NBA: Top Five Centers of All Time
After we discussed the top five power forwards in NBA history, it is time to turn our attention to another list. Who are the top five centers in NBA history? This list is a bit more difficult as there are a ton of legendary centers to choose from in NBA history. We will be using the same criteria as we did with the power forwards. We will be taking into account personal accolades, statistics and their impact and team success throughout their career. Without further adieu, let’s start the countdown of the top five centers of all time.
NBA Center #5: Hakeem Olajuwon
The inventor of the Dream Shake, Olajuwon was a two time champion with the Houston Rockets. The man was a master at footwork in the post and was extremely creative. Many opponents often fell victim to being faked out by The Dream and it also led to many open shots for the perimeter players like TNT’s own, Kenny Smith. For his career, Olajuwon was a 12-time All-Star, two-time rebounding champion, three-time block champion, 12-time All-NBA, nine-time All-Defensive Team, and a two-time Finals MVP. On top of this, he is also a one-time MVP and also made the All-Rookie Team.
Olajuwon had impressive stats as well. He averaged 21.8 points per game to go along with 11.1 rebounds per game. Not to mention, he was an absolute force on the defensive end. Olajuwon blocked 3.1 shots per game and also possessed a career defensive rating of 98. His career block percentage stands at 5.4 percent and these numbers are a big reason why The Dream made the All-Defensive Team nine times in his career. It was extremely difficult to put Olajuwon so low on this list, but as alluded to already, there are so many dominant centers in NBA history, someone was going to get slighted a bit.
NBA Center #4: Bill Russell
Once again, not everyone is going to agree with this selection. Russell has the most rings in NBA history (11) and is a Hall of Famer. The one thing that knocks Russell down on this list is the fact that he played in an era which did not emphasize long-range shots yet and that his numbers, outside of the rebounds, are not as dominant as everyone else on this list. Russell was still a monster though. He averaged an insane 22.5 total rebounds per game coupled with 15.1 points per game. Not to mention, he also dished 4.3 assists per game. Sadly, we do not have any block or steal totals for the great Bill Russell.
However, we do have an insane basketball resume. Russell is a 12-time All-Star, four-time rebounding champion, 11-time All-NBA Team member, five-time MVP, and a former All-Star Game MVP. Not to mention, he also made the All-Defensive Team one time in his illustrious NBA career. Russell is truly one of the greats of NBA history and his resume speaks for itself.
Center #3: Shaquille O’Neal
This would not be a top-five NBA centers list without Shaq on it. Really, he would have a solid argument for being the greatest were it not for his porous free throw shooting (52.7 percent). However, Shaq was an unstoppable force in his prime. No one could contain his big frame without getting help from another teammate. For his career, he averaged an incredible 23.7 points per game. Shaq’s rebounding average was also magnificent as he pulled in 10.9 boards per game. He was also a great rim protector as he blocked 2.3 shots per game paired with a career defensive rating of 101. O’Neal possessed a career block percentage of 4.6 percent.
Like everyone else on this list, O’Neal has a great NBA resume. He is a four-time champ, 15-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, made the All-NBA Team 14 times, and made the All-Defensive Team three times. On top of this, the Diesel also won the All-Star Game MVP three times and was also a Finals MVP three times as well. To top it all off, O’Neal also won Rookie of the Year and is a one-time MVP. Any avid NBA fan knows about Shaq, however, his dominance in his prime has been forgotten by a few fans.
Center #2: Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt “the Stilt,” is most famous for holding the single-game scoring record. He once scored 100 points in a game. This right here in of itself is an impressive feat. However, Chamberlain did more than just score. He averaged 30.1 points per game to go along with 22.9 rebounds per game. Like Bill Russell, there are no block or steal totals for the great Wilt Chamberlain.
However, Chamberlain’s resume just might be the most impressive on this list. He is a 13-time All-Star, seven-time scoring champion, 11-time rebounding champion, and a one time assist champion. Not to mention, The Record Book (one of his nicknames) also won two titles, made All-NBA 10 times, and made the All-Defensive Team two times. He was also an All-Star Game MVP, Finals MVP, four-time MVP, and was the Rookie of the Year. Chamberlain’s resume is absolutely stacked, but there is one center who barely surpasses him on this list.
The GOAT of Centers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
This should come as no surprise. Lew won titles with two different teams, the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. He won the Finals MVP two times. Not to mention, Abdul-Jabbar made the All-Star Game an amazing 19 times, is a two-time scoring champ, one-time rebounding champ, and won six titles as well. On top of all this, Abdul-Jabbar made the All-NBA Team 15 times, the All-Defensive Team 11 times, and was also on the All-Rookie Team. As if that were not enough, he was also the Rookie of the Year, and won the MVP six times!
Finally, we can get to his numbers. Throughout his career, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points per game to go along with 11.2 rebounds per game. As we all know, he was a great defender as well. He blocked 2.6 shots per game and had a block percentage of 3.8 percent. Couple this with a career defensive rating of 99, then you can see why he is considered one of the greatest players in NBA history. At the very least, we can say he is the definitive best center of all time.
Thanks for reading, these are the top five centers of all time!