Best Big Men in the NBA
The center position may be dying in the NBA. But just because teams are de-emphasizing the traditional, back-to-basket role does not mean that tall players are disappearing from the game.
Size always will matter in basketball, even as the league moves closer to position-less basketball. Of course, some big men have more skills than others in today's game.
Here's how the tallest NBA player from every team compares to his peers.
Note: Some teams have multiple players with the same height.
37. Tacko Fall, Boston Celtics
Bottom Line: Tacko Fall
Tacko Fall became a sensation playing for UCF in the 2019 NCAA tournament, and the Celtics took a flyer on the 7-foot-5 big man.
It would be a big stretch to say Fall has shown he might even be able to develop into a successful role player at this point.
36. Moses Brown, Portland Trailblazers
Bottom Line: Moses Brown
Moses Brown left UCLA after one season and went undrafted, eventually catching on with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Brown might have been a lottery pick if he'd have played one more year in college.
He has struggled with his weight (he's too skinny) and consistency.
35. Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers
Bottom Line: Goga Bitadze
It's going to be tough sledding for Goga Bitadze to crack the Pacers' lineup because he's playing behind two young, elite post players in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
That experience could make Bitadze, the No. 18 overall pick in 2019, into pretty enticing trade bait for another team in the future.
34. Tyson Chandler, Houston Rockets
Bottom Line: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler has collected some impressive accolades in his long NBA career. Over 18 seasons in the league, he's been an NBA champion, All-Star and defensive player of the year.
He isn’t the player he once was, but his rim protection always will be welcome.
After the Phoenix Suns waived Chandler in 2018, the big man signed with the Lakers, and now he's with the Rockets.
33. Alen Smailagic, Golden State Warriors
Position: Power forward
Bottom Line: Alen Smailagic
Alen Smailagic was just a few months past his 18th birthday when he made his NBA G-League debut with the Golden State Warriors' affiliate team in Santa Cruz, making him the youngest player in G-League history.
Smailagic is still a project and a bench player for the Warriors, but they've seen enough in his potential to sign him to a multiyear contract.
32. Nicolas Claxton, Brooklyn Nets
Position: Power forward
Bottom Line: Nicolas Claxton
It's going to be tough for Nicolas Claxton to break into the Brooklyn Nets' lineup with talented big men DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen filling up the post, and with Claxton coming off season-ending shoulder surgery in 2020.
Claxton has dealt with a number of injury issues in his short NBA career and needs to seriously dedicate himself to the weight room to break into a lineup.
31. Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers
Bottom Line: Ante Zizic
Ante Zizic, a first-round pick in 2016, seems destined to be a career bench player in the NBA.
That might mean Zizic averaging about 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game and, most importantly, doling out six fouls when the Cavs have to play teams with elite big men.
30. Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons
Bottom Line: Thon Maker
It was easy to see that Thon Maker wasn't going to fit in with the Milwaukee Bucks moving forward.
Superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo needs a team built around him of guys who can run and slash, and Maker is a throwback center.
Maker forced a trade to the Pistons in 2019, and the results haven't been much better there. He's averaging 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds.
29. Robin Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
Bottom Line: Robin Lopez
Although Robin Lopez messes around with mascots too much, he is a decent big man.
Now playing with the Milwaukee Bucks, his sixth NBA team, he can score inside, rebounds the ball well, and teams can rely on him in short spurts.
He's also teamed with his brother, Brook, once again.
28. Willy Hernangomez, Charlotte Hornets
Bottom Line: Willy Hernangomez
Willy Hernangomez's career is going in the wrong direction.
He was named to the NBA's All-Rookie Team in 2017 after averaging 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, which was tops for all Eastern Conference rookies in rebounds.
Now, Hernangomez is on the lowly Hornets — he used to be on the Knicks — and has seen his numbers cut almost in half at 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds.
27. Anzejs Pasecniks, Washington Wizards
Bottom Line: Anzejs Pasecniks
Anzejs Pasecniks doesn't have the frame to bang with elite NBA big men just yet. He's 7-foot-2 but only 229 pounds. He's also only 24 years old, so there's time for him still to fill out.
He's shown some signs of progress in the 2019-20 season, but he's going to have to do better than 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game to have a lengthy career.
26. Meyers Leonard, Miami Heat
Bottom Line: Meyers Leonard
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Meyers Leonard with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and now he's making an impact in the Eastern Conference.
While Leonard's numbers are not eye-popping, he finds ways to make an impact off the bench, whether it's shooting from beyond the arc, grabbing boards or playing defense.
25. Luke Kornet, Chicago Bulls
Position: Power forward/center
Bottom Line: Luke Kornet
Luke Kornet is a pretty great story of perseverance.
He was a four-year player at Vanderbilt who went undrafted and made the Knicks' roster in 2017.
Kornet is now in his third NBA season and impressed the Chicago Bulls enough to get a two-year, guaranteed $4.5 million contract.
24. Dewayne Dedmon, Atlanta Hawks
Bottom Line: Dewayne Dedmon
Dewayne Dedmon is a journeyman center who has bounced around the NBA for the last decade. He's on his sixth team after debuting with Golden State Warriors in 2013.
Dedmon is actually playing some of the best basketball of his career in the 2019-20 season, averaging 8.1 points and 8.6 rebounds.
23. Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
Bottom Line: Mo Bama
Mo Bamba has the potential to be a really good player.
His post moves, perimeter shooting and rebounding make him a promising big man of the future for the Magic.
22. Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Clippers
Bottom Line: Ivica Zubac
Ivica Zubac has seen more G-League action than NBA court time in his career.
But the fourth-year player from Croatia still is cashing big checks and now has a bigger role on the revamped Los Angeles Clippers.
Not bad work if you can get it.
21. Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans
Bottom Line: Jaxson Hayes
Jaxson Hayes might be the perfect center to play alongside budding star and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson in the post.
Hayes is a long, athletic player that still needs to put on about 20 pounds of muscle, but he's definitely capable of averaging a double-double.
20. Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs
Bottom Line: Jakob Poeltl
Jakob Poeltl is still a young and promising backup center.
Before being shipped to the San Antonio Spurs with star teammate DeMar DeRozan, he was a solid big man for the Raptors.
It will be interesting to see what his role is with the Spurs moving forward as the team is likely headed toward a full reboot.
19. Alex Len, Sacramento Kings
Bottom Line: Alex Len
Don't underestimate the value of a player like Alex Len at this point in his career — a center who can give teams 20 minutes every game and consistently put up 10 points and six or seven rebounds.
He's on his third team in three years with the Sacramento Kings but looks like a player who can have a decade-plus career in the NBA.
18. JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers
Bottom Line: JaVale McGee
JaVale McGee has been an important piece to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2019-20 season as they seek an NBA championship.
McGee has embraced his workmanlike role for the Lakers and makes his biggest impact on the defensive end, where he averages 1.5 blocks.
17. Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks
Bottom Line: Mitchell Robinson
The New York Knicks took a big chance drafting Mitchell Robinson in the second round of the 2018 NBA draft. It appears he was worth the risk.
Robinson is having a breakout season in 2019-20 and looks like he could be a player comparable to DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler in the future.
16. Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns
Position: Power forward
Bottom Line: Frank Kaminsky
Frank Kaminsky struggled with the Charlotte Hornets for his first four seasons after he was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. So, in other words, he was just like everyone else on the Hornets' roster.
Kaminsky has experienced a bit of a career resurgence with the Phoenix Suns, where he's been a good fit in their fast-paced offense, but a knee injury likely ended his 2019-20 season early.
15. Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
Bottom Line: Brook Lopez
Over one decade into his NBA career, Brook Lopez is playing some of the best basketball of his career for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Lopez can still score a little bit — he's averaging 11.0 points — but his real impact comes on the defensive end where he's averaging 2.4 blocks.
14. Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Bottom Line: Jarrett Allen
Jarrett Allen entered the NBA in 2017 after his freshman year at Texas.
In his first four seasons in the NBA, he has shown skills on both sides of the court. He can score in double-digits and is an excellent shot blocker.
Defense is what makes Allen such a valuable player. The length and timing he has to block shots is underrated.
13. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Bottom Line: Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas has improved year after year.
On the offensive end, he is a big body that will bang in the post and set solid screens.
He also is an excellent rebounder with the ability to create space with his massive frame.
12. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Bottom Line: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. was the No. 4 overall pick in 2018 and an NBA All-Rookie Team pick in 2019.
Jackson had a breakout season in 2019-20, averaging 16.9 points and 1.6 blocks while teamed with rookie sensation Ja Morant.
11. Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Bottom Line: Myles Turner
Myles Turner still is a young and developing player, but his experiences practicing with Team USA seemed to help take his game to the next level.
He already is a solid rebounder, and he's come into his own in 2019-20, establishing himself as one of the NBA's premier big men alongside teammate Domantas Sabonis.
10. Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors
Bottom Line: Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka has been one of the NBA's best defensive players for the last decade.
He's a three-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection and has led the league in blocks twice.
It all finally came together for Ibaka in 2019 when he helped lead the Raptors to their first NBA title.
9. DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn Nets
Bottom Line: DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan's move to the Brooklyn Nets is already paying dividends.
He's a veteran player who is proving to be an amazing mentor to young big man Jarrett Allen.
When Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both healthy and back in the fold, it's going to be amazing to watch the team come together.
8. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers
Bottom Line: Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond is one of the best rebounders in the NBA. His size and strength can overpower opposing players.
His offensive game has gotten better, and he is a dangerous dual threat every time he takes the floor.
The thing he really does well is rebound. There aren't many players in the NBA who can hit the boards like Drummond.
7. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Bottom Line: Steven Adams
Steven Adams seemed like he was just an afterthought following the 2018-19 season. His numbers were so down the Thunder couldn't even get teams to take him in a trade.
After Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Rockets and Chris Paul was added to Oklahoma City's roster, Adams has thrived in the new system and is again one of the best centers in the NBA.
6. Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
Position: Power forward
Bottom Line: Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis started off his career with the New York Knicks but forced a trade to the Dallas Mavericks after missing almost two entire seasons with a knee injury.
Now back and healthy, Porzingis and teammate Luka Doncic could very well win several NBA titles before their time is through.
5. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Bottom line: Since Domantas Sabonis was traded to the Pacers, he has thrived playing alongside Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo. Sabonis is averaging 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game in Indiana.
He can shoot the midrange jumper and post up on the block. He also is an excellent rebounder.
Bottom Line: Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis made his first All-Star team in 2020 and is quickly becoming one of the NBA's dominant big men.
The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis could very well be one of the NBA's best players for the next decade and help the Pacers become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Bottom Line: Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns has all the tools to be one of the best players in the NBA. After the Jimmy Butler fiasco, Towns has been playing better basketball.
His shooting touch from the outside, along with his post moves, make him a difficult player to defend, but there are big questions as to what kind of a teammate he is and if he can lead a title contender.
3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Bottom line: Joel Embiid entered the 2018-19 season as one of the best big men in the NBA. Now, he is becoming one of the best players of any size.
Embiid is a nightly nightmare matchup for the opposition. His size, strength, soft shooting touch make him one of the most challenging players to defend.
In a few years, don't be surprised if Embiid is the best player in the league.
Bottom Line: Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is a nightly nightmare matchup for the opposition. His size, strength and soft shooting touch make him one of the most challenging players to defend.
Embiid can't seem to escape injury for long periods of time, however, and his motivation and competitiveness also have been questioned at times.
2. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Bottom Line: Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert seems like the future in the post for not just the Utah Jazz, but the Western Conference.
Gobert has won back-to-back NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards in 2018 and 2019, and seems a likely candidate to win again in 2020.
1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Bottom Line: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic has become one of the NBA's premier big men with a dizzying array of offensive skills.
Jokic made his first All-NBA Team in 2019 and is a two-time All-Star who's getting better every season.
The 25-year-old Serbian might be capable of averaging a triple-double in points, rebounds and assists.
Related: Greatest NBA Big Men of All Time