Most Underrated Young NBA Centers
In a league that praises elite big men like Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard, fans tend to overlook younger and lesser known centers that haven’t quite yet drawn the attention they deserve.
Take seasoned veteran Al Jefferson.
Once almost unknown to the average NBA spectator, Jefferson was constantly shuffled to losing teams, which caused his All-Star numbers to go almost completely unnoticed until he arrived on playoff contenders like the Jazz and Bobcats.
Hell even a winner like Kendrick Perkins was pretty underrated back in his days with the Celtics, supplying the team with much needed rim protection and toughness while still being overshadowed by star teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
So which young centers deserve more attention than they’re currently receiving? Read on to find out. By the way, to filter out the young and the semi-young, no big men over the age of 25 were added to this list.
Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic, 23 Years Old
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 50.7 FG%
It’s surprising Vucevic doesn’t gain more recognition in the league, given that he’s a nightly double-double machine and provides the Magic with much needed scoring and rebounding.
Offensively he’s been a great floor spacer for the team, knocking down deep mid-range jumpers and using a variety of moves in the post that breaks down opposing team’s defenses.
Vucevic may not possess a crazy amount of upside due to his lack of athleticism, but he’s still becoming one of the more elite big men in the league due to his consistency on the boards and offensive prowess.
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, 22 Years Old
Stats: 11.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 53.1 FG%
If you thought the emergence of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan was the sole reason for the Raptors impressive run to the playoffs last season, you’re wrong.
Big man Jonas Valanciunas was just as vital for Toronto’s success throughout the year, as he continually used his towering frame to bully opponents out of the post and find numerous ways to score points in bunches inside.
After an impressive sophomore year in which he increased his stats all across the board, look for the Lithuanian native to emerge as one of the better centers in the Eastern Conference with Toronto headed for another successful season.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, 20 Years Old
Stats: 13.5 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 60.8 FG%
It just takes one look at Drummond’s highlight video to notice this kid has boundless potential that’s yet to be tapped.
-Trampoline like athleticism, check.
-Bulldozing strength that makes him almost impossible to contain inside, check.
-Insanely gifted rebounder that crashes the glass on every possession, check.
All Drummond needs now is an arsenal of offensive moves in the post and he could very well be the next uber dominant big man that could terrorize the league for years to come.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings, 23 Years Old
Stats: 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 2.9 APG, 49.6 FG%
Cousins may be considered overrated by some, but given the fact that the former Kentucky standout has yet to make an All-Star game is enough to give him the seal of approval for this list.
Only 4 players in the league ranked higher in PER (player efficiency rating) and rebounds per game last season. Throw in the fact that he led all other centers in points per game and it makes you wonder why he isn’t receiving any recognition from either fans or coaches.
Temper issues have clouded Cousin’s career since he entered the league 4 years ago, but it’s time he starts getting treated like one of the more elite big men in the league instead of another no name.
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