Best All Time NBA Centers



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No order- bunch all 5 together- all pretty close;

- Russell
- Jabbar
- Chamberlain
- Olajuwon
- O’Neal

It’s very hard to argue to have another center in the top 5. I would love for someone to even try to make that argument.

I never like discussing players that I didn’t see on a daily basis, with that said, Olajuwon & O’Neal are the two best centers I have seen play. After them the drop off is pretty severe- Robinson, Ewing, Parish, Mourning, Howard, Mutombo, Ming, Jokic, etc.
 

Mr. French

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No order- bunch all 5 together- all pretty close;

- Russell
- Jabbar
- Chamberlain
- Olajuwon
- O’Neal

It’s very hard to argue to have another center in the top 5. I would love for someone to even try to make that argument.

I never like discussing players that I didn’t see on a daily basis, with that said, Olajuwon & O’Neal are the two best centers I have seen play. After them the drop off is pretty severe- Robinson, Ewing, Parish, Mourning, Howard, Mutombo, Ming, Jokic, etc.
Agree with everything here. Same for me. I’ve never seen any better than Shaq and Hakeem, so I can’t compare the older guys, but no question they’re the 5 best ever.
 
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I think that Chamberlain is not only the best center in the history of the NBA but it's greatest player as well. The proof is that he the NBA had to change the rules to stop him from dominating and he still dominated. The only comparison is the PGA "Tiger-proofing" golf courses. Even Augusta National had to be reworked to stop Tiger and he sill dominated. These two players changed their sports.

Russel was the greatest winner of all time. It should be noted he played with 14 Hall of Famers and other all-stars. This does not diminish his individual talent or basketball intelligence, both of which were off the charts. He average an insane 22 rebounds a game almost as many as Wilt

Then I go with Jabbar and Moses.

And down a peg Shaq and Duncan.
 
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I would go with Kareem - when you factor in individual dominance, longevity, and winning, he checks more boxes than anyone else. But I think you can make a strong argument for Shaq or Russell, too.

Wilt is certainly top 5 but there’s really no argument for him here. Hakeem belongs in the top 5 as well.
 
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I think that Chamberlain is not only the best center in the history of the NBA but it's greatest player as well. The proof is that he the NBA had to change the rules to stop him from dominating and he still dominated. The only comparison is the PGA "Tiger-proofing" golf courses. Even Augusta National had to be reworked to stop Tiger and he sill dominated. These two players changed their sports.

Russel was the greatest winner of all time. It should be noted he played with 14 Hall of Famers and other all-stars. This does not diminish his individual talent or basketball intelligence, both of which were off the charts. He average an insane 22 rebounds a game almost as many as Wilt

Then I go with Jabbar and Moses.

And down a peg Shaq and Duncan.
A lot of that you would imagine was because centers were almost 2 inches smaller on average in the 1960’s compared to centers in the 1990’s or the 2000’s- guy was playing against players 4 inches smaller than him.

Average center in the last 30 years is over 6 foot 11.

If we discuss weight it’s even more of an absurdity- centers were on average 229 pounds & now they are over 250+ pounds.

So you take Wilt’s height at 7’1’’and weight at 275 pounds it made it a lot easier for him to dominate players at 6’9’’ & 229 pounds. You would imagine there wouldn’t be as much dominance if he was facing on a nightly basis a player who is over 6’11’’ & 250+ pounds.
 

Chin Diesel

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A lot of that you would imagine was because centers were almost 2 inches smaller on average in the 1960’s compared to centers in the 1990’s or the 2000’s- guy was playing against players 4 inches smaller than him.

Average center in the last 30 years is over 6 foot 11.

If we discuss weight it’s even more of an absurdity- centers were on average 229 pounds & now they are over 250+ pounds.

So you take Wilt’s height at 7’1’’and weight at 275 pounds it made it a lot easier for him to dominate players at 6’9’’ & 229 pounds. You would imagine there wouldn’t be as much dominance if he was facing on a nightly basis a player who is over 6’11’’ & 250+ pounds.
The incredible thing about Wilt was he wasn't just raw size and power. He was an elite middle yard sprinter and high jumper and dabbled in shot put and long jump and triple jump. You can google it yourself because many of the articles are anecdotal. He did compete for track and field at Kansas and even his toned down verifiable numbers show a very elite track athlete. You could make the argument Wilt would just as easily beat bigger players with his speed and wear them down.
 
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The incredible thing about Wilt was he wasn't just raw size and power. He was an elite middle yard sprinter and high jumper and dabbled in shot put and long jump and triple jump. You can google it yourself because many of the articles are anecdotal. He did compete for track and field at Kansas and even his toned down verifiable numbers show a very elite track athlete. You could make the argument Wilt would just as easily beat bigger players with his speed and wear them down.
I agree to an extent, with that said though to say he would average 50 points a game in any era over the last 30 years I believe is a stretch.
 

Chin Diesel

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I agree to an extent, with that said though to say he would average 50 points a game in any era over the last 30 years I believe is a stretch.
I'll go yes and no on the 50 ppg. I believe there have been several players whom if the coach and teammates decided they were going to average 50 ppg, they could have done it.

In today's game with rules and shooting ability from the 3? No way Wilt averages 50 ppg.
 
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I always default to Kareem, who by any measure you apply, meets the standard. Olajuwon had the best back to the basket game I have seen in my lifetime, and is the best defender I have ever seen at his position. I believe he is still top ten in steals, which is simply amazing to me.
 
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Line them up and you need to pick a center for 10 years. I'm taking Russell....the proven team player, stopper, and winner. You get center stats and championships.
 
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He's an all-time great legendary player but Russell is overrated because of statements like the ones above. Amazing defender and rebounder but he was a 15 ppg player who shot 44% from the field at a time he was bigger and more athletic than basically everyone else.
 
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He's an all-time great legendary player but Russell is overrated because of statements like the ones above. Amazing defender and rebounder but he was a 15 ppg player who shot 44% from the field at a time he was bigger and more athletic than basically everyone else.
That's a fair point. The counterpoint is Russell never had to score because he played with so many guys who carried the scoring load. He probably would have developed a better offensive game if he needed one. He shot over 50% and scored 20 a night in college. But we will never know.
 
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Tough argument because like any sports "best" it becomes a generational thing. Hard to argue Wilt, Russell or Kareem, but if you drop them all into the same era, Shaq based on size alone would have moved these guys around. I love these debates, but I don't think anyone dominated the way Shaq did. But again, it depends when you grew up. Tyson vs Ali. Jordan vs Lebron. We're all biased to when we grew up, but it's hard to not argue that Shaq would not be stopped at any point in time. He played in the physical era... there was nothing like prime Shaq. Maybe not the most skilled... but the most dominant.
 
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2001 Shaq was the greatest nba player of all time, imo. He was unstoppable.

1994 Hakeem might have had the best season ever (MVP, DPOY, NBA Champ, NBAFMVP)
Late 90s/early 2000s Shaq was the most dominant player I’ve ever seen play the game.
 

uconnbill

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Russell because of 11 championships

Kareem was the greatest offensive center of all time, period

Shaq, Wilt, and Akeem would fill out my top 5 ever
 
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I can't find the article anymore but for those of you trashing Russell's offense because of his fg% you have to understand that Auerbach ran a crummy offense which would often lead to players stuck with the ball with little time on the shot clock. Of note- look At Russell's teams -- only one year did one starter shoot over 50%. The next year after Russell left Nelson shot over 50% and Hondo moved up his fg%. Then a few years later in 73-74 and 74-75 bench players Nelson and Westphal shot above 50%.

And back during Russell's time 10 times he was 2nd in assists for his team and one year he was 1st as a center. Doesn’t it stand to reason that the ball was in his hands a lot? Probably when the shot clock was running down. Even if you exclude that-- for his era his fg% was still above average.

And take a look at some of those old videos. You can see Russell running his team's fastbreaks like a guard. Even in the halfcourt he makes a move and gets to the rim and dunks - he starts 20+ feet from the basket. There was one move he made from the FT line in for a dunk - it looked super impressive.

Shaq and Olajuown had the benefit of modern-day coaching. DO you really think with Russell's elite athleticism and his ability to handle the ball and with his passing - he wouldn't have bene a force? He's leading fastbreaks at 6'9 and he's a center. Tell me in these instances with someone extremely quick and that big and with those obscene long arms that alone isn’t considered "an offensive weapon" in today's game. Just saying his offense gets a bad rap. If anyone can find that crummy offense the Celts ran -- they'd see it did nothing for efficiency.
 
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He's an all-time great legendary player but Russell is overrated because of statements like the ones above. Amazing defender and rebounder but he was a 15 ppg player who shot 44% from the field at a time he was bigger and more athletic than basically everyone else.
Russell/Boston Boston/Connecticut. Just keep this in mind when seeing these posts.
 
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Hakeem was so skilled on offense that people forget he had 3830 career blocks, several hundred more than anyone else.
 

Rasputin

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Chamberlain is far and away the best center ever. It is not close. People confuse team success with individual player's performance. Over 10 seasons, Russell and Chamberlain played 142 games against each other. Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds while Russell averaged 14.5 points and 23.7 rebounds. Chamberlain scored 50 or more points seven times against Russell, including a high of 62. Russell's highest scoring game against Chamberlain was 37. Wilt averaged slightly more assists than Russell. For much of his career, Chamberlain had to carry the load for teams that lacked talent. How important was Chamberlain to his teams? In one season, he averaged 48.5 minutes per game in a game that only lasts 48 minutes. When given talented teammates, like the 72 Lakers, his teams dominated.
 

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