With just over a month before the season begins, many rosters are taking form. Kevin Durant is staying with Brooklyn (and so is Kyrie). Donovan Mitchell is playing with the Cavs this season while his former Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert will be suiting up next to fellow all-star center Karl Anthony Towns in Minnesota.
With the Minnesota Timberwolves making some noise last season in the NBA Playoffs, adding one of the league’s best centers to the core of Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell, has many new betting sites predicting the Wolves to be one of the Western Conference’s best teams.
The Top Ten NBA Centers of 2022-23
A frontcourt featuring both Gobert and Towns is a nightmare for defenses. This pairing got us thinking about where those two centers land in the rankings of the top centers going into the 2022-23 NBA season.
10. Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans
The lumbering Lithuanian center is one of the league’s toughest centers to go up against. Valančiūnas bullied his way to averaging 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds last season for the surprising New Orleans Pelicans; making it three straight seasons that Jonas put up double digit points and rebound averages.
9. Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls
The 6’10 Montenegrin-Belgian center has always been on opponent’s scouting reports due to his offensive portfolio. The downside to Vucevic is his defense. Though he pulled in 44 double-doubles for the Chicago Bulls last season, many still view the “other Nikola” as being too soft. His skillset and potential for double-doubles lands him at #9 on our list. His versatility offensively puts him right above Valančiūnas.
8. Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jarrett Allen might not be pulling from distance, but what he does do is invaluable. He sets picks, he rebounds, he defends, he blocks shots, he rolls to the hoop for alley-oops and cleans up when Darius Garland or Caris LeVert miss. Jarrett played his role to the tune of 16.1 points a game, 10.8 rebounds , 1.6 blocks while converting 67.7% from the field last season. Allen joins Garland, Evan Mobley, and LeVert to form a young Cleveland core that Donovan Mitchell will join this next season.
7. Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks
We’re not sure how well Christian Wood will fit as a Dallas Maverick this season, but his talent can’t be argued. He’s a offensively-mobile center that can both drive to the basket and hit the three. Though he played for the bottom-dwelling Houston Rockets last season, the way he got his 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds and respectable 2.3 assists a game will surely translate alongside the gravity of Luka Doncic.
6. Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Gobert drops a couple spots on our list because we just don’t know how he’ll play out. Likely, he’ll put up around 10 points and 10 rebounds while playing his stellar defense manning the middle for Minnesota. Not our favorite center by any means, but Gobert’s impact on the game can’t be denied. Add to that he was second in the league to Nikola Jokic in double doubles last season with 56.
5. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
We know that Ayton had a rough playoffs and bizarre offseason before resigning with the Phoenix Suns, but we’re bullish on the this season. The 24-year old center from the Bahamas quietly averaged 17.1 points per game alongside an impressive 12 rebounds per. He also shot 63.4% from the field and a very respectable 36.8% from three. We think Ayton is going to take another step forward this season.
4. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Bam’s most-apparent strengths may be on the defensive end for Miami, but his ability to facilitate the offense is also invaluable for the Heat. Bam already is the fourth-best center on our list and this is with Bam not being aggressive on the offensive end. If Bam was a little more selfish; it would be a benefit to himself and the Miami Heat franchise. Even with his unselfishness, Bam still averaged 19.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. If the Heat want to take another step, the easiest improvement is to have Adebayo shoot a couple more shots per game.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns has always been a tough match-up but KAT really upped his profile last season. It wasn’t his best season offensively, but his numbers coincided with the Timberwolves second best record in the last 15 years. On top of that, the 6-11 center won the NBA’s three point contest.
2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
After a couple years of injuries that started off his career, Joel Embiid has slowly built up a Hall of Fame career. He averaged a career high 30.6 points per game last season which led the entire league. He also pulled down a career high 11.7 rebounds a game on his way to 46 double doubles last season. Entering the 2022-23 season at 28 years old, Joel is clearly in the prime of his career and the Philadelphia Sixers are positioned to be one of the league’s top team.
1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
The only center that could be above a dominant Joel Embiid is the two-time league MVP (including last season) Nikola Jokic. Without Jamal Murray the entire season and without Michael Porter Jr. for the vast majority of the season, Jokic put the Denver Nuggets onto his broad shoulders and led them to the six seed in the Western Conference and a 48-34 record. Not only did he have career averages of 27.1 points per game and 13.8 rebounds, but he had 66 games that ended with a double double — that’s 13 more games with double doubles than Gobert who was in second place.
|1||Nikola Jokic||Denver Nuggets|
|2||Joel Embiid||Philadelphia 76ers|
|3||Karl-Anthony Towns||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|4||Bam Adebayo||Miami Heat|
|5||Deandre Ayton||Phoenix Suns|
|6||Rudy Gobert||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|7||Christian Wood||Dallas Mavericks|
|8||Jarrett Allen||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|9||Nikola Vucevic||Chicago Bulls|
|10||Jonas Valanciunas||New Orleans Pelicans|
If we’re talking about the best players going into the 2022-23 NBA season, both Jokic and Embiid are most-certainly in the conversation. Those two players are heads and shoulders above their peers in the pivot.
It’s unfortunate that rookie center Chet Holmgrem will miss the upcoming season after injuring himself playing in the Drew League. We don’t think he would have cracked this list, but we would have loved watching the 7-0 former Gonzaga Bulldog and how he would have fared this season. Maybe we’ll be talking about Holmgrem on this list going into the 2024 season.