Top 10 Best NBA Centers Of All Time [2022 Updated]

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The top all-star game MVP for the 2022-23 NBA season are centers that combine an old-school game with the new-school diversity of today’s game. Quality centers, defensive specialists, offensive dynamos, classic rim-runners, and basketball players with unique skill sets can be found all around the league.

Let’s discover the top 10 best NBA centers of all time with Scott Fujita!

Los Angeles Lakers: Who Is The Best Center In Franchise History?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is, without a doubt, the best center who has ever donned a Lakers uniform.

Based on the five championships he won with the Lakers and the statistics he has gathered over his remarkable career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is unquestionably the favorite in any argument over the finest center of all time.

He is the most prolific scorer in NBA history regarding total points. In scoring prowess, Michael Jordan and Kareem belong in the same position as Kareem. The guy has the most career points in NBA history and has done so with power and elegance.

Kareem was a nightmare on the low post with his legendary skyhook style, and he could not be stopped at his peak. Kareem ranks third all-time in blocks for his defense, despite his lack of block statistics during his first few seasons.

If blocks had been recorded from the beginning of his career, he might have easily battled for the number two or possibly number one slot. He ranks third all-time in total rebounds and averaged 0.75 thefts per game during his career, similar to his blocks.

Kareem was the whole deal, and his massive body and excellent basketball IQ made him one of the few big men who improved those around him.

Kareem understood how to use the weapons surrounding him, averaging nearly four assists per game throughout his career. Furthermore, few celebrities understand how to accept changes in their roles as they get older graciously.

Kareem led the Lakers proudly, but he respectfully moved aside as the franchise player when Magic Johnson was chosen. The two formed a formidable combo that perhaps rivals Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant as the finest in NBA history.

Kareem was a proven winner with the Lakers, winning three of his six regular-season NBA MVP awards. 

Any critic who claims Kareem only won championships with Magic Johnson should remember that he had previously shown himself a champion as Lew Alcindor in Milwaukee. He won a tournament and multiple regular-season MVP honors at this championship.

NBA Top 10 Best Centers Of All Time

Here are the best centers of all time NBA. As you can see, the first rank belongs to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who dominated for over two decades owing to his skyhook jumper and overall ability as a scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker.

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1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

NBA teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks

In the NBA, the goat debate appears as a two-horse race. But, if there is a credible third candidate, it is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

If anything, Abdul-Jabbar still wins the longevity  debate since this all-time great player won his two Finals MVP honors 14 years apart, the first in 1971 and the second in 1985.

Most players’ careers don’t last quite as long as Abdul- Jabbar’s, yet he dominated at the highest level for over a decade.

2. Bill Russell

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Bill Russell

NBA team: Boston Celtics

No one has ever come close to Bill Russell’s 11 NBA championships, and no one will ever come close to matching it. Russell’s credentials are harmed because numerous awards didn’t exist during his prime, such as Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

Furthermore, because there were no records as a statistic throughout Russell’s career, there is no way to tell how many he had. There’s a chance he’d be at the top of the blocks standings, along with the following guy on our list.

Russell’s career may not have been the longest, but he was successful. Russell, one of the best centers of the NBA all time, has more MVPs than All-NBA First Team choices during his career, which is a strange fact.

3. Wilt Chamberlain

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Wilt Chamberlain

NBA teams: San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers

Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant offensive big man in NBA history; however, that was partly due to the quality of competition he faced at the time. Still, who cares who you beat when you dominate at the level Chamberlain did?

Chamberlain did fall short in terms of team success. He was generally better during the regular season than during the playoffs. It was due to a reluctance to be fouled late in close games due to his inaccurate free throw.

Chamberlain holds the single-season rebounding and scoring marks. He also has the second-best scoring average in the league, after only Jordan. And if MJ had stayed with the Wizards for another year, Chamberlain may have been No. 1 in that category. 

Chamberlain is also the first player in NBA history to lead the league in overall scoring, rebounds, and assists in the same season, and he retired as the league’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader at the time.

4. Shaquille O’Neal

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Shaquille O’Neal

NBA teams: Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers

Shaquille O’Neal was an incredible freak with his mix of size, strength, and remarkable explosiveness. He was the most dominant physical specimen in NBA history since the days of Chamberlain. 

During O’Neal’s prime, teams solely maneuvered to limit the big man. Many centers reaped the benefits simply because they provided another large body to hurl at O’Neal.

In retrospect, the fact that Big Aristotle only earned one league MVP is a bit of a joke, given he was the league’s most dominant player on several occasions. 

O’Neal’s desire to be a celebrity off the court likely reduced his influence on the floor. Still, he was nonetheless lethal throughout his career, despite being a poor free-throw shooter.

5. Hakeem Olajuwon

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Hakeem Olajuwon

NBA teams: Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

Hakeem Olajuwon, arguably the most significant international player of all time, competed and produced at an exceptional level on both ends of the floor, with tremendous low-post moves and defensive abilities to match.

Olajuwon holds the record for most blocks. He’s also the first player in the NBA to rank in the top 14 in four major statistical categories: points, rebounds, blocks, and steals.

6. David Robinson

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David Robinson

NBA team: San Antonio Spurs

David Robinson had one of the perfect bodies in NBA history, with a body that appeared like it was carved out of clay during his heyday. 

For years, he tortured opponents on both ends with his stature and power, doubling as a high-level scorer and extraordinarily effective defender, especially around the rim. On the other hand, Robinson didn’t get over until Duncan arrived, which impacted his ranking on this list.

7. Patrick Ewing

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Patrick Ewing

NBA teams: Seattle SuperSonics, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic

Patrick Ewing was a monster shot-blocker with ideal size and power. He also had delicate touches as a scorer in the post and out of the mid-range, making him one of the famous big men of the 1990s. However, he could never win a NBA championship due to the Rockets and Bulls.

8. Moses Malone

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Moses Malone

NBA teams: Buffalo Braves, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Bullets, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers

Moses Malone was perhaps the most underestimated superstar in NBA history, combining dominance at the center position with physical tenacity as a rebounder. He led the league in boards six times, including 17.6 rebounds per game.

Malone was also a monster scorer in the paint, battering lesser opponents down low with his physical power. Many believe Malone to be the best offensive rebounder the game has ever seen, owing to his exceptional timing and instincts at chasing down offensive rebounds.

9. George Mikan

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George Mikan

NBA team: Minneapolis Lakers

The first genuinely dominant NBA big man, George Mikan, utilized his tremendous stature and surprisingly delicate touch for a player of his era to his advantage. Mikan could paint with either hand and finish well. The Mikan Drill is still in use today for a reason.

George Mikan finished his career with 11,764 points, making him the all-time greatest scorer. He was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

10. Bill Walton

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Bill Walton

NBA teams: Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics

Injury cut short Walton’s Hall of Fame career, but few centers were more effective than “Grateful Red” while he was in the lineup.

That was especially obvious in 1976-77 when the three-time National College Player of the Year led the Trail Blazers to their first championship in team history by leading the league in rebounding and blocks.

Few players, especially centers, have ever had his uncommon combination of court awareness, basketball IQ, and defensive ferocity. He’s also said to be quite excellent at tracking down Maui Waui.

Who Is The Best NBA Finals MVP Of All Time

During his peak, Big Aristotle was always the most physically powerful player on the court, and the series versus Indiana demonstrated just how good he was. 

As the Lakers won their first championship under Shaq-Kobe, O’Neal scored at least 30 points in each series game. It was also the first of O’Neal’s three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards, and he and Michael Jordan are the only players to do so.

Final Thoughts

So, how do you feel about these ten NBA best centers of all time? Please feel free to let us know your feelings. Thanks for reading!

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