Horford, Brook Lopez and Joel Embiid, headline the new update for NBA bigs that give the edge when playing "Small Ball". They are the like the IOS update on the iPhone that came out and fixed all the bugs. They give you floor spacing, rim protection, quality pick and roll/pop options which is key to every NBA offense now, and, dare I say, 3 point efficiency. You have AD, who is what should be the norm, from the 3-point arc at 25% but after that solid showing from marquee names at the position. "KAT" and "Boogie" both shooting 36%, "KP" coming in at 38% behind the line and then you have 40 plus percentage 3 point shooters from the Center position with Gasol shooting 43% and "The Process" processing 44% from three. Not to mention, two of the the top three scorers in the NBA are at the big man position with Anthony Davis (30.6ppg) and Boogie Cousins (28.2).
While we can say present day we can't stop the Boogie and that Brow isn't going anywhere there is a Unicorn coming, a Kat is coming, and there is a Process we just can't deny. There was a battle with Karl Anthony-Towns and Porzingis earlier this season that showed us the future of the big men in this league. Kat with career highs of 47 points and 18 rebounds dominating inside and KP with a strong showing 28 points 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Both have been solid in their sophomore campaigns. They are even more of focal points on the scouting report due to their solid rookie seasons and they are only going to get better. Joel Embiid is one of the most intriguing prospects this league has seen in awhile. He shows very strong defensive abilities, reminiscent of a Dikembe Mutombo. He has the footwork and post moves many have compared to Hakeem Olajuwon, and his shooting ability far beyond what we thought we would see thus far from him. He has Philly fans excited about what they have in their new NBA center. Barring injury, he will be a lock for Rookie of the Year in a very disappointing showing from this year’s class. After seeing small-ball dominate the last few years of basketball, seeing the dominance of big men integrated back into the NBA will be refreshing. A healthy Brow, an angry aggressive Boogie, the development of KP and KAT and the emergence of the Process, will make interesting headlines for many years to come. We are seeing more and more bigs stepping out stretching the floor like Brook Lopez in Brooklyn, Al Horford in Boston, and more who are developing the range every day. Regardless of how we feel about this trend the way the NBA was heading it was either this or possible extinction of the position. Coaches are finding ways to utilize their 7 footers, and that is important for the game of basketball.