1) Rim Protectors and Divers
Tyson Chandler, Mavericks
No center in this group is labeled as a rim protector and diver as often as Chandler. He’s made a valuable career due to his shot blocking, dunking and willingness to dive to the rim and draw help defenders in pick and rolls.
Dwight Howard, Rockets
Howard built himself into one of the most impactful players in the league as a rim protector and diver with the Magic. Injuries and age have sapped some of Howard’s explosiveness, but he still makes a huge difference in terms of challenging shots around the rim. Howard has more of a postup game than most in this category, but his development in that area has been underwhelming.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
Jordan is the prototypical center for this role. An elite athlete with incredible hops that combine with reliable hands and coordination to produce some of the most Holy-S** dunks in the league.
Andre Drummond, Pistons
A rebounding machine, Stan Van Gundy decided to do-away with the postups experiment and fully unleash Drummond as a Rim-Hammering Hulk in the pick and roll.
Mason Plumlee, Nets
Plumlee’s athletic finishes at the rim are the most exciting thing about the Nets. That’s not saying much, but still.
Hassan Whiteside, Heat
Whiteside has emerged from out of nowhere to become a hyperactive blocking, dunking machine.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Sure his development is ahead of schedule, but will it ever match his new nickname. The Stifle Tower!
Alex Len, Suns
Len’s ankle woes made an ugly cameo recently, but with a solid jumper and an improving post game, Len could develop into a very effective offensive center.
Larry Sanders, Bucks
Forget about protecting the rim Larry, just protect your mind for the time being.
Nerlens Noel, 76ers
Noel hasn’t established himself as an effective NBA center, but if he does it will almost surely be as a rim protector/diver type.
2) Defensive Catalysts
Joakim Noah, Bulls
Noah offers much more than help defense on the backend. He can work the elbows as offense initiator better than every center in the league not named Marc, and his energy on a night to night basis
Roy Hibbert, Pacers
Hibbert is the best rim protector in the league and made even casual NBA fans cognizant of the Verticality Rule. Offensively Hibbert is a block scorer with a slow-motion post game featuring a nifty hook shot.
Andrew Bogut, Warriors
Bogut’s defense has become a highly valued commodity as a member of the Warriors, but no player in the league scares Golden State fans as much as Bogut’s needs.
Robin Lopez, Trail Blazers
Mascot bullying is among Lopez’s other contributions.
Timothy Mozgov, Cavaliers
If you can somewhat mask Kevin Love’s defense, then you’re a defensive catalyst in this league.
3) Post Scorers
Al Jefferson, Hornets
Big Al is a post professor possessing nimble footwork and a quick right-hand turning hook shot that is nearly impossible to defend. Jefferson also has a reliable mid-range jumper and is one of the more underappreciated players in the NBA.
Nikola Vucevic, Magic
It’s rare that a player as young as Vucevic is so efficient and patient with his footwork and post fakes on the block. He’s also improved his pick and roll game as a player that can catch, work a one-dribble move and finish.
Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors
Valanciunas oozes potential, but lacks consistency as a post player. He shows flashes, but has yet to stabilize his postup game and his plodding defense certainly isn’t making up for it.
Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves
He bullies opponents on the block when healthy and may have appeared in at least one movie as a Russian villain.
Brook Lopez, Nets
He can’t defender or rebound worth a lick, but he remains a postup threat with a reliable jumper.
Chris Kaman, Trail Blazers
The Caveman may have gone extinct in recent weeks, but if he does resurface as reliable rotational big man it will likely be because of his post scoring.
4) Stretch Fives
Pero Antic, Hawks
Antic emerged last season as part of the Hawks five-out offense due to his outside shooting.
Meyers Leonard, Trail Blazers
Leonard proved himself as a reliable rotational player during Robin Lopez’s absence. He’s hovering around 45 percent from three and was actually solid protecting the rim.