Ed Isaacson

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Top NBA Center Prospects

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The center position has seen some changes at the NBA level, and we are continuing to see more of the same from the potential draftees. A skilled back-to-the-basket player has become rare, and we are now seeing more and more big men who want to play away from the basket. Still, it is the players who can combine both that are most attractive to teams, and we have a few in this draft.


Check out the previous four entries in this series by clicking on the links -  PG – SG – SF – PF


Here are the Top 5 Centers:

Nerlens Noel, Freshman, Kentucky – Though out since February with a major knee injury, Noel had a major impact in the half-season that he played.  Noel can be a dominant defensive player, with the ability to move his feet well and to block shots. There are concerns about his strength, but he should have plenty of time to bulk up before he is ready to play again. His offensive game leaves a lot to be desired, with basically one move to the basket and a tendency to throw the ball at the basket instead of shooting the ball. But, teams are not looking at Noel for what he can give them next year; they are looking at what they hope he will be 3-4 years down the line.   

Alex Len, Sophomore, Maryland – There is no denying Len’s offensive skill set, but some key issues kept him from being a dominant college player for his size. He is very efficient around the basket and he is very good at facing up and knocking down the kid-range jumper or driving to the basket over short distances. He still needs to work on defense, especially his footwork, as well as working on getting stronger and quicker. 

Gorgui Dieng, Junior, Louisville – Dieng may be the most ready of any center in this draft to contribute important minutes to his team. Known primarily as a defender and a shot-blocker his first 2 seasons, Dieng showed that he can be a good offensive option during his junior year. He has developed the ability to hit the jumper out to 18 feet and he is also a strong passer out of both the high and low posts. Dieng will need to continue to work on getting stronger so he can be an effective rebounder and finish around the basket in the NBA.

Mason Plumlee, Senior, Duke – Plumlee made great strides in his game his senior season, especially on the offensive end.   Always a good rebounder, Plumlee added some new back-the-basket moves which allowed him to take advantage of his athleticism.  A strong post defender, Plumlee also has become an improved perimeter defender. The next step in his development is to work on making his footwork more fluid and to really improve his ability to hit the mid-range jumper.

Steven Adams, Freshman, Pittsburgh – Adams is a raw and athletic prospect who showed some flashes of what he is capable of during his one season in college. He runs the floor well for his size, and his ability to post and make a quick move to the basket improved as the season went on. He passes well for his size, but he still has to develop an understanding for the finer aspects of the game, especially for his position.  Adams has the body and speed to be a good defender, but he needs to work on his technique before he is ready for the NBA.


Five more to watch: Jeff Withey, Senior, Kansas; Lucas Noguiera, Brazil; Mike Muscala, Senior, Bucknell; Rudy Gobert, France; Colton Iverson, Senior, Colorado State 

Ed Isaacson is in his second year of covering the NBA Draft for Rotoworld.com, while his work can also be found at NBADraftblog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @nbadraftblog.
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