10 best centers in the NBA: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, or someone else?

Some might say the big man is a dying breed in the NBA. Try telling that to Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid, two of the ten best centers in the NBA today who have won the past three MVP awards.

Here we dive into that exact topic: who are the ten best centers in the NBA? Find out down below.

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Honorable mentions

  • Alperen Şengün, Houston Rockets
  • Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
  • Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Nikola Vucevic – Chicago Bulls
  • Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
  • Nic Claxton – Brooklyn Nets
  • Clint Capela – Atlanta Hawks
  • Brook Lopez – Milwaukee Bucks
  • Jusuf Nurkic – Phoenix Suns
  • Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers

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10. Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers

There are a number of players who could be named here for the 10th spot in our list of the best centers in the NBA. We’ll give the final spot to Jarrett Allen, who has been steadily improving since 2017. He’s averaged a double-double for the past two seasons, becoming a first-time All-Star in 2022. Allen should be considered one of the best NBA centers today.

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9. Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Celtics

Dubbed The Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis is a unique beast. Standing 7-foot-3, even though he’s never quite led the NBA in blocks per game, some players have suggested he’s the toughest rim protector to score on in basketball. What makes him special is the ability to average 19.6 PPG, as he’s done in his career, while shooting 35% from distance. He’s one of basketball’s best bigs in the Association.

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8. Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves

Of course, you can’t have a list of the best centers in the NBA without mentioning Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. The one known as The Stifle Tower is an intimidating presence and likely has earned some consideration as one of the top 10 centers of all time defensively. How can he pair with Karl-Anthony Towns on the low block? We haven’t seen them click in limited action thus far, but theoretically, Gobert’s game should work well with the offensive savant.

7. Jaren Jackson, Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

The NBA blocks leader each of the past two seasons, Jackson also stretches the floor with impressive efficiency for a paint protector, making over 35 percent of his shots from distance. The one knock on Jackson’s game is he averages just under six rebounds per game in his career, but he’s still one of the NBA’s best centers today.

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6. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Matching his nickname, Bam has a lot of explosiveness and power in his game, playing much bigger than his 6-foot-9 frame suggests. A three-time member of the NBA All-Defensive team, Adebayo forms a potent duo with Jimmy Butler and is certainly one of basketball’s best centers today.

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5. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Commonly referred to as the best shooting big in the NBA, Karl-Anthony Towns has a special skill set. One of the biggest knocks on KAT has been a lack of defense and an inability to win a playoff series. While Gobert is technically the Timberwolves’ starting five, Towns still sees a lot of time at center too.

Since he rarely misses games and has such a knack for scoring, Towns could someday be among the top centers of all time from an efficiency standpoint. But if he can’t find playoff success, KAT could largely be forgotten about.

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4. Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings

Why is Domantis Sabonis one of the best bigs in basketball? For one, he was the NBA’s rebounding leader in 2022 while scoring nearly 20 PPG (19.1.) But Sabonis isn’t just known for his ability to shine glass or score from anywhere. He’s also great at setting up his teammates and averages 6 APG over his past seven seasons. He may not be a rim protector, but he does everything else at an elite level.

3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Even though Anthony Davis may not prefer playing center, he’s one of the best in the NBA. Despite being 6-foot-10, Davis has a 7-foot-6 wingspan, which helps The Brow be an intimidating force on the court, where he averages over two blocks per game in his career. Not only that, Davis averages 24 PPG while pulling down over ten rebounds per contest. He’s incredibly gifted and certainly a top-three NBA center.

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2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a more all-around skilled center right now than Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Since being selected in the second round in 2014, The Joker has developed into a triple-double machine. He’s messed around with a triple-double 107 times, which ranks fourth all-time in NBA history.

The next time you hear someone saying teams shouldn’t build around a center, kindly remind them who the MVP of the last three seasons was. Having won two himself, Jokic lands near the top of Sportsnaut’s list of best centers in the NBA after winning his first league championship. If he can have a long, productive career, Jokic might even be able to become one of the greatest centers in basketball history.

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1. Joel Embiid is No. 1 on the list of best centers in the NBA

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

As a four-time member of the All-NBA team, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is a one-man wrecking crew. The Process is the main reason why the Sixers are annually in playoff contention, thanks to his dominant defensive skills and scoring prowess. There’s no question Embiid deserves a spot near the top of any best centers in basketball rankings. With his obsession to constantly improve his game, Embiid could become one of the top centers in NBA history.

Embiid finally won his first MVP after finishing as a finalist in seasons past, leading the NBA with 33.1 PPG while also pulling down 10.2 RPG. But Embiid also helped the 76ers finish with the third-best defense in the NBA, showing he’s much more than just a scorer. This is why Embiid is, in our eyes, the best center in the NBA today.

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