NBA / Jul 28, 2010 / 9:10 am

Top 10 Centers of 2010

Dwight Howard (photo. adidas)

Around this time last year, I ranked the Top 10 players at each position covering the NBA, college and high school ranks for the just-completed season. Welcome to the second annual edition: first up was two-guards, now the centers.

To clarify (again), “Top 10″ is different from “10 Best.” So if you see Cole Aldrich ranked ahead of Brook Lopez, I’m NOT saying the incoming rookie is better than the NBA vet — I’m saying Cole had a better season than Brook. Accomplishments at the highest level of the game (NBA) obviously will hold more weight than others, but this is about who made the biggest impact on their respective level, and who made the ’09-10 season their own:

10. Brook Lopez
He’d rank higher if the Nets weren’t so bad. Lopez averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 boards and 1.7 blocks in his breakout pro season, only nobody was paying attention because New Jersey spent most of that time threatening to become the worst NBA team of all-time.

9. Chris Kaman
Kaman suffered from the same problem as Lopez; his team was so bad that his breakout season was completely forgettable. Kaman made his All-Star Game debut in 2010, and for the season averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. However, the Clippers went 29-53, finishing 21 games out of a playoff spot, and Kaman’s production took a dive from about March through the rest of the campaign.

8. Cole Aldrich
The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (second straight honor) blocked 3.5 shots per game to go with 11.3 points and 9.8 boards. His Kansas Jayhawks were ranked in the top two nationally for most of the season, won a Big 12 championship and went into the NCAA Tournament as the overall No. 1 seed, but lost in the second round to underdog Northern Iowa. Aldrich was then taken with the 11th pick in the ’10 NBA Draft.

7. Joakim Noah
How good was Noah this year? He took some of his biggest haters and made them at least give him (begrudging) respect. Noah’s numbers (10.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg) didn’t even reflect his true impact as Chicago’s defensive lynchpin and primary energy source. In the Bulls’ first-round playoff loss to Cleveland, Noah put up 14.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game and hit 94 percent of his free throws. He also turned in a 21-point, 20-rebound effort in Game Four.

6. David Lee
Playing outside of his natural position, the first-time NBA All-Star put up 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, one of only three players in the League (with Zach Randolph and Chris Bosh) to average at least 20-and-10. Critics will say Lee’s numbers were simply inflated by playing in New York’s system, and his move to Golden State this summer — made possible with a six-year, $80 million contract — won’t do anything to prove them wrong or right.

5. Andrew Bogut
Before an elbow injury ended his season, Bogut (15.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.5 bpg) was the best player on Milwaukee’s playoff-bound squad. The former No. 1 pick will probably never live up to the standard set by Draft classmates Chris Paul and Deron Williams, but he’s becoming one of the top centers in the League.

4. Al Horford
In his first NBA All-Star season, Horford averaged 14.2 points and 9.9 rebounds and helped lead the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs. He was the MVP of Atlanta’s first-round series against Milwaukee, dropping 15.6 points, 9.9 boards and 2.1 blocks on 56 percent shooting.

3. DeMarcus Cousins
In just 23 minutes a night, DMC was good for 15.1 points, 9.8 boards (leading the SEC) and 1.8 blocks as a Kentucky freshman. Despite some controversy and clashes with Coach Cal during the season, Cousins helped get UK to the Elite Eight, and despite some character-issue and conditioning concerns, was picked No. 5 overall by Sacramento in the NBA Draft. If his Vegas Summer League performance was any indication, Cousins will contend for Rookie of the Year in 2011.

2. Jared Sullinger
The Dime/2K Sports National High School Player of the Year destroyed the prep scene at Northland H.S. (Columbus, Ohio) before taking his game to Ohio State University. Sullinger averaged 24 points, 13 boards and 5 blocks as a senior, connecting on 76 percent of his field goals. In two ESPN games against national powers Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and Findlay Prep (Nev.), Sullinger hit the game-winning free throws, and preserved the W against Oak Hill with a block at the buzzer. He also took co-MVP honors at the McDonald’s All-American Game, scoring 22 points while playing with the flu, then posted 20 points and 4 blocks at the Jordan Brand Classic.

1. Dwight Howard
With the older guys on the way out, the younger dudes not ready yet, and Yao Ming a constant health question mark, it looks like Dwight’s spot as the top center in the game will go unchallenged for a while. The Centaur led the NBA in rebounding (13.2 rpg) and blocks (2.8 bpg) for the second straight season, and won his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award by a landslide. Howard led Orlando to a dominant run through the first two rounds of the playoffs, going 8-0 before running into the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. In a do-or-die Game 4, Dwight put up 32 points, 16 boards and 4 blocks, and averaged 27.0 points, 12.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in three elimination games.

Honorable mentions — Andrew Bynum (Lakers), Kendrick Perkins (Celtics), Marc Gasol (Grizzlies), Hassan Whiteside (Marshall), Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State).

Top 10 Shooting Guards of 2010

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  • ab_40

    so where is tiago spitter?
    spanish leauge and finals mvp? or is he a pf in your book.

  • Rizwan

    I think Robin Lopez should have had some consideration. His effort on defense was vital in the Suns run to the WCF as well as during the regular season.

  • Hi, Jurg from Denmark

    hi hi Mr Austin,

    I write today and still read smack all of time every day. I just remind you that I can please still do top ten Euro in nba for your top lists. and you say do it to jurgo and i can do.

    from jurg.

  • Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    I think you forgot Darko. He’ll be starting for the T-wolves along side with either Love/Beasley (who have no front court depth now). You just need to vision it like Kahn does – watching Darko video alone in a gym dominating invisible opponents.

  • Pareja

    Bogut 09/10. >>> Horford 09/10.

    Andrew had a monster season until..you know. The Monster tried to dunk in transition.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    OMG… i just puked in my mouth.

  • TheBestPG

    Al Jefferson will be playing C for the Jazz this year. And he will also have a higher ppg and rpg average than everyone on this list.

    Normally like Austin’s posts.

    For leaving Al Jefferson off this list he should feel like his Mom just found his dildoes in the sock drawer.

  • Legend 33

    How about David Lee making the All-Star game, avgs 20-10 and signs an $80M deal that has to be a better year than what Lopez had.

  • Stokely

    To be in the top 10 you should have played 1 NBA game. Quit slobbering over youth that hasn’t done anything like you did Lance “JR Rider Jr” Stephenson.

  • Legend 33

    haha missed Lee at #6 for some reason, I need my 5 hr energy.

  • chris

    yao would be #2 if he were healthy. what a shame.

  • Toddy V

    No Andrew Bynum he has more rings then anybody on the list…or then everybody on the list combined!!!

  • DJ HeavyDuty

    R u serious? Cousins #3 R U smokin?

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    This is dumb… no mention AT ALL of Tiago Splitter. Not even as an honorable mention.
    Puked again…

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @JAY — I didn’t watch Euroleague this year. My cable package isn’t that deep. And I said in the intro, NBA, college and high school.

  • s.bucketz

    Noah used to be my most hated player commin outta college..but because of his shit talkin and this http://deadspin.com/5593631/joakim-noah-spotted-in-his-natural-habitat-shopping-for-bongs hes become one of my faves in the league..
    D. Lee and the aussie should b higher than horford

  • coachmurdog

    @Toddy V

    Bynum hasn’t played a full complete season in TWO YEARS… he can’t be one of the best if he isn’t on the court!

  • Stunnaboy09

    The list clearly says NBA, college and high school.

    Though its kinda depressing how the C position has downgraded; I mean from Wilt/Russel to Cowens/Kareem/Reed/Unseld to M-Malone/Robinson/Hakeem/Ewing/Young Shaq/ to now Howard aaaaand no one else. I mean Lee is like 6’8 and can drop a 20-11 on most centers. That’s sad.

  • frank

    Bynum is second best center in the L. He’s better than half of these “power forwards” listed as centers on one knee. A couple of healthy years and he’ll be Howard on D and Kareem on O.

    Crappy List.

  • Stunnaboy09

    @frank

    Care to pass the weed bro?

  • LakeShow84

    Bynum NEEDS to stay healthy..

    I liked him playing through his knee in the playoffs.. tho.. dude played with a torn meniscus in the pivot where leverage is key.. Cant knock that.. my coworker couldnt even play HORSE with a torn meniscus and dude was bangin with Big Perk like that?? hopefully that vindication for him..

    But if hes healthy he is a step behind Howard for the top spot.. Both are defensive studs out there and Bynum doesnt get enough credit as a GREAT man2man defender.. Shit even with one knee.. I think if he stays healthy this year (YEAH) he’ll have a breakout season..

  • me

    “He took some of his biggest haters and made them at least give him (begrudging) respect.”

    Couldn’t have worded it better. I was one of them. thought that was a TERRIBLE pick originally. I still have yet to figure how he’s so effective, just saying “high energy” is kind of a copout.

  • Fan

    Come on. Top 10 centers, you have to show some love to Robin Lopez of the Suns. Dude is gonna have a break out year.

  • jm

    If Orlando would trade the Polish Hammer, he would be a top 5-7 Center in the NBA if he got the minutes. Gortat is legit.

  • Wow

    Wow, Jared Sullinger won’t even be playing center in the NBA. Stupid list.