Most Underrated Centers in the NBA
In a basketball age where dominant franchise centers are becoming less of a commodity, superstars like Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah tend to grab most of the headlines while other serviceable big men find themselves on the outside looking in.
Sometimes this happens when a player produces big numbers on a bad team, other times it’s because a player is overshadowed by his peers.
Whatever the case, here’s a few centers that deserve more attention than they’re currently receiving.
Honorable Mentions: Robin Lopez, Miles Plumlee, Spencer Hawes
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
With all the hype surrounding young big men like Jonas Valanciunas and Andre Drummond, it’s surprising Nikola Vucevic doesn’t garner nearly as much attention.
In his short 2 year tenure with the Magic, the Swiss native has already recorded six 20-20 games, including an impressive 29 rebound performance last year that shattered the team’s franchise record previously held by Shaquille O’Neal.
Vucevic doesn’t possess extreme athleticism like many of today’s prototypical big men so his upside may be limited, but his crafty footwork and array of low post moves alone make him one of the best scoring centers in the league despite his physical limitations.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats
It seems like every season ‘Big Al’ is in the discussion for most underrated player, and this year has been no different with the big man averaging 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Once considered a liability on the defensive end of the floor, Jefferson has actually been quite the opposite for Charlotte, dropping his defensive rating 5 points and holding opponents to a sixth-best 97.5 ppg according to NBA.com
Other than new head coach Steve Clifford, it’s hard to argue against Jefferson being the sole reason for the Bobcats turnaround this season, as they inch closer to their first playoff appearance in 4 years.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Forget the center position, DeMarcus Cousins may be the most underrated player in the entire NBA.
Despite holding the 5th best PER in the league (behind Anthony Davis, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kevin Durant), Cousins wasn’t invited to the All-Star game yet again after coaches opted to choose other players for the reserve spots.
“The fans pick who they want. I can accept that. But I was flat done wrong by the coaches. And it’s clear as day.” Cousins told ESPN after hearing he would not participate in the All-Star game.
Only two other players in the NBA average 22 points and 10 rebounds per game (Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge who ironically both made the All-Star team) so it’s a wonder how much more Cousins has to do to gain his first career All-Star bid.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops