What is a true Center???

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Who here has ever said that the Jazz need to get a true center? If this was a classroom I bet almost everyone would be raising your hands right now. It's a common theme among Jazz fans to say we need a true center or a 7'er on our team. However, I would debate this. What is a true center? Why do we want/need one? And, perhaps more importantly, what does seven feet have to do with anything?

Well, let's start with the active player list of all 7' players both PF and C and list their PERs as well (I cut off the list at a PER of 10. There were like 50 guys, but I don't think I need to list the guys with a PER of -15. No one wants those players).

Brook Lopez 7-0 25.3
JaVale McGee 7-0 22.1
Tyson Chandler 7-1 21.8
Robin Lopez 7-0 21.4
Marc Gasol 7-1 19.6
Kosta Koufos 7-0 17.2
Chris Kaman 7-0 16.9
Andrew Bogut 7-0 15.3
Omer Asik 7-0 15
Spencer Hawes 7-0 15
Pau Gasol 7-0 14.9
Jason Smith 7-0 14.4
Roy Hibbert 7-2 14.2
Timofey Mozgov 7-1 13.5
Dirk Nowitzki 7-0 13.4
Meyers Leonard 7-1 13
Hamed Haddadi 7-2 12.7
Andrea Bargnani 7-0 12.4
Donatas Motiejunas 7-0 12.3
Byron Mullens 7-0 12.3
Hasheem Thabeet 7-3 11.3
Tyler Zeller 7-0 10.3
Brendan Haywood 7-0 10.1

That's 23 players, several of which never play center (e.g. Dirk Nowitzki). This list has a ton of goofballs that are terrible players on it. I mean, didn't we already decide we didn't want the Koof on our team. Hibbert is overpaid. Bogut and Bynum are always injured. Nowitzki and Gasol are old. I think of all these players I would like to have Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler. Perhaps a few others would be decent, but I don't want to dig that deep. Also, notice the absence of Dwight Howard on this list. Something is fishy if our list of "True Centers" doesn't have the best center in the league on it.

Which brings me to my point. Most 7' players are slow. They're tall, but very very slow. In fact, when Hollinger does his mock draft rankings he takes off points for being 7' or taller. Hollinger believes that being 7' usually makes you a WORSE basketball player. The list I just posted seems to agree. Notice that the average PER for them is, well, below average.

Perhaps being 7 feet tall isn't what makes a true center. Lets look back at the players that we thought of as true centers and see what qualities they had. Here's a list of the ten best ever according to ESPN.


So this list has a whole bunch of guys that actually weren't quite 7'. However, most posses the skills of low post scoring, passing, rebounding, and defense. Are these the skills that we want from our 21st century Center?

Well, I think skills are always wanted, but the league has changed. Take, for example, Mark Eaton. He was a good center (not great because he had no offensive skill whatsoever). However, I don't think Eaton could be as good defensively as he used to be. The league is faster and uses more pick and rolls than it used to. I think Eaton would be good defensively, but not the DPOY that he was if he were to play in today's NBA.

With that in mind, here's what I want from my 21st century "true/ideal" center in order of priority: pick and roll defense, help defense, defensive rebounding, passing, pick and roll finishing, screening, cutting, post defense, low post scoring, etc.

Notice my list? It's really focused on rim protection and scoring on the move. Why is Dwight Howard the best center in the league? Why is Tyson Chandler the second best center in the league? #1 They are good rim protectors and #2 they are good at scoring on the move.

So, Jazz fans, why do we want/need a true center? Well, our rim is very unprotected and none of our bigs score on the move much...oh, wait, our 2nd string bigs protect the rim well and score the best when they're on the move. Does that mean we have 2 true centers on our team? Yes it does indeed.

I'm sure you could see where this post was going from the start, but Derrick Favors is a true center. He is at his best when he is by the rim. Stretch 4's pull him out of the paint which isn't his forte'. Jazz fans, enough with the talk of a need for a true center or a 7'er. As Obi-wan Kenobi would put it, those aren't the centers you're looking for.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.