Sir Charles In Charge writers Michael Saenz, Andrew Melnick, Jalen Bishop and Hardeep Sahota rank the top players at each position in the NBA for the 2013-2014 season. This week long series will also include ranking the top sixth men and head coaches.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
When he’s healthy, this one isn’t close. Howard is the league’s best defensive player, rebounder and can put the ball in the basket. He’s never played with a play-maker near the caliber of guard James Harden, who has developed into one of the league’s best two. That should open up the offense even more for the nine-year veteran. Over the course of his career, the #1 overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft, has averaged 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol had his best year over the 2012-13 season and was rewarded for it by winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Gasol averaged 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season and helped lead the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals. Gasol is not only a good defender, but he has a good jumper and is a very good passer (he averaged 4.0 assists per game last season). He’s also an excellent free throw shooter.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
Hibbert showed his value during the 2013 postseason and his playoff performance is the reason he’s so high on this list. Hibbert helped lead the Pacers into game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 17.0 points per game on 51.1% shooting. He also averaged 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. During the season, Hibbert only averaged 11.9 points per game on 44.8% shooting and grabbed 8.2 rebounds per game.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
Lopez was at the center of attention last offseason because it looked like he would be traded to the Orlando Magic in a deal surrounding Howard. Instead, the Nets re-signed Lopez and he had an excellent season. Lopez isn’t the defender or rebounder (he averaged 6.9 boards per game last season) you’d like a seven-footer to be, but he’s a big time scorer. His skill and touch helped him average 19.4 points per game on 52.1% shooting from the field last season.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Noah has a reputation as a hustle player and although that’s true, Noah has developed into more than just that. He is a double-double machine and averaged 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season. Despite having one of the ugliest shots in basketball, he has shot 50.7% from the field during his career. His defense and rebounding get him into the top 5.
HONORABLE MENTION(S): If you count Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks) as a center, he makes this list. Ditto with Chris Bosh (Miami Heat). Both Horford and Bosh are forced to play center, but are traditional fours. Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) is technically a power forward, but is one of the best big men of all time. Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers) is extremely undervalued and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) has a lot of potential.
NEXT: Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic) isn’t far from being on this list – in his second year in the NBA, he averaged 13.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) was impressive as a rookie. Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) looks like a four but will probably play a lot of five next to Ryan Anderson. DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings) is obviously very talented. Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto) was impressive during the summer.